Social Media and the Internet, What’s the Difference?

May 3rd, 2011 by Caroline Scheinfeld View Comments

Last week I attended a webinar on How to Drive Marketing and Business Strategy With Social Intelligence, hosted by Zach Hofter-Shall of Forrester and Melyssa Plunkett-Gomez. Zach’s presentation covered an overview of social intelligence, challenges of social media and in-house verse outsourcing listening platforms and Melyssa discussed how social intelligence is a massively underutilized opportunity for brands. Melyssa works at Crimson Hexagon, a Zelkova Portfolio Company, which is a leading social intelligence business powered by patent-pending technology developed at Harvard University.

One of Zach’s main discussions revolved around how when properly implemented, social intelligence (as defined by finding information online and well, doing something with it) has the power to drive a company’s marketing and business strategies. While many believe social media is made up of different social networks, Zach disagrees, claiming the internet is becoming increasingly social in nature and social media is a bit of everything online. To understand his claim, let’s use his example of The New York Times homepage it’s not just an online version of the publication, but rather a hub of articles, blogs, comments and other interactive components that make it social, yet it isn’t viewed as a traditional social media (such as Facebook or Twitter). This brings up the conversation of whether we can ever be passive readers online, or if we automatically become participants engaging with one another as soon as we open the browser?

There are different levels of internet users which Zach describes in the form of a ladder: the most influential group are the creators who sit at the top rung followed by the conversationalists, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators and finally, the inactive. Zach predicts the inactive category will eventually become obsolete because going online will assume interactions with others in some capacity.

Deciphering the data from users engagement online can be an exceptionally valuable for brands, as long as companies are able to determine which information is useful. In conjunction with the internet becoming intrinsically social, the data derived from social media will increase, making listening platforms even more imperative. To understand the relationship of social media information and listening platforms, compare it to garbage and garbage trucks: with less inactive users and more engagement online, the amount of information available to companies will become overwhelmingly large, resulting in a huge pile of garbage. While there will be valuable data, most will be useless, and it’s up to the listening platforms (the garbage trucks) to help weed out the trash. Brands need to decide the most fitting method of gathering and applying data to their business strategies now before the info becomes even more vast.

Zach’s Recommendations

Step 1: Internal Resources
- Evaluate

- Determine capabilities

Step 2: Listening Platform Data
- Evaluate the data process from the listening platforms

- If use listening platform services, evaluate them

Step 3: In-house or outsource listening
- Either way, partner with a listening platform

Step 4: Assign leadership responsibilities

Step 5: Define data distribution channels

Step 6: Prepare for Action



About Jay Levy

Jay Levy

Jay Levy is a co-founder and principal of Zelkova Ventures. Jay focuses most of his time in working with the current portfolio company and looking at new investments in the software-as-a-service, internet media and green tech space. More »


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