Social media, marketing and labels


It seems I'm not the only one thinking about the labels we use around marketing and social media. I asked your opinion on what to call the group of activities around monitoring and analyzing social media a few weeks back (already? wow). Now, Rohit Bhargava and Cameron Olthuis are refining the distinction between social media optimization (SMO) and social media marketing (SMM). So here's my opinion on the labelling question.

I like social media analysis.

I like social media research, too, but analysis sounds to me more approachable than research, and some of these activities don't come off as research. Besides, isn't SMR taken? :-)

I like online market intelligence, but it's very broad, and I don't think many people would associate it with what we're talking about. Reputation monitoring, on the other hand, is only one application.

Monitoring may the basic activity, but it misses some of the more interesting work. Measurement is interesting, but some of the activities—such as monitoring—don't necessarily involve measurement. Analytics is just too geeky for a non-technical audience.

The idea is to come up with an inclusive term to describe some similar services offered under a variety of labels. It needs to encompass these activities (and possibly more):

  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 an analytical framework with some sort of reporting interface (web, PDF, Powerpoint, Braille...)
  4. Human analysis of the data and tactical/strategic recommendations.
I like social media analysis, which is what I plan to use. The only problem I see is that SMA is already in use. Hmm.



I like Social Media Research, because most of the work in this space is just that, and smells more like traditional market research than it does broad, sweeping analysis such as that provided by Gartner. Research firms may also provide analysis, but at this stage in the industry, simply listening is a major cultural shift; thinking about what's been heard is another exercise. ;-)

Of course, my product name has "monitor" in it, so maybe I should be pushing for that.

Actually, I find myself using research and analysis somewhat interchangeably, even as I try to be consistent. I hadn't thought about analysis in the industry analyst sense; I use the word more in its original definition. Analysis and synthesis are routine tools for me, so I don't assume they belong to anyone. Interesting point, though. Confusing people is definitely not the goal.

I agree that listening is a major shift (and a necessary one). I'd like to think that thinking isn't too big a stretch once you're listening. At least listening without thinking is better than speaking without thinking (not that that stops anyone).

Social media research? Who else has an opinion?

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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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