Saturday, May 14, 2011

Social Media: Listening Tools Are The Next Frontier

(Article first published as Social Media: Listening Tools are the Next Frontier on Technorati)

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBaseThe terms social media and new media are makeshift. Watching TV with friends can be a perfectly social activity, but we are not thinking TV when we say social media. Radio was new at one point. But we don't think radio as new media. Social media, new media have been birthed by the internet, more specifically Web 2.0. But we don't think of email, the web's central application still, as social media, new media.

Facebook, Twitter and blogs are the most often thought of tools of social media. How are these tools so different from television, radio, books, movies, music, even a website?

No matter how many people are talking to you, you should still be able to listen, and listen well. I believe that is the next frontier of social media. Social media has so far presented itself as the antithesis of broadcast media like television and radio. They spoke to us and we listened. But so far social media has been primarily a miniature version of that same broadcast media. Some listening is possible, sure, and is done. But social media still has been primarily a broadcast mechanism.

Twitter meaningfully spitting out all the tweets it takes in would be a sign we are getting good also at listening.

The frontier after that would be to get closer and closer to realizing everyone on the planet is connected to everyone else. We will use the web to explore our interest graphs in ways that we will find ourselves interacting with people who are out there, but before new technology we just did not have the option to get to know them well. That is partly about getting everyone to come online, that is partly about getting people more bandwidth. But it goes beyond that. In 2000 we did not see Twitter coming. Today it is fair to say we don't exactly see the tools of 2015. There are Twitter size surprises ahead of us.
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
New forms of collaboration will become possible. Richer social relationships and interactions will become possible. More meaningful dialogues will become possible. Ambitious social goals will be achieved.
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Virtue said...

This is a great article.However, I want to add a few of my opinions as well. Before that, I will explain some of my Social Media background.

I am working with one of the outsourcing companies in India, providing social media listening services. As we all know, social media listening is one of the very critical practice an organization or the marketing department would like to monitor on daily bases. Tools like SM2, Radian6, can help you get a great amount of buzz, and very easily. However, as you mentioned, the relevance ratio of these buzz is hardly 30% (just being a little liberal), that also when you have fed a very specific and complex boolean search string. As you mentioned, the tools are not designed to catch human sentiments precisely, there are obvious chances of them to mess up.

As per my observation, tools are only able to give you 15% again, being liberal) data accurately. About 85% of the analysis thrown by any tool is incorrect, no matter how sophisticated the tool is. As you rightly mentioned, you will always require human intervention to bring out correct sentiment and actionable insights.

What I see is, you require to have cleaning up speedy mechanism, in house, to make sure that the buzz captured is relevant to the scope of report. This mechanism can be either all human process or a combination of human and automation process.

Now, that brings another challenge. you can not combine both, the tool and the cleaning up process, and feed that in to the tool back again and work on that using the tool. So, the later part, the analysis, becomes an independent process all together.

What I see is, these tools are great to fetch data from any corner of internet (provided that corner is defined in the tools database). And than, use that data in a second process which will let you analyze and draft report out of it.

I hope what I said makes sense to all the readers.


Paramendra Bhagat said...

Makes a lot of sense.

social media calendar said...

I agree with you and I think mobile will play a larger role in addition to what you have indicated above on the go access, as something that accompanies television viewing.