Posts Tagged 'Twitter'

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.


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 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 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 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 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.

Follow up to “the Old Spice effect”

Way back in Feb/Mar of this year I posted here on the blog about a video I anticipated would go viral on youtube. It was the very first of a series of Old Spice ads featuring Isaiah Mustafa as the Old Spice guy that caused a sensation last week when Old Spice kicked off an exciting social media campaign creating custom videos for people posting questions to then on several social media channels. I posted the below article on the Social Penguin blog last week right in the middle of the campaign, this is the article again with some extra commentary on the stories that came after, you should definitely check out the original post for all the great comments people made.

July 13th shall hence forth be renamed Old Spice Day, there isn’t a nationally recognised holiday that day and obviously they saw an opening. Yesterday Old Spice kicked off on what may be one of the finest social media campaigns in recent times, all off the back of a series of TV spots that went viral on Youtube.

Back in February Old Spice launched “The Man your Man could smell like” TV spot in USA that has thus far racked up over 12 million views. Several other ads have followed and have reached the meme stage of an internet viral being compared to the Chuck Norris jokes of old. The ads, masterminded by Portland based creative agency Wieden and Kennedy and featuring former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa, were a breath of fresh air to the brand which suffered with being associated with a much older audience and sought to show us all of the amazing things an Old Spice man is capable of. (Like swan diving off a waterfall, see below.)

On July 13th Old Spice became a promoted tweet on Twitter to encourage followers to tweet a question to the Old Spice guy who would reply with a personalised video on Youtube. These responses have had some varied in content (though all feature Isaiah Mustafa in a towel in a bathroom) from flirty videos to Alyssa Milano to marriage proposals. It is a fantastic idea which has got a lot of people clamouring for a video (myself included) though they seemed to have stopped at 140 videos on Youtube which may answer the question of how they will keep it going in the long term. (Co-incidence or something more powerful?)

The ads recently won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix and Isaiah Mustafa has been nomintated for an Emmy for his performance proving it is award winning work. But whilst it’s winning awards for traditional media do you think it’s an award winning social media campaign? Can we hold this up and say this is what it means to get social media right?

*follow up*

Last Friday as Old Spice brought their campaign to a close Mashable posted this article on the stats behind the videos so far. It’s impressive to see that as far as viral videos go Old Spice is up there with the big guns, outstripping even President Obama’s victory speech. There were also some blogs reporting the last weekend that the sales for Old Spice were actually down since the campaign but were unable to actually cite a source for the numbers. Apparently the sale figures for a month prior to the social media campaign showed a drop in sales of 7%, hence the game of Chinese whispers. We’re obviously going to have to wait a little while longer before we see numbers attached to the efforts of this campaign and its actually ROI. Regardless Old Spice as changed a lot of perceptions about their brand and has now set the bar for social media campaigns for the rest of us to clear in the future.

Googling Yourself…Not just for vanities sake

A few weeks back I blogged on the Social Media Penguin Blog about why we shouldn’t be ashamed of a little ego surfing every now and again. I’m now posting this again in full here in case any of you missed it.

Social media combined with search engine listings has given rise to an interesting phenomenon known as Egosurfing or “Googling yourself”. This basically involves using search engines to search the internet for mentions of your name or things associated with you like your blog or Twitter name. It’s a nice little ego boost to know that should anyone ever choose to enter your name in to a search engine that its actually you right up top, but googling yourself doesn’t have to be all about massaging your ego.

Kelly Forbes...not a murderer honest!

Kelly Forbes...not a murderer honest!

Perhaps you are being a bit vain and want to know what people think of you, nothing wrong with that, however heed a word of caution. Googling yourself for vanities sake doesn’t always give you the boost to your “epeen” you were hoping for. As you can see from the picture above there is always someone more famous (or infamous in this case) than you. (I’d like to assure readers at this point that I have never been married nor have I committed any acts of murder so the top and bottom entries here are not me.) You should also be prepared for any negative comments when ego surfing as Peter Mannion in The Thick of It discovered “it’s like opening the door to a room where everybody tells you how sh*t you are!” Opening that door can have some serious knocks to your self esteem so, if you aren’t thick skined or good humoured, think twice before you hit that button.

The video above by Alec Brownstein is one brilliant example of how easy it is to exploit humanity’s inherent vanity for your own means. Using Google Adwords he purchased the names of several creative directors at 15 cents ppc each and set up an ad encouraging them to hire him and check out his website. Of the 5 guys he set up ads to target he got interviews with 4 them and job offers from 2 (accepting a job with Y&R New York.) Since the story was published on Mashable there are probably a lot more people trying this out, hoping for a job. It’s certainly a different way of getting yourself noticed and, though it’s not exactly an innovative idea anymore, it will probably still gain you a cursory glance at your website or CV. But who’s to say this only applies to jobs? This could just be how you catch the attention of your dream woman, though if youre hoping to get a competitive price on “Angelina Jolie” on Google Adwords I’d think again.

