Chapter Four – Online Social Intelligence
Chapter 4 of Social Media Analytics is a small chapter dealing with a very large issue. The issue of “Signal-to-Noise Ratio” is not only discussed, but highlights the real issue generated by Social Media. And NO, it is not “What is the ROI of Social Media?“
As far back as April 20, 2010, I have stipulated that “Content is Free – Context is Where the Value IS.”
In Chapter 3, Marshall Sponder states “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.“
This statement is compounded exponentially when we understand that only a very, very, very small portion of the available digital content is currently indexed/accessible.
Finding relevant meaning to the online chatter is even more of an issue when we realize that much of that content is devoid of context or semantics.
As we expand the tools to aggregate and disseminate content beyond the current repository, we are faced with a challenge that sees a serious decrease in value of said content as its supply grows.
This reduction in value is not due to a decrease in demand for quality content. The reduction in value is directly tied to the lack of context that much of this new content will likely bring.
As such, when we compound this new content with our existing repository, the current mechanism that was used to decipher its value is unable to scale adequately.
The Dunbar Number (150) hints at a theoretical limit to the number of quality active connections we can manage. Similarly the brain, our primary semantic engine, is only able to provide so much valuable context to the content we are digesting.
So not only are new tools and algorithms required to allow us to scale with this new supply of content, but furthermore, a new content creation mindset is needed as our role as prosumers expand during the Social Media Era.
Context is loosely defined as “the intelligent interpretation of content.”
Okay I just made that up, but work with me here ;-).
Marshall Sponder outlines that “most of that inteligence is created by humans who are reading and acting with the content, not by algorithms.” Platforms do exist that will “analyze micro-behaviors to determine customer intent and content engagement.” However, “making decisions using micro signals is just one way to gather online intelligence.”
The need to increase the amount of “signal” with the increase in “noise” is what will fundamentally decide the real value of Social Media. As human beings, we can only manage so much.
As 2011 reaches to a close, we are already seeing strong indications of Social Media Fatigue caused by noise overload due to poor filters.
Marshall points out that algorithms such as Viterbi logic are required in Social Media Analytical platforms to help us derive the “sentiment, tone, relevance, and association” from the content the systems are monitoring.
It is those sentiments that derive context from content. It is that functionality that will make analytical and monitoring platforms valuable. Only by factoring contextualized content with “social rank” and “social density” will the real ROI of Social Media be truly calculated.
The ability to track the Call to Action of a Social Media Campaign through the Social Graph to the Point of Sale is where the real ROI will be measured. This is even more critical when we factor in the Real-Time and Mobile aspects of our economic decisions.
Platforms that do not provide the capabilities to not only track this, but incorporate “sarcasm, irony, and emoticons” into its analysis through “Artificial Intelligence” and “Machine Learning” will be as valuable as the poorly contextualized content that litter our Social Feeds.
Much like content being free in a Content Economy, platforms that cannot provide true context to the decision making process will become commodities that won’t be able to compete where the value is.
On a final note, Marshall makes a point about how Google acquired ITA Software mostly on the merits of their United States Patent Application 20100145902.
As much as this is a statement on the need for better context tools to analyze the “dark web”, it is even more of a statement of the litigation mindset that is currently hampering innovation.
As we continue to attempt to bring valuable context to the massive content generated by prosumers, it is important that we not shackle our intellectual minds in finding those solutions.
Too many great ideas have not come to fruition because companies did not have the means to do legal battle or acquire a company in their bid to develop, produce and deliver innovative solutions.
In an era where we are shifting from “Made in America” to “Designed in America”, we need to fully embrace the full potential of our engineers, thinkers, dreamers and doers.
The only way this will be achieved is through Patent Reform. Otherwise, there will be little value that the United States will bring to the new global market economy.
Leave the 10,000 lawyers where they belong, in a bad joke at the bottom of the sea.
Let’s start innovating again like it was 1940.
The United States has a new war on their hands.
It will only be won if they pool together and a work collectively towards that common goal.
Innovate or DIE!