Social Media Mapping: The Story Behind the Data

By Charlene Weisler

There are many tools available for ascertaining the Who, What and Where of social media, often in the form of a data dump. But according to Michael Lieberman, Founder, Multivariate Solutions, companies like Twitter offer data visualization maps that more clearly define all of the attributes of a campaign, hashtag, meme, site or other social phenomena and reveal the story behind the data structure.

Twitter, Google, Yahoo, WhatsApp and Facebook passively cull our personal information via a negative default – that is, requiring the user to opt-out rather than request them to opt-in. This leaves them with a treasure trove of our personal information.

“Social media maps help us visualize the patterns of connection that form when people follow, reply and mention one another in internet communication services like Twitter,” Lieberman explained. The web-like look of these maps show the nature of the conversation whether they are divided, unified, fragmented or clustered.

The use of mapping reveals four types of centrality measures – Degree (how popular), Betweenness (the amount of influence), Closeness (the ability to spread information efficiently) and Eigenvector (how importantly connected) that provide context to social media flow that shows key players and influencers.

According to Lieberman, there are six kinds of Twitter social network maps ——
1-Polarized Map – Using the Egyptian uprising as an example, this map shows two opposing opinions; Feminism and the Uprising (which may not support feminism). Polarized social media discussions have different, often opposing, hashtags.

2-In Groups/Community Map – For a hashtag like #cx (customer experience), these maps show conversations that all use the same or similar hashtags. This indicates the conversation around your hashtag and the penetration of its popularity based on the number of tweets.

3-Bazaar Map – Using @hillaryclinton as an example, the map displays several independent user clusters on many different topics which are not necessarily related to each other.

4-Brand Map – Showcases a public topic such as Disney cruises #disneycruises. These maps show a lot of different groups and hashtags that show what the conversation is around a subject.

5-Broadcast Map – Using @madmagazine or @CNN as an example, these maps show one large group that is essentially talking about same thing. It summarizes what is being shown in the Twitter feed, often stories of the day.

6- Support Maps – Are often corporate maps such as help@dell which has a single originating source that connects directly to many different individual participants.

“The use of a relatively easy analysis such as Social Network Analysis makes understanding the Twitter or Wikipedia conversation far easier than massive social listening platforms,” concluded Lieberman.

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