Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monitoring Social Media

In an earlier post, "What We've Got Here Is Failure to Communicate," I cited the following social media statistics: there are 200 million blogs; 73% of active online users have read a blog; 44% of those online get news at least a few times a week through posts from social networking sites, automatic updates, and emails; and 26% of Twitter users get their news from tweets. Since social media has overtaken pornography as the number one activity on the internet, these statistics represent just the tip of the social media iceberg.

Also consider the following:
  • One out of eight couples married in the United States in 2009 met via social media
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world
  • More video was uploaded to YouTube in the last two months of 2009 than if ABC, NBC, and CBS had been airing content 24/7/365 since 1948, the first year ABC broadcast television
  • Seventy percent of eighteen to thirty-four year olds have watched television on the web
  • Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the United States
  • With 500 million users, if Facebook were a country, it would be the world's largest after China and India, numbers one and two, respectively
  • 60 million status updates happen on Facebook daily
  • More than 1.5 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook daily
  • Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers than the combined populations of Sweden, Israel, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, and Panama
  • Eighty percent of Twitter usage is on mobile devices
  • Fifty-four percent of bloggers post content or tweet daily
  • Thirty-four percent of bloggers post opinions about products and brands
Given this sheer volume of internet traffic, tracking social media for what is being said about you, your client, or your company is a daunting prospect. Nevertheless, a number of companies are trying to track social media, and one of the more ambitious tracking operations is being conducted by Gatorade.

In April, the company established the Gatorade Mission Control Center in its Chicago headquarters, a war room for monitoring the Gatorade brand in real-time across social media. Using software from IBM and Radian6, four staffers monitor social media posts 24 hours a day for mentions of Gatorade. The monitoring is not passive; the four staffers often jump into conversations occurring on Facebook or Twitter. As reported in the Wall Street Journal:
Gatorade staffers monitor social-media posts 24 hours a day in the glitzy hub, hoping what they see and learn will help the company more effectively promote its new G-series of drinks, which launched last spring. Whenever someone uses Twitter to say they're drinking a Gatorade or mentions the brand on Facebook or in other social media, it pops up on a screen in Mission Control. On Saturday, the staff jumped into a Facebook conversation to correct a poster who said Gatorade has high-fructose corn syrup. "It's like we're a person in their social circle now," says Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Robb O'Hagan . . .
The ability to track social media conversations in real time may not sell more Gatorade, but it has tremendous potential for use in crisis communications:
[F]ew [companies] have staff monitoring blog and other posts alongside those tracking online-ad traffic, producing a consolidated picture of the brand's Internet image. Gatorade hopes such coordination will help head off potential crises like a brouhaha last year over PepsiCo's slow response to consumer complaints that an Apple iPhone application for its Amp energy drink was sexist.
You can see pictures of Mission Control in action here.

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