Following a recent exploration into the world that is social media, I put together three useful takeaways to consider during future open source research and analysis.
1. The next time you come across a site of interest think of it in terms of one of the six categories of social media classification. Collaborative projects (wikis, social bookmarking applications); blogs (primarily text based but expanding to include video and image); content communities (Flickr, YouTube, Slideshare); social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn); virtual game worlds (MMORPGs); and virtual social words (Second Life) comprise the wondrous world of social media.
2. Consider the reason why the social media profile exists and why the specific form was chosen. Take into account the level of self-disclosure, social presence, media richness and self-presentation available in and required by the form of social media being viewed (a blog requires a significant amount of disclosure but may not have a strong presence on the web) and why one form might be chosen over another. Fuse these findings into the data pool for analysis. This chart presents a framework for understanding the categories.
3. Use a strategy or process for social media analysis. Before beginning determine how to:
- Collect and process information
- Exclude irrelevant information or “noise”
- Identify patterns and connections
- Synchronize data from sources
- Disseminate findings to stakeholders
For additional information please see this article by Kaplan and Haenlein, Business Horizons (2010) 53, 59—68 and the new SAS White paper, Fighting Crime Through Social Media and Social Network Analysis.