Sunday, April 20, 2014

Social Networks for Mining: Twitter Case


Recent upsurge in social media (some people call it “social E-ruption”) cannot be ignored by business. A very good example of what is going on is a simple fact: Googling the “business and social media” returns 231,000,000 results. This is a real ocean of information and of course an average businessman is lost here. Moreover, when you start reading the most prominent publications, like International Data Group, Information Week, PC World, Marketwire  releases, and more specialized: Mashable , GigaOm and others – you will be overwhelmed with abundance of information on zillions of social networks. However, one of the most intricate issues in all media is – monetization – or how to get money from all this activity. There are many good posts and news pieces that advise businesses on WHAT and HOW, but as a matter of fact the essence of all advice is: keep and develop contacts.
Nowadays almost everyone uses social media, and the most striking example is President Obama. In the last few days we have read about success of Dell, and every day there is some news about successful use of Twitter in job finding, medicine, etc. Consequently, upon reading a lot about ‘socializing’ I decided to go for a trial with one of the networks and see how this can be used for business. In all my business tenures I have learned that one of the most attractive business models lies in examining cross-industries, finding and using the opportunities. As an example, a couple of years ago there was (and I guess still is) an acute need for the lawyers that understand international business models, investment banking and some specific industry (e.g. telecommunications). So, basically, I consider myself to be in a position where I may make some general type of judgments – with my background in information research, telecommunications, investment banking and mining. I am not affiliated (at this time) with any of social networks, so I am not biased in my choices.   
I was really impressed with the news of Twitter, so I made my choice and started my trial on May 17 with this network. The goal is – to ascertain – whether Twitter, being a representative of social media, is capable of serving the needs of business community, in my case – mining.
First of all, I found that majority of businessmen know very little, if nothing, about Twitter. A very good description is made in one of the recent press-releases: “Twitter is an announcement system, where users post a short message called a "tweet". The tweet can be a simple description of what they are eating, where they are going, website links and photos. Users "follow" other users on Twitter and receive a real-time stream of announcements. As each user follows a new user, they can "tweet" their new following, again creating a viral effect. Companies are using Twitter to post news and announcements, using the medium to promote their marketing messages. “
A concise definition is on Quantcast Web-site: “ is a top 50 site that reaches over 22 million U.S. monthly people. The site attracts a young adult, slightly more female than male audience. The typical visitor reads Perez Hilton, subscribes to Entertainment Weekly, and visits “

So, the question: would this service that ‘attracts a young adult’ have some attraction for rough and experienced miners all over the world? Probably YES, but let me explain what I have found.
First, and what surprised me, is the fact that was recently made public: substantial inactivity of users. Only 10% of Twitter users generate 90% of Tweets, that means that the majority prefer to watch and read. This was brilliantly illustrated by a couple of polls that I have made. Of course, that means nothing, as compared to the total number of users, but I guess, this is good representation of general trend. 
This is related to PPT Presentation

Initial research shows that business use (at least on the mining side) is very limited and is in its infancy. Big business so far does not understand what is it and keep distant. Indeed, when you try to search ‘mining’ with you get 230 returns, however, most of them are associated with data mining; and only around 70 are real miners. I have made a simple research and here are the results. On Page 2 I summarized the most active miners-users; I have a list of members that relate themselves to providers of ‘mining news’ (only 12 of ALL Twitter users). And I have a shot summary for the most prominent Twitter-miners. Note that on each profile page I have stats on three top words used in their posts.
On Page 2 of presentation I have summarized the most active mining companies and individuals as of June 15, 2009. What is clear – that most of them started using Twitter a few months ago, and they are not very active with postings. Interesting to note the trend that 5 of 12 of the most active users represent global companies, mostly information providers. Big market players are here: Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals, but they are rather timid in activities.
Summarizing this initial research we may point to the following:
Mining companies practically are not using Twitter for any purpose
The most active are international information providers
Twitter-miners do not use hashtags in the right way – that means that information, provided by them is not segmented

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