Monday, September 08, 2014

Using Language to Build Communities of Interest

What can words tell us about interests?

Imagine playing the word association game and have to identify a community of interest from a single word: "Drift"

It could relate to communities focused on:
  • fly fishing: a boat used on rivers or a cast that is free of any pull on the line
  • racing: the act of oversteering and letting the rear wheels go wide
  • film: two Australian brothers create a surf company
In a LinkedIn post I updated some thoughts on Leveraging Communities of Interest and suggested that the language of a community is likely to be distinctive.

This idea implies we develop a thesaurus (or possibly even an ontology) for a COI that captures the concepts, their synonyms and the relationships between the words used. Taking a body of content, extracting the terms and building in the relationships is the role of a new type of marketing analyst.   This underused marketing technology (taxonomy) allows us to analyze:
  • Terms used: both unique and unusual frequency counts are the first hint of the existence of community
  • Relationships: phrases, as opposed singletons, highlight how terms go together.  Related, broader and narrower concepts clearly separate the three examples above
  • Synonyms: alternative labels for a concept are another source of clues
This approach is a little different than text mining or sentiment analysis, although the underlying technical tools are often similar, i.e. some form of natural language processing (NLP), because the end goal is the management of a vocabulary. To take full advantage of such analysis it should be deployed at the source of tagging since too often meta tags are whatever comes to mind at the time of creation. If you've ever gone back and looked at tags across a large number of articles, you probably know what I mean.

By understanding concepts, relationships and synonyms used by a community we could devise ways to assign a consumer to one or more of the communities. It would also provide the means to rate content in terms of effectiveness within and across communities.

The more content you create, the more important vocabulary is - particularly if you're a publisher.

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