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Monitoring & Analyzing Social Media

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

Category: Memes and Trends

Jan 29, 2009 0 Comments

Next Iteration of Social Software: Automated Connection Mining Software could form ad hoc social groups

This would be a very interesting functionality to emulate down the road:

IBM looks at a matrix of connections across various social platforms and tells how valuable a connection a suggested friend would be to help you manage friend requests.
A little speculation…

Next stage of the social web: development of cross-platform communities based on shared interests that are ‘discovered’ by social ‘connection mining’ software.

Jan 9, 2009 0 Comments

Social Media Marketing Models: Mischief Marketing

A couple of the lads here at Techrigy engaged in a little mischief marketing today, throwing out a teaser video that was cryptic enough that it had me wondering what it all meant. This past week Burger King put a campaign on Facebook offering a Whopper coupon in exchange for deleting ten of your friends, who would then get a note informing them that you’d dropped them for a free hamburger. Ouch!

Viral or WOM, argue the distinctions if you will, are often predicated on having a little fun. Done well they work because they provide a little respite from the daily drone. With the amazing explosion of Twitter and Facebook activity, these campaigns now have  platforms designed for generating viral exchanges, places where you don’t have to email a joke to dozens of friends (thank God that stopped), instead you can put it out there and people can decide for themselves whether they want to click. This mischief marketing is a tricky balancing act that requires total willingness to fail, or perhaps worse, to sink without a ripple. But it is also fun to do and say something about the companies behind it. Sense of humor anyone?

Jan 8, 2009 0 Comments

Facebook adds 20 million new users since December 10th

I thought it was my imagination- A lot of my friends have joined Facebook recently and most of us are tailend babyboomers but is this a trend? Now AllyInsider confirms my suspicions: FB is blowing away the other social networks.

Their stats:

  • The site just crossed 150 million monthly active users.
  • That’s more people than there are living in Japan, Russia and Nigeria.
  • 50 million of those users are new since the summer.
  • 20 million are new since December 10.
  • 75 million use the site every single day.

These are astounding figures. What they mean is that Facebook, along with Twitter, has become a de facto global communication platform. From a marketing perspective this is fascinating, however Facebook is very closed (as it should be, IMHO) so it cannot be viewed as a media source.

SM2 collects both Twitter and Facebook, however because we only collect publicly accessible data, our ability to capture Facebook is limited to those conversations that are public. With Twitter we collect public Tweets but not Direct Messages.

One of the differentiation points for SM2 is our Social Media Warehouse. This is our grandiose database of everything social going back to 2007. We don’t just collect conversations based on our users’ searches, we collect everything. Yes, everything (I know from demos that I am required to repeat this at least three times before it sinks in ;-)). That means that if we keep this up we’re going to have an historical record, with meta data, of a huge amount of global communications going forward. The warehouse currently has over 1 billion (with a B) conversations with up to 40 fields of meta data (demographics, location, popularity, reach, URLs, etc.) for each.

If you or your clients are still on the fence about social media please look at the numbers above again. The world has changed.

Dec 22, 2008 0 Comments

ReBlog: 42 social media pundit predictions for 2009

Here’s a nice round up of the various blog pundits’ predictions for Social Media in 2009.

Thanks to Joe Pulizzi of Junta 42 for putting this together.

Dec 10, 2008 0 Comments

Social media is not a ‘tactic’

Everyday I read through a fairly large number of blogs, some general, some tech, some marketing and some social media pundits. I get alerts for various keywords mentioned on Twitter and I get my daily SM2 reports. I’ll respond if someone connects with me on LinkedIn or Facebook but I’m definitely not a power-user. One of the things I see people grappling with in these places is an ongoing conversation about how to market in social media. One recent column repeatedly referred to social media as a ‘tactic’ like PR or advertising or guerrilla marketing. Social media is not a tactic, it is a medium. A very unique medium.