However if you think you are the only person googling your name, think again. Potential employers are just as likely to be checking your online persona along with a CV so pre-emptively googling yourself is actually a wise move. Some social media platforms (Facebook being the one that readily springs to mind) have previously changed their default privacy settings and kept it on the quiet, meaning the information you previously thought was private could be much more public than you think. Googling your name is an easy way to find out just what kind of public persona you’re giving off (wow those pictures of your 21st birthday are colourful aren’t they?) letting you to find any potential issues before someone else does. This doesn’t just apply to those seeking employment, there have been reported cases, like the plight of Kimberley Swan, of people getting fired for things they have said and done on social media. So if you do google yourself and something crops up that you’d rather not have your boss and the rest of the world see, Mashable have a simple “how to” guide which will walk you through making your profile more private.

There is some good news to be had in all of this, if you are googling yourself, you’re not alone. A fascinating survey from the Pew Research Centre on how people manage their internet identity has thrown up some interesting numbers. 57% of adults questioned stated they had have used an online search engine to look up their own name, a 10% rise from 2006. What’s more, 63% of these people who were googling themselves found relevant personal content in their search. Unsurprisingly there has also been an increase in people creating profiles on social networking sites, with 46% of those questioned stating they had done so in some capacity, up 26% from 2006. Of those using social media, 65% have changed privacy settings to limit the information shared. Interestingly there is no information on just how often people are doing it, perhaps because even the most narcissistic of those among us would lie through the teeth when asked.

Good news all round then, not only are we googling ourselves more but we’re becoming more savvy to self promotion online, we’re doing it with more thought to how others will perceive the information and taking steps to cultivate a more polished image of ourselves.

Well you’ve nothing to lose now by giving it a whirl, so go ahead and google yourselves just be sure to report back here if you come up with anything funnier than my rap sheet.

Yay my Tweets are back!

Fail Whale

My new choice of wallpaper

Avid Twitter users will be aware of all the ongoing problems the social network has suffered recently. Tweet counts have been decimated, entire tweets have gone missing and the Fail Whale has been on my screen so often I was beginning to think it was actually my screen saver.

I personally like to blame football for all this drama, the World Cup has put Twitter under enormous pressure and though they thought they would be prepared for all those extra tweets some bigger issues with high growth thingies on servers and people not monitoring it. (Well everyone is watching the World Cup aren’t they?)

My own account lost about 3000 tweets and it actually left me feeling a little small and insignificant. I guess in the wider scheme of things I am small and insignificant, but it didn’t occur to me until they were gone just how much I measure by those tweets. People looking at my account may have looked at my decimated tweet count and concluded I wasn’t very active or hadn’t been using Twitter very long. It’s a pretty stupid thing to be bothered about but none the less I’m shallow enough that it irked me. The actual real problem for me with all the problems of late has been its effect on third party apps that I’ve been using. I use a lot of these when I’m trying to track social influence and I now face the prospect of throwing out weeks of data because the numbers are going to be totally borked. I’m going to have to find something else to work on until this all gets fixed. (If anyone has any suggestions feel free to let me know.)

Anyway as you’ve gathered from the post heading my tweet count has been fixed, it’s just a shame I missed my 4000th tweet in all the fuss. There goes my chance to mark a milestone with some random geeky quote that hardly anyone will get, but those that do will inwardly chuckle at my witty repartee.

The (completely transparent) Black Art of Twitter Analytics’s – Illegal Jacks style.

Last month the The Social Penguin blog were kind enough to post an article I wrote on Illegal Jacks use of social media to promote their burritos with a massive 1000 burrito giveaway. I’m posting it here in full for those of you who missed it, but please check out the original post for its comments and keep your eyes open for more posts from me at The Social Penguin blog.

Illegal Jacks Twitter profile

So, what’s the single most important thing to anyone looking for an ego boost on Twitter? Your follower count, when it’s up you’re happy and when it’s down you’re left wondering how those drunken tweets last night could have offended anyone. At the time of writing @IllegalJacks follower count sits at 589, which is a reasonable number for an account that has only been active since November 2009. What’s even more impressive is looking at second degree follower numbers (which loosely translates to the total count for your followers followers) Jack has the potential to reach. If every one of Jacks 589 followers re-tweeted one of his messages it would reach 1,187,052 people on Twitter.

But out of that potential 1,187,052 people how many is Jack actually reaching? A random sample of 50 tweets showed an average reach of around 1,078 people which works out at 6337 impressions. Of those 50 tweets 40 were @replies to people which shows very high levels of engagement with followers, this also means that the large number of impressions were probably created by only 10 tweets.

