The 2010 Social Media Significant Six – #1 The Old Spice Campaign
It set a standard of how to integrate Social into 'traditional' advertising. It combined bought media with earned media. Broadcasting with conversation. And most importantly, it had the numbers to back it up, so even the brands that were slow to catch on HAD to start thinking about the role of Social within their organisation. Will be copied over and over in 2011.
The 2010 Social Media Significant Six – #2 Social Media Monitoring
2010 was the year that dozens of companies introduced tools that purported to make sense of social media. With sentiment analysis you type in your brand name and watch it perform or fall in the hands of the crowd.
Not. We tried a few services and unfortunately there is no silver bullet. Algorithms have difficulty knowing positive from negative and neutral talk. You still have to spend time on social media if you want to know what is being said.
The 2010 Social Media Significant Six – #3 Mine is bigger than yours
If we're moving to a world where ordinary people are publishers, knowing which people are the most influential is a potential gold mine. We think it's far more likely that an acceptable influencer algorithm will be built than one that does sentiment analysis. But our tests showed the current leaders Klout and Peerindex are not without their problems.
The 2010 Social Media Significant Six – #4 Have you checked in yet?
Twelve months ago, the phrase 'checking in' was restricted to hotels and airports. But the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla made it one of the buzzwords of 2011. Not only did we check into bars, restaurants and other real venues, an entertainment check-in service like GetGlue is creating content communitues by letting people 'check-in' to TV shows, bands,…
Fad or fact? Our bet is it won't go away just yet. GetGlue just raised 6 million dollar and is partnering with mainstream media players. Foursquare is making a tv show with Endemol. And of course there's the question of how Facebook will integrate Facebook Deals with their (so far pretty unsuccessful) Facebook Places.
The 2010 Social Media Significant Six – #5 Advertising
Advertising has embraced the social platforms whole-heartedly. Facebook now accounts for 23.1% of all display ads in the US. Twitter has just opened up their Promoted services. And a mobile game like Angry Birds is making more money from advertising in their free app than from their downloads.
That's partly because of the sheer volume of traffic on social networking sites (Facebook is now close to hitting the 600 million mark). But it's also because of the potential social power of ads on these platforms. The opportunity of bought media becoming earned media. A Facebook ad that can be Liked can be 4 times more effective than a standard display ad.
The 2010 Social Media Significant Six – #6 Where does Social Media fit in?
All year we heard a meta conversation about social media. Who owns it? Edelman claimed it is PR that will win out and claim social. But Old Spice was done by an Ad Agency.
We expect the debate to continue. But we will find that there are many sides to social: some kinds of social that are more PR-like (monitoring, crisis management, Twittering) and other kinds of social that are more advertising-like.
The 2010 Creative Trend – Data visualisation
People like Aaron Koblin have been 'designing with code' for a few years, but data visualisation really took off this year. We featured the beautiful Flickr-based tourist maps of Eric Fischer, there was the intrigiung BBC Dimensions website and we've just seen the amazing Facebook connection maps.
But even though data visualisation can make for pretty pictures, there's more to it than pure esthetics. The New York Times has dedicated a whole department to the art of data. And if you get bored of afternoon Christmas films on telly, sit yourself down for this documentary on 'Journalism in the Age of Data' by Stanford professor Geoff McGhee.
The 2011 Trends – #1 Mobile
There is ample evidence to suggest that mobile will shake the world in 2011. In this video interview with Robert Scoble, Scot Kventon, CEO of Urban Airship, claims mobile will be even more disruptive than the web has been in recent years. One early casualty? The digital camera. 2010 was the year when the iPhone became the single biggest source of pictures on Flickr.
Advertising is moving to mobile at pace, with the US market said to have doubled in the last year alone to $890m. It is thought Google claimed more than half of that money.
Europe is slower. But mobile ad network aggregator Smaato and research firm mobileSQUARED forecast an increase in mobile ad spending in the EU-5 from $122.6 million this year to $1.29 billion in 2015.
Not surprisingly really as Techcrunch reports that in the US people are already spending as much time on mobile as on newspapers and magazines combined. The number shot up by 28% in 2010 and this trend will continue.
It will be a make or break year for mobile operating systems. At the Le Web conference in Paris last week Scoble poured cold water on Nokia's chances. Read this blog post for a rebuttal, but also for many good comments for and against. We think that the iPhone and particularly the more affordable Android will dominate more and more, because both of them have a better user experience and they are supported by the developer community.
