Tracking a Digital Footprint

With the technology that is available to us today, companies have access to a wide range of tools (a.k.a analytical programs) that keep track of and measure public conversations about a company. For the purpose of this post, I will be focusing on the digital conversation (i.e. tweets, blog posts, forum posts and Facebook mentions about a company).

The digital conversation, or digital footprint, is the specific path of a particular conversation about a company across social networks. These conversations may be started in the media or originate with the general public. Important to note is where a conversation originated, influential contributors to the conversation and the timeline around when the content was shared. Uncovering these specifics allow a company to identify whether or not its messages is coming across clearly to the public and if it is reaching the right networks. Furthermore, it is extremely beneficial to monitor and record what is being said about a company in order to track success, filter/respond to negative messages and create detailed metrics reports. For example, tracking influential contributors can highlight potential new leads for business development.

Most analytics programs can produce highly-detailed reports that include the number of times someone tweeted about a company or where on the Internet conversations are taking place. But, what if you could break it down even more?

A unique example of tracking a digital footprint is Project Cascade, a data visualization tool developed by the research and development team at The New York Times. In short, this technology allows the company to track the lifecycle of every conversation about The New York Times, identifying the specific social networks and individuals active in the sharing of specific company content on the Web. The conversation path is then recorded on a digital map. Since the technology is highly advanced, I have included a video to better explain the process of Project Cascade.

This video is significant because it showcases technology that alleviates some of the stress and uncertainty around using social media and becoming immersed in the World Wide Web. Furthermore, this type of technology will allow companies to develop even more detailed metrics reports and record real-time activity. As this technology becomes more popular, a company will have one more way to gauge public feedback in order to tune and strengthen its brand.

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