Online Reputation Measurement and Analysis

I receive plenty of feedback from peers in the social media space about “reporting and analysis” of the metrics behind online conversations. How do you measure buzz, authority, perspective, bias, trending, cost? All of the above? A mixture of it all?

Regardless of what you measure, with social media the latest information is the most relevant. As a part of this ideology I wanted to go back to last year and clip an article that I wrote in September of 07. While the dates have changed a little- the unfortunate problem it covers in our industry is growing bigger and bigger (rather than smaller).

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Having been a consultant regarding online media for over a decade, I am constantly growing very weary of informational white-paper companies that are charging top dollar for “analysis” of an industry that is forever changing. In my previous life working at a Fortune 50 company on interactive projects, I can tell you that far too many “big boy” companies are absolutely relying on the wrong informational sources to make huge decisions. This old-school system is leading more and more companies down the path of digital suicide.

Today I was sent a reminder about a white paper from IDC, an analyst and research company that defines itself as“the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 900 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 90 countries worldwide.”

While I have no doubt that IDC and companies like it have some amazing information to browse through and collect, I do find that information research firms are moving more and more into “uncharted waters” where they seem to have little actual experience.

Enter Social Media.

The U.S. Social Networking Application 2007–2012 Forecast and Analysis only costs $4500 from IDC.

For purposes of full disclosure, I did not buy this report for two main reasons:

At 22 pages long, it barely has enough room to address the 10+ companies it details.

Every day since it was published in August, 2007 – more and more details become completely irrelevant.

I also didn’t buy it… because just reading the description left me asking questions:

How does a comprehensive report of this topic only have 10+ companies? Last time I checked my bookmark list and personal research papers, there were hundreds of social networking applications.

Why would anyone actually pay $4500 for a white paper that has old data with minimal focus to your business, when for $4500 I can point you to several amazing consultants (some on my team, some on other teams) that will write a 22 page breakdown of how social networking/media affects YOUR business?

When will decision makers and researchers realize that this marketplace is changing on a daily basis? By the time I hit “post” on this article… chances are that some of the information could already be old. The top “movers and shakers” in the world of social media, community applications, widgets, digital communications, and everything Web 2.0 and beyond are creative and fluid thinkers that are making decision based on the “here and today”, not what happened last month.

If you are reading this, you probably realize the social media marketplace is about thinking outside of the box and understanding what potential is right around the corner. Leveraging this technology is about keeping an ear to the ground and a voice in the conversation. It is about new possibilities.

This industry is about understanding that at 2:00 AM this morning, some geeky college intern is eating a bowl of Cheerios and finishing his coding of the next Google, or creating the next FaceBook platform that will change the way the market works. There is no “on-going consistency” in the online world. It is fluid, changing, and amazingly imaginative.

For $4,500… people can stop relying on already dated information and actually get some real consulting about what is happening today.

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I know that old article was a little abrasive, but as an industry participant my responsibility is to raise my hand and voice concern over obvious problems. I have written about things like ethical media consulting, talked about how social media influencers are targets of media manipulation, that ANY business can perform social media measurement and brand control, and have even written up a social media manifesto defining some of my personal beliefs about this industry.

As a professional in my space, I make every attempt to be a thought-leader and thought-provoker. I share my expertise freely, hoping that readers take a moment to think about the “how and why”, motivating them to change a broken industry trend within their own sphere of influence.

Why? This industry is about making BIG decisions that have a “trickle down” effect that changes the way millions of professionals do business. If you do not ask some of the bigger questions and examine the why of how data is created and manipulated, then you become guilty of blindly accepting of “how things are”

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