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Monitoring & Analyzing Social Media

With over 1.5 billion conversations stored, can you afford not to listen?

Category: Comments

Nov 17, 2008 2 Comments

Are Comments the Next Social Layer?

The nature of commenting in social media is itself changing the way our conversations are interconnected. This change came about as comment aggregation services made it possible to build a reputation via commenting on a wide variety of blogs. First there were the plug-in aggregators like Disqus and IntenseDebate. These systems require the blog owner to add them to their platform and the commenter to register with the aggregator. Once registered any comments made on blogs using these systems would be aggregated on the source site. You can see other comments by a person you find interesting, regardless of whether you’d ever been to the actual blog post they reference.

The next iteration is BackType which does not require the blog owner to participate via a plugin. Their unique and IMHO, brilliant approach, is to track the URL that the commenter uses as an identifier when they post a comment. Commenters need to register at BackType but once registered virtually all of their comments are captured on the Backtype site. Participants offer a Profile and can be followed a la Twitter.

The reason this interests me is that it creates an entire new social layer that connects heretofore unconnected social sources. The commenters themselves become something you follow across a variety of places. What I’ve found interesting is how this builds personal reputation and has for me at least, somewhat replaced blogging as a way of expressing my opinion. Unlike Twitter, commenting has a threaded context (the post that started the conversation) and no limits on length. It includes the discourse elements of Twitter but goes further.

As an example, when forums were the primary conversations on the early web, certain participants became notorious on the forums where they were useful, disruptive and/or annoying presences. The commenting systems take this model and move it out of a narrow forum and into the entire social media eco-system.

Aug 14, 2008 0 Comments

It’s not Big Brother, It’s public and recorded

When I tell people we monitor conversations in social media the more idealistic ones scrunch up their face and give me the big brother look as in ‘Big Brother Is Watching’. The implication is that there is something unsavory about peering into people’s private thoughts…wait a minute. Social media that is not password protected is not private.

Let me repeat that:

Social media that is not password protected is not private.

When you post, Tweet, comment, write on a wall, etc. you are essentially standing on that proverbial soapbox in the park and shouting to a crowd with one big difference:

What you are saying is being recorded, preserved and, presumably, indexed for future reference.

This is a big differentiator from private correspondence like email or phone calls that require a warrant to be monitored and/or recorded (though this administration apparently thinks otherwise for those conversations too- another subject for another place).

Social media is social and, as such, not private. So if you’re saying something you don’t want to be reminded of forever don’t say it here and cry later.

There are no take-backs in social media.

Jul 10, 2008 0 Comments

Disqus and Intense Debate: If you’re doing social media marketing you should be there

For all the discussion of Twitter, Plurk and FriendFeed there are two other social media services that are, IMHO, far more valuable for marketers and PR folks. They’re commenting systems like Disqus and Intense Debate. If you’re not registered on these systems I strongly recommend you do so because they will change the way you engage social media.

I use Disqus (pronounced ‘discuss’) on this blog. This is not an endorsement of one system over another- I just happened to reading about them when we put the blog together. As a registered commenter on their system others can go to Disqus and see comments I’ve left elsewhere, respond to them, vote on the value of my contribution, etc. The comment stream becomes a stand-alone form of social media.

If you choose to, you can receive any responses to your comments in email or a feed. This has proven very valuable for relationship-building with a wide range of people who share my interests. As my reputation within these systems expands (hopefully favorably!) my influence and reach also increase. This is due to the exponential or network effect of social media. While we often speak of ‘conversations’ in social media there is a striking difference between a real conversation and a social media conversation: In social media your conversation starts at one-to-many and evolves to many-to-many. Participating in commenting systems is a great way to multiply the reach of your particular message. Not only can a comment be read by hundreds or even thousands of people, if it creates value some of those readers can now read more of your comments without having to uncover what other blogs you’re commenting on.