Chapter Three – Tracking International
In Chapter 3 of Social Media Analytics, Marshall Sponder kicks it up a notch and goes global, international, worldwide and universal, all the while remaining local.
In my review of Chapter 2, I pointed out how complex of an undertaking analytics can be when factoring international/slang/trends.
Well, no time was wasted to start addressing the very concepts and challenges of internationalization. Chapter 3 addresses the importance of properly applying context to Multicultural Social Media.
Marshal Sponder quotes Sam Flemming as recounting that “the Chinese language represents 10 percent of blogs.” Unlike Web 1.0, which could get away with being mostly English, Web 2.0 is by its very nature a far more cultural and diverse entity.
The simple fact is that there is another world outside of our pre-defined view of where our business transcends. Whether we accept that local can become global at the speed of a tweet reply, or we alienate a potential market by remaining an alien in a foreign land.
The key to surviving any foreign travel or incursion is to reach out to your established community and seek out trusted guides within the region.
These are your “HUMan INTelligence“.
These are your “people on the ground“.
These are the ones that have the context to make your brand more native.
No amount of “intellectual property”, “internationalization algorithms”, “multicultural monitoring platforms” can replace the context of someone who lives, breathes, and infuses the culture you wish to engage.
To not integrate this crucial element into your “machine learning” and “fuzzy logic” is a mistake that has cost lives in multiple wars, let alone impressions in Social Media Campaigns.
Marshall Sponder makes it very clear that analysis and monitoring is “much easier to work with and more actionable” when you have trained support staff scrubbing the data before it is assessed.
With International Data, it is even more important to ensure that the “trained support staff” is not just trained in the tools, but fully integrated into the context of the culture being monitored.
One of my favourite quotes from Chapter 3 states that “the challenge of social media monitoring is to act as a twenty-first-century Rosetta stone, decoding the online chatter and revealing its relevant meanings.“
Once again, put this in the context of centuries of warfare and intelligence gathering, and you immediately know how wrong things can get WITHOUT local human intelligence guiding the context of what is being said and acted upon.
Marshall provides us with a few examples of products that try to interconnect the “medium and message.” This is where it is clear that Marshall Sponder has done his homework and knows not only the players, but the gaps that make this a very “expensive and difficult” process to implement well.
Of key interest to me, was his concept that in a social media world, the conversations may not actually be taking place within the boundaries of traditional establishments. Just because minorities congregate physically in large cities, doesn’t mean that they don’t log into a hub half way around the world.
The biggest take away though for me when looking at Internationalization is how poorly most systems scale due to the complexity (and limitations) of queries and exponential size of data involved. To me, this is another reason why I see local queries with local context being a more appropriate approach to analyzing social data. Overall analysis can be bubbled up, but if you want to be agile in a foreign market, nothing beats having your feet on the ground surrounded by people who know the region guiding you.
Marshall wraps up with a brief mention of the Semantic Web. Systems and users can work together to ensure that the data flowing through our technical infrastructure are more contextual by default. Such context should include the “culture, conventions, and slang of regions being monitored.”
For me this chapter truly hit home the fact that Social Media Analytics becomes a whole different animal when you consider the real terrain of your social media engagement. Without “consensus and clear goals” it is very easy to become lost in the jungle of data that exists in the REAL WORLD.