Archive for the 'social media' Category

How to stop procrastinating and start blogging

Repost from The Social Penguin Blog

I’ve been meaning to write about procrastination but I keep putting it off! (Ba doom doom tish.)

This blog post has probably taken 2 months to write (and another month to publish..) Ok that’s a lie, this first paragraph took a few minutes to write the rest of it has kinda been stop start ever since. Procrastination is the thief of time so the saying goes and for all intensive purposes a blog killer. There is always a reason not to write, always something better to do, (since writing this paragraph I have wandered off to check Twitter, Facebook and Reddit a couple of times) and before you know it it’s been well over a month since you posted anything and your subscribers are deserting you.

This post isn’t by any means a sermon, I know full well how often real life gets in the way of best intentions, and I’m as guilty as everyone else at putting things off. (*cough last blog post was in April cough cough*) These tips below are just a bit of help to keep you posting content, even though you’d rather be doing something else.

procrastination

Continue reading ‘How to stop procrastinating and start blogging’

Social Media – Sometimes it pays to say nothing

Repost from The Social Penguin Blog.

You’re an idiot and your product never works, I’m so never buying here again

You suck…

Ah social media, a happy place where everyone loves each other and no one is ever nasty or mean. Your brand is adored by all and the only things people have to say about you are sweet and nice. Of course the reality is that you are just as likely to be subjected to sarcastic, rude and down right abusive comments in social media as you are anywhere else. The big difference in social media is the speed (light speed it seems at times) at which things can turn ugly if you don’t have some guidelines in place to help.

Having clear terms of engagement is something that’s often skipped over when considering social media policies. (If you have them at all that is.) Most times it’s left to your own judgement when deciding who you should and shouldn’t respond to and if you haven’t invested any kind of training in to the staff who manage your social media you may end up like these cautionary tales.

The easiest way to stop this kind of mistake from happening is to provide your staff with guidance that clearly outlines, in a step by step process, exactly what action you should take for different possible types of comments you are likely to encounter.

Thankfully someone has already done that for you.

Airforce Principals

US Airforce Web Posting Assessment

Back in 2009 Capt. David Faggard, Chief of Emerging Technology at the Air Force Public Affairs Agency made this flowchart available, outlining how members of the the US Airforce should respond to any comments online discovered about the Airforce. There have been many attempts to change (or shamelessly rip off) this chart since 2009 but in essence it remains unchanged because it works well. As much you want to it tells you not to respond to that sarky comment, be a grown up and ignore it.

As smart and witty as your response may be, you just aren’t going to change this person’s opinion and are likely to make things worse by trying. It can be frustrating walking away in some situations, especially if like me your knee jerk reaction is to respond with exquisite dry sarcasm, but it really is for the best. If you refuse to engage then these people can’t get deeper under your skin. The chart helps you identify these potentially toxic situations so you can avoid them like the plague and although it’s meant for blogs it works just as well with other social media channels too.

The one problem I have with the chart is that it advocates “monitor only” or ‘report to your boss’ for some of the worst kinds of posts. I’m talking about the about the kind of posts that are frankly unacceptable anywhere, the ones that threaten, harass and intimidate. Sometimes people forget there is a human being at the end of the a faceless social media account and a simple polite message can be enough to get them to stop. (Though just remember how easy it is to take screenshots of private messages) If not, all the major social media channels have ways of reporting abusive behavior. You shouldn’t be subject to abuse in your workplace, even through social media which is why you need to take action if it becomes a recurring problem.

If only we could convince everyone to be nice and polite online, then no one would have to worry about responding to negative posts. Do you think if I baked some cake for the guys over at 4Chan they’d give the trolling a rest?

Foursquare is the secret to weight loss

I’m no gym rat and frankly if I could get away with it I’d probably not bother going (being signed up to run a few races this year makes this unlikely) so any kind of motivation to go and work out is a bonus for me.

I decided I would try and become the foursquare mayor of my local gym (Drumbrae) by unseating its current mayor (and fellow EdCM attendee) Lorraine_P as my desire to be a foursquare mayor vastly outstrips my desire to workout. I’ve been checking in at every visit since February but frustratingly I always seem to be 1 day away from being mayor.