A medium is defined as (from Random House Unabridged via Dictionary.com):

1. a middle state or condition; mean.
2. something intermediate in nature or degree.
3. an intervening substance, as air, through which a force acts or an effect is produced.
4. the element that is the natural habitat of an organism.
5. surrounding objects, conditions, or influences; environment.
6. an intervening agency, means, or instrument by which something is conveyed or accomplished: Words are a medium of expression.
7. one of the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, as newspapers, radio, or television.
8. Biology. the substance in which specimens are displayed or preserved.
9. Also called culture medium. Bacteriology. a liquid or solidified nutrient material suitable for the cultivation of microorganisms.
10. a person through whom the spirits of the dead are alleged to be able to contact the living.
11. Fine Arts.

a. Painting. a liquid with which pigments are mixed.
b. the material or technique with which an artist works: the medium of watercolor.
12. a size of printing paper, 18 1/2 × 23 1/2 in. (47 × 60 cm) in England, 18 × 23 to 19 × 25 in. (46 × 58 to 48 × 64 cm) in America.
13. Chiefly British. a size of drawing or writing paper, 17 1/2 × 22 in. (44 × 56 cm).
14. Also called medium strip. Midland U.S. median strip.
15. in medium, Movies, Television. with the principal actors in the middle distance: The scene was shot in medium.

–adjective

16. about halfway between extremes, as of degree, amount, quality, position, or size: Cook over medium heat. He is of medium height.

Origin:
1575–85; < L: the middle, n. use of neut. of medius middle.

Let’s look at #6:

-an intervening agency, means, or instrument by which something is conveyed or accomplished: Words are a medium of expression.

An Intervening agency. I like this a lot. It is a layer that enables communication that is global, public and free. If you buy this then the idea of marketing to a medium is a conundrum. You can market to people, you can’t market to a tool. What social media is, from a marketing perspective, is a strategy. Your social media strategy answers the following question: How do I leverage the power of this new medium?

Nov 20, 2008 0 Comments

Social Media and Twilight the movie

Today’s Times business section has an article about the movie Twilight being released this weekend. Made for $37 million by a tiny studio, this teen age vampire flick based on a best selling series is expected to gross up to $60 million in its first weekend. The story of how the tiny studio got this property caught my eye:

“When Paramount passed on making “Twilight,” Mr. Friedman heard about it. Erik Feig, Summit’s production chief, did some research and noticed an intense following online even though the book had not yet reached stratospheric status. Summit pounced, seeing a potential franchise.

The studio bought the movie rights to all four books in the series, which together have sold about 8.5 million copies in the United States and 17 million copies worldwide.”

The buzz was there on social media far before it hit the attention of the big studios.

And you wonder why we think you should be monitoring…

Jul 17, 2008 0 Comments

Reputation Management in Social Media: SlideShare

Jul 15, 2008 0 Comments

Reach in Social Media

Reach, influence, authority…what do they mean in social media? Unlike traditional media where reach may be the easiest of the three to quantify (add up subscriptions and pass-alongs), reach in social media is a very tricky thing to measure. We (SM2) rank authority based on existing measurements like Pagerank, Techorati and Alexa, inbound link counts, etc., but authority is different from reach and influence. A blog like Valleywag might have a huge reach but very little real influence (because it’s basically a satirical source not one people go to when making decisions). Influence is built on a strong reputation and track record, things that are built over time and difficult to measure through algorithms.

Reach in social media is a pretty interesting thing because it can change so quickly. Someone inside a company who decides to blow the whistle on some bad activity via Twitter can go from no reach to huge reach in hours- and just as quickly fade when the story becomes old news and is superceded by the next big thing. The rise of a meme, or virally transmitted idea, is a unique characteristic of social media, driven by the one-to-many nature of the communication stream and the network effect. And the speed that a meme can be distributed becomes a very real issue when it comes to brand and reputation management.

If a measurement service claims to offer reach statistics I’d be very wary for the reasons cited above. Unless they have real time access to a social media source’s traffic analytics, which is not the case much of the time, measuring and reporting reach is problematic.