Not surprisingly and mimicking its position on the web, Facebook is the biggest mobile media property in both the US and Europe. More interesting is the fact that Twitter is third in the Japan and fourth in both Europe and US, indicating its relative strength in mobile. With mobile becoming more important, expect Twitter to rise in prominence.
The 2011 Trends – #2 HTML5
HTML5 will change everything on the web as we know it. And most of us don't have a clue how and why. Most of us actually won't know HTML5 when it jumps out of the browser window and hits us between the eyes with a hammer. We just assume it's Flash. Read more >>
The 2011 Trends – #3 Social buying
Uniqlo lowered the price of their clothes according to the amount of people that tweeted about it. And thé social business success story of 2010 came from group buying service Groupon, culminating in them turning down a 6 billion Google bid.
Not so surprising if you know that a person landing on a website from a social network referral is 10 times more likely to make a purchase. But the connection between social and shopping will become more widespread. Brands will do more to integrate social into their e-commerce platforms as well as in their physical shops. And how Facebook Credits will influence all that is anyone's guess.
The 2011 Trends – #4 More social unrest
Wikileaks was a constant item in the news this year. Even if they get shut down, there's already a European and Russian whistleblowing site in the offing. The Evening Standard asked Can Twitter start a revolution? Expect more revelations and seemingly spontaneous protests popping up all over the world in the year to come. It's never been easier to organise and energise. And there is a lot to be upset about.
Oh go on then – we're going to stick our necks out and make some bold predictions for the year.
What on earth is HTML5?
HTML5 is changing everything on the web as we know it, and most of us don’t have a clue how, and why. Most of us won’t know HTML5 when it jumps out of the browser window and hits us between the eyes with a hammer. We just assume it’s Flash.
Except, it’s not … quite … but we can’t quite put our fingers on it.
What on earth is HTML5?
HTML5 is an evolution, as opposed to a revolution. It is the next evolution of the web’s document format – HTML.
In the early 1990s, when the web was born, HTML was mainly a text document format. A typical argument in the drafting of HTML as a standard included whether images should be built into the browser, and called by name!
In other words, HTML was originally not designed to be a media rich format.
Over time the need arose to include not only images, but also video, audio, interactive graphs, and all kinds of rich media into web pages.
Flash stepped up and provided most of that functionality through a plug-in.
The downside was that the Flash content was binary (not readable by search engines), and as a whole, it provided very little along the lines of interacting with the rest of the page.
It was just an HTML page with a piece of Flash in it. Nothing more.
The most obvious solution HTML5 provides is new tags (keywords) that allows all kinds of media and graphical content to be included in an HTML5 page, in an open and interactive way.
A fantastic example is this music video Mirror, by Japanese band Sour.
This band is, by the way, not entirely new to the viral scene.
In HTML, all content is equal. Ads, menus, blog post content, titles, comments … they’re all enclosed in tags with the exact same semantic meaning.
In other words, web browsers and search engines cannot distinguish between them, and as a result, a comment on a blog post is being treated on par with the post content when Google tries to figure out what the post is about.
HTML5 introduces a whole range of new content container tags to add semantic spice to web content.
Without going into too much detail, these tags are placed around pieces of content, marking them as specific commonly used types of content.
A web browser or search engine not only knows that there is content now, but also knows more or less what the content represents.
Google now knows which part of the web page is the body text of an article. It knows where the paragraph breaks are – it knows where the article stops and where the comments start. This is used to provide better search results, by understanding document structure.
This is not possible with HTML4.
An even more exciting evolution on the semantic front is microdata.
Microdata allows the author of a web page to define a set of additional data values to enhance the meaning of pieces of information. Google already uses this.
Microdata can for instance be used to, on a user profile page, tell Google (or any browser that implements microdata) which part of the content is the user’s name, which part is their profile picture, and which part is their email address.
In the same way, microdata can be used on an event page to tell Google when the event starts, and how long it will carry on for. This is being used today, and it works.
What can HTML5 do?
Let’s start this section by asking a counter question: What can HTML do?
The answer is: Nothing.
It is not supposed to do anything – it merely tells a browser what to display. HTML5 is different.
Interactivity – the HTML5 APIs
A canvas element can for instance be turned into a game screen, and updated just like a screen. In other words, anything that could traditionally only be done natively on the Operating System, can now be done in a canvas element in the browser.
