Knowledge Networks Probing Social Networks, Identifies New 'SoMe' Consumer Segment

Knowledge Networks, a highly regarded marketing research firm known for its humongous consumer panel, and for helping marketers and agencies understand how consumers use media, has launched a new analytic service capable of identifying social media users based explicitly on the social network conversations they have related to brands and product categories. KN, which is unveiling the new service today, has dubbed it "SoMe," and said it is designed to unlock how consumer conversations in social media affect specific product categories by revealing user feelings about specific products or topics, and how that might influence others listening to their conversations.

The new service is part of a progression of activity on Madison Avenue, which is trying to get a handle on the impact the rapid rise of social media behavior is having on brand communications, and to date has been dominated either by so-called "social native" researchers and/or marketing services organizations, or ones that have easily segued into it because of common roots -- especially big public relations firms that are used to listening to people's conversations before the advent of social media, and developing strategies for spinning them in the best direction for a client.

But the rapid growth of social media, and especially the increasing dominance, and financial valuation of big networks like Facebook and Twitter, has gotten many traditional marketing services organizations to extend rapidly into social media.

Knowledge Networks is a good example, and last year, the consumer research organization teamed up with MediaPost Communications Inc., the parent company and publisher of Online Media Daily, to launch a new syndicated research service, The Faces of Social Media, to begin tracking how the behavior or social media users is affecting brands in 39 specific product categories.

SoMe is a custom service, unrelated to that venture, which taps Knowledge Network's humongous consumer insights database to understand how the SoMe influencers directly influence consumer attitudes about brands and product categories. Based on preliminary data released in Knowledge Network's announcement, they are power users of social media for sure.

Knowledge Networks said nearly 20% of "SoMe users" believe it has an influence on their purchase decisions, and about 13% who use social media weekly said they use it to discover new brands or products with it, a stat that translates into about 10 million U.S. adults.

Knowledge Networks said the relative degree of influence SoMe users have on brands varies widely by category, and said its proprietary "Influence Scores" range from a low of 46 to a high of 193. The company did not say what the scores represent, but they presumably are an index vs. consumer marketplace norms.

To help drill into custom analysis of the data, Knowledge Networks said it will work with semantic engine developer Collective Intellect, which has created a system for filtering large amounts of social media conversation data ranging from blogs and message boards to big social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.

"We are pulling social media and other data streams out of their usual silos and giving clients a perspective on the complete picture of societal issues and brands," Knowledge Networks CEO Simon Kooyman explained in a statement.

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