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Monitoring & Analyzing Social Media

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

Category: Social Networks

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 12, 2009 0 Comments

SM2 Social Media Monitoring Sources Updated

SM2 is built on a constantly expanding database of all social media conversations that we refer to as our Social Media Warehouse. We started collecting, via a variety of methods, in 2007 and have what we believe is the largest database of social media conversations and associated meta-data (demographics, location, popularity, etc.). The Warehouse currently has over 1 billion records and we are adding millions daily.
The sources (which we are constantly updating and adding to) include:

  • All major and minor blog platforms including WorkPress, Typepad, Live Journal, Blogger, Blogspot, Sphinn8r etc., including comments
  • Any other blogs with RSS feeds, ping servers, etc.
  • Any publicly available social network content including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Orkut, Ning, LinkedIn and more
  • Any comments and meta-data associated with user-generated rich content like YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, etc.
  • All public wikis
  • Non-password protected boards, forums and review sites including everything from BoardReader
  • Yelp
  • Microblogs including Twitter, Plurk, Identi.ca
  • Commenting systems: Backtype, Disqus, Intense Debate

As new sources appear they are incorporated into our collection systems.

Dec 1, 2008 0 Comments

Accelerate your social activity during a recession

Perhaps the worst thing a business or agency can do during a severe downturn is to pull back on marketing activity, even if writing the checks is exceptionally painful. The reason is something known as the ’sales cycle’. Salespeople know what this is: the average time it takes to close a sale from prospecting to a check in the mailbox. For a lot of products and services this can be quite a long process and it lengthens as money gets tight.

However, as money gets more accessible, sales cycles get shorter because there is pent-up need. This brings us to the marketing quandary. If you stop or curtail marketing activity, you cripple your ability to bounce back when the economy gets better. Your customers don’t stop thinking about buying, they just hold off until they can afford it. If you stop marketing and participating in the conversation you won’t be on their radar when they’re ready. Your sales cycle starts with marketing.

So what does this have to do with social media? Everything. Social media participation is extremely cost effective, especially if you target intent, in other words, those conversations that are fine-tuned to your product or service. Any number of keyword tracking services, including ours, can help you find that intent.

There is another compelling reason to dive headfirst into social media: Timing. We are at that proverbial tipping point where a group of ideas, tools and smart people converge and the world changes. Waiting until the economy turns upwards to embrace social media means you’ll be far behind the curve. We saw it with the belated advertising agency reaction to search marketing. They didn’t embrace this new model and a whole new style of marketing agencies took the business out from under them. This, in my view, is taking place right now with social media.

Are you on the brand-owner side but not successfully selling social media participation to upper management? It’s time to go guerilla. Start monitoring with free services like ours, tracking Twitter keywords, blogging product mentions, etc. Become a power-user and you’ll eventually get your chance to make your case. Chances are that when the realization sets in among those managers that your brand is being discussed, there will be a ‘why aren’t we doing this moment?’ And you can say, ‘actually we have been’.

It’s not just the listening side. Start building knowledge around platforms for social media interaction. Things like Ning, Yammer, WordPress. They’re free and you can learn them quickly. Again, when times get better you’ll have a jump on your competition.

Dec 1, 2008 0 Comments

O’Reilly on Twitter (he really, really likes it and so do I)

Like Tim O’Reilly I was an early joiner on Twitter who initially found it useless but now find it indispensable. He pretty much covers the territory in this post.

I’d add that Twitter may become the primary B-B marketing platform in social media. As he notes, its simplicity actually makes it more powerful that feature-laden sources like LinkedIn (which I also use more and more frequently as my social network of choice).

You can follow me on Twitter @martinedic

And connect on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/martinedic

Nov 18, 2008 0 Comments

William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and Social Media

“Yes. I want to make the public aware of something they don’t quite know that they know- or have them feel that way. Because they’ll move on that, do you understand? They’ll think they’ve thought of it first. It’s about transferring information, but at the same time about a certain lack of specificity.”

from Pattern Recognition

Pattern Recognition, Wm. Gibson’s 2003 book about a mysterious film being released anonymously on the web, may well be the earliest and best manifestation of social media theory in fiction. Gibson, whose 1984 sci-fi classic Neuromancer predicted many things we take for granted today, famously swore off speculative fiction with Pattern Recognition. The reason? Things are moving so fast technologically today that there’s no need to speculate about the near future: It is unfolding before our eyes.

In Pattern Recgnition the main character, Cayce Pollard is a freelance coolhunter- a person with an uncanny ability to identify emerging trends (and a serious physical allergy to brands!). She is also a footage freak, ‘footage’ being snippets of a mysterious film being released by unknown makers. The footage is followed and dissected my millions of fans via social media. Cayce is hired by a mysterious marketing genius to find the maker of the film.

Whenever I read or reread one of Gibson’s books my perspective of the world is altered. Ideas get turned around and connections are made that were not obvious before. It is a kind of mind development drug he somehow manages to deliver via writing. Cayce’s (pronounced Case) search takes her around the globe and she has the help of a wide range of characters all connected by social media and their obsession with the footage- Japanese anime geeks, gypsies running forum sites, Eastern European collectors of vintage technology and more.

This all looks very much like the world today to me. As Techrigy’s marketing director I am communicating daily with customers, partners and community members all around the planet every day. That communication flows through a variety of channels- blogging, commenting, Twittering, email, IM, etc. The people I talk to often don’t look like me, live like me or share my interests but we have things in common that we could never have explored even a few years ago. With Pattern Recognition, Gibson saw this evolution and used story-telling to bring it alive.

