Towards an Analytics of Networked Publics

TANEP: Towards an Analytics of Networked Publics

Understanding the Dynamics of Online Communication

The Internet and social networks like Twitter and Facebook are essential to communication today. How people interact via these media is also important for marketing and market research. The GfK Verein is developing an analysis method for Internet-based communications together with the GfK Social Media Intelligence Center and the University of Vienna. Initial applications show how topics are discussed and shared in networks.

Discussions among consumers, dialogue between manufacturers and consumers, and marketing activities themselves – nearly all of them take place online. This means that more people are taking part in discussions and more channels of communication are also available. The way such discussions develop and unfold has so far been primarily evaluated through text analysis. The relationship between the dialogue partners, however, has rarely been considered, if at all. In other words, these methods record content, but not the way in which content is connected. However, it is precisely this element that is interesting given the network-like structure of the Internet. After all, these connections open up new opportunities for communicating and sharing content.

New Analysis Methods

Together, the GfK Verein, the GfK Social Media Intelligence Center, and the University of Vienna have now developed a software tool that considers references in individual blog texts or Tweets to other posts and analyzes the influence of individual comments on the overall discussion. All of this is done across various services and platforms. This means, for example, that analysts can track how an intense discussion about comments made by a dissatisfied consumer on Twitter begins with a small group of people and expands via blogs or Facebook until it possibly reaches traditional media. The results are evaluated with the help of network analysis and modern visualization methods.

With this approach, the dynamic of online discussions can be researched for the first time. Marketing departments are given the possibility of specifying relevant blogs and developing suitable strategies which define the best way to communicate with consumers.