The Messaging API can be used to communicate between different elements or objects on a page, and even between different browser windows. As shown with the music video mentioned above, this allows for multi window applications that do things in perfect sync. Browser windows can message each other and send data to each other, behaving as a single application.
All of these additions fill all the necessary gaps to turn the browser into the new platform. This vision is clear when considering Google’s Chrome OS, which is nothing more than an Operating System that consists entirely of only one application: Google Chrome.
This bridges the gap between different Operating Systems, between Mobile and Desktop. It achieves what Sun tried to do with Java. A truly abstract platform, which behaves exactly the same, no matter which system it is running on.
Google does Klout
We know that web pages with high ranking scores pass on those scores to pages they link to. But does Google take into account the authority of people who share links in determining the PageRank of those links? Danny Sullivan, search engine guru asked exactly that question:
Both Google and Bing tell me that who you are as a person on Twitter can impact how well a page does in regular web search. Authoritative people on Twitter lend their authority to pages they tweet.
Unrequited love – First Twitter, now Groupon
Last week we reported how Google failed to buy Twitter for a reported 5 billion dollars. This week they failed to buy Groupon, the hot social buying site, for a rumoured $6 billion. Exactly how much money Groupon is making is unclear, but a number between $800 and 2 billion has been bandied about.
One Twitter idea per week keeps Orange at a peak
Orange is a brand that gets Social Media. For a while now they've been running cute, simple, probably quite cheap campaigns based on Twitter. One new idea per week. You might remember the Singing Tweetagrams.
This week they kept people entertained with Secret Portraits. You had to tweet a description of your fine self and if you impressed the people at the other end, they got one of their talented illustrators to draw you a lovely portrait.
Twitter is not on the map
This week we set out to test the wonderful new DataSift Twitter filter tool. What became apparent is that although Twitter is perfectly placed to be the player the golden triangle of social, mobile and location, it is falling far short at present. Twitter is not in the location game.
Is Twitter keeping Wikileaks out of its trending topics?
Alan Rusbriger, editor of the Guardian, thinks no news organisation can hold a candle to Twitter. But is Twitter keeping Wikileaks from showing in its trending topics? Twitter claims no. Trends measure difference in popularity and because Wikileaks have been consistently popular it can't trend. This excellent blog post claims otherwise.
And we bet you're dying to know what we think on the Wikileaks's publishing of US diplomatic cables. We'll let Clay Shirky speak for us, because like us, he is conflicted.
Windows is dead, Long live the Web
It's only been a few weeks since Wired announced the web dead. Not if companies like Google can have their way. This week it announced a set of drivers that plug into the Chrome browser, turning it into a de facto operating system. Techcrunch discussed the implications:
Now, finally, even the tech purists can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Windows is hardware management plus an application platform, and we call that an OS. Chrome OS is hardware management plus an application platform (the browser), and we call that an OS, too.
Don’t worry about those desktop apps you think you need. Office? Meh. You’ve got Zoho and Google Apps. You won’t miss Office. Chrome plus Gears plus Google Wave plus HTML 5 and web platforms like Flash and Silverlight all combine into a single wonderful computing device. The Internet Is Everything. All the OS has to do is boot the damn computer, get me to a browser as fast as possible and then stay the hell out of the way.
After our mention of Ulule last week, crowdfunding is all the rage this week. The first new one is Fundry, a platform where developers can raise money for their apps, plugins,…
And Loudsauce is an interesting, slightly odd, one. They pitch themselves as a social ad buying platform for organisations that support the civic good. So rather than donate directly to a charity or a good cause, you help them increase their awareness and co-buy advertising.
Integration is an excuse for not making choices
Nick Emmel, a planner at Dare, wrote a thought-provoking piece on integrated marketing and how marketeers are enamoured by all the new, shiny tools around. Rather than use a tool just because it's there, the problem defines what tool should be used.
That rings true. It's not (just) about technology. Still, the benefit of digital tools is that you can monitor, test and tweak very quickly. And online failure is a whole lot cheaper than a multi-million tv campaign that bombs. As Emmel says:
Perhaps we should start to look at media integration in four dimensions. Launch a campaign with a slimmed-down media mix, observe the effect and adapt and compound the messaging as appropriate.
After Facebook the film, Foursquare TV
Foursquare has been getting some stick over the last weeks from early adopters, claiming they don't get enough out of it. Still, the location service this week signed up their 5th million user.
Plus, and this is another sign of them entering the mainstream, is they're getting their own tv show. According to Variety magazine they have signed a deal with top production company Endemol to develop a tv series that incorporates their location-gaming platform.
