I spent Saturday afternoon hacking together a ruby script that pulled my Twitter follower list and matched it to LinkedIn accounts. I wanted to answer a basic question. Who is my audience? Where do they live? What do they do? What content do they resonate with?
I need a social media tool that is more than a unified inbox. I need a tool that tells me each week who my new followers are, who they influence, what they care about, how active they are, where they participate online and ultimately which ones I should contact. This problem is common to everyone with any type of public social media presence – anyone who markets themselves or their business.
We are in the first phase of social media management, shoehorning old tools to work with new media. HootSuite, ZenDesk, Desk.com and others have applied the inbox metaphor to Twitter and Facebook. In other words, these are second-hand, retrofitted systems handling novel data types: six-horse buggies, not Model Ts.
Like the walled gardens of 2000 (Aol, Yahoo, Geocities), Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress, and Tumblr have segregated users and data. Today, we have to hack our way through API fences to work across these gardens. We can’t combine user data from social networks about our readers, our community, our customers, disregarding the reality that conversations and transactions occur in many places across the web. Each network is a blind man feeling a different part of the elephant.
I’m not sure who will build the tools that grant users the power to truly leverage the greater social network. I expect this company will have many analogous characteristics to Google. This company will build a seemingly commodity product in an “uninteresting” space. But ultimately, it wont be one of the gardens. It will reach across them and be much, much bigger.