October 2008 Archives

Managing Social Media


If we haven't talked lately, you might not have heard about the theme I've been developing. Last year, I was calling it "the management layer of social media," but I knew that was too geeky. So I refined it to "managing social media." While so much of the talk is about the big ideas and cultural changes surrounding social media adoption, this is all about how to make it work in large organizations. I expect to spend a major piece of the next few years on managing social media.

You can't manage social media!
If this were another post on how companies should listen and participate in social media, I'd be prepared to agree with the standard objection about loss of control. But I'm not talking about control. This is about what companies do internally to manage their social media activities. Just Do It is a great ad campaign, but it's not how things happen in medium or large companies.

Today, I'm sharing the general framework. It doesn't spell anything, but it can be fun to pronounce—especially if you pronounce both Ps...

For the Groundswell fans, this doesn't replace POST—it addresses a separate set of issues that come up inside the company. Issues that we'll get into in the coming months.

Connecting listening to business processes
The first topic is something from the process column, which I've heard as an issue from multiple sources: how to connect social media listening and engagement to business processes. I've encountered at least four different organizational approaches so far, all of which seem to work. I'm lining up the case studies for a report; if you know of a good example of a company that's doing it well, I'd like to know about it. (Yes, I know about Dell. We all know about Dell.)

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

  • 24 October - Leximancer announced a partnership with OrbisIP Limited to expand into the international security market, including government and military users.

  • 22 October - Digimind announced the release of Digimind 7.2 "Discovery." The new version includes familiar social media analysis features, positioned for the competitive intelligence market.
New research and papers
Current posts on the job board


links for 2008-10-28

links for 2008-10-24

A big part of my approach to understanding the market is to explore the edges, and one of the edges is information arbitrage—where social media analysis meets investment research. Think of a portfolio manager or analyst using social media intelligence to analyze investments and find trading signals. It'a pretty easy to understand the ROI in that application, and it's the kind of application that may just get your CFO's attention.

I've talked with people with some interesting approaches to this specialized market, and I recently started a project to categorize the strategies in the market. There are a number of different angles in play, which makes it a particularly interesting space:

In this market, the distinction between social and traditional media isn't always relevant, so news analytics services from Dow Jones and Reuters figure into the mix, too.

Given recent trends in financial markets, I've decided to prioritize other projects, but I expect to come back to this one (so if I missed your company, let me know). It's a potent reminder that there's more to social media than marketing and communications.

Related posts:

At last look, 30% of sales of the Guide to Social Media Analysis are outside the United States (as are half of the companies profiled in the Guide). Making international contacts is one of the more fun parts of tracking social media analysis companies. It's nice to see that a global scope is good for business, too.

Beyond the small thrill I get out of traveling the world virtually, international coverage is just not optional—especially for supporting clients who do business globally. The need shows up in some recent questions:

  • Client: "Does anyone monitor social media in [langage]?"
    Yes. Whatever language you're looking for, someone can handle it for you.

  • Investor: "Is there a company in France measuring social media?"
    Sure. How many do you want?

  • Vendor: "I'm going to be in [city in a distant country], is there anyone there I should meet?"
    Yes. I'll introduce you.
If everything you're hearing elsewhere is US-centric, I can help you with that.

links for 2008-10-23

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

  • 20 October - Critical Mention announced CriticalWeb, a new service for tracking video and images on the Internet in near-real time.

  • 22 October - Lexalytics introduced Salience 4.0, the first new release since the company's merger with Infonic’s Text Analytics Division. Central to the upgrade are improvements to entity extraction, sentiment scoring and thematic extraction. press release (PDF)

  • 19 October - FirstRain announced a new partnership with FactSet Research Systems that will add FirstRain's web-sourced data into FactSet's Marquee platform. press release
Call for papers

Current posts on the job board


links for 2008-10-22

Are you going to the WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas next month? I'll be there (sporting a "member" ribbon on my nametag this time). WOMMA is the best event I've found for meeting people from the social media analysis branch of my network, which makes it my best chance to meet you this year. To make it even more interesting, we're going to have a meetup for social media analysis folks who are in town.

This started when Sam Flemming pinged me about organizing a meetup for folks involved in social media analysis internationally. Sam's visiting from Shanghai, and WOMMA draws an international crowd, so it's a reasonable theme. If you happen to meet peers from the same country, that's ok, too.

    What: SMA Vendor Meetup

    Where: Spago Las Vegas
    Forum Shops at Caesars
    (702) 369-6300

    When: Wednesday, November 12, 6:30 PM

WOMMA has good receptions that you won't want to miss, so we won't compete with them. If there's no reception on the 12th (research day), we can look at something earlier. If WOMMA has an event, we'll look later. Either way, it's probably dinner.

Update: It looks like there's no WOMMA reception to compete with on the 12th, so we're going at a more East-Coast-friendly 6:30 pm (I'd like to stay awake through dinner). If you're planning to join us, please add your name below so I can update the reservation.

Need a head count
Here's the part where I need your help. I need to know if this is going to turn into a few folks going to a restaurant together (easy) or 50 people looking for a place to talk (harder and $ in advance). Once I get a sense of the numbers, I'll investigate the details, but we're going to do something.

