As Dave says, it's that time again, and in the wake of the new Technorati report (now know as The State of the Live Web), I'm once again wondering about international social media analysis. Specifically, I'm curious about support for Asian languages, which are better represented among bloggers than among the companies that monitor and analyze blogs.
One of the more interesting bits in the Guide to Social Media Analysis is the language matrix, which is now 28 languages wide. It's no surprise to see English on everyone's list, but the overall range is eye-opening, from Arabic to Ukrainian. The most widely used languages in the blogosphere are well represented, with two exceptions: Farsi (#10) and Japanese (#1).
Eight companies support Chinese, including one company in Shanghai (some companies use translation services, which I'm not including here). With the third most popular language in the blogosphere and the most feet on the planet, China's interest is obvious. Richard Edelman observed last November:
In general, there appears to be quite an active anti-corporate, anti-multinational voice on the blogosphere in China. The average blogger is a 30 year old male, of modest means, venting resentments. Japanese companies are the #1 target, with US companies just behind.So the need is there, the interest is there, and companies are offering the services to clients who want to know what's being said in China.
Japanese, on the other hand, seems to be under the radar, despite its position as the leading language in the blogosphere. Only two companies I know of support Japanese, including one company in Tokyo. Japanese Internet users clearly know how to use blogs to express themselves—although they may have a preference for flames over discussion:
While anonymous writers have long used third-party online bulletin boards such as "2 channel" to criticize individuals and corporations in a phenomenon known as matsuri (meaning "festival"), the difference between matsuri and enjo [flames] is that with enjo, there is "no escape route" for those under attack, as it is their own blogs that are being targeted, Ohya noted.Are companies not paying attention to Japanese blogs because of the flame wars? Is the language too hard? Are clients not asking for Japanese coverage? Why is Japanese coverage so hard to find?
Korean blogs remain off virtually everyone's radar. Technorati and Edelman gave up, and only one company I've heard from supports Korean (remember, not counting translations). I've heard that Korean culture treats social media as more personal, and there's that issue of missing ping support in Korean blog platforms. Korean representation at the WOMMA Summit suggests that we're missing something, though the attendees I talked to knew of only manual blog monitoring in Korea.
The newest addition to the Technorati Top 10 Languages, Farsi, is flying below the radar, too. At 1% of blogs, it's tied with German and half the level of French, Portuguese and Russian—all languages supported by multiple social media analysis companies. Nobody I've heard from supports Farsi... yet. Anyone wonder what 60 million native Persian speakers might be talking about in those blogs?
Maybe I need to make my own chart comparing language usage in blogs with language support in social media analysis. Hmm...