Last week's post on six degrees of social media monitoring inspired a lot of great comments, especially from some of the folks at the sharp end of the stick who are working for companies like Radian6, Conversition, Trackur and others. I'm pleased that you've all connected with this post, because I think you all have a role to play in a much larger endgame. Radian6's Amber Naslund posted today about connecting the dots between social media engagement and other functions/departments within companies. I think part of the disconnect she addresses--a small part, but a part--is the over-emphasis on the tactical aspects of social media (brand mentions, customer complaints, even sentiment) and not enough on what mining the social web could become. As much as I love "buzz tracking" and "trending topics", if that is all that the tools are used for, those are the conversations you'll be part of. Mining what Katie Morse and her colleagues have at Radian6, or what Annie Pettit has at Conversition, Andy Beal at Trackur, or Larry Levy has at Jodange, etc. to show the deeper levels of insight into future products and services possible from truly analyzing the social web will get these conversations started at higher levels within the company. Amber talks about creating an attitudinal shift within the enterprise, but the leaders in the social media monitoring space have a bigger stake and role to play in making those shifts happen. If you all can show the strategic value of your data--not just in providing a record of the past, but by actually providing insight into the products and services customers might want to buy in the future, you'll have the CEO herself monitoring her Twitter dashboard every day. The social web, and the newly empowered consumer it has created, will become elevated from marketing channel to part of the very theory of the firm.
Take our biggest research project, for example--my company is the sole provider of exit polling data for the major news networks during U.S. Elections and Primaries. In the short term, our data provides our clients with content--who voted and what issues were important in the decision. In the long run, however, trending all of that data and mining it over time allows us to capture and predict much more profound migrations in the electorate. You all have a similar power--and a similar charge. The trend is your friend--and really mining the migration of the character of social media discussions over time to show the tectonic shift in customer expectations will be the real key to showing everyone in the enterprise that human business has changed, and corporate attitudes have to change just to keep up. So, by all means, keep tracking the Oscars, or SXSW or a thousand other interesting, buzzworthy items (we do!) but also show us what you can do at the 50,000 foot level, where the folks who really need to hear these conversations reside. Those are conversations I'd love to have. So let's start them here!