What are we talking about?

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While on holiday, sipping a Piña Colada, I had a sudden thought (well, it happened to Newton, right?)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about keywords recently, and I suddenly wondered what the keywords in the PR Friendly Index would look like. That is, take them all, and plot them in some way.

What would this tell us? Well, it would be nice to know what people are talking about. It would be interesting to see what the top keywords are. And maybe I could plot this to show how close blogs are to each other. It could be that some blogs talk about pretty much the same things, while I would imagine there are some ‘special’ blogs on the periphery.

Furthermore, such a study would get around the oft-quoted criticisms of the PR Friendly Index. It would be non-hierarchical, so I wouldn’t be ‘scoring’ blogs as if this were a race. It would also be less of a pain in the arse to compile every month, especially if new blogs came in.

How best to show it though? I went through the options, and it looked like a social network diagram was the ideal solution. Except that, rather than show links between people, I’d be showing links between blogs and their keywords and, through inference, the closeness of blogs to each other.

In other words, I’d be showing the links between what people are saying rather than the physical links that exist between them.

So, that’s what I’ve done. I tried to use keyword density analysis but couldn’t find a reliable way to gather the data. So, instead, I’ve used tags according to the Technorati database which I can do through a nice Technorati API call. To my mind this isn’t as powerful in that it shows what people say they’re saying, rather than what they’re actually saying. But, on the other hand it’s a neater way to do this.

Here are the results, below.

I know what you’re thinking: it’s a mess.

Well, click the image or go to the Many Eyes visualisation to use it properly. You can zoom in and out, move around, search within it, and click nodes to see who links to what.

So, if you click a tag (shown in caps because I couldn’t find any other way to distinguish between tags and blogs), you can see which blogs relate to that tag. And if you click a blog, you can see which tags it uses.

If it helps, I’ve provided a few examples below, showing the centrality of PR and social media as tags…


… and here’s one showing which tags I use, that is, by clicking my blog node which highlights the tags related to me:


What does this tell us?

Well, given that the largest, most central nodes are the most popular, it’s pretty easy to see that PR and social media are right in there. This is to be expected, and even if it confirms expectations, it’s still something we’ve learned.

What’s interesting is that we can see which blogs are linked in the middle too. One could say these are the blogs which really talk – or at least tag what they’re saying – about topics that are at the heart of the PR blogosphere. You can see lots of blogs clustered around PR and social media. Just take a look at the other large nodes to see what they represent. I can tell you now that the other three most popular tags are blogging, marketing and media.

Also, you can see that some one blogs really isn’t aren’t supposed to be here! They’re It’s the satellites hovering around the edges – Josh Morgan’s Don’t eat the shrimp, Spinwatch and Online Marketing Blog. They don’t It doesn’t share any tags with any other blogs.

  • In Josh’s case, it seems that he hasn’t categorised any of his posts, but he does talk about the UOP Tigers basketball team a lot. So, it seems Technorati is returning these keywords as tags. This is a pity because I’d say Josh’s blog is a PR blog, and belongs much more at the heart of the diagram. If only he’d sort his tags out! Or maybe I need to take another look at this.
  • Spinwatch is of a different nature from the other blogs. It’s not run by an individual and in many ways is an ‘anti’ PR blog. It also clearly tags its entries in radically different way. But it still belongs in the index, I feel. We still need to be watched.
  • Online Marketing Blog seems to talk a lot about SEO. This is fair enough – it’s what online marketing is about, I guess. But isn’t this also relevant to social media? Let’s keep it in for now.

POST EDIT: I have changed the tags for Don’t Eat The Shrimp and Online Marketing Blog in view of their comments below.

I’ll be offering some more analysis over the next few posts. I’ll show which are the most popular tags, offer a nice funky tag cloud, maybe some other charts (I expect there’s a long tail knocking about here somewhere). It would also be nice to see whether there are any identical blogs – that is, those whose top five tags are the same – or whether there’s a way of ‘typifying’ them.

Meanwhile the data is also publicly available on Many Eyes so I would love it if someone else could come up with cool analyses or insights, maybe with different tools too (real-time with 3D animated Flash rendering would be nice). Just go over to the Many Eyes site and take a look.

If anyone else wants to add their blogs, let me know. If your tags seem to fit this, you’re in. It should be much easier to recompile the image than recompile the PR Friendly Index. And it would be nice to expand this a bit.

