Taking the Temperature of a Social Network

Media Morph: Facebook Lexicon

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: Facebook Lexicon.

WHAT IT IS: Think of it as a Google Trends or Technorati for Facebook. It's already clear that most people share a lot about themselves and their interests on social-networking sites. Last week, Facebook launched a way to help measure the buzz around certain subjects among users -- that is, assuming that people tend to record on their profiles and their friends' profiles things they're interested in.

Photo: Ed Betz
HOW IT WORKS: Facebook counts the number of terms that show up in profiles, walls, groups and events, and Lexicon ranks the most popular ones. Then you can check out the buzz of a particular keyword or phrase and compare it with others. Facebook doesn't say what the threshold for mentions is in order for a keyword or phrase to show up in Lexicon, but it does say "enough people" have to mention it.

A FEW EXAMPLES: Perhaps not surprising given his popularity among youth, Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton in Facebook buzz, but Ms. Clinton did spike heavily in early March, enough to leave him in the dust for a day or two. Another example: While there are no absolute numbers or percentages to help us put this in perspective, it appears Coke vastly outweighs Pepsi in terms of Facebook buzz. And Mets and Yankees buzz appears to be fairly evenly distributed on Facebook -- although the Mets had a big spike around Feb. 1, when they acquired pitcher Johann Santana. Also last week, Silicon Alley Insider tried out Lexicon to determine just how important the Beacon ad fiasco seemed to be to Facebook users and found that five times since September, it didn't even garner enough mentions to show up on Lexicon's charts.

WHY IT MATTERS: Clearly everyone's trying to crack the code on the best way to judge buzz. There have been some interesting experiments that aggregate data from multiple sources. Lexicon will make it easier for Facebook activity to factor into measures of "what's buzzworthy."
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