Trends

Quite simply, some charts that may be of interest. For example, note how Apple is supplanting Microsoft in search volume; that PR may be peeling upwards away from advertising and even marketing; the relative fortunes of Google+, Facebook and Twitter; social media may be levelling off; and, especially heartwarming for me, Star Wars is much more popular than Star Trek (mostly).

All charts are for all regions and years except the politics chart which is just for the UK over the past 12 months (because a lot can happen in 12 months!) Click each chart to go to the Google Trends page for more information, such as the news items that account some spikes (A, B, C etc).

● microsoft ● apple

● ed miliband ● david cameron ● nick clegg ● politics

● hp ● dell ● ibm ● hardware

● advertising ● marketing ● pr ● social media

● social media

● google+ ● facebook ● twitter

● star wars ● star trek

Advertising, PR, sales, marketing: now you see it, now you don’t

People are visual, so it makes sense that they act on what they can see. But that’s not so hot when you need to deal with, um, concepts.

So, people ‘get’ advertising, because they know what an advert is. I don’t know what the figures are for the average number of adverts people are exposed to throughout their lives, but it’s a shockingly huge amount. We see them on broadcast, print and social media, and whether or not we mentally screen them out, we’re aware of them.

But they don’t, on the whole, understand PR. This is because PR is about placing articles or selling in stories in the media on a client’s behalf. If you don’t ‘get’ that then this might help: before I started in PR, I genuinely believed all those pieces with HP’S CEO’s name against them had been written by HP’s CEO. Then, when I discovered the unalloyed joy of writing bylines, and found myself one day writing one for HP’s CEO, I suddenly realised what was going on.

Advertising is bells and whistles, while PR is a sleek, black plane. Or, advertising is ‘look at me’ while PR is ‘look at them’. Or, advertising is Edwina Currie while PR is Peter Mandelson.

Likewise sales and marketing. Again, people get sales because they buy and sell things. In the same way they can ‘see’ adverts, they ‘see’ sales. But they don’t, I’ve found, understand marketing because they can’t see them. Markets might be big, or small. They might not exist at all. But they’re the environment you need to operate in, to sell effectively.

Increasingly, I’m finding that social media is about marketing. It’s about a lot of other things too – not least research, awareness, engagement, all those great things – but what I tend to find myself thinking about now is the market. Who are the client’s competitors? What are they doing? How can we measure ourselves against them? What does success look like? Generally, it looks like something you’ve done that is better than your competitors, from selling more things to getting more attention.

Sales is little regions of activity, while marketing is the tectonic plates that underpin all of this. Leave it too long and you’ll find the plates have shifted. Or, sales is Mount Etna while marketing is Pangea (not, repeat not, Pandora).

So I’m working in a double-blind area. It’s PR (Mandy in a Nighthawk) and marketing (a theoretical ancient unified landmass with a funny name). Would I prefer to work with my eyes wide open, in ‘real’ things such as advertising and sales?

Well, that depends.

What are the hours?

If you want to understand social media, do it when there’s a big TV event happening

We’re living in a strange world right now. We’re sort of at a tipping point between broadcast and broadcomment, where we can watch what millions of other people are watching, while at the same time see what they’re saying.

This was brought home to me during the Prime Ministerial debates in the UK. I watched them with my laptop showing tweetclouds, sentiment analysis and Twitter search to get a flavour of what people’s reactions were. So it was a deeply flawed experiment in many ways – take a subset of the population who are interested enough in politics to watch the debates, another subset interested enough to comment online, and find the intersection between them – but it was interesting to see the stats shoot up in favour of Clegg. And ok, so, he didn’t win, but then again no one did. I, on the other hand, did find out a lot about social media monitoring.

Social media in action

So it occured to me then that the best way to demonstrate how social media works is during an event like that. Something that people can relate to what they’re seeing on TV, and reading about in the newspapers. Also – and this is really important – being able to tweet, and then see that tweet – their tweet – appear in the results. It’s what got me into blogging in the first place, when I posted to this blog, subscribed to my own RSS feed in Google Reader, and saw myself pop up a few minutes later. It impressed me. But I think people often don’t quite ‘get’ the idea of cause and effect, that what they blog or tweet about can and will be found by other people.

So this weekend, another event: the six nations Rugby. I don’t play rugby but I do like watching a good game, and this weekend there were plenty (not least because England won). And this time I got quite a few interesting insights using some monitoring solutions that are good for real-time monitoring, namely Twitterfall, Twendz, Tweetfeel and Tweetgrid.