Finally, I haven’t thought of a name for this… thing yet. It’s a PR Friendly Thing, but what manner of thing? A blogosphere? Tagosphere? Circle-jerk? Perhaps I should offer this as a competition. Or maybe I’ll just call it the PR Friendly Thing.

For disclosure, a few notes on the methodology here…

As I said, I originally wanted to look at keywords, as this could give more insight into what people are really talking about rather than what they think they’re talking about! But it proved problematical. I tried using importHTML functions in Google Docs, namely to pull data from the webconfs.com tool, but it just didn’t work right.

So, I decided to use the Technorati tags calls with the importXML function in Google instead. You can use the blogposttags call (http://api.technorati.com/blogposttags?key=%5Byour_key%5D&url=%5Btarget_url%5D) which returns the most popular tags, in order. I decided to pull in the five most popular tags, simply because I felt that was a manageable number.

Of course, this then needed a bit of scrubbing. Some of you tagged topics as ‘Public Relations’, others as ‘PR’, so I standardised these to ‘PR’. Some of you, however, used both!

Then there were variants. ‘public-relations’ or even ‘public_relations’ popped up a couple of times. So I would then have to take the next tag (or two or even three) down to make this a full set of five. ‘Social Media’, ‘socialmedia’ and ‘social-media’ was another frequent candidate for standardisation. You get the picture. I’ve had to standardise your taxonomies for you!

At first I was tempted to remove the ‘ego-tags’, that is, where people have tagged themselves. Then I decided against it. If these people want to tag themselves, then so be it. We can now all point and laugh at them for doing so.

There were also some blogs that just didn’t want to play.

  • The New Marketing didn’t show up on Technorati’s tag analysis at all, so I just took the first five tags I could see on their blog. I don’t know if these are the most popular tags on their blog, but as they were not in alphabetical order, they were either listed in order of popularity or chronology so I guessed I had a fifty-fifty chance of being right here. Maybe they could let me know?
  • The World’s Leading has been dormant for quite some time so it was hardly surprising that it has finally disappeared off Technorati’s radar. What a pity. What a loss.
  • Active Voice is no longer active
  • Copypunk seemed to stop at his first computer. If at first you don’t succeed… give up

9 thoughts on “What are we talking about?

  1. Thanks for the inclusion of Don’t Eat the Shrimp. Interesting that the blog showed up as it did as only 3 out of about 620 posts are about UOP basketball, or even basketball at all.

    We are definitely a blog about PR, marketing and social media.

    I lost a lot of my tags when I moved over to WordPress from Blogger last year. The process is ongoing but sometime by 2010, we should be all re-tagged.

  2. Hello Brendan, this is fascinating.

    I believe Online Marketing Blog suffers from the same tag situation as Don’t Eat the Shrimp. Looking at the keywords shows Marketing as the most significant topic with SEO and Online PR in the top 10 and social media not far behind: http://tinyurl.com/5hmfc9

    We’re checking to make sure tags are being published properly as well.


  3. Hi both!

    OK, I just checked you out on the Google Adwords tool, in which you can submit a web url to see what keywords it suggests. This, to my knowledge, doesn’t go through the entire site, but it’s good for suggesting keywords based on what it can see.

    Don’t eat the shrimp seems to come up with public relations, crisis communication, crisis, tax, pr and miscellaneous. I’m happy for you to suggest the tags you think most appropriately characterise your blog, given the tag problems you’re having.

    Online Marketing Blog returns search engine optimization, search engine marketing, search engine ranking, search engine position, search engine rank, search engine placement, search engine submission, search engine, optimization, marketing, seo, blog, and again some miscellaneous keywords. As you can see, quite heavily biased towards SEO!

    But, again, I’m happy to go with your suggestion, not least from your tagline of ‘search engine & social media marketing, optimization and online public relations’, plus one more to make it five.

    Thanks for letting me know about this. I’d much rather have the accurate tags for this exercise, and I do know that Technorati isn’t the absolute answer all the time…

  4. Pingback: What are we talking about? Part II. « Brendan Cooper, your Friendly PR Social Media Planner

  5. Pingback: What are we talking about? Part III. « Brendan Cooper, your Friendly PR Social Media Planner

  6. Pingback: Top tip: put your keywords in your title « Brendan Cooper, your Friendly Digital Social Media PR, ummm, Thingy

  7. Pingback: The PR Friendly Index for March 2009 « Brendan Cooper, your friendly neighbourhood social media strategist

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