I see the term “Social Media” now tossed around so often in relation to products or from Marketing Professionals that I get a little jumpy. There was a time when everyone was trying to figure out what Social Media was, and how it could help business in the never ending quest to get products and services into people’s hearts, minds, and hands. Even though it’s hard to believe, this part of the internet has been around for a while now, and astute marketers have figured out where it fits. Some astute product people have also figured out where it fits. And these people, being astute, know a secret: there’s really no such thing as “Social Media”. It’s all just part of one big whole, and the “Social” part doesn’t mean just the usual suspects, Facebook and Twitter.
Let me give you an example. We were doing an trial run for a very large customer who wanted to know what professional people were saying with regard to money transfers that the organization performs for consumers. The organization was not interested in what consumers thought for this study, just what people in business or regulatory positions were thinking and saying. Consider this request for a minute and think where the likely activity would be found. The really interesting opinion pieces and discussions won’t be found on those usual suspects sites, will they? These pieces will be found on traditional long-form media sites and blogs. However, something not often considered is also in play here: discussion forums. Where are those to be found? Primarily under blogs and articles. Who runs one of the biggest blog platforms out there? WordPress. If you’re not searching WordPress for content, you’re missing out on the critical part of this request – the discussion around the subject matter.
It’s clear that people pass around topical article and blogs through Facebook and Twitter, and at least on Facebook, it’s also clear that there can be discussion threads. But there are no better discussion threads than the ones attached to the original publication or opinion piece written up by an interested party on a blog. That’s what blogs are for. And here, unless you are mining the discussion part of this on a platform such as WordPress, you’re missing a lot of the Social Discussion. In fact, you’d even find out that these discussions pop up on articles that aren’t specifically about the topic, but get brought up because of points raised in the ensuing discussion. Again, if you’re only searching or analyzing the usual suspects, you’d miss all the richness you’d get from also mining WordPress data.
Let’s remember that the entire web is social by nature. Everything is interconnected. And no matter what anyone says, long form articles are still the primary means of thought expression. Social channels such as Facebook and Twitter are dissemination vehicles, not platforms of deep long-form thought. WordPress is a platform for medium or long form expression of thought, and built to foster and promote discussion of that thought directly, not indirectly. In other words, some of the best discussions happen “in-channel”, not in other channels like Twitter. These discussions are very tightly tied to the article and they go together. Our analysis would have been impossible – or at least incomplete – without the ability to mine a platform such as WordPress and the commentary attached to the articles for insight.
So when you’re thinking of the word “social” please now say “social web”. It’s all interconnected and your definition should expand to that reality. And if your task is to look for insight or any other data, your horizons should expand to include all types of social interaction, not just the usual suspects.No Comment