Are you going to be at WOMMA on the evening of the 12th? Will you plan to join us?

links for 2008-10-21

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

New research and papers
  • 14 October - TNS Cymfony introduced the VRIS Model ("Verismo"), a PR measurement approach aimed at summarizing available data into answers to two questions: "Did the initiative reach the intended audience?" and "Did we communicate the key message(s) we wanted to?" Details in the white paper (PDF).
Call for papersCurrent posts on the job board


links for 2008-10-14

links for 2008-10-10

Sequoia on Surviving the Crisis

This will probably be one of the most-forwarded items on the Net today. If you're managing a business, read it for suggestions on how to get through. If you sell to business, read it to understand your customers' new priorities. If you work for a business, read it for what to expect (and read between the lines for how you can protect yourself). If you don't fit it one of those categories, read it anyway. It has a lot of good information about how we got here and what to expect.

links for 2008-10-09

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

  • 8 October - WPP Group wins TNS as 82% of TNS shareholders accept the WPP acquisition offer. WPP plans to combine TNS and WPP's Kantar to make the world's second-largest market research group after Nielsen.

  • 7 October - Biz360 launched Opinion Insights, a tool for monitoring and analyzing consumer opinion in shopping and review sites. press release

  • 3 October - MotiveQuest unveiled BrandAdvocacy08, joining the list of election-oriented analysis sites. MotiveQuest's David Rabjohns promises, "I am so convinced of this metric that if we are wrong, and fail to correctly predict the outcome of the election, I will shave my head on You Tube for your delight." The stakes just keep going up, don't they?

  • 8 October - Lexalytics announced ExecDex, a free analytical portal focused on coverage of company CEOs.

  • 6 October - Attentio has moved into new offices.
  • 7 October - Connie Bensen joins Techrigy as Community Strategist. Bensen will also continue her role as Community Manager for Network Solutions.
Call for papersCurrent posts on the job board


I've been thinking about the questions companies need to consider when they're looking for tools or services for listening to social media. The obvious first question—which is always the first question— is, "what are you trying to accomplish?" Given an answer to that one, another important question applies to the people who are going to be involved in the process. Who are they, and how will they interact with the data?

I first heard the idea of categorizing people as information producers and information consumers in a briefing with Biz360 for the first edition of the Guide to Social Media Analysis. The idea is that some people will take a hands-on approach to tools and data, while others wait for finished analysis and reports. One is oriented to the analytics, while the other just wants the resulting information. Think of an analyst and an executive, and you'll get the picture.

Producers, Consumers and Power Users
I've found the information producers and consumers framework to be useful, but in this year's briefing with InfoNgen, I realized that we need to look more closely at the producers. Some of them are going to do a lot more with their tools than the average user.

Take Microsoft Excel: it's on virtually every office computer, and a lot of people use it. They're information producers when they organize some information or do a little math in a spreadsheet. But a much smaller group really knows how to make Excel sweat, creating what-if scenarios, modeling complex business plans, running Monte Carlo simulations to evaluate uncertainty... At some point, you have to put these users in a separate category, which we usually label power users.

Users of social media analysis tools will fall into the same categories. Producers will use the query, analysis and reporting capabilities of their analysis platform, and consumers will receive their reports. Power users will explore the depths of the end-user features in their platforms, which vary considerably. The line between a producer and a power user is arbitrary, but it's worth considering.

InfoNgen showed me how a user of their system could create or modify searches and filters using a probabilistic model that goes well beyond Boolean queries. In the right hands, it could be a powerful feature, but the average user will never touch it. Other platforms have different features to reward power users, but this was the one that inspired the topic.

Which Types Are You?
When it comes to monitoring and measuring social media, companies need to understand how they're going to work with the data—and how specific individuals and teams will work. If your company doesn't have anyone with an analytical bent, then a hands-on analytical tool may deliver less value than it would to another company.

A powerful tool in the hands of a power user, on the other hand, can be used to create useful tools and information for the other information producers and consumers in the company. If a technically proficient, curious analyst is on your team, you might want to think about the advanced capabilities available in the tools you consider.

links for 2008-10-07

Say Hello at ESM Atlanta


With all of the interesting conferences that I miss because they're in New York or San Francisco, it's nice to have one closer to home. Executing Social Media is in Atlanta next week (15–16 October), with its focus on practical applications and corporate examples. I have the perfect gig as moderator: I get a license to speak up (as if I need one), and I don't have to prepare a session.

At the last ESM, I appreciated the plentiful opportunities to spend time with other participants on their real issues. Changes in the format look to tee up even better conversations at the roundtables this time.

We live in interesting times, so the organizer is offering a few ways to reduce the budget impact of ESM:

  • Two-for-one pricing on all registrations.

  • Save $300 by using the discount code esm08300 when you register.

  • Win two tickets with your answer to the question, "what tactics would you use to introduce one or all of the following social media tools (blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasting, online video or social networking) into an existing, conservative organization?"
ESM is smaller than other conferences I've been a part of, which gives it a more intimate vibe and encourages in-depth conversations. I'm particularly looking forward to presentations from companies whose stories aren't I'll call you.overexposed.

A number of folks on my want-to-meet list are going to be there. Are you?

links for 2008-10-05

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

  • 24 September - Stephen Foster joins Biz360 as Director of Research and Analyst Services. Foster was previously Director of Competitive Research at Keynote Systems. press release
Call for papersCurrent posts on the job board


links for 2008-10-01

About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Advisor to buyers, sellers and investors. Writing my next book.
  • Principal, Social Target
  • Profile
  • Highlights from the archive


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