How to engage – the Guardian guidelines
The Guardian has released its journalist guidelines for blogging and commenting. It's simple and great advice.
Creative of the week – Rafaël Rozendaal
The other day, someone on Twitter called him the Andy Warhol of the web. Rafaël Rozendaal makes internet art in the strictest sense of the word. You don't buy an artpiece, you buy a URL. Read more >>
Tech insight of the week – Peerindex is not broken, but it’s not perfect
This week, as promised, we registered our four little twitterbot soldiers on peerindex.net, and within 24 hours the scores were in. Read more >>
The story so far …
In last week’s tech post I focused on Twitter influence measuring service Klout’s inability to stop bots from acquiring high klout scores. Klout responded positively, and got involved in the conversation.
Joe Fernandez, CEO of Klout, raised the philosophical question of whether giving bots a high influence score is a good or a bad thing. Shouldn’t it be possible for a bot to get a high Klout score? Is it not possible for a bot to have a high influence level?
To recap, the test probes in this experiment are four bots that Tweet random slightly humorous quotes once every minute, once every five minutes, once every 15 minutes and once every 30 minutes respectively.
So, this week, as promised, I registered my four little soldiers on peerindex.net, and within 24 hours the scores were in. As predicted by Azeem Azhar, Peerindex’s CEO, the bots scored reassuringly low. (See his comment on the previous post).
Let’s look at a screen shot of the first bot (the one with the highest score, which reached a score of 52 on Klout)
Quite interesting, isn’t it? At a first glance, it really seems like they got it spot-on. Except for one thing … the realness count (indication of whether the account is a human or a bot) is 75% – quite high for a bot, especially since, according to their score documentation, they start the score at 50%, and increase it only based on clues that the account is human.
Let’s look at the other bots’ realness count:
All of them score 75% – an indication that this metric is, as it should be, based (directly or indirectly) on Tweet content. Since the bots Tweet from the same set of quotes, this makes sense. It’s not as reassuring as our first impression though …
Then, while looking at one of my other accounts, I saw something quite disturbing. A highly acclaimed South African author and singer/songwriter I’m following, Koos Kombuis, has a peerindex of 0 …
… and a klout score of 58! His large klout score makes a lot more sense, given his celebrity profile and the size of his actively participating online audiences.
Koos also seems to have only a 35% likelyhood to be a human. Koos, are you still in there?
This had me quite puzzled for a while, until, Tuesday at #DevNest, Peerindex’s Product Manager, Simon Cast, revealed that a large part of their metric is based on the links you include in your Tweets. None of my bots ever tweet any links, and Koos Kombuis also rarely tweets links.
This actually means that testing Peerindex against these bots doesn’t mean much – a proper test will be to set up a set of bots that tweet automated content and links, and test Peerindex against those.
Let’s take a moment to investigate the philosophy behind ignoring linkless Tweets, though …
I believe, by discounting Tweets that don’t contain any links, Peerindex is ignoring a large part of what is important on Twitter. Koos Kombuis, for instance, uses Twitter for widely followed creative projects, like his most recent, #Twitterdawn, a novel written entirely by means of Twitter.
Stephen Fry had a very interesting feed to follow last year, as he followed the transfer of four Northern White Rhino’s from a zoo in the Czech Republic to a nature reserve in Kenya. During this period, Fry tweeted a lot, and his feed mostly consisted of news that he was witnessing first hand, in other words, linkless.
… we have these obvious monsterous failings, which I’m quite happy to talk about … there’s a guy who’s won the nobel prize in chemistry, and his Peerindex is 0 … that doesn’t reflect the real world … you have a guy like Clay Shirky, he blogs once a month, a million people read his blogposts. he doesn’t have as high a Peerindex as somebody who Tweets his stuff out … these are huge holes in our data index and in our analytics … we’re a startup, we’re going to get better at doing that, but right now, today, if you’re trying to find topical authority for people on Peerindex, it’s not a bad place to start …
Both Klout and Peerindex are busy with pioneering work. In a way, they are to Social Networks what Google was to the Web in 1998.
There are obvious flaws in their respective approaches, not because of negligence or stupidity, but because what they’re trying to do is dangerously close to linguistically perfect artificial intelligence. It’s never been achieved before.
Yesterday evening, there was about 1 Tweet per minute in the whole of London that contained location (long & lat). The amount of Tweets associated with Twitter Places (even big ones like Highbury) were somewhat higher – but not my much.
