Social Media Conversations: Are You Listening?
As it turns out, social media chatter is an excellent predictor of employment rates. When people are out of work they flock to social media to find new work, gripe and complain to their friends and family, and generally, let the world know they need a job. The reverse is true when they find new work or are content in their work.
I myself I used my social media network to talk about how much I like my job and respect my employer. I don’t do it because I am trying to curry favor-I feel happy, so I share those feelings via my social network. This is why most people share on their own social media networks as well.
A recent study by software firm SAS and a United Nation’s data initiative UN Global Pulse of social media habits showed that social media interaction can predict unemployment by watching two key ingredients: vacation postponement and mass transit. Apparently, people who are unemployed are more likely to postpone vacations and use public transit. Just watching those two indicators was enough to measure the unemployment rate.
By watching just two key indicators this company was able to predict unemployment. Just imagine what we will be able to accomplish when we are able to track more indicators; better monitor social media interactions, comments and conversations. We could predict key human behaviors; home sales, education, new fads and trends or perhaps the rise and fall of the stock market.
Currently there are several groups working to perfect social media listening. These services monitor conversations across the Social Web, tracking #hashtags, status updates, posts, blogs–whatever. This type of service is already essential for social media management and will likely become even more crucial for effective social media management as the Social Web continues to grow and expand. It is possible to track interaction on your own social networks, but when you are a company, brand or service the sheer volume of conversations you need to monitor is unwieldy, at best.
If you are not monitoring your social media network, or paying close attention to the larger Social Web, just think about the things you are missing.
It’s all about giving governments, social service groups and policy makers economic information while its happening so they’re not responding to drops in employment months after they occur, said Anoush Rima Tatevossian, a spokesman for the UN Global Pulse, a UN Secretary-General program to mine digital data in an effort to do good.
“We don’t have enough real time indicators of what’s happening to people as it’s happening,” he said, adding that the study’s findings are evidence digital data is a key source for finding out about the economic here and now.
The idea is similar to what Google has done with its flu tracking initiative, known as Google Flu Trends, that tracks searches related to flu terms in real time in an effort to pinpoint rates of flu nationally.