Tomorrow, social media will be everywhere, like air.
It’s referring to everything from Facebook, to Flickr, to Twitter and on-line business networking such as LinkedIn and Xing.
In fact, social media is a very generic term that includes different concepts all related to technology, social interaction and building/providing content such text, photos or videos.
As you can see on the previous chart, it can be about sharing or publishing information, but also about building a social network. It can be linked to entertainment as well.
We are not yet at this point but one thing is sure: its importance is quickly growing and is becoming not only a new way to communicate between brands/consumers and consumers/consumers. In fact it’s also setting up interactions with “older” kind of websites such as blogs, e-business websites, user-created content’s websites… How many blogs have you ever visited with links to “Digg it” or “share on Facebook” ? What about last photos of Flickr album on these blogs ? It is also about identification with the spread of openID, with the will to interconnect different systems but also simplifying it.
But, what is social media about? Social media is about relationships. Social media is about interactivity. Social media is about word of mouth.
Sound familiar? Does this sound like the world of open source? It seems to me that communication over social media looks quite like open-source: voluntary involvement, sharing information, working in a group with common goals… OK, I know that people involved in social networks perhaps don’t feel involved in a community as strongly as in open-source but I think that comparison is still valid.
Working on that (with Jane’s help), I realized that no one has really focused on having user feedback on social media, especially for Europe, that is to say, to have the possibility to get a huge amount of data and focus on analyzing it. So we decided to try something.
For the moment social media is being used across the board to help raise awareness of Mozilla and Firefox. But we need now to find a way to understand what this all means.
Looking after already existing solutions, it became apparent that I cannot focus on Europe and must take a global perspective given the range and scope of tools currently available.
After researching them, I found a plethora. I suppose I am not the only one to look after this kind of tool.
There are a lot of free/cheap websites. I tried to identify them (non-exhaustive list) and think that I have most of them to date at the end of July 2008. From independent developer to multinational corporation, from open-source beginning project to Google, there is a large choice.
But in fact, few companies really try to sort data and analyze it as I expect to.
A lot of semantic research is being conducted on this topic, but so far, it has not been very effective.
The challenge is allowing the computer to understand the meaning of the words when we talk naturally, for example when associating salmon and fish.
Some other focus with statistics. Commercial solutions exist, like Nielsen Buzz Metrics, Attentio, Biz360, Filtrbox, Trackur or also Brandimensions (more exhaustive list available here). Some are really very expensive and others are more accessible but they all provide solutions for our problem.
I did my research on this, based on these tools. Next week I will present you the results, hoping that they will be interesting enough considering the research spanned only a few weeks. Obviously, a long term study would yield more significant results and help deepen the analysis.
I encourage you to find out some news about social media, but be careful the topic is large and you can be lost very quickly. A good starting point is to read Groundswell , by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.
* Florian – a happy marketing intern discovering the wonderful Mozilla world.