Gym Rat Badge

Foursquare Gym Rat

They keep me hanging on at that one day point so I’ll visit more and you know what? It bloody works! (Just one more day Kelly! You can workout again tomorrow, just one more day! Gaah!) I usually go to the gym 3 times a week but recently I’ve been going, 4 sometimes even 5 times a week to try and snatch that mayorship. I would never go to the gym that often if it wasn’t for Foursquare.

So thanks Foursquare, I’m still not mayor but hey at least I’ve lost a load of weight.

Social Media & The Evolution of Cats

Repost from the Social Penguin Blog

Cats have really had the internet meme down for quite some time now. When Icanhazcheezburger (or Lolcats) came along in 2007 everyone realized just how much mileage could be made from funny pictures of cats. Many emails and memes shared later (Google Basement Cat for a start) Cravendale have taken that one step further and are trying to start their own internet cat meme, only these guys are going for the viral video campaign (ala Old Spice) instead of cats with captions.

Captions on Cats

Captions on Cats

Cravendale are playing on the very most primal fear of everyone who has ever owned a cat…they’ve given cats opposable thumbs! (God help us) Bertrum Thumbcat is the avatar of these videos, much like Aleksandr Orlov of Compare the Meercat fame, and we can learn more about his devious schemes for world domination through his Twitter and Facebook pages.

In a similar strain to Old Spice Cravendale have started creating a serious of new videos to answer the questions of followers on Twitter and Facebook who have asked questions such as “Can a Thumbcat Blend?“, “Can a Thumbcat review an excellent book?” and “Can a Thumbcat play in goal for England?” (Nice of them to give us poor humans some potential weaknesses to exploit before they try to take over the world.)

What gives this campaign the potential to grow some legs is that Cravendale are encouraging everyone to get involved and send in their own pictures and videos of the their very own thumbcats, potentially prompting the same kind of public reaction that Lolcats had. This campaign isn’t just social either, as Cravendale are also encouraging this campaign through traditional print media too.

It’s hard to say what kind of impact cats with thumbs will have (other than making cat owners lose sleep at night.) It has share value, being funny and it works well with people outside of social media as you feel inclined to pass this on to the “cat people” you know. (Best for them to be forewarned isn’t it?) However Old Spice had two things going for it, it was first and it was an American campaign meaning it was discussed a lot more by the industry and it had a much larger audience. This is the first big campaign that feels like it has been influenced by the things the guys at Wieden and Kennedy did for Old Spice last year. Thumbcats hasn’t really reached that critical mass yet which is why it will be interesting watch and see what has had more of an impact on the campaign, the social media aspects or the traditional media.

Above all things we need to keep a more vigilant eye on our cats, they have plans and they know we’re on to them now. *looks over shoulder warily*

Social Media Metrics – Setting the standard

Repost from a guest article I wrote for The Social Penguin Blog
. Check out the orginal story for any comments. Kelly

It feels like forever that I’ve been banging on about how important it is to measure your social media activity. In actual fact it’s only been a year but in that space of time knowledge and acceptance of social media metrics has risen astronomically. Many have even predicted that 2011 will be the year of the social media metric.

Around the summer in 2010 two separate social media measurement standards were launched; The Barcelona Principles from AMEC/IPR for PR professionals and the Social Media Measurement Framework from the IAB Social Media Council for Advertising and Marketing professionals. Both were created by representatives of their prospective industries and have set out to become the accepted standards for social media measurement.

Industry standards

The Barcelona Principles were the result of a 2 day European Summit on Measurement in Barcelona (naturally). The 7 Principles act as a statement of good practice in social media measurement for the global PR community, it sets a standard and lets individuals decide how they can best meet the principles.

The Barcelona Principles

The Barcelona Principles

The IAB Social Media Measurement Framework sets out a process for organisations or individuals to follow to collect effective social media metrics. Using the IAB acronym the framework looks at Intent; setting objectives to define KPI’s, Defining the KPI’s for your activity; the 4 A’s (Awareness, Appreciation, Action and Advocacy) and Benchmarking your results against industry averages.

