On a typically warm evening somewhere near Raffles Place, a bunch of us met up with the PR folks, Aaron and Blair, from Text100 for a chat about how their clients could better work with the blogosphere.
The ever cheery “The Digital Movement” guys were there with Walter and me as bloggers. I’m typically wary of the conflux of Public Relations with the Blogosphere, since I used to track cases of misleading communication practices by government agencies, the Press and PR companies in the blogosphere, such as astroturfing, fauxtography, etc. To my delight, last night’s discussion was quite enlightening for both bloggers and PR practitioners there.
In one particular discussion, we talked about how there needs to be some kind of KPI for companies to track the impact of messages in the blogosphere. It need not be 100% accurate, but offer something as tangible as circulation and readership of real-world media such as newspapers and magazines. Blair from Text100 highlighted how they are working on algorithms that would allow them to have a network approach to analyzing the local blogosphere.
At that juncture, I pointed out how PR agencies and academia could both collaborate to make better sense (and predictions) of how messages flow between such organic relationships. Conversations are extremely fluid, and some combination of authority / link / content measure would be useful, not just for business, but for us to predict public sentiments on all kinds of issues which may later appear in the mainstream media, e.g. likelihood of war, predicting election results, fear of bird flu pandemic, fashion trendspotting, etc.
Turning back to Singapore, I offered the agency a look at something which could help with their profiling of our blogosphere. The Rambling Librarian (Ivan Chew), together with most of us from the Media Socialist group, had put together this wiki called the “Singapore Social Media Directory“, in an attempt to pinpoint individual local blogs.
Ivan has manually added a lot of our contributions, and it’s open for the public to edit, as a way of crowdsourcing for content (feel free to add to it!). We noted how it wasn’t perfect, as we’ve acknowledged from a motivational perspective, that most people only added their blogs, rather than to contribute what they’ve found out on the web. From the submissions that we have, keywords (similar to tags) were added to highlight each blogger’s interests. By searching the wiki, companies could discover and coverse with particular niche bloggers.
Since I am working with Jude on a paper covering the local blogosphere, it’d be neat to see if PR companies such as Text100 could actually work with us by sharing some of the network analysis tools they use in the corporate world.