In fact it is safe to say that the paucity of location or Place data is so bad, that using Twitter for location based services and tools is all but pointless.
RAAK is lucky enough to be one of the Alpha testers of DataSift. The great new web platform that allows you to filter Twitter streams in real time based on a number of metrics. It’s not unlike Yahoo! pipes which allows you to mash-up & query feeds, but potentially more powerful.
At a recent Twitter Devnest, Nick Halstead, founder of DataSift and previously founder of TweetMeme, spoke of the possibilities of this new tool. One could for example draw a polygon around Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and get all the Tweets from there, he said. Pretty cool, and a prospect that should make marketeers & application builders salivate.
Last night Arsenal played in the UEFA Champions League at Emirates and it was the perfect time to test DataSift. We set up just such a filter, and we thought, why not make it even more interesting by finding the most Retweeted Tweet, originating from the stadium. Or how about finding the person in the stadium with the highest Klout Score or PeerIndex Rank? DataSift makes that an easy proposition.
But we got no Tweets returned. We scaled down our lofty ambitions and just asked for Tweets from within the stadium. We managed to get just one! This one – generated by FourSquare!
We cross checked this with the Twitter API. Running a few tests on Hackney, Greater London and the Emirates Stadium as a Place. The conclusion. DataSift is not broken.
Twitter, although it’s ideal for mobile use and should be ideal for location is just location poor. And Places poor as well.
That is very unfortunate.
If you’re not public, you can’t be found
In What would Google Do Jeff Jarvis makes the point that default design decisions of web services and tools often have imported ramifications. He mentions how when Flickr – the photo sharing service – was launched, all existing photo uploading sites had as their default setting the keeping of photos private. Flickr decided to make the default picture setting public. And that bit of uncommon wisdom set off explosive growth in the service.
Twitter needs to rethink location and places. It should give it far more prominence on Twitter.com, their mobile apps and make sure it works and is usable. And more importantly the default should be location is on, with the option to switch it off.
Only then will there be an eco-system, a critical mass, on which interesting location services and tools can be built.
Rafaël Rozendaal does internet art. Not just by selling his drawings on the web (he does that too), but by creating and positioning actual websites as art.
A few weeks ago, someone on Twitter called him the Andy Warhol of the web and that’s exactly what he is. And yes, that’s the word ‘internet’ tattoo-ed on his lip.
Most of his web-pieces are very simple Flash-animations that sometimes play with some basic interactivity (I’m sure you can guess what http://www.annoyingcursor.com/ is about). Some of them are abstract, some are funny, some of them carry a political message.
But it’s the approach to the ownership that makes me smile the most. You can buy the works, i.e. the domain name, and your name will be added to the title of the page. But the pieces will remain public. If Warhol would have lived in internet times, he surely would have approved.
And if you can’t afford a full website, you can always buy a Rozendaal iPhone app.
"That is Tron – he fights for users"
In the 80s movie, Tron is a computer program that fights on behalf of humans.
This week Robert Scoble, our favourite geek, tweeted a clarion call that would have sent shivers down Google's spine.
This is why Facebook will eventually monetize better than Google: I trust my friends. I don't trust algorithms.http://nyti.ms/f5XU9c
The article behind that link happened to be one of the best pieces of investigative journalism to see the light of day for quite some time. To summarise, a thuggish specs dealer used his notoriety to garner inbound links to his website, making him rank higher on Google (if you forgot how Google's rankings works, read our primer on PageRank).
Clearly this was a failure of Google's system. But less than a week later Google responded with a tweak to their algorithm. This is why we like Google. They fight for users.
Why do people share stuff?
This week we take an in-depth look as to why people pass on or share content and what marketeers and website builders can learn from that.
Clue, people don't share your content because they love your brand, they do so because the love their friends.
Social funding gets free
You know by now we're fans of Kickstarter. And we were excited about Fundbreak's move into the UK. But here's a third top player that could well change the social funding market.
Ulule is a France-based platform that does the same as the others – enable people to source funding from anyone who is interested in a project – but unlike the others they don't take a cut from the funds raised. Although there are plans to introduce paid-for features.
A week after the Editor of the Guardian proclaimed that no news organisation can match Twitter, the Telegraph announced that the Twitter CEO has no long term vision. Dick Costello had made the mistake of answering a question about their plans for Twitter like so:
I am working on clarity around that at the moment. I am currently trying to define what Twitter’s purpose is in the long term. We will be able to be more specific on that answer in the near future.