The IAB Framework

The IAB Framework

Today IAB have released a new digital guide to accompany their framework making it more accessible and easy for organisations to implement. Essential it’s a How To guide for social media metrics even offering suggesting appropriate metrics for different types of campaigns. (Page 15 if you’re interested.)

What does this mean for us?

If you are already doing social media measurement the chances are that this is old news to you but for small businesses, where the CEO and Marketing Officer are often the same person, it’s hard to know where to start. Making these kinds of guides and principles common knowledge makes social media analytics accessible to more than the geeks like me and is a step closer to them becoming accepted industry practice. The ones most commonly used are the ones that stick around.

If everyone was to begin operating to these standards;

  • Measurement would become more common place (and people will stop looking at me like I have two heads)
  • The data collected will become more accurate and relevant
  • Perceived value in social media will rise as activity can be linked to the bottom line.

Demystfying social media analytics just got a big boost, now no more accusations of chicken bones and voodoo please.

Read the IAB Social Media Measurement Guide and Barcelona Principles in full.

Illegal Jacks analytics case study 6 months on

It’s been just over a year since Illegal Jacks opened its doors and sought to educate Edinburgh’s masses about the goodness of the burrito. To celebrate the 6 months in business mark Illegal Jacks came up with #Jacksfreeburritos, a special one day only thousand burrito giveaway that was widely publicised online through social media. Based on the publicity around that event I pulled together some social media metrics on Illegal Jacks which you can read about here. Statistics and metrics are always more relevant when you can compare them to something which is why I’ve decided to take another look at the metrics behind Illegal Jacks, using the same methods and tools as I did in April. Apologies to anyone with an aversion to numbers, there will be a lot on them here.

I’ve put the comparison in a nice handy table below (it’s less offensive on the eyes this way) we can see a side by side comparison of the metrics. You’ll notice that there are quite a lot of gaps in the figures, this is down to a couple of reasons; a tool used in April no longer exists; the tool didn’t exist in April for me to make an original calculation; I was too stupid to see the metric was important and calculate it in April. (Try not to be judgemental, I was young and there was no one to learn from.)

*Disclaimer* All the tools used for this are freely available online however as I don’t have access to any of Illegal Jacks accounts I can only do so much with the information I can get publicly. Account holders can access a LOT more information from these free tools and also from other important tools like Bit.ly and Google Analytics. The below metrics aren’t ideal but would be a fair example of the information you could gain through a simple competitor analysis in social media.

April 2010

December 2010

%

Follower Count

589 1679

+185%

Second Degree Followers

1,187,052 N/A

 

Facebook “Likes”

N/A 1525

 

Average Reach*

1078 20938

+1844%

Average Impressions*

6337 28935

+356%

Average Retweet

N/A 21%

 

Tweets per day (tpd)

50 45

-10%

Tweets per month (tpm)

1246 1127

-9%

Klout Influence

N/A 65

 

influential followers (at time of calculation) N/A JJ_Campbell 

Bartonian

 

*averaged from random 50 tweet sample

Starting with Followers, since April there has been a 185% increase in the number of people following the @Illegaljacks Twitter Account.  We can probably attribute this to a few things such as an increase in brand awareness, higher levels of promotion or even simply more people using Twitter.  Unfortunately because my original post was Twitter centric I didn’t record the amount of Facebook “Likes”. The fact that there is very little between the two numbers is impressive as there is a lot more activity on Twitter; however the content on Facebook is more engaging and interactive.

It would be easy to draw a link between the staggering increases in Average Reach and Average Impressions with 2nd Degree Followers (if the damn tool hadn’t fallen over and died) and retweets. Not having hard figures, this is a bit of educated guess work but generally speaking high 2nd Degree Followers + high levels of retweets = high reach and impressions. 2nd Degree Followers and retweets are important as the average life span of a tweet in a non filtered stream is around 4 minutes, the more people who see and retweet that message the better as it keeps it visible (and broadcasting) for longer.

