Saturday, January 08, 2011

Thread Conversation-ality

I apologise for not Ranting , Fredwise, for a long while-ee-oh. I have been blogging on some other of Freddy's interests.

And also still engaging in Social Media and monitoring developments and the sociology of being on- and hip in- SM.

One thing I noticed is that I am myself a killer for stubbing threads. I wondered a bit paranoically about this, but then did some spot sample analysis and came up with two rationales behind my lack of social acceptibility in stubbing threads, which can be devided up a bit more as follows:

1) Be ON EARLY. Probably because you engage with the thread owner while they are hot-to-post replies, and your entries will have a recency effect both in what people read or how they read down through the thread, and because you will engage the owner and others who found it worth pouncing on.

People who reply to the original post and then the arguements / contentions/ questions/ qualifiers which come out, are looking for replies themselves and want to own the thread by being there early. Opinion "leaders" and trollers/flamers, often hesitate before answering a thread to see if it is gaining momentum, thus seeing if it is important enough for them.

There seems to be a thread-post read fatigue in that after the first few posts, new drop-ins, by in large, will be less engaged. This is simply explained, perhaps, that people read the original and the first seeds of reply and counter arguement.

On forums with internal post titles within threads, the reply titles can of course take on a life of their own, being more attractive than the original thread.

I've blogged earlier on "sticky/clicky/magnetic" threads, refer you there, but threads often become co-owned by either protagonists or antagonists. If the topic is EITHER insufficiently novel or current then it will quickly run to a stubb, only to be bounced back in a "bump" from a search reference which some clown picks up on.

Although I don't often bump, the arguements are often burnt out by the time I get there. Nothing to see here folks, we ' all got homes to go to now.

Some threads are going to stubb-out early because they are not current or relevant enough for most users. Others will stubb out despite this, because other threads are started by an opinion leader or maybe even a "flamer", and people who "know" them want to chip in. Some forums are coralled by moderators to stick a topic together, all-be-it artificially, with competing threads actually being deleted.

Some threads will bubble on a while, with some short bumps up the listings. This IMHO is because there is a group of users nurturing the thread who have some affinity for each other and / or the topic. Which takes us to:

2) ENGAGE with USERS YOU ARE ALREADY ENGAGED with. To get involved and replied to on a thread, ie a conversation, then you actually need to have some kind of social rapport with people on the forum. This can be antagonistic of course.

"Lurkers" are not very welcome actually on forums, the voyeur thing and all' y'know. However new users are encouraged a while, but if you are crass like me, you soon get the smart alec's trying hard to pick your arguement to bits, in a very alpha male way. Other users are a little wary. You start to notice that you are not part of the boys club, and techie forums are very male oriented. You then notice how small the boys club is and how many trolling idiots come on.

There is the whole "new boy" syndrome ( something I have been exposed to , and even a victim of, too many times in my career and social life actually!). On about one in three new forums I get active on in a personal or work capacity, I get roundly ignored. On one of the other two, I get patronised and even attacked, while on the last I just stubb threads out like Arnie used to terminate people.

I am sure that some users have multiple profiles even in an amateur basis, to propagate their own threads.......Talking to Yourself again, again.... Or even to Bully by Numbers!

3) Pepper opinion with actual facts or relative advantages, and while you should be early on, try to create a fresh take.

4) Short can be sweet in gaining immediate engagement from others. Posing intelligent questions is a very good way of getting engaged. Quite a few "trolling" or "Popcorn" threads are started by a short question and / or contention, and the originator never bothers to reply, despite them running to a large number of hits.

Perspective for SMM

Why are these improtant in social media monitoring and not just your personal social standing in SM?

Thread behaviour is a kind of meta-analysis which can help detect propagation and involvement with issues (brands, politics, you name it) in retrospect, in tracking over time or actually handling crisis or product launched in as near real time as possible.

What is important is that there are a number of qualitative issues which can be identified quantitaively; or in otherwords, the importance of threads can be identified by some statistics: total views being the obvious one, but not always available on forums, while unique / repeat users per thread and posts per hour/day are some fairly top line ones you can think of immediately. Other metametrics could relate to lead influencers on threads, in identifying potential engagement and influence of others.

If social media does not hit the buffers in terms of relative quality of involvment for users and the brands, then it will grow to a level of hits and noise which mean that both meta-metrics and directed sampling (rather than attempts at census, a no-hoper with Twitter) will become more efficient means of gauging consumer involvement. When using ever more complex sentiment algorythms, given you have a good sample or choose to stratify into the most promising looking threads from your meta-analysis, then you save time in processing and reduce noise from off topic hits in a census.

Post Script

If you are a consumer electronics or sports brand, and you want to actively engage in SM forums, then use a female profile as your beach-head, while building a smart alec lead influencer on her back. She can post "damsel in distress" new threads or commentative posts. She will gain both a large male following, and many females on the forums.

Some women are of course, terrible attention seekers, and are on forums primarily to get social attention. While men, like me, want the intellectual, debative , problem-solution-outcome based engagement with other users, building up the socialality and peer recognition underway. There are usually far more would be alpha males than gamma, and women seem to be very poorly represented as lead influencers: at least openly as females. Such is life outside SM also!

No comments:

Post a Comment