Mapping the Social Data Ecosystem

If you want to work with social media data, you first need some data. But "social media data" isn't a single thing, and sourcing it involves decisions about what you need and where you get it. Those decisions have technical, business, and even legal implications, which is why I've been working on a new research theme for Social Target: the social data ecosystem.

The project grew out of a whiteboard session with a client last year. I showed them how social media data—Twitter content in their example—is available from multiple sources, but your choice affects what you get and creates requirements for your systems to handle it.

The first draft
I've turned that original sketch into this map of the industry, which I'm treating as a hypothesis in the research phase. As I talk with companies in the various categories, I expect to validate the model and get a better understandinging of how the interfaces work.

Social data ecosystem

This is what I mean by the social data ecosystem. It starts with the companies who collect data directly from their users, and it ends with the analyst or manager who is looking for information in social media. In the middle is where all the data changes hands and software turns it into something useful.

Exactly what happens in between is interesting and a bit complicated—but perhaps a bit less complicated once this project is complete.

What's your experience?
I'm interviewing companies throughout the ecosystem now. In addition to understanding the different business models in play, I'm also asking about current issues in the market. I'd like to know what's working, and what's not.

I'd like to hear from you, too. What's been your experience in working with social media data? Comment here or contact me privately, and let's find out together what's going on in this fast-evolving market.

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
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