Many of us are familiar with the term "Social Graph" defined as the global mapping of everybody and how they're related. The other day of I saw the term "Conversation Graph" in a title on a post by Brian Solis. The origin of this phrase was a blog post announcing BackType Connect, "a one-stop destination for retrieving comments on just about any topic across a wide variety of blogging platforms and social services."
The conversation graph is the mapping of conversations and how they're related across social platforms and blogs. That inspired the above illustration - the social life of a blog post.
The Conversation Graph Has Gotten More Complex
In the early days of social media, when blogs were the
centerpiece of the conversation graph, we focused on using our blogs
to promote conversation and community in the comments as David Wilcox and Michelle Martin. Our biggest challenge as bloggers was getting off the soap box and into a facilitation role.
Click to see larger image
And, blogging was not just about conversations on your home base, but also on other blogs. This diagram, credited to the “New York Times via Ed Philp,” (original source) illustrates the flow of comments on a blog. If you are reading many blogs and entering in many conversations, how to track where you've left comments?
Last October, I discovered and blogged about this (free) listening tool called BackType that will search through blog comments for mentions. In other words, it helps you discover if anyone is talking about you in the comments. When I teach workshops for nonprofits about listening with free tools, it's one of the half dozen basic tools that should be included in the tool box.
This week I wrote a post called, "What Happens When You Set Your Content Free With Creative Commons?" There were some really thoughtful comments and blog posts that extended the conversation. The conversation off my blog was easy to capture in my listening radar because the blog posts and tweets linked to the original post. The conversation brought out some interesting questions, so I summarized and added my thoughts in a follow up post called "How Do You Define Creative Commons Attribution?".
But, what I can't easily do for a specific blog post is see who is referring to the article in other places on the social web, like Twitter, Friendfeed, Digg, and the like. That's where the recently launched BackType Connect comes in. It pinpoints the conversations surrounding a particular article or post or the "conversational graph." BackType Connect extends this to searching for comments, tweets, and other mentions across different platforms.
It is very easy to use. You type in the URL for the post and it shows me the stats and actual mentions. For example, these are the stats for the above post. It also returns the search results and you can grab an RSS feed as well.
Backtype has also launched another tool called "Back Tweets." It searches for links on Twitter. That used to be hard to do because URLs on Twitter often use URL shorteners and that leaves no easy way for bloggers to see who’s sharing their posts.
So, if you've read this far, you're probably wondering, "How to use this?." Obviously, this would be an important tool for ongoing listening and influence cultivation. A source for qualitative research or feedback - a social media focus group, if you will, that lets you gather some insights about engagement and from engagement.
It is also useful to see quantitative data. And, it struck me that postrank could give the option of comparing your posts to one another with a number.
Social media has gotten a lot more complex than in earlier years when it was about blogging.
Who's Talking About You in the Comments, Beth Kanter
Trackbacks, Tweetbacks and the Conversation Graph by Ouseful Blog
Backtype Gets More Conversation Tracking Features by TechCrunch
Announcing Backtype Connect by Backtype Blog