15 Feb 2011

The (social media) crowd is not always right

The crowd is wise. The crowd is true. These days it is all about the power of connections, of networking, of buzz.

Well, yes, but not always.

Before the recent Grammy Awards in the US, the social media monitoring firm Meltwater came up with a very cool chart predicting the winners on social media "buzz," which is, says the company, "based on the volume of mentions and sentiment of the social media community across blogs, microblogs, social networks, comments, message boards, videos and Wikipedia."

Cutting edge, right? A new way of using communication? Maybe. It was cool enough to get a write up in Wired.

Except none of their favorites won. In fact, in two of three categories, the least favorite nominee on their chart actually won the Grammy - Lady Antebellum in Best Album and Esperanza Spalding in Best New Artist. In the Best Record category, the winner - Arcade Fire - wasn't even in the top five (I would have guessed Arcade Fire based purely on this incredible collaboration with Google - best used with Chrome).

Now these victories were a surprise to almost everybody. From an Associated Press story:

"Good thing for the Grammys that the awards continue to be de-emphasized, because it was a strange night even for a recording academy with a long history of head-scratching choices. Esperanza Spalding for best new artist? Song and record of the year "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum? We doubt anyone will remember that song five years from now as they will, for example, Empire State of Mind."
But, regardless, it just goes to show that the wisdom of the social media crowd was, in this case, no more perceptive than anything else.

And so the Grammys remain a critical and popular mystery ... and Meltwater has not updated their blog entry either.

Nathan Hegedus

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Pontus Staunstrup said...

Got to disagree with your take on this on. What's interesting about this is not if it can predict the winner (pr whatever) accurately. The on-line buzz about who will win is about as accurate as any gathering, say in a bar, chattering about the same thing. What is interesting here is the possibility to monitor the buzz from a great number of different sources as it happens.

Nathan said...

But to what purpose then? Great fun, of course, but this company sees it as a viable business model, a real way to predict the future.

Pontus Staunstrup said...

I'm not sure Meltwater makes that claim, that seems to stem from Wired. The tool can be used to find out what the buzz is about brands, products etc, and that is valuable. If you manage a brand you want to know what is being said about it. But that is all it can measure, what is being said, and anyone believing it can accurately foretell who wiill win ewtc is in for a rude awakening, be it Meltwater or Wired.

Kimling said...

Hi Nathan, thanks for your blog post and featuring our infographic! We are definitely not in the business of predictions (on that front, we would have failed for sure), but wanted to ask who would win if the social media public were to vote on the GRAMMY nominees. Check out our blog post at http://blog.meltwaterproducts.com/2011/02/13/social-media-predicts-grammy-award-winners/

Thanks again and enjoy your weekend!

Kimling Lam (@kimling)
Communications, Meltwater Group

Nathan said...

Thanks for the comment Kimling. I see that Meltwater has now updated its blog entry. And I also went deeper into the website and see that Meltwater has more substantive business offerings, meaning that stuff like this social media buzz thing are good attention getters.

However, I'm still not sure what it gives me in terms of buzz. Maybe I just like my buzz vague and not quantified. But if I see numbers, my expectations are raised.

Again, probably my own limited vision ...