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Shopping for Top Forums: Discovering Online Discussion for Product Research

Jonathan Elsas
Natalie Glance
KDD SOMA 2010 Workshop on Social Media Analytics


Community generated content, or social media, has become increasingly important over the past several years. Social media sites such as blogs, twitter and online discussion boards have been recognized as valuable sources of market intelligence for companies wishing to keep abreast of their customers' attitudes expressed online. There has been little focus, however, on providing a similar service to potential customers. In this paper we present a system for aiding consumers with their product research by providing access to community generated content. We focus specifically on online forums or message boards, which are particularly useful for product research. These web sites often host discussion among users with first-hand product experiences, expert users and enthusiasts. The system presented here is designed to integrate with a shopping search portal, providing access to online forums that are likely to have a significant amount of discussion relating to a user's expressed interest in product brands and categories. We describe this system and present experiments showing that in the context of a shopping search engine, the proposed system is preferred or equivalent to results from a web search engine 80% of the time and achieves accuracy at the top ranked result of 85%.