Social media researchalytics


I've taken a real interest in companies that monitor and analyze social media lately. I met some of them at the WOMMA Summit, and one of the fun topics was trying to figure out what to call their new industry.

It seems a little strange to call it an industry already, but the New York Times called it a "promising new industry" in yesterday's story on Nielsen BuzzMetrics. I guess that makes it official. Part of what makes this little industry interesting is the different backgrounds of the companies and what that difference means for their approach to analyzing social media. It also leads to confusing terminology.

Here are some of the terms I've come across. They all mean roughly the same thing:

  • Blog monitoring
  • Brand monitoring (Forrester)
  • Consumer-generated media measurement (Nielsen BuzzMetrics)
  • Conversation mining (Converseon)
  • Internet word of mouth and competitive intelligence research (CIC Data)
  • Market influence analytics (Cymfony)
  • Online market intelligence (Attentio)
  • Online reputation monitoring (search marketers)
  • Public image monitoring (Nstein)
  • Social media analysis (Matt Hurst)
  • Social media analytics
  • Social media measurement (Constantin Basturea)
  • Social media research
Now, I realize that companies need to differentiate their services, so we're going to have service marks and vendor-speciific terminology. But wouldn't it help everyone if we had a consistent, generic term for clients to wrap their heads around? After all, many companies still don't monitor blogs. When they figure out the need for blog brand social media monitoring measurement analytics (BBSMMMA), how do they refer to it? (Yeah, yeah, by your company's name. Sure.)

I have my opinions, but I'd like to hear yours. Is it possible to find a common term? What's your favorite?

Tags: buzz


How about Collaborative Intelligence? Well, at least it's what we call it.

It has the advantage of appearing in Wikipedia, but that's not the meaning I'm after here. I suppose I should have given a definition, huh? I don't have a finished definition, but the term should encompass most or all of these activities:

  1. Monitoring social media—blogs, discussion boards, online product reviews, newsgroup, et al—to find mentions of the client (company, products, brands, messages, people...)
  2. Software-aided analysis of the data gathered to identify trends, sentiment, influencers, and associations.
  3. Presentation of the data in a analytical framework with some sort of reporting interface (web, PDF, Powerpoint, Braille...)
  4. Human analysis of the data and tactical/strategic recommendations.

I think Social Media Research is probably the best big umbrella term.

It's important to realize that many of the services are quite distinct and meet different goals, and that it's not mere "marketing differentiation" that leads to such a variety of terms.

Thanks for the clarification, Hans. I'm not trying to bury useful distinctions—there's clearly a difference between monitoring blogs and analyzing social media for brand associations, for example. The point here isn't to replace any of the more specific terms, but to consider what broad label to apply to the industry overall.

Nathan, it´s hard to find a definition that reflects the four diferent steps you mentioned and don´t look like a branch of advanced physics.

This is a challenge we had to face when we defined our area of activity. After many unfruitful and eroding debates, we finally decided to delimit that definition to the 1st and 4th activities you accuratly have stablished.

The definition we came up with was "Monitoring and analysis of the mobilised opinion".
It still is a quite "round-about" definition and does not fulfill the second and third areas of our activity. (Software-aided analysis of the data gathered and presentation of the data in a analytical framework).

I, anyway, hope to have contributed in some way to this interesting discussion.

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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.
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