Again, it was a really good occasion to demonstrate how you can set up searches (in this case, for mentions of rugby and 6nations), then tweet something with one of those search terms in it, then see your tweet appear a minute or so later.

Pretty Twitterfall

Of all the sites I tried, I preferred Twitterfall‘s look and feel. I can imagine it working wonderfully well projected onto a wall during an event, especially in its presentation mode.

But Twitterfall doesn’t really offer any analysis. Even a tweetcloud would be useful and fairly non-controversial, I’d have thought.

Interesting and idiosyncratic Twendz

I found Twendz a little jerky in its presentation, but I did find its analysis tools fascinating. Not least because they’re wrong.

I tested the Twendz sentiment engine a long, long time ago, on the day Jade Goody died (a contestant in Big Brother in the UK). I searched against her name, and saw some tweets come in saying “So sad Jade Goody died” being classed as negative. Presumably this was due to the proximity of ‘sad’ and ‘Jade Goody’ but to my mind, that’s actually in favour of Goody. I asked about this and was told it was a ‘correct response’. Correct in that it’s classing death as negative, but I wouldn’t really be monitoring to find out what people think about death, to be honest.

So this weekend a tweet saying “My two home nations playing but I can’t watch :(” was classed as negative. Again, this is a tweet by someone who I think really wanted to watch rugby, but couldn’t. The proximity of the sad smiley must have classed it as negative. But this is someone who is sad because they can’t be there. It’s a double negative. So it’s in favour of rugby, right? Not against, imho as a human being.

Twendz also has an idiosyncratic way of picking out the main topics people are commenting on. For example, ‘DONT’ came up a few times. When I looked to see what was causing that, it was just two tweets with the word “don’t” in them. Hmmmmm. Maybe this is why Twitterfall steers clear of analysis.

Or maybe it was just having a bad day. Or perhaps it needed the right kind of event to work properly, much like the people of Summerisle needed the right kind of adult.

Touchy Tweetfeely

Tweetfeel, on the other hand, really goes for sentiment analysis in a big way. It even has a big strapline on the home page saying so: “Real-time Twitter search with feelings using insanely complex sentiment analysis.”

And it did seem to work. I was surprised at how well it would correctly classify tweets. It could be that it only classifies tweets that are definitely one way or the other (eg “France are brilliant” or “Scotland suck” – sorry Scotland, but you did, a bit) so I’d have to look into that more closely to compare an unfiltered search with a sentimented search.

Still, it gave me confidence, so perhaps Tweetfeel is good for the sentiment analysis side of things. You could maybe run Twitterfall on one screen and Tweetfeel on another, or maybe even bring them together into a Netvibes dashboard.

Tweetgurn

Finally, Tweetgrid sounds great and does a decent enough job of presenting tweets in, as the name suggests, a grid, but I found it difficult to get started until I realised the big brown pictures in front of me were clickable icons, and then, well, its presentation leaves a lot to be desired. Given the choice, I’d go for Twitterfall or Twendz any time.

Cause and effect

So there you have it. If you really want to show someone how social media works then speed things up, so that they can see cause and effect, and give them a context. In other words, do it during a live, national event, and show them how this all works with some monitoring tools. They’ll get to see what’s good and what’s not so good about monitoring and social media today.

One day…

I’ve already mentioned Netvibes, and I’ve considered building dashboards before big events that bring together live video streams with social media feedback shown alongside. Maybe I’ll do that next time around.

I await the day when broadcasters realise they can integrate this stuff too. I did find it very interesting seeing what people were thinking, but frustrating that I had to look at the laptop, then at the game, and found I couldn’t really concentrate on either.

So maybe, one day, someone will have the bright idea of running a Twitterfall-like column alongside the picture, or running below it like a newswire, together with a cloud. If so, I’ve got copyright on that one.

Aggregated predictions: what really will happen with social media in 2011

Around Christmas-time I was foolish enough to list my social media predictions. They were a combination of ‘more of this, less of that, same of the other’, and you can still read it if you’re foolish enough to base an entire year that hasn’t happened on the ramblings of one poor gangrel creature.

Fortunately I wasn’t the only one. There are plenty of other gangrel creatures out there, with their own predictions, so I thought it would be interesting to see what other people have said, aggregate them all, and see if we have any agreements. While there are plenty of one-offs (for example I think I’m the only person who predicts the rise and rise of digital agencies at the cost of PR agencies) there are, amazingly, congruencies between people.