Ah Klout Influence scores, they weren’t included in April as I was entirely unconvinced as to their usefulness. I’m only slightly less unconvinced (does even make sense?) now because of the Facebook integration and daily profile scans. I’d like to think that it would be useful to find out who my most influential followers are and who I most influence but the people it suggests haven’t changed in +6 months so I assume it’s broken. Consider its inclusion above as nothing more than a dream for a better tomorrow.

Influential Followers throws up a couple of interesting results for completely different reasons. A cross reference of tools (mostly Tweetreach and Social Mention) chucked out these two names as the current top two most influential people associated with Illegal Jacks. I was interested to find out why @Bartonian ranked so highly; my suspicion being that he had retweeted a message from the @illegaljacks account and because he has over 15k followers the tools ranked him high. Surprisingly I discovered the tweet that had skewed the rankings wasn’t even a retweet of Illegal Jacks but a retweet of a @mention to Illegal Jacks that someone else had made. A perfect example of why you should collect data often and cross reference it where you can, the more data you collect the more accurate you can make your calculations.

@JJ_Campbell should need no introductions unless you haven’t heard of his alter ego, the Burrito Bandit? JJ_Campbell has been responsible for a series of youtube videos centred around Illegal Jacks, the most recent of which is a music video (see below) aiming for a Christmas number one. Campbell became involved with Illegal Jacks after featuring the restaurant in a video blog in July. Following a positive response from Jack and the “Jackaholics” Campbell was approached to come up with and film further videos and so the Illegal Jacks (W)rap was born and it is this cross platform content that makes Campbell so influential.

When asked where the inspiration for the videos and its characters came from Campbell responded; “We’re big fans of things like Flight Of The Conchords and The Lonely Island so naturally we thought, let’s make a comedy music video about burritos. The original idea was for me to play Jack, in fact we actually recorded a version of the Illegal Jack (W)rap as “sung” by Jack. It’s very different to what we ended up with. Ultimately, our interpretation or not, we thought it would be best for Jack to remain a mystery so we re-recorded it with the idea that the “singer” is a spokesperson for Jack, a sidekick of sorts, thus the Burrito Bandit was born. He’s basically The Green Cross Code Man for Tex Mex food.”

Campbell has also dropped some cryptic hints that there is still more to come; “Keep your eyes peeled this Friday (17/12/10) at noon! As for the future, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the Burrito Bandit just yet. I won’t say too much but what I will say is that for next summer, yeah, there’s an idea floating around…”

Illegal Jacks has cultivated a loyal following with fans (Aka “Jackaholics”) doing their own things to promote the brand without being actively compelled to do so (such as the Burrito Bandit above). By engaging with people, creating compelling content and generally doing social media well Illegal Jacks as a whole host of brand ambassadors seemingly by accident. It fact the brand itself has taken a bit of flack for the fact that its fans never shut up about it, something that obviously can’t be controlled by Illegal Jacks. There is a lot of passion and positive sentiment associated with the brand, explaining a higher than average retweet rate and high social capital. People who associate themselves with you and have positive interactions with you are far more likely to respond to a call to action than a passive follower.

There are a lot of positive points to take from this little analysis; increases in followers, social capital, reach and influence are all significant. In terms of activity there hasn’t been a large scale promotion such as the #Jacksfreeburritos event since April however a consistent method of engagement and fan based promotion has proved just as successful. I suspect the elusive figures I can’t access (like in Google Analytics) further reinforce the positive increases made. This kind of growth would be unsustainable without further innovative content to drive it so it leaves me wondering just what Jack has up his sleeve for the future? Jack isn’t afraid to try something a little different, which opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for us to look forward to.

LinkedIn implementing keywords in stats…for a price

Well I was certainly wrong about LinkedIn missing a trick. It seems the complaints about not being able to view the search keywords that people used to find your profile have not gone unheard.

