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Information mapping: The ‘social’ side of business

Nitin Agarwal
Spatial Ideas
[email protected]

A new platform brings together maps, news and social media, allowing users to process these data based on both relevance and geographic location to boost business

Social media has taken the world by storm. Courtesy social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, we have an unprecedented access to people’s thoughts, opinions, ideas and actions. If analysed properly and timely, this is a very valuable data.

GIS is one of the best ways to analyse and display information. Apart from the rich, intuitive geographical perspective, the visualisation abilities of a mapping system make it an ideal platform for crunching volumes of social media data and making it more easily understandable.

Maps bring unique features to data analysis. Merging maps with social media further makes a lot of sense as any opinion invariably has a huge geographical impact. For example, people’s opinion about a product in a geographic location it is being sold is far more important than the opinion of people not in the potential/target market for that product.

Thematic mapping is a particularly great feature to visualise large amounts of data as the information already appears classified and thus offers an insight into data straight away. For example, when looking for product opinion, one can simply classify the social chatter into useful information by colour coding the information based on sentiment.

Map-based analytics platform
We have tried to fuse the two together in our product called LocoBuzz. A map-based analytics, query and communications platform, LocoBuzz integrates news and tweets from Twitter (and will integrate information from other social networking sites such as Facebook in future), onto a geographical map. This can help understand public opinion about product/services and credible news, thus identifying potential clients/users with the ability to send them targeted messages.

The integrated analytics of LocoBuzz gives users a perspective of their brand’s social influence vis-à-vis competition with a geographical perspective. It also gives them semantic insight into various relationships such as finance and social trends, news and sales and quantification of marketing campaigns.

Applications like LocoBuzz are not limited to just brands and products. They can also be used in emergency response. It features a real-time feed displayed by location in case of an emergency or a calamity. One can use this information to assist law enforcement agencies or response management agencies. This tool can also be used for any widespread public participation activity. As an example, getting real-time location-based tweets during elections can be a great way to curb malpractices.

Information mapping explained
The Internet is one of the best sources for information, creating a port for easily accessing reliable news. LocoBuzz accesses news feeds and geo-coding them to display correctly on the map according to location. The idea is to show the news on the map at the correct location. This provides insight into ‘what’s happening’ and ‘where it is happening.’ The product integrates the social buzz related to the news also into the map and allows people to get on board the social buzz wagon from within the application and customise the information by overlaying feeds from their social networks. This is what can be called ‘information mapping.’

This framework has the ability to overlay relevant information such as tweets and RSS feeds on a map. Data is collaborated not only from the registered news feeds but also from individuals and organisations from all over the world. This information can be of great significance to news agencies, event organisers, celebrity and sports managers, advertisers, marketers, industry experts, governments and various other organisations and individuals in getting real-time feedback from the Internet users, in addition to the established online news providers. In addition, this framework can also allow users to share news feeds between them.

Tweet Map for a brand over a one-month period
Tweet maps
LocoBuzz can also provide perspective about traction of a brand or a product or event using GIS and social media. A simple map showing varying blip sizes based on count of information is a good indicator of popularity based on geography. One can apply this insight to a number of business aspects. This can be a starting point for any global brand to plan their global marketing strategy or evaluate region/area of influence and effectiveness of their campaigns. The following figure shows a tweet map for a brand over a one-month period.

LocoBuzz, thus, is a platform to bring together maps, news and social media, allowing users to process data based on both relevance and geographic location to boost business.