So where does this leave us? You could say that Authority + Reach = Influence. Since reach is variable and tough to measure, influence-ranking is equally hard to do. Cracking the reach measurement challenge will mean a big change in our whole world, however because of privacy issues we may never see it.

Jul 10, 2008 0 Comments

Observed vs. Acquired Research

My recent post on how monitoring changes the market research model in social media generated some really thoughtful responses from major players in social media marketing (read the comments). As I stated there, I believe market research is in transition because of our ability to observe and listen to market conversations without overtly influencing those conversations before they take place. You might define this as observed vs. acquired research.

Acquired research involves building a structured environment and inviting participation. This environment might be a survey, a focus group, a social network or even a true environment like a store design. Apple  built multiple prototypes of full scale Apple Stores in a warehouse and then tested response to them:

“One of the best pieces of advice Mickey ever gave us was to go rent a warehouse and build a prototype of a store, and not, you know, just design it, go build 20 of them, then discover it didn’t work,” says Jobs. In other words, design it as you would a product. Apple Store Version 0.0 took shape in a warehouse near the Apple campus. “Ron and I had a store all designed,” says Jobs, when they were stopped by an insight: The computer was evolving from a simple productivity tool to a “hub” for video, photography, music, information, and so forth. The sale, then, was less about the machine than what you could do with it. But looking at their store, they winced. The hardware was laid out by product category - in other words, by how the company was organized internally, not by how a customer might actually want to buy things. “We were like, ‘Oh, God, we’re screwed!’” says Jobs.”

- from Kottke

The result was a radical rethinking of the entire retail experience. They engage customers with specific questions as soon you enter because they learned that customers have a fairly small set of reasons for coming. Specialized employees wear different colored clothing to indicate that they are greeters, ‘Geniuses’ or managers. Cash registers and conventional checkouts are eliminated, receipts are emailed, etc. And they have the highest revenue per square foot of any retail chain. Acquired research works if it is well-designed.

One lesson learned from this and mentioned by the commenters on the other post is that you can’t always predict behavior or results even in a controlled situation- people will do their own thing and that’s where a lot of the value lies. Which takes us to observed research, in this example (social media), observed in the wild.

Monitoring enables us to build an anonymous observation post where we can listen in on conversations, track trends, define sentiment and demographics and even learn how authoritative the speaker is. We can do this on a global basis across a wide variety of media that is extremely unstructured- some of these are ‘man on the street’ conversations. This is a form of research that simply did not exist until recently and most of us are only at the early stages of understanding how to use it.

Jun 19, 2008 0 Comments

Internet=Information, social media=communication

I need to expand on the title of this post, which appeared in my last post, because I think it is a critical distinction. With the emergence of social media as a very different beast than the web, understanding how different is critical.

- The Internet is a storehouse of information contained in websites with distinct URLs, often relatively static content (information isn’t necessarily always changing) and structured navigation that can be indexed and saved.

- Social media is a river of conversations, often not associated with a location (URL) which means capturing its history is a totally different challenge than traditional search models. Rather than pointing to a source, social media monitoring indicates a zeitgeist* than is continually evolving.

*Zeitgeist (pronounced [ˈt͡saɪtgaɪst] ) is originally a German expression that means “the spirit of the age”, literally translated as time (Zeit), spirit (Geist) (Geist)“. In some countries it has a different meaning; e.g. in the Netherlands Zeitgeist literally refers to; the mind of the time(tijdsgeest), and mind is understood as the mental spirit (state of mind). The word zeitgeist describes the intellectual and cultural climate of an era.

from Wikipedia

This is important. Understanding a global conversation requires more than simply returning accurate search results. There must be analysis tools associated with the discovery tool. Why? To answer these questions:

  • What are they saying?
  • Who are they?
  • Where are they?
  • Is it good, bad or indifferent?
  • What do they look like (gender, age, etc.)?
  • How do I reach them?

Without analysis tools you’re forced to try and distinguish value in a sea of babble. That’s why we’re constantly working to improve both the data and the tools in SM2.