Linkedin-Stats

Sample of the Premium LinkedIn Stats

As you can see from the pic above the changes to the “Who’s Viewed My Profile” section (which now also include you having to waive your privacy to view the stats) now include further details on keywords, industries and geography but only for users with premium (paid for) accounts.

The inclusion of keywords is quite significant as it will allow users to better optimise their profiles based on popular keywords associated with their profile and increase the chance of the right people seeing it. The real question is, is this adding enough value to premium accounts to entice people to upgrade? I’d imagine probably not, but fair play to LinkedIn for trying to get more money out of people.

Some weekend thoughts about social media

Perhaps the opportunity to relax a little helps stimulate our minds, this weekend I’ve been preoccupied with a few thoughts on social media.

Most people understand that data is meaningless unless you have something to compare it to otherwise you have no context. If I told you in the year 2000 there were an estimated 420 million internet users you would be suitably impressed. When we give that number some context and something to measure it against it becomes even more impressive for example by 2009 that number had increased to 1.73 billion.

When measuring social media we compare the data we collect against our intended outcomes and also historic data to ensure we have enough context but what about comparing against our competitors? It’s possible that many people do analyse the metrics from their competitors to see how they compare on a like for like basis however we hardly ever hear about anyone doing it. Is it possible it is really common place but no one likes to shout about it because of the ethics involved? Should we be trying to make competitor analysis standard practice in our social media measurements?

The change of dashboard for the “Who’s Viewed My Profile” section of LinkedIn has also got me thinking. The changes themselves are cosmetic and they add nothing extra to the previous metrics and I believe LinkedIn are missing a trick to charge us more money. LinkedIn records how many times our account appears within search results but doesn’t tell us what keywords the person was using for their search. Surely that information would be of benefit to us so why don’t LinkedIn offer it, even in a paid for account?

Social Media Dashboards, what makes us pay for them?

Two weeks back I posted this article on the Social Penguin Blog, I’ve been a little busy of late which is why I’m so late in posting here. As always you can view the comments from this post back on the Penguin, please feel free to add yours.

Previously we touched a little on the debate of free versus paid when it comes to social media tracking. I emphasised that even the free tools aren’t actually free when you account for the time you spend using them. So while it is possible to use free social media tools online to gather metrics, what you are saving in money you sacrifice in time. Deciding what is more important to you (time or money) can be a difficult decision.

When social media is done well it can be incredibly time-consuming so it’s no surprise that those of us that can afford it would gladly pay not to have to worry about dealing with the more extensive tasks involved with social media marketing. Less time spent on fiddly things like metrics means more time you can spend on fun things like creating great content, developing relationships or pursuing new business opportunities which is why dashboards have become increasing popular as social media has become an accepted part of the marketing mix.

For those of you who aren’t on social terms with Dave our resident expert social penguin let me share something with you. He’s pretty tight money wise (I mean it’s not like he has pockets to keep cash in is it?) so when I approached him to ask for some cash to try out some of the pricier social media dashboards on your behalf he told me in the politest fashion to take a hike. However all was not lost as our friends at Sodash offered us a trial of their software instead. We at the Social Penguin Blog always try to support the “local” talent in Scotland so we were pleased to be able to talk about paid dashboard services developed here in Edinburgh.

Sodash platform showing searches

Sodash platform showing searches

Sodash was created by Daniel Winterstein and Joe Halliwell of Winterwell Associates originally for an environmental group called Restore the Earth to help promote their campaigns and encourage people to make a personal pledge as to how they were doing their bit to save the earth. Knowing that conversation was the key to engaging with people through social media Restore the Earth was looking for a platform that would help streamline the processes involved and so the earliest incarnation of Sodash was born. Sodash helped Restore the Earth connect with people, encourage them to pass on the idea of the pledge to their friends and the autotweet features meant they could retweet anyone taking part. The campaign was massively successful, gaining thousands of followers for Restore the Earth and the use of Sodash meant time was so appropriately managed it could be coordinated even whilst only checking the account once a day.

