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    Nobody pays me to write any of the copy on my blog, and should I ever have the good fortune that they do, I will declare it. My main employment is as the owner and principal of The Future Place consultancy. The Future Place provides two key services 1) training and services to industry and academic bodies and 2) consultancy services to companies. The details of the companies I work with are a private matter, but if I blog about any company who has paid The Future Place more than expenses recently (approx. two years) I will mention that they are a client. I hold equity in Virtual Surveys and provide consulting services to them from time to time. I am paid to run courses for a number of trade bodies and over the last few years clients have included ESOMAR, AMSRS, MRS, and MRIA.

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Ray Poynter

Hi Theo, I have put netnography into the catch-all, because of its smaller commercial relevance. Much as I love netnography (by which I take Kozinet's definition of ethnography via computer mediated communications)it can't be scaled in a way that competes in revenue terms with communities and social media monitoring.

I think the distinction between social media as a medium to research the 'regular' world and as a subject for study is important, but again in terms of commercial market research the lion's share goes and probably will continue to go to using social media to understand brands and people, not to the specifics of the medium itself.


Ray, I undertook a similar taxonomy for internal purposes and came up with 3 categories: monitoring and related analyses of that content; MROCs; and netnographies. So, very similar to your first list though I felt netnography was a distinct enough discipline to deserve it's own place on the list, and in retrospect I should have had a fourth catchall.

I would propose an alternative view, however, which: research using social media that is about social media; and research using social media that is about something else. Right now MROCs, netnographies, and most monitoring generally fall into the second category - we are simply using social media as a new content source and approach to understanding topics that exist offline as well. But some monitoring activities, influencer analysis, context analysis etc. also begin to edge into study of the social sphere as its own phenomenon, separate from or at least as an additional layer on top of the core study focus.

Ray Poynter

I would probably class social media context analysis as part of social media monitoring. I am not very happy with the name social media monitoring as it implies a passive mind set that waits to see what happens. The tools can equally be used to search for things, which is why the term blog mining was popular for a while, until blogs turned out to be such a small part of social media. There are also fields like psycholinguistics that look at the types of language being used in different contexts.

A new umbrella name is needed, but social media monitoring appears to be the best to hand. Annie Pettit has made a strong case for the use of social media research to be used exclusively for the reading and searching of naturally occurring social media discourses, but I think that ship has sailed, social media research is in use to describe a much wider range of approaches and techniques.


Interesting undertaking Ray. I wonder how you would classify social media context analysis? There are text analytics companies that use social media content to produce research and intelligence of different types.

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