Here’s what I’ve found below, but you can see the Google doc I used to compile this, together with the links to the bloggers I read. I got as far as halfway through page 4 of the Google results before I started to lose the will to live, and I might even pick this one up again, but for now, this is where we’re at.

Mobile

There were various takes on this, ranging from the increased importance of check-in sites such as Foursquare, through to the influence of technologies such as the iPad. I bunched them all under mobile, and this is the most important popular prediction, with 11 mentions from Socialnomics, ReadWriteWeb, Fred Meek, 4TM Guide, Lockergnome, Social Media Examiner, The Next Web, Trevanian Legg, Ron Medlin, Social Media B2B, and Concepts Marketing.

Alignment with business goals

The gurus are being expunged, dormanted, deleted. Next most popular was the prediction that 2011 will see people really tying social media to business results, with 8 mentions from Conversational Currency, Socialnomics, OneForty, ReadWriteWeb, KnowledgeBlog, Social Media Examiner, Infusionblog, Trevanian Legg, and me. I went on to say that these would yield disappointing results, and I’m happy (or sad, or despondent, or maybe a little morose) to say that KnowledgeBlog and Social Media B2B think so too.

The rise of Facebook

I said that I don’t see Facebook declining any time soon – unlike, say, Google, and who’d have thought that eh? – and I’ve been joined by Fred Meek, Social Media Examiner, The Next Web, Hausman Marketing Research Letter, Ron Medlin, Likeable Media and Contently Managed – that is, 7 other thinkers who also think Facebook will continue to dominate, whether through expansion, flotation, collaboration, monetisation, or something else ending in ion.

Amusingly enough, 4 commentators think Facebook will decline in influence, mainly through the rise of niche networks. They are Forrester, ReadWriteWeb, Trevanian Legg and MSL Group. They are, of course, wrong.

More group buying, particularly Groupon

In total 5 commentators think that social or group buying, particularly that exemplified by Groupon (or, in fact, actually Groupon since its valuation last year north of one billion dollars) will be significant over the coming year. They are Socialnomics, KnowledgeBlog, The Next Web, Social Media B2B, and MSL Group.

More content-driven programmes

All social media should be driven by content, but Social Media Examiner, The Next Web, Infusionblog, Social Media B2B and Contently Managed think this will happen more in 2011, with tools to help marketeers do this, or to enable their audiences to do it for them.

More consolidation among the large networks

This is something I didn’t mention but I do agree with. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn are irresistible and I don’t think the likes of Diaspora (the open-source so-called Facebook killer) et al are going to make a single dent. So I agree with Socialnomics, KnowledgeBlog, 4TM Guide, Social Media Examiner and Contently Managed on this one.

Again however, there are dissenters. Social Media B2B and GigaOm think there will be a rise of importance from niche sites at the ‘big’ systems’ expense. Silly sausages.

Anonymity and vetting

This is something I really hadn’t considered but does make sense. One of the primary concerns I noted while training at the Social Media Academy last year was that of privacy, that is, how much should I let people know, and how can I tell if people are genuine online? Four commentators mention privacy/vetting issues, and they are Conversational Currency, Socialnomics, ReadWriteWeb and GigaOm.

Video

This one surprises me, I have to say. ReadWriteWeb, Tim Ferriss, Concepts Marketing and Contently Managed all mention the ascendancy of video to some degree. I guess this ties in with the ascendancy of mobile in that we’ll all be glued to our displays watching video while we accidentally fall into water features.

That’ll do pig

I don’t want to give the impression I’m being a bit hasty here but I really need to crack on. Take a look at the Google Docs spreadsheet for the full picture. I might add to it as I go along, but really, go and take a look to see what else people comment on. Of the remaining topics that are mentioned by at least three sources we have metrics (which I guess ties into business goals), advertising, more social search (and less social search!), more workplace acceptance, continued importance placed on social media, the culling of so-called social media gurus (using a blunt instrument I presume), the intriguing and some would say tautological concept of Social Google, more Quora (of quorse – sorry), and more Twitter - again, counterbalanced by some who say less Twitter. Nothing more thrilling than when people disagree.

Goodbye Delicious, hello… what?

So the news is out. Yahoo have screwed up. They’re closing Delicious. I don’t even need to include a link here – just go out and look for mentions of it right now and you’ll see the news.

This is A Big Thing. It throws up all sorts of substantial issues, not least among which is, if the social web is such a big thing, then how come the biggest bookmarking service is about to go belly up? If a major company like Yahoo is experiencing difficulties monetising Delicious, then what does this mean for other cloud-based services? And, from that, how confident can we be when we store things in the cloud? At what point do we need to back things up locally, or – shock horror – actually have to start paying for this kind of service?