USP of the Social Dashboard

The features of a typical social media dashboard boil down to being an aggregator, they allow you to view the content that is relevant to you and your interests instead of viewing everything at once. This makes trying to co-ordinate any kind of presence on social media much more efficient as you don’t have to waste time trying to find the relevant conversations taking place, a dashboard will do that for you. They will also usually contain some kind of analytics function in-built or allow you integrate your Google analytics account.

What makes Sodash much more special than a typical dashboard is the artificial intelligence system in place that actually learns from your activities and will eventually begin to emulate them. Using a tagging system you can teach the software to do things for you such as identify positive or negative comments about your brand. More and more brands are using sentiment analysis in their social media metrics and whilst I’ve been dubious about how effective a computer can be at detecting the emotion behind a tweet it was fascinating to hear that Sodash have been trying to teach their system how to recognise sarcasm and jokes.

Sodash Filters and Tweet box

Sodash Filters and Tweet box

Unique from other dashboards is the way in which conversations are tracked through Sodash. The system allows you to easily keep track of how conversations play out between multiple users, displaying all the tweets from everyone who took part in the conversation. This is something that Tweetdeck in particular fails at, when using their “reply to” function it’s easy to lose other voices from the stream.

At the moment Sodash only works with Twitter however as part of their ongoing development plan integration with other social media platforms, like Facebook, is currently being explored. It will be exciting to see how Sodash will change and adapt to the different social environments of other platforms.

Free vs Paid-for

It all really comes down to what is more important to save, time or money? I can’t tell you what is right for you or your business as everyone’s situation is different. Personally if I could afford to I would use a paid-for dashboard as I have had firsthand experience of how long it can take to perfect a social media monitoring process and a dashboard would do all this for me. However not being a brand or organisation of any kind it’s hard to justify using a dashboard when there are very little people to connections and tweets for me to manage. Often people will use free tools initially and turn to dashboard services when their usage and levels of online engagement have grown too large for them to manage otherwise.

Dashboards are also perfect for people who don’t feel they have the experience or confidence to get started in social media by themselves. In an ideal world we would have the time and inclination to use and learn from the many free tools available online. The reality is that many aren’t prepared to invest the time needed to develop something from the ground up, they want results now and dashboards can offer an element of that.

Thanks to Kelly for another great post and to Sodash for letting us use their service. If you would like to learn more about Sodash you can find them at www.soda.sh

Social Media Analytics – A beginners guide to free tools

Back in April the Social Penguin blog featured my very first guest post on the analytics behind Illegal Jacks successful use of social media marketing. It caused a bit of a stir at the time because I jokingly called analytics’s a “black art” because whilst it incredibly easy to do, a lot of people are still intimidated by social media analytics. In a bid to try and dispel some of those misconceptions I’m going to a closer look at some free online social media analytic tools that anyone can learn to use themselves.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch

It’s a common mistake these days, because the majority of the tools and platforms can be accessed free over the internet, but social media isn’t free. Organisations forget that they have to pay someone to do all this work, either in house or through an agency, and engaging with people properly through social media can eat up a lot of hours. This is why your analytics are so important, so you can show a decent return on investment on the time (and money) you’ve ploughed in to it. So if you are going to use these free tools to measure your campaigns be sure to account for the time you spend doing it.

How often should you gather metrics?

It depends really on how active you are in social media. If you are only using it for buzz monitoring then once a month would be acceptable. However if you have an active campaign I would recommend every 2 weeks as a bare minimum. One of the major limitations of these tools is the restrictions set in the Twitter API which means they may only be able to search back 30 days, (in some cases it’s as low as 7 days) so after that time you won’t be able to access those figures. It’s best to do a little digging around on the Twitter API Wiki and find out just what the current API limits are so you won’t be caught out by the restrictions and lose your metrics.

Tweetreach

One of my favourite tools to use when trying to track hashtag usage is Tweetreach. The tool will provide numbers and graphs detailing a search terms exposure and also can provide the information in a handy downloadable pdf format (great for storing your metrics offline.) Searching back through 50 tweets it will give numbers on impressions, top contributors and whether people saw the term as a tweet, retweet or @ message.