Recommended.

Sep 23, 2008 1 Comment

Why Social Media is a Different Marketing Paradigm

The Internet and traditional media are about information and solutions. Web sites enable both of these activities: Finding answers and associating buying decisions with those answers. Conventional push advertising, once relevance is established, can be an important aspect of the search for information and solutions. When advertising started moving to the web it had to change, to become less brand-focused and more intent-focused. However it still fit the broadcast or network model once intent and relevance were added as criteria for acceptance by users.

Social media is a completely different layer that has been added to the web, hence the web 2.0 moniker. Social media is about communication. It is an ongoing, fluid public conversation in which users exchange all kinds of information and experience, often as it takes place. This fluid nature means that attempting to take a traditional broadcast approach to advertising, even with relevance and intent, not only won’t work but can actually have a negative impact as users spread the word about what they don’t like about an ad or brand. If an ad interrupts a conversation it will make people mad.

Conventional media buying relies on reach or authority to determine where to buy ads because higher trafficked and/or respected sites will reach more users. Authority in social media is just one piece because any social media site can break a story, impugn a reputation or slam a brand experience and if the story is compelling it will get picked up and spread out, often in minutes. The challenge in social media is not to search out information, it is to monitor and listen to these conversations, identify opportunities to participate and then carefully engage. This can’t be done with an ad network or ‘push’ model.

Engagement is a new way to build a brand or reputation, a different marketing paradigm. It requires new roles for marketers (Community Managers), new means of listening and reaching out (Social media monitoring tools) and a shift in our understanding of marketing. When you engage in conversations in social media it may seem overly labor-intensive compared to launching an ad campaign. An individual effort is required to be taken seriously. The good news ids that there is an exponential effect: When you comment on a blog, connect with a Tweet or respond to a review, your response has the potential to be seen by thousands or even millions of others. As you build a reputation in social media your authority rises and your brand becomes highly valued. This is the new model emerging in marketing communications. Those who embrace it and refine it will be the market leaders of the future.

Sep 16, 2008 0 Comments

Leveraging LinkedIn Groups: Social Pros

Social Pros is a new Group on LinkedIn with a simple yet ridiculous goal: To be the largest LinkedIn group for Social Media Professionals.

First, what are Social Pros?

  • marketing and PR people who get social media
  • community managers who build and moderate social media for companies and organizations
  • pundits, consultants, analysts, prognosticators, seers and makers creating new social media applications and services
  • connectors, hubs and spokes
  • Communicators!

Why LinkedIn Groups?

  • they’re focused on business (hence the ‘Pros’ moniker)
  • ROI is measurable via connections and introductions
  • using the pre-eminent business social network will attract business people who only marginally understand social media, helping us cross the chasm
  • Safe For Work

I could go on but instead I want to wear my mad scientist lab coat and declare:

We are out to take over the world!

Join us. And invite others -you know, like virally… ;-)

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Aug 25, 2008 0 Comments

The wave is breaking

Crossing the ChasmImage via Wikipedia

As we start into fall and summer wanes the wave that has been building in social media is about to break and flood us all. To beat the metaphor, the flood is the realization that social media is a critically important business communication tool that isn’t going away. More and more senior marketing people are stating that social strategies are becoming mainstream marketing communications tools for brand development, PR, customer support and satisfaction, and community-building. Companies like Dell are making it central to their marketing efforts. The key word here is ‘central’. This is not a tactic to be delegated to the hinterlands, it is the next iteration of global business communications.

What does this mean?

It means that there is the beginning of a move out of the early adoption phase. In that famous bell curve detailed in Crossing the Chasm new ideas have to break out of the early adopter phase to begin growth into the mainstream. Social media started as something used by an elite few bloggers and nascent social networks created for students. In business the adoption was very slow to take root as many simply questioned the reasons for doing a corporate blog or building an online user-community.

It took some well-publicized PR disasters to wake up the first of the big mainstream businesses to dive into blogging. Dell had well-publicized customer support problems that spread around the blogosphere long before they realized they had a problem. Their response, though belated, was a real turnaround and they now are fully engaged with social media.

I suspect that the turning point is upon us based on my admittedly parochial view of things. 99% of Techrigy’s marketing is social and much of it has been taking place for the first time during this summer when our target markets are typically in vacation mode. Yet, I’m seeing a strong response that is growing as we swing back into fall work mode. Our free community users are increasingly coming to us for professional accounts and service. Agencies are building us into pitches and the brands we’re tracking are growing in stature. Our recent crossing of the half billion mark for results in our social media warehouse is another clue that there is a lot of activity out there.

May we live in interesting times…

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Aug 12, 2008 0 Comments

Ning Thing

Ning is Marc Andreesson’s white label social network platform. It’s super simple to use which means anyone who wants to build a social network around any subject can do so in literally a few minutes. Our Techrigy network for SM2 users, Conversation, is built with Ning.

I spent a little time recently building one for a place me and my friends like to go to for live music and libations (a bar in other words) . It is really interesting watching it grow.

These things are so simple and so feature-rich that I think they change the dynamic of the Internet. Just as blogs are rapidly replacing conventional static websites, these social network platforms are replacing portals for any kind of subject.

Of course we index Ning sites in SM2.