This honesty obviously astonishes a paper that is used to the world of spin. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder, added that it was difficult to try and define Twitter’s function and purpose, as so many of its uses had been defined by its users over the past four years.
In other news The Telegraph is considering introducing a partial paywall.
Crowdsource the snow
In a very good example of active Twitter data mining, if not downright Twitter data creation, Ben Marsh, a web developer from Leicestershire, wrote the UK snow map. It urges people to use custom tags in their Tweet messages along with the hashtag #uksnow (another reason why we can't wait for Twitter Annotations) to indicate how much it has snowed in their area. These tweets are then mined to display the snowfall on a google map.
The only downfall of this is the fact that it is very much volume-dependent, so at a first glance, it seems as if most of the snow has fallen in London!
Take On Ted – the video
Take On Ted, the world's first Twitter styling event we did with Guided a few weeks ago, really was a success. Even We Are Social said it was "brilliant work".
If you missed the event, here are 2 videos that give you a good idea of how it worked.
A/B testing or To be poetic or clear
In case you're not familiar with the term, A/B testing is when you test two versions of a website to see which performs better. Well WordPress has a new plugin that allows you to do A/B testing on your pithy headlines.
Another new agency model – the Paypal button
Which got them thinking (they do that quite well). Imagine a Paypal button on your agency site that lets you book a quick session with someone. No invoices, no briefs, none of that 'we should talk'. Just instant creative input.
Don't be surprised if you see it soon on the Knotoryus site.
The RAAKonteur gets some praise
We made a list of all the positive comments we've been getting on this weekly newsletter. Thank you so much. If you enjoy this newsletter please do send it on to people you think might enjoy it too.
Our world is so 360
Creative of the week – Harald Geisler
Here's a lovely project that also celebrates the beauty of randomly combined letters, just like our logo project.
Harald Geisler is a typographer who's developed the 2011 Typographic Wall Calendar. Basically it's a calendar constructed from 2011 individual keyboard letters. The keys are arranged manually in a grid and if you read them, they read each day of the year in sequence.
You can order your print through Kickstarter, which Geisler used to fund this lovely project.
Tech insight of the week – Klout is broken
We've managed (on our first try) to build a Twitter bot that, within 80 days, managed to get a Klout score of 50, and 336 Twitter followers. Should this be possible? We think not, unless Klout is broken. Read more >>
A bit more than a month ago, I asked the question: Can you become influential on Twitter, and get a high Klout Score, merely by Tweeting a lot?
To test this, I set up an experiment, which involves four Twitter bots that automatically tweet the output of the Unix fortune command-line application.
Fortune randomly outputs mildly humorous quotes, and was often used on Unix to produce a ‘welcome message of the day’ upon login.
The four bots Tweet once every minute, once every five minutes, once every fifteen minutes and once every thirty minutes respectively. They are completely anonymous, have no avatars or custom user profiles set, and do not follow anyone.
Now, after 80 days of running the experiment (Jules Verne style), there’s a set of pretty hot data available.
The Data (the good)
Let’s start off by simply plotting the amount of followers for each bot against time:
We can clearly see from this graph (quite surprisingly), that each bot accumulated followers linearly. Also, it seems the more they tweeted, the steeper the follower accumulation rate is, without any drop off, even for the bot that tweets every minute.
This brings us to a question: Can these graphs in some way be normalized? Surely the bot that Tweets at the annoying rate of once every minute, should get fewer followers per tweet as the one that Tweets at a more acceptable once every 30 minutes?
Let’s normalize the data by plotting the amount of followers against the amount of Tweets, thereby literally measuring the amount of followers per Tweet:
The scale is a bit awkward, but it seems that these bots are all more or less following the same slope, in other words, by the time the once every 30 minutes bot has tweeted as much as the once a minute bot, it will have the same amount of followers.
Let’s test this assumption, by plotting the curves over time again, including an amplification factor equal to the amount of minutes that lapse between Tweets. That means, we assume the once every 5 minutes bot would have had 5 times more followers if it Tweeted once every minute, etc:
Transient fluctuations aside, These curves really do seem to follow roughly the same path – linearly upwards.
That means, the more you Tweet, the more followers you get. Period. It doesn’t matter how often you tweet, you gain an equal amount of followers for every time you Tweet.