What’s even more important is the level of social capital that followers generate. A high level of social capital indicates that your followers themselves have a high level of influence and are willing to spread your tweets. @IllegalJacks enjoy a high to average amount of social capital from their followers and the above average figure can be explained through reciprocity, Jack social media profile is of a connecter, practicing real engagement, connecting with people through Twitter and actively re-tweeting. All this results in his followers returning the favour by engaging with him and his brand messages and also passing that message on when asked.

After all those scary numbers it’s time for some more random (and more stalkerish, Fatal Attraction style) stats, Jack tweets most frequently after 8pm and for some reason mostly on Thursdays. Averaging around 50 tweets per day or 1246 a month, which is much higher than an average user. 33% of his followers are male, 20% are female and 47% are asexual…

The level of followers has been increasing steadily at a rate of around 54% since the @IllegalJacks account was created in November 2009 and April 2010 saw the largest growth spike in followers so far, likely due to the #Jacksfreeburritos event.


On April 13th 2010 Illegal Jacks opened their doors to feed the masses 1000 free burritos in an attempt to introduce people to a burrito whilst giving away free samples of their most important dish.

More importantly the day was all about raising more awareness of Illegal Jacks and promoting the brand and ideals of the company to a wider audience. So where could a company as embedded in social media go to promote such an event but Twitter and Facebook?

The official hashtag for the event, #Jacksfreeburritos, was used as an identifier for those participating in the event whilst also creating a single phrase that could trend locally and be picked up by more people. The tracking recorded almost 300 unique mentions or re-tweets throughout the day, peaking during the lunchtime rush. The inclusion of the #Edinburgh also pushed impressions up as local users following Edinburgh tweets became aware of the event.

There was also a lot of tweeting going on in the inevitable queue with spirits remaining high even though there was a 30 minute wait at lunchtime. A long queue, which could have resulted in negative comments, actually ended up causing further frivolity as those waiting began tweeting about the “titty bar” they had found themselves outside of. On the whole the feedback online was positive with many promising return custom , the very few negative comments (which were all about the long wait) were all responded to personal by Jack minimising any damage.

Inside the staff were all working hard and as quickly as possible to feed the hungry horde outside, and everyone remained cheerful. (There was a massive cheer from the kitchens when someone ordered fajitas on Free Burrito day, obviously a big fan to turn down a free burrito.) The twitter fall inside kept those sitting in to eat informed of the plight of those still outside in the queue, and the “titty bar” tweet seemed to keep cropping up?

By 9:00pm 1000 Burritos were consumed, #Jacksfreeburritos had been trending locally throughout the day and the @IllegalJacks Twitter account had over 100 new followers.

The knock on effects of the event are still being felt; as well as increased followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook there has been an increase in footfall to the restaurant, increased chatter about the Illegal Jacks brand in the online sphere and most importantly positive word of mouth communication. (Conversations about #jacksfreeburritos have been overheard on the buses so you know its hit the big time now.) Hopefully the next proposed event, a chilli cook off, will generate the same kind of results for Jack. Make sure you’re following @IllegalJacks who’ll keep you posted!

If you are interested in Twitter Analytics and want to learn more check out Klout, Tweetstats, Twitalyzer and What the Hashtag for more info.

Turns out Twitter Lists aren’t a great source for researching your brand’s keywords…go figure.

So I am a nosy inquisitive person full of random thoughts, and I wondered how useful Twitter lists could be at giving you an indication of the keywords people associate with your brand, picking Starbucks to poke around as I thought I could easily identify their core business. (In case you don’t know, they sell coffee.)

Screengrab of Starbucks Twitter

Coffee anyone?

Notice anything odd? This is a screenshot taken of a random selection from some of the 10,800 people who have listed the Starbucks Twitter account and it comes back with absolutely no reference to the word “Coffee”. You would think a company that specialises in selling coffee and even has the word coffee in their name would have more fans listing them as a coffee shop.

Starbucks are probably a bad example given this is a small sample from over ten thousand and I can’t find anything that would scan and show me what the most popular list name on their account is. *curses* (If anyone knows of such a website or app please let me know.)

A more interesting thought (other than what the hell eatrotica is…see 4th list from the bottom guys) was pondering why Coffee isn’t more prevalent on there? Are people more likely to name their Twitter lists based on what they gain from the list, classifying Starbucks as “promotions” “freebies” or “deals” because they can get discounts on their coffees from the account? Or perhaps Starbucks have dramatically diversified and I just haven’t noticed.

I guess the above picture just goes to show that a brand and its customers can have two completely different views about what service you provide.

…no really. What the hell is eatrotica? I’m too scared to click on the link.

Guest