These are all important topics for debate that I’m sure will be covered over the next few weeks. But right here, right now, this is bad news for me, because I rely on Delicious for several important activities.

  • Distributed information gathering. Ever wanted to harness the collective effort of a team to gather knowledge as they go about their daily activities, quickly bookmarking something and slowly building up an incredibly useful, dedicated database? I have. In fact, I did, before I got into Delicious. I set up a team with Google Reader, where every member subscribed to every other member’s shared items, so that we could all see what each other had shared. It was a very useful way for us all to be clued up – maximum returns, minimal effort required. But the Delicious solution was much more elegant, in that you could install the toolbar to bookmark pages quickly and easily, add notes explaining why you’d bookmarked them, and so on.
  • News feed creation. From that same Google Reader-based project, in turn, the shared items could generate a branded page and an RSS feed, so we could pump information out to clients. They could then see what we were sharing with them, as a feed that we created based on our judgement of what was important, rather than search engines.
  • Monitoring. You can (in the near future, change that to ‘could’) search Delicious without needing to sign in. You can (could) create an RSS feed off that search. This is (was) a wonderful facility, meaning you can (could) see not just what people are (were) saying about a brand, but what they consider (considered) important enough to bookmark. Its human-based nature complements (complemented) machine-based searches extremely well.
  • Measurement. If bookmarking is a form of engagement – that is, actually taking action rather than passively reading – then you could use Delicious as a form of engagement metric. If more people are bookmarking you, then they’re engaged with what they’re reading about you.
  • Auto-publishing. Delicious has (had – ok, I’ll stop this now) a great feature whereby you could get it to post automatically to your blog at the end of each day with the bookmarks you’d created that day. You get two quality outputs for one input. Fabulous.

That’s just five reasons I have had big plans for Delicious. I have one client that I was imminently going to: install the Delicious toolbar on each member’s machine; create a set of core tags for them to use on web pages; create RSS feeds from searches for those tags; bring those searches into a dashboard for monitoring; share them with clients as a news feed; and occasionally measure the number of hits across Delicious to gauge engagement.

Now, suddenly, I have to think of a viable alternative.

There are some out there, and it seems to me the frontrunners are Diigo and StumbleUpon (which I have heard of before and used briefly before realising Delicious was far superior), and Xmarks, which I haven’t heard of before and need to look into. There is also, I guess, Google Bookmarks, but I don’t know how that’s faring nowadays given Google discontinued support for Notes some time ago.

But as far as I can tell, none of them offer the ability to create an RSS feed off a search without having to sign in. So I can still conceivably create shared knowledge systems and use metrics to a degree, but I cannot monitor or create filtered news feeds for clients. Bum.

Meanwhile I also have the major headache of figuring out where else to store the 1,107 bookmarks I have on Delicious, which I use for my own research and even for navigation using the toolbar. Double bum.

There’s a huge amount of hue and cry about this online right now, so I’m probably going to get lost in the noise here with this post. But, if anyone can point me in the right direction to get this sort of feature, please let me know. Otherwise I may need to go back to basics – Google Reader, which some people find fiddly and is not as elegant, as open, as ubiquitous, as plain old useful and great, dammit – as Delicious. Bum bum bum bum bum.

Twitter influence: who do you believe?

Two people walk into a room. They both claim to have the definitive ranking for Twitter influencers for your area of interest. One uses Klout, the other, WeFollow. And guess what? Their results differ, in some cases quite wildly.

Which do you believe?

Let’s multiply the problem. Imagine you’re dealing not just with two people who have different results, but eight. Between them they’re using WeFollow, KloutTweetLevel, Twittergrader, Twinfluence and Twitalyzer, with two of them, bless, still using Followers and Lists. How quaint.

So you have eight people all claiming to have determined who you need to follow, or monitor, or talk to. My take on this? Let’s compare all of them with each other and see if there are any congruences – that is, if I rank according to one metric, then rank according to another, and compare the two, do any of these metrics exactly match? Or nearly match? Because if they do, then it’s probable that they’re more accurate because we’re getting agreeement between them. If not, then, well, we’re stuffed really aren’t we?

So, let’s take a look…

Let’s choose a subject. Say, architecture. I’ve done some social media work in that field so I’m kind of familiar with it, and it’s a nicely defined sector. So, in the manner of Sir Alan Sugar telling your apprentices what they’ve got to do next to massage his over-inflated ego, you tell your eight people to find the top twenty Twitter influencers for architecture. After an hour or so, the results are in.

