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The Solar System of Social Media

If social media were a solar system, what would it look like? Michael Lieberman uses Network Analysis to create a visualization of the relationships between social media platforms, as an example of how it can make sense of megadatasets.

If social media were a solar system, what would it look like? Would there be a sun, an earth, a moon?

In a survey respondents were asked which Social Media sites they regularly used. With this data we were are able to map a network, with the size of the spheres representing market share and the thickness of the lines representing the relationships between spheres.

The red spheres represent are our major players—the center of the social media universe. No surprise, Facebook is the Sun, YouTube is Jupiter, and Twitter is, say, Saturn.

The blue spheres are Social Media sites with the second highest proportion of users; the second tier. Green spheres the third ring. The small planets in black are kind of like Mars, out there somewhere, existing but small.

The ultimate utility of this map is that in one glance a client can grasp the social media solar system. Yes, MeetMe is small, but it a better connection to Instagram than to Google Plus. Great information. is an anonymous question and answer platform website used regularly by lots of young people in Ireland and around the world. Its strongest connection is to Facebook, which is the worldwide leader. Bebo describes itself as “a company that dreams up ideas for fun social apps;” Though not a central player, its strongest relationship is with Google Plus. This seems intuitive given that Google is the largest distributor of apps, and terrific information for the executives at Bebo.

These types of visuals can be employed not only for the solar systems of Social Media, but to brand space of any product, purchase path behavior for click throughs, or the shape of attitudes around client behavior. They can be used in place of correspondence maps or set to configure the political structure of the parliament of the United Kingdom, the United States Senate, or a local school board. Send us your data, we can map it. Then tell you the story.

Visualization of data networks, social media, industry structure, and even now enourmous transational datasets are now coming online to make sense of the data deluge and convey the results of analyses through emerging, open-source programs. This kind of analysis is not limited to Social Media, but also can be applied to other megadatasets, consumer sales data from any major corporation, major supermarket, Walmart or survey data. It is a great new tool that, together with our analytic skills, we can deploy to give our clients a full picture of their product solar system.

Network anlaysis expands marketing research industry core competencies such as segmentation, pricing, conjoint analysis, regression modeling, forecasting, data mining, project management, and overflow reporting. As the industry moves from the reporting to the consulting phase, this techniques offers a powerful, simple, and easy to explain summarization. As it is said, a picture paints a thousand words.

We expect the availability of tools such as Network Analysis to have a positive impact on brand research. As mentioned above, visualing your brand solar system is a fruitful area of study, as is research into approaches for jointly analyzing megadata and text-content data. That is, companies have learned to harness the power of thought leaders, experts, and influencers to promote their products. Brand solar system visualizations will play a central role in the forthcoming drama.

What is your brand solar system?

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