Tweetreach

Tweetreach showing EdCMBE stats

One of the major draw backs to this service are the restrictions, the search function is limited to only the last 7 days and if you want to include more than 50 tweets you have to fork over money. (Even then the paid for service is still limited to 1500 tweets.) However Tweetreach does get major points for explaining in plain English where the get their numbers from and how you should interpret the figures. In an area that many find confusing it’s great that some tolls go out of their way to keep it simple and explain everything to you.

Social Mention

Until recently I used to be a big fan of Ice Rocket for satisfying all my buzz monitoring needs, now Social Mention has stolen its place. Social Mention is essentially an aggregator for user generated content that will search over 80+ social media sites for the search terms of your choice. You can choose to separate your search in to only things like blogs, comments, videos etc or go for an overview of your search term on all channels.

Social Mention

Social Mention showing the Social Penguin

It also has a wealth of information about the content it has found for you. Sentiment is a really useful tool that looks for at whether the mention was positive, negative or neutral and it also provides a list of keywords associated with your search term. Other great features include the ability to set up email alerts for search terms and being able to easily download your data in to a csv file. The only gripe with tool is that it presents numbers on things like “strength” and “sentiment” without telling you how it calculated them. This means these numbers could be pulled from anywhere (like out of the clear blue sky or a magicians hat) and you have no way of knowing how credible they are.

Twitalyzer

Twitalyzer is all about information overload, looking at individual twitter accounts it provides percentages and average figures from impact to references, assigns your account a personality and even lets you compare your metrics to other users. The drawback to all this information is that it can be overly technical and hard to understand if you don’t have a background in communications. For example; Velocity, as defined by Twitalyzer, is an indication of the relative frequency at which a user publishes updates in Twitter…which is of course just a fancy way of saying “how often you tweet.”

Twitalyzer

Twitalyzer showing me

When using twitalyzer the onus really is on the user to pull out the information they need, and whilst it’s great to have all these numbers I’d question just how useful they are to the average account owner.

An honourable mention has to go to Twoolr.com as an up and coming analytics tool. It’s still in beta though I’ve had a play around and been very impressed at the presentation, transparency of data and the kind of stats it’s providing. It’s definitely one to watch once it’s finished testing. You may have also noticed the absence of any mention of Hootsuite‘s inbuilt tools, this is because they are part of a dashboard app rather than a stand alone web app. However the tools available through Hootsuite are very good and if you want to read more you can check out a great review of them at the Attacat Brain.

Things to avoid

I won’t name and shame here but whilst there are some fantastic tools for you to use there are also some really bad ones to avoid. The worst offenders are tools that give your account a score or rank…because they’re totally worthless. You may be impressed by something that’s scoring you high but remember the likely hood is that its only based on the last 30 days of usage so you never get to see that score in context of your entire history. I should also mention they are easily abused, I’ve seen developers using their own tools to claim they to have higher scores than accounts with over 500k followers, nothing quite like blowing your own trumpet is there?

You should also bear in mind that all these tools are dependent on the Twitter API for reliability of service, if Twitter is cruising a failwhale these tools will not give you accurate results. Finally if you decide to try out other tools for your metrics avoid things that are still in beta, it’s fine if you’re just having a look around and testing the software, but you want to be using tools that will be as reliable as possible for consistent metrics. (They also may not ever make it out of beta testing.)

The way of the future

As Bob Dylan sang the times they are a changing, the same goes for social media analytics. Twitter has been purchasing companies like Smallthought Systems to bring in the expertise to integrate analytics tools in to the Twitter service. There haven’t been any hard announcements yet, just lots of massive hints on Twitter’s development blog, so no one knows when this will be available to the public but it’s sure to knock a lot of competition out of the ball park. It’s definitely worth watching the Twitter Blog for further information about the kind of metrics this service will offer Twitter users when it does launch. It’s definitely a project we’ll be keeping an eye on and giving you a review of its services when it launches.

Check out the original post over on the Social Penguin blog for the comments attached to this blog post and please feel free to add your own to the mix.


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