First off, the person who used Twinfluence goes a bit red in the face and has to admit that they didn’t actually get any results because Twinfluence was down. So, Sir Alan Sugar-like, you tell them they’re fired and they walk out of the room in a hot funk, never to reappear.

Next up, the Twittergrader person tells you that all but two of the candidates scored 100% on the Twittergrader scale. So you cannot determine rank. That’s pretty useless so again, you send them on their way.

Straight away you’re down to six usable, workable sources: WeFollow, Klout, TweetLevel, Twitalyzer, and the two dorks still using Followers and Lists. Being a fairly thorough version of Sir Alan Sugar, you decide to chuck the results into a spreadsheet to see how the various measures compare. You take WeFollow as the base for this because at least WeFollow is explicit, that is, it’s people voting for other people rather than being figured out by an algorithm. At least you understand this. So, you take the WeFollow ranking, and compare that with how you would rank results from the other sources.

This is what you get:

_

WeFollow Rank Followers Rank Klout Rank Tweetlevel Rank Lists Rank Twitalyzer Rank
ArchRecord 1 107,490 5 41 10 66 6 2,136 5 12.2 3
archdaily 2 18,099 8 50 4 67 5 1,763 7 8.7 4
dwell 3 107,712 4 45 6 69 4 3,326 4 0 11
archiCentral 4 15,268 10 12 20 47 18 959 13 0 11
archinect 5 6,570 16 34 13 55 14 729 14 0 11
designmilk 6 159,372 2 54 2 71 2 5,137 3 29 1
wallpapermag 7 212,487 1 44 8 71 2 6,363 1 0 11
DesignObserver 8 148,762 3 57 1 73 1 5,764 2 22.3 2
MetropolisMag 9 9,627 13 31 14 53 15 1,104 11 0 11
architectmag 10 10,225 11 42 9 59 9 1,145 10 0 11
dornobdesign 11 30,754 6 45 6 59 9 1,407 8 8.2 5
AIANational 12 6,925 14 25 16 58 11 619 16 3 8
Interior_Design 13 20,749 7 27 15 57 12 1,343 9 0 11
blueprintmag 14 5,646 17 22 18 44 20 641 15 0 11
archimag 15 2,933 19 20 19 45 19 346 19 0.8 10
casinclair 16 6,647 15 49 5 62 7 606 17 7.6 6
mocoloco 17 9,672 12 36 11 53 15 1,022 12 0 11
designboom 18 15,493 9 52 3 61 8 2,075 6 4 7
architectderek 19 4,774 18 35 12 56 13 312 20 2.5 9
VariousArch 20 2,715 20 25 16 49 17 357 18 0 11

_

That’s right. None of them agree. There are really wild differences here. ArchRecord, which according to WeFollow is number one in the architecture world, would be ranked 10th if you were using Klout for this. According to Klout, DesignObserver is the top dog, which largely agrees with most of the other sources, but again, not with WeFollow. If we were to rank by Followers, casinclair would be 15th, but by TweetLevel, it would be 7th.

So we can scoff at the people still using Followers or Lists, but really, if there is very little agreement across the board, does it matter? The Followers and Lists results are kind of in the same ballpark, so even if they’re crude measures, why not use them?

But there are degrees to which they disagree. Let’s compare them to each other to see which are the closest by figuring out how much, on average, a Twitterer’s rank changes when you use each metric:

_

WeFollow Rank
compared to…
Followers Klout TweetLevel Lists Twitalyzer
ArchRecord 4 9 5 4 2
archdaily 6 2 3 5 2
dwell 1 3 1 1 8
archiCentral 6 16 14 9 7
archinect 11 8 9 9 6
designmilk 4 4 4 3 5
wallpapermag 6 1 5 6 4
DesignObserver 5 7 7 6 6
MetropolisMag 4 5 6 2 2
architectmag 1 1 1 0 1
dornobdesign 5 5 2 3 6
AIANational 2 4 1 4 4
Interior_Design 6 2 1 4 2
blueprintmag 3 4 6 1 3
archimag 4 4 4 4 5
casinclair 1 11 9 1 10
mocoloco 5 6 2 5 6
designboom 9 15 10 12 11
architectderek 1 7 6 1 10
VariousArch 0 4 3 2 9
Average Rank Change 4.2 5.9 4.95 4.1 5.45

_

The table above shows us how much each Twitterer’s rank changes when we compare it with WeFollow (I’m just interested in change here, not whether it’s up or down, hence all the values are positive. I’m no statistician but this makes sense to me for some fairly ad-hoc reason right now). So if you rank ArchRecord by Followers, its position changes by four places compared to if you’d ranked by WeFollow. And if you look at the top table you can see that makes sense: it’s ranked #1 according to WeFollow, but #5 by Followers.

