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Search, Social Search, Blog Search

February 27, 2009

77278316 One key challenge in social media is to find people, places where your target customers hang out and have conversations.

They’re many solutions out there, and  no “one size fits all” one. Thus, ahead of starting your social media initiative, it’s key to develop a strategy aligned with your business objectives.

Roughly, the “find” technology powering social media marketing solutions fall in two different categories:

  1. Keyword Search – you’re asked to input a few keywords and then an engine crawls for conversations that matches the search strings. Results are aggregated, sometimes attempts are made to identify the most influential people for this bag of keywords and to provide a social interpretation  of the results (graph analytics, mashup with social sites), which can be leverage for future searches.
  2. RSS Readers –  the user is left finding places, people on his own and over time collects the people and places that make sense. He/She can dive in the conversation zooming with keywords on conversations of interest from people in target.

There are pros and cons in these two approaches.

Keyword Search

  • +simple and easy to use, (at least from a first sight), it’s like Google and people have experience searching with keywords.
  • + present extensive results. since you don’t focus first, you shouldn’t miss any conversation about a topic, brand, to the extend that your provider can go deep. (note Google itself only index 69% of the internet, deep search engine cost 100’s ok K’s – here is a very interesting study).
  • – tend to produce a lot of noise. Even looking at presentations/demo  from providers  you usually can “feel” the noise.
  • – very difficult to establish relationship with such approach, from one day to the other you end up getting to different authors
  • – almost impossible to segment your audience. i.e: when communities using the same keywords differentiate on dimensions that are not easily captured  with keywords ( commercial versus community, expert versus novice, solution provider versus independent)
  • +ideal if your brand is known and if your main focus is brand monitoring
  • – More challenging if you research on a given topic (let’s say you want to understand how bailout is perceived in the experts blogs of the democratic side) or a mid range brand (high probability that you get nothing returned, or nothing more than what a google search would give: sporadic posts but no real conversations).

RSS Readers

  • – this approach means you focus first so you will miss conversations. you can compensate by having an open search along with your RSS approach but this calls for “two level of reading” (the relevant and the rest)
  • + you can calibrate your effort towards a limited set of people and places and you spend more time on each of the places and people you select. This gives you more chances to establish a relation that can be activated for word of mouth, recommendation, affiliation.
  • + you can go deep. whether for influence measurement, trend identification. A few conversations about “sarah palin” become very visible in IT security blogs when her email was hacked, they were almost impossible to spot or discover in the open web.
  • – it takes time and it adds an additional level of complexity.  One you have to identify who’s and where is relevant for you and only then you can start monitoring and engaging
  • + you can segment your audience along your target market and business initiatives.
  • this approach is better for research, relationship builiding and growing influence in a niche community. it is also better when you want to do lasershap monitoring on specific topic.
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