The Followers (the bad)
Now, on that bombshell … time for a sobering revelation:
Looking at the followers of these bots, many of them seem to be bots themselves (there are quite a few real people who attempt conversations with them, but they are in the minority). Most of these bots get triggered by keywords present in our bots’ Tweets, and then follow and retweet our bots’ Tweets. A good example is @BurroughsBot, which retweets Tweets that match the search term William Burroughs.
At this point I turned to Klout (which, incidentally, is the actual reason for setting up this experiment in the first place). Surely Klout should be able to make sense of this robotic mess (like Google does with link farms), shouldn’t it?
The Klout Scores (the ugly)
For all practical purposes though, no matter how I look at it, Klout seems to be broken.
Consider the following Klout scores, for the four bots:
What’s wrong with this picture? To start off with, it should not really be possible for a bot to reach a Klout Score of 50 within 80 days merely by Tweeting random (yet entertaining) rubbish every minute, should it?
24 hours after the above klout scores were sampled, I took another set of samples, just to be sure:
Roughly the same result, except for huge fluctuations in transient metrics (see True Reach for Bot 1), which also seems a bit suspect. We can’t say for sure without knowledge of Klout’s exact algorithm.
The fact is, though, no matter how you look at it, unless Klout updates this aspect of their algorithm, in another 80 days Bot 1 could very well have the same Klout Score as @scobleizer!
Taking into account that many Twitter clients (like Hootsuite) and filter applications (like Datasift) are using Klout as a trusted way of filtering tweets, it means Klout will have to up their game on this one to stay in the game.
Or else, we might just be run by machines sooner than we think!
Update – 2010/12/: The Peerindex results are written up. Do check them out here.
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…and can I get them to share stuff? Say as part of a marketing campaign? Come on let’s cash in on this sharing fad!
Many of the brightest marketeers’ projects have floundered upon the apparently gargantuan task of getting people to share stuff under the banner of a brand. This sharing is supposedly a new trend that the marketing industry must leverage.
Just ask Saatchi & Saatchi and their disastrous 11 million pound Kingsmill Confessions campaign how difficult it can be to make people share stuff.
Let’s recap. The agency wanted people to share their confessions about Kingsmill bread. A bread. Not special bread baked by your local french baker mind. Mass factory produced bread.
I agree with Crackunit who opinionated at the time:
Here’s another ad that makes me feel like renouncing everything I believed in. It makes me want to tell everyone that integrated campaigns are a product of a sick and twisted satanic messenger.
I’m just bursting with a whole bunch of confessions about bread. What on earth are they expecting? If you’re dying to let your sandwich secrets out, head to kingsmillconfessions.com.
Eventually they received less than 200 confessions, most of which don’t ring true. Like the one in the video above.
Did I mention it was bread? As discussed last week – when conducting social media for FMCG brands a more creative approach is often required.
But this post is specifically to help you, campaign planner, understand why people share stuff, so you don’t make the same mistake as the Saatchis of this world.
The why of sharing
Funnily enough, although millions of people are sharing YouTube videos, Flickr pictures, blogging and Tweeting, not many people have managed to explain the sharing phenomena.
One of the most eloquent hype-free writers about social media is not a marketing person, but the academic Clay Shirky.
Shirky makes a number of salient points, but the first to note is that social media is not a fad. He points out that social technologies actually push the buttons of some deep-rooted human traits that were always there, and have now been empowered. We made much the same point in a blog post a while ago.
Shirky reckons there are both personal and social reasons why people do stuff even if they don’t get paid.
- Private motivations – the imperative or need we have to feel autonomous and competent. The model train hobbyist acts on these needs. But it is personal. He does not need others to see his hobby, but it makes him feel like an autonomous and skilled human being. (Both these can probably be accentuated when you know you can show off your hobbyist skills – in fact Ebay was started by hobbyists.)
- Social motivations – the need to belong to a group is another motivator, as well as the need to share. In other words by doing stuff we can publicly show we are part of a particular group. And we have a need to publicly share as well – (these two things, belonging and sharing are probably linked.)
OK, that’s great, BUT does Shirky tell us why we like to share? That is what we want to really get to grips with.
Henry Jenkins and Spreadable Media
Enter stage left Henry Jenkins, another academic who’s been writing for years about the relationship between traditional and user made content. In a recent article published by Nieman lab he explains a bit more of the thesis of his soon to be published book Spreadable Media.