The average difference is simply the average of these positional differences (again, I’m not a statistician). So, on average, if you rank by Followers, compared to WeFollow, Tweeters would change position by a little over four (ie 4.2) ranking places. Look at the average ranking change for WeFollow compared to Klout: it’s nearly six (5.9)! On average, if you drew up a top 20 ranking according to Klout and compared that with WeFollow, your ranks would differ by six places. That’s not even close.

Anyway, I said we’d compare everything with everything so on to the next few tables, with comments below.

_

Followers Rank
compared to…
Klout TweetLevel Lists Twitalyzer
ArchRecord 5 1 0 2
archdaily 4 3 1 4
dwell 2 0 0 7
archiCentral 10 8 3 1
archinect 3 2 2 5
designmilk 0 0 1 1
wallpapermag 7 1 0 10
DesignObserver 2 2 1 1
MetropolisMag 1 2 2 2
architectmag 2 2 1 0
dornobdesign 0 3 2 1
AIANational 2 3 2 6
Interior_Design 8 5 2 4
blueprintmag 1 3 2 6
archimag 0 0 0 9
casinclair 10 8 2 9
mocoloco 1 3 0 1
designboom 6 1 3 2
architectderek 6 5 2 9
VariousArch 4 3 2 9
Average Rank Change 3.7 2.75 1.4 4.45

_

No need to panic, this is doing the same thing as the previous table, but relating ranking by Followers with the other rankings (we don’t need to include WeFollow now because we already did that in the previous table). Again, we’re looking at the absolute change, regardless of whether it’s up or down, then we average those changes at the bottom.

This time the biggest change is Followers compared to Twitalyzer, at 4.45. If two people gave you rankings based on these two metrics, you’d find that on average the positions differed by between 4 and 5 places. That’s still fairly large.

The lowest here is Followers to Lists, at 1.4. In other words, ranks by Followers compared to ranks by Lists would be very similar. Do you find this surprising? I do. I think. More below.

Let’s look at how Klout rankings compare, below.

_

Klout Rank
compared to…
TweetLevel Lists Twitalyzer
ArchRecord 4 5 7
archdaily 1 3 0
dwell 2 2 5
archiCentral 2 7 9
archinect 1 1 2
designmilk 0 1 1
wallpapermag 6 7 3
DesignObserver 0 1 1
MetropolisMag 1 3 3
architectmag 0 1 2
dornobdesign 3 2 1
AIANational 5 0 8
Interior_Design 3 6 4
blueprintmag 2 3 7
archimag 0 0 9
casinclair 2 12 1
mocoloco 4 1 0
designboom 5 3 4
architectderek 1 8 3
VariousArch 1 2 5
Average Rank Change 2.15 3.4 3.75

_

This time, comparing Klout to the remaining metrics (we don’t need to do WeFollow or Followers because we did them above, remember). Klout compared to Tweetlevel is the lowest average difference but still not as low as Followers to Lists.

Next up, TweetLevel:

_

TweetLevel Rank
compared to…
Lists Twitalyzer
ArchRecord 1 3
archdaily 2 1
dwell 0 7
archiCentral 5 7
archinect 0 3
designmilk 1 1
wallpapermag 1 9
DesignObserver 1 1
MetropolisMag 4 4
architectmag 1 2
dornobdesign 1 4
AIANational 5 3
Interior_Design 3 1
blueprintmag 5 9
archimag 0 9
casinclair 10 1
mocoloco 3 4
designboom 2 1
architectderek 7 4
VariousArch 1 6
Average Rank Change 2.65 4

_

Again, I’d say these are fairly large. An average change in rank of 2.65 is still nearly twice that of the lowest so far, Followers:Lists, at 1.4.

And finally, List rankings:

_

Lists Rank
compared to…
Twitalyzer
ArchRecord 2
archdaily 3
dwell 7
archiCentral 2
archinect 3
designmilk 2
wallpapermag 10
DesignObserver 0
MetropolisMag 0
architectmag 1
dornobdesign 3
AIANational 8
Interior_Design 2
blueprintmag 4
archimag 9
casinclair 11
mocoloco 1
designboom 1
architectderek 11
VariousArch 7
Average Rank Change 4.35

_

Well done, you made it to the last table, where all we have left is ranking by Lists compared to rankings by Twitalyzer. It’s still not looking good is it? 4.35 means that rankings would change over 4 positions on average. So the person you said ranked 8th could in fact be ranked 4th, or even 12th.

