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By Tim Buckley Owen


Social media from a consumer angle is the subject of a series of reports from Mintel, which promises to help clients understand more about their customers. It is not alone in offering social media metrics solutions, with Google, Tumblr and others all entering the arena, but can they all succeed?


Market research publisher Mintel has just launched a new series of reports looking at social media from a consumer angle. Not before time, one might think; social media marketing fixes continue to tumble out thick and fast.

Examining a different sector every month, Mintel’s new Social Media Series promises to help its clients understand not just what their customers are doing on social media, but why. “It is the motives and behaviours behind online conversations and brand mentions which provide the greatest insights,” Mintel maintains.

Perhaps an associated function may be to help clients make sense of the plethora of social media metrics solutions that continues to appear unabated. To give you a flavour of just how frenetic this market is, here’s a clutch of recent initiatives.

Beginning with the mightier players, Google announced at the Ad Age conference recently that it was introducing its Brand Activate initiative, part of a “new generation of measurement solutions [to] help brands quantify the benefits of investing online”. It’s working with the industry to help turn brand measurement into action (it says) and supports the Making Measurement Make Sense coalition (LiveWire comment here).

At the same conference, Tumblr’s youthful chief executive David Karp admitted that he had overcome his earlier nausea at the thought of advertising and would start offering the Radar post that appears on a user’s dashboard as a unit for paid ads. He also seized the opportunity to take a swipe at his longer established rivals Google and Facebook, calling their “boxy” and “text-heavy” ad units “devoid of creativity”.

Meanwhile a newcomer, SocialQ, also has Facebook in its sights – but as a source of market intelligence. Instead of using laborious and time-consuming panel questionnaires (it claims) its initial self-service tool simply asks panellists to connect via Facebook, from where it can take all the basic demographic and psychographic questions from their profile automatically before getting on to the nitty-gritty of specific product preferences (see a Research Live interview with chief executive Troy Woolley here).

Twitter is the goldmine of choice for analytics software company FirstRain. Its newly released FirstTweets claims to be “the world's first solution for extracting business-relevant Twitter intelligence for sales, marketing and senior leadership teams”.

But it held its first mover advantage for just a day; almost immediately, competitor Socialbakers launched its Analytics PRO, to track campaign performance on both Facebook and Twitter. Then just a day later, marketing automation and sales effectiveness solution provider Markto announced that it had acquired the social campaign management platform Crowd Factory.

Extraordinarily, all this activity took place within the space of about a week. Only some of it will succeed; let’s hope that Mintel can make sense of it all.




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Tim is an information skills trainer and writer on the information industry with over 40 years' experience in the profession. His career has encompassed information management, writing, editing, training, government policy advice and corporate media & marketing.

Besides writing for FreePint, Tim runs courses for training providers and private clients on enquiry handling, abstracting & summarising, information packaging & presentation and information management. The sixth edition of his classic handbook Successful Enquiry Answering Every Time is published by Facet Publishing. You can find details of Tim's training services at

Tim can also be reached at

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