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The stratification of social media listening

Don’t know if you caught the announcement this morning, but DataSift is now partnered with Tumblr to distribute Tumblr posts to all of their subscribers. Sure, you have heard of Tumblr, but maybe you don’t know DataSift–it is time to learn. Because DataSift is the poster child of the stratification of the social media listening market. If you still think that social media listening is all about Radian6, it’s time to look again.

I’ve been in this business for the last five years and I’ve seen a lot of changes. [Full disclosure: I’ve been a senior strategist for social media listening company Converseon since 2008.] Five years ago, social media listening was all about crisis management–and Radian6. Salesforce’s purchase of Radian6 is still the biggest deal ever in this business.

But the Radian6 purchase was the last gasp of the fully integrated software stacks in social listening. Top to bottom, you bought it all from one vendor. Radian6 crawled the blogs, screen-scraped the message boards, contracted with Twitter for the firehose. Radian6 analyzed the data. Radian6 presented the dashboard of streaming messages and the dashboard that aggregated the metrics.

It’s been changing ever since.

Now, you can use tools such as Tableau for your analytics dashboard. You can license Clarabridge or Lexalytics for your text analytics. [Full disclosure again: I helped design the text analytics technology that Converseon spun off as a separate company.] And companies such as DataSift and Gnip pump all the data in.

Which brings us to today’s DataSift-Tumblr announcement. Why should you care? Because this stratification of social media listening is truly allowing the best solutions to be brought together out of component parts. Cloud computing allows us to quickly and cheaply cobble together these pieces into what our clients really need.

But it’s not just that marketers win because they can assemble best-of-breed solutions out of these piece-parts that bear the old integrated stacks. No, the bigger benefit is how this technology can be customized in ways that no vertical stack can support. Why stop at sentiment analysis when you can identify conversation within the steps of your own buyer’s journey? Why settle for public data feeds when you can add your own private customer communities to the mix? Why accept the vendor’s representation of the data when you can have a dashboard customized to the specific problems that you set out to solve?

Every time DataSift adds another data source, it is another step toward the stratification of the social media listening business. Don’t look now, but we are nearing the end of the integrated stack era of most software–but especially social media listening. If you’re settling for an off-the-shelf solution, your competitors probably aren’t.

Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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