Spreadability is partially about technical affordances. YouTube videos spread well because they allow users to embed them on their blogs and Facebook profiles. At the same time, the embedded video’s interface makes it easy for us to follow it back to its original context on YouTube.
OK – that’s an argument for good design – integrating things like embed codes, Retweet and Like buttons and other tools that make sharing easy – but is it as simple as that? Nope.
Many talk as if things just happened to “go viral” when they have no way to explain how or why the content has grabbed the public imagination. Other framings of “viral media” strip away the agency of the very communities whose circulation of the content they want to explain.
Or to put this more plainly – the term “viral” implies that media can spread without decisions on the part of those who share it.
The gift economy – we share because we value our friends
But, says Jenkins, people do make choices about what to share:
Our work starts from the idea that people are making conscious decisions to aid the circulation of certain content because they see it as a meaningful contribution to their ongoing conversations, a gift which they can share with people they care about.
As they send round this content –
- They first are playing key roles in appraising its value (Curating);
- They also help to frame the content, helping it to fit better into the ongoing social interactions (Context);
- They may also build upon, appropriate, transform, and remix the content further extending its shelf life and enabling its broader circulation.
Spreadable media moves in between commercial and non-commercial worlds says Jenkins:
For the producer, the content may be a commodity or a promotion; for the consumer, it is a resource or a gift. The producer is appraising the transaction based on its economic value. While the consumer makes a decision about whether the price is too high for the value of the content, they are also making decisions based on the social or sentimental value of the content.
When they pass that content along to their friends, they do so because they value their friends far more than because they want to promote the economic interests of producers.
Now, take a deep breath. Think about it. Let it sink in.
The take away from all this
What does this mean for brands that want people to share stuff? Here are our rules of thumb – after reading Shirky & Jenkins of what you need to keep in mind.
1. Be remarkable
If it’s entertaining it will travel. If the content does not get people to say wow – forget it.
See this for example.
Note how little branding of VW is visible. the brand got out of the way of the amazing content. Overzealous branding on good content is likely to diminish the spreadability of your content. You don’t want to sell stuff to your friends, remember?
2. Be useful in a personal or wider sense
If it’s not wow, but it is useful to a person, their community or society at large, it is spreadable.
The UK insurance giant Aviva actually got it right, sort of. They ran a campaign Tell us your story.
…giving consumers the opportunity to recognise and reward people who have made a positive impact on their lives or in their community over the past year. Customers can tell their stories on a dedicated website, or to nominate their local heroes.
It is offering weekly prizes of £1000 will be granted as a result of votes made my visitors to the site on the local hero that captures their heart. One overall winner will be chosen by a celebrity judging panel for a prize worth £10,000.
You can see the difference between Aviva and Kingsmills campaign. Both are – to be frank – quite boring brands. But Aviva’s campaign was not about the insurance product. It was about acknowledging people who have made a positive difference.
Aviva went on to say about the campaign:
“We have put people at the heart of this campaign to demonstrate that the customer is at the heart of everything we do at Aviva”.
Err… great, but why did they take the website down after the campaign ended?
I would have loved to show it to you, but that’s the not real reason I’m peeved. It detracts from a good campaign. Social goods remain social goods for people after the brand has moved on. Lives go on. Deleting these stories is akin to anti-social behavior. It turns a social campaign back into an ordinary transient ad campaign.
3. Play on people’s egos
It is part of marketing to an audience with an audience as we call it.
There are many good examples of this of which the Old Spice Campaign is the most famous. Next week I’ll write about Marketing to an Audience with an Audience.
A few weeks ago we wrote about how we were working on Take On Ted, the first ever blogger Twitter style event.
In case you don’t remember, seven American fashion bloggers were chosen to become stylists for the UK fashion brand Ted Baker. During a live photo-shoot that took place in London, they were tasked to create a Ted Baker look. Remotely. In 15 minutes. And only using the following digital tools:
- a live video stream to watch what was going on
- a photo gallery of the Ted Baker items they could use
- and Twitter to instruct the stylists on the ground and to react to suggestions from the public
The combination of a live event, the enthusiasm of both bloggers and other participants and a voice-over artist who linked everything together and reacted to incoming Tweets made that it worked amazingly well.
Below is a video that gives you a very good idea of what the overall experience looked like during the 4 hour extravaganze. They are excerpts of @GlamNiki from The Frisky, @Fashionchalet and @Saucyglossie showing off their Twitter styling skills.
And the guys from Guided, who were leading this project, made a making-off video that explains the overall concept.