I probably should create yet another table summarising all the average rank changes but I can’t be arsed. All we really need to look at are the biggest and, most importantly, lowest average differences.

The biggest is 5.9, which is when you compare how rankings would change, on average, if you rank by WeFollow compared to ranking by Klout. This implies to me that there’s something radically different behind those figures, different enough to make them mutually meaningless.

The lowest is 1.4. And guess which combination that is? It’s Followers to Lists.

Now, I’ve spent a lot of time agonising over how to calculate influence. If you do a quick search you’ll find a lot of people saying that Followers is not a good indicator of influence. Others say that perhaps Lists are better. But I don’t buy the other indicators. I don’t understand how they’re calculated and therefore I don’t understand what they mean or, importantly, what action to take. If you look at the Edelman equation for calculating Tweetlevel, it’s horrendously complicated. What does it mean? How do I improve it?

But with Followers, I get it. As an analogy with paper circulations, I can say to people that if, say, arcinect tweets about you, then around 7,000 people will see it. I get Lists too. They tell me that, for example, over 1,000 people have bothered to add architectmag to a list, which is pretty impressive, when compared to the others in the table.

So Followers vs Lists gives the lowest difference. From one angle you could say that’s just an indicator of the propensity of people to create lists, that is, for every 12 or so followers, one creates a list. But I don’t see any such ratio between number of followers and lists above.

So I’m going to be a bit heinous here and go against the commonly accepted wisdom. I’m going to say, in a nicely numbered chain of inference, that:

  1. Followers and Lists are often dismissed as indicators of influence
  2. There are lots of Twitter influence metrics out there that are supposedly better
  3. If you take any two – or three, or four, etc – and compare them, often the differences will be fairly major
  4. This implies that no one metric is really any better than any other metric
  5. Except for Followers vs Lists which seem to tally the closest
  6. You can gain actionable insights from Followers and Lists which you cannot from the other metrics
  7. Therefore: Followers and Lists are the best indicators of influence

I’m prepared to believe that some of the super-duper pro systems out there can do this better. Influence also needs time to really identify who influences whom. I know that influence is cause and effect, input versus output, etc. And this is not a scientific test, it doesn’t have a sufficiently large sample, etc.

But, if you need to draw up a list without access to a pro system, this is my take on it. The supposedly more sophisticated metrics don’t cut it.

I know it’s controversial but if anyone else can provide a convincing argument otherwise, I’d like to hear it.

Social media? I wouldn’t bother.

In the 18 months since I went freelance, I’ve spoken to a lot of people and worked with quite a few different companies, including a fair number of PR agencies.

And what have I learned? That the state of social media is pretty much exactly as it was when I first became a social media type, over three years ago. Except it’s worse. So, I’m going to make it all better, right here and now.

When I started there was a vague notion that something called a blog might be quite a useful communications tool. This was before Facebook and Twitter had started to loom quite so large. I told people how useful I thought blogs could be, but no one listened. I made it my job to find out about these developments and eventually moved on to pastures new, where there were tactics a-plenty but no concept of strategy, measurement, value.

Eventually I decided to go freelance so I could do things more how I felt they should be done. I’ve since developed what I would call fairly nifty ways of monitoring, measuring results, developing strategies. But time and time again I come up against the old problems:

  • You develop a strategy that considers all the angles – the people, the message, the brand, ownerships – maps it onto what a business does, sets targets. You’re sure it will work. It’s beautiful. There is a lot of excited waving of hands. And that’s it. Six months down the line, it’s dead in the water. Why? Because, I think, people are too busy to be bothered with it. They got along fine before it, they’ll get along fine after it. They don’t really need it.
  • Clients make unreasonable demands of social media because they’ve heard of it. They want you to do things with it, right here, right now. You want to explain to them that it’s not a tap you just turn on. But they’re too busy to care. So you get unsatisfactory results because you’ve been using the wrong solution for the wrong problem.
  • You find yourself siloed because people don’t want to know. Part of your social media strategy is that people all look after different parts of it. But they don’t because they’re too busy. You just cannot sustain this position because social media is content-driven and you cannot be the expert on everyone else’s content.

Can you see the thread here? People are too busy. They’ve got their heads down working and social media is something they’re prepared to pay lip service to, but no more. It’s nothing malicious. They’re just too busy.

I have a very clever friend who once looked after the marketing for a prominent occupational psychology firm. When I met him recently I asked how things were going. He replied sadly “No one listens to me.” Of course they don’t. They’re too busy for marketing. So it goes, they’re too busy for social media too, it would seem.

But get this: things are worse now because a lot of people have sorta kinda heard about social media. So now they feel extremely smug when they say they’re not sure about it because they don’t know how it generates ROI.

ROI? Gimme a break! How many companies know the ROI of anything they do, let alone comms?

For example:

  • What’s the ROI of your website? How much did it cost you to put together, and how much have you made from it? If you don’t know, then why did you put one together in the first place? What would be the effect of taking it down?
  • What’s the ROI of your PR or advertising? How many leads did you make out of it? What was the value of those leads? If you just increased brand awareness/value/sentiment, how do you quantify this?
  • What’s the ROI of your intranet? Has it reduced development time? Has it reduced time to market? Has it helped retain knowledge? If so, how much do you think you’ve saved on the cost of recruiting and training new staff?

Etc

The real problem here is that people have no idea of how their online efforts are doing because a) they don’t measure them and/or b) they never measured them so they have no benchmark. And c) they’re too busy to worry about this anyway.

So, my advice?

I once saw a programme about some men who spent time in a monastery. After several weeks one of them had what he classed as a spiritual experience. He went a bit ‘funny’ and couldn’t quite explain what was going on. The monk he told this to just said, in a very calm, soothing voice: “I wouldn’t bother.”

It felt nice. Nice and reassuring. Calming, some might say. Absolving, even.

So, if you’re worrying about social media, I wouldn’t bother. You’re too busy. It sounds cooooool but really, if I put a strategy together for you, you won’t follow it because you’re too busy.  So I wouldn’t bother. If you want it to do something for you, here, now, then that won’t work because that’s not how it works, so I wouldn’t bother. And if you’re suddenly overly concerned about ROI – which you never were in the past – then, again I wouldn’t bother because if you didn’t measure anything before, you won’t do it now.

There now. Doesn’t that feel better?

Brad Little looks at the value of social media | Social Collective

All too often businesses are attending conferences like this and come away thinking they need to ‘do’ social media. Which to them means a Facebook page or Twitter profile. 6 months down the line they normally start asking where the ROI is. This is when they come to Brad and ask him to ‘measure’ social meda. This is the wrong way round.

Brad cited: 26% of online discussion mentions brands. Every one of those mentions is a media impression. Just because you didn’t pay for them or generate them, they exist and they should be measured and reported. These mentions can influence how people think about your brand or product. He showed a case study on TV Buzz which, from 20,000 buzz mentions created 10 million unique views and resulted in great reach for the brand. His point: buzz does equal reach.

This is a very nice piece about the value of social media. Today for some reason I’ve been reading a lot about how everyone is going to want social media even more next year, but that they still don’t know why. Measurement is absolutely key to the ‘why’. If you can identify what to measure, and how that ploughs value back into the business, then this informs how you use social media.

In particular, I love the way Brad says he is often asked to validate existing campaigns and that this is the wrong way around. I have been asked to perform similar miracles, such as “We’ve created a blog, what can we do with it?” Well, short of coming up with reasons for what you just did, I’d say you should have thought of this before you did it!

Anyway, read it. It lays out the issues nicely and shows how we’re still dealing with models that can be measured, and that can affect the bottom line. They’re just different models.

Twinfluence – Twitter Influence Analyzer

twInfluence is a simple tool for measuring the combined influence of twitterers and their followers, with a few social network statistics thrown in as bonus.

We know that “A-List” Twitterers like Scoble, LeoLaporte, and BarackObama have a lot of influence on Twitter, because they have tens of thousands of followers. However, social network analysis teaches us that there is a “horizon of communication” that extends beyond your own direct contacts, and this is demonstrated whenever somebody “retweets” a message. The significance is that not all followers are equal.

I’ve come across Twinfluence before and generally I don’t like this kind of approach. I find it hard to understand, therefore my clients would find it hard to understand, and therefore even harder to take appropriate action. I also don’t think you can boil everyone on Twitter down to ‘a score’. HOWEVER, despite myself, I find their explanation page fascinating, especially the charts showing typical profiles and how they change over time. I’m still not sure this is something comms people would go for especially, but it’s a ‘nice to know’.