Feelings, Choice, Values: The Intangibles Behind The Future Of Social Media

Helene Montpetit    November 18, 2014

Business name: Tracx

Industry: Social Media Management and Marketing Intelligence

Contact: Reinhardt Schuhmann, Product Manager

Description Tracx is a NYC-based company with a SaaS platform for sophisticated brand marketers who want to manage their social media presence. The company provides an end-to-end solution that indexes the entire social web and captures a 360 degree view of activity around a brand. This allows Tracx to deliver the most relevant, high impact audiences and conversations. The platform allows marketers to sift through streams of social media data and drill down to provide geographic, demographic, and psychographic insights. They can also monitor performance against competitors. Planning, monitoring, engaging, and measuring influencers are all carried out in one program/environment.

Over the past four decades, the dizzying pace of technological advancement has drastically changed our business environments, a momentum that is likely to continue. First used to develop brand awareness and build brand image, social media has grown to encompass several business activities. Most analysts predict that it will quickly become a necessity for any business that wishes to remain competitive.  What follows is a quick look at a few interesting trends currently shaping social business.

Sentiment analysis
As the number of business users grows, questions arise about how to make use of the massive amounts of data generated by all the activity going on online. According to Bill Chamberlin, Principal Emerging Trends Analyst at HorizonWatching and IBM:

“Companies want to analyze sentiment, listen and learn from customer experiences and behaviors, and tap into the social pulse of customers, advocates, influencers and their collective network.”

It certainly helps to know how people feel about issues that affect your business, but how do you find the appropriate data and sort through it to make the most of the opportunities it presents? Tracx, a company that develops social media management systems, captures the challenge in the following words:

“Social media is a noisy moving target and keeping pace with the evolving social landscape is getting harder every day. Social media is about more than keywords and brand mentions – it’s about people and conversations.”

To meet that challenge, Tracx developed Sentity, a sentiment analysis tool designed to listen in on public conversations at a granular level and rate the mentions of specific terms along a positive-negative continuum. Reinhardt Schuhmann, Product Manager for the company, was kind enough to sit down with me to explain what Sentity does and give us a view of how he thinks the application might progress.

Intrigued? There is more, of course. From how we interact to who we interact with, the transformation of social business continues.

Small is beautiful
The movement that began with people congregating in small communities on topic-centered discussion boards apparently now has tired of conversations open to everyone,  everywhere, all the time. Soon, your next business contact, opportunity, thought-provoking article, video or podcast will grow out of relationships you develop with people you have chosen who have also chosen you.  Eleanor Ross of The Guardian says the future of social media lies in smaller, more focused groups sharing content specific to their interests and preferences.

Moving around, staying in: everything is possible
Even though the online world is increasingly mobile responsive, people are also finding creative ways to stay put by making activities available online that once required leaving home. Do you love rummaging through used bookstore inventories? Stop by My Independent Bookshop  and ferret out a literary treasure. You won’t be greeted by a cranky owner exuding the scent of tobacco and old books, there will be no creaky floors and no cats lazing about on shelves, but you can browse to your heart’s content. Books are selected by authors, librarians or avid readers who have set up their own online “bookshop”. Purchase proceeds are shared with real, local independent shops, which bring us to another growing trend: emphasizing social norms.

Social and political communities
More than your usual agreement to abide by general accepted principles, social and moral imperatives are increasingly prevalent on social media. On Ello’s homepage, you will find nothing less than a manifesto to which those applying for membership-(no, you cannot simply join)-must adhere:

“We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.”

In a September 2014 article for the Harvard Business Review, Alexandra Samuel says Ello and similar sites are a wake-up call.

“Businesses need to take Ello and its manifesto as a wake-up call to rethink the way they use social networks to reach customers. The intense interest and discussion engendered by this manifesto attests to the profound misgivings many of those customers now have about the networks that occupy a growing place in our work, our relationships and our lives.”

It will be interesting to see whether this trend has an impact on analytical data and how metric analysts adapt.

Real-time Quantity vs. Quality
Say it with me: “If I read one more post about Kim Kardashian or Justin Bieber…”

If your business is tired of competing with the “stars”, sites like Edgee might be of interest. The creators of this space think algorithms are passé. They want to bring humanity and quality back into browsing and so have set up a site that carries either original content or content curated by experts in specific areas. No fluff here, but their promotional approach is interesting. If you want to sign up and see what the buzz is about, click on this link. Edgee says we should forget about 140 characters and read on until we obtain meaningful understanding. What can this do for your business? Sharing solid, original or well curated content helps build the trust that sustains good business relationships.

More than the usual suspects
Technology and marketing have been important forces in the creation and development of the World Wide Web, but lately, there is more going on in other areas. Feelings are being taken into account, choice is asserting itself and people are sharing their values along with their cat videos. The sense of community and hope that brought people together to do open source programming, to defend freedom online and to out truths seems to be enjoying a resurgence. I’d say that bodes well for the future of social business.

Lessons learned

  • Using social business is quickly becoming a requirement for those who want to remain competitive.
  • Sentiment analysis can help ascertain the mood around issues that affect your business and give you the information you need to develop a winning strategy.
  • There is a move away from large networks to smaller communities formed around common goals or interests.
  • The online world is increasingly mobile, but creative use of people’s preference for cocooning can be an asset.
  • It is increasingly important to be aware of group norms and tailor campaigns and activities to specific audiences. (Meaning: help and celebrate on Ello, sell on Amazon or EBay.)
  • There is a market for deeper, expert content and providing it is an excellent way to promote your brand and build good business relationships.

Submitted by: Hélène Montpetit, University of Waterloo Student.

Author Contact: hel_montpetit@hotmail.com

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director.


Social Business Trends 2014, IBM Expert Network, by Bill Chamberlin, February 9, 2014.

Digital Information World, Social Business Trends 2014

Eleanor Ross, The Guardian, October 24, 2014 – The Future of Social Media for Small Business

October 2014, Conversation during The Social Shakeup between Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group, and Robin Carey, CEO of Social Media Today

 Daniel Kushner, A Brief History of Marketing Technology (and Social Media Marketing)

Wikipedia article on Social networking services

Alexandra Samuel, Harvard Business Review, Ello Is A Wake Up Call For Social Media Marketing, September 26, 2014

GigaOmResearch Interview with IBM’s Scott Hebner, The New Visionaries: Interview with Scott Hebner, December 12, 2013.

Jason DeMers, Forbes, The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends Dominating 2014

Stephanie Miles, 5 Platforms for Analyzing Customer Sentiment

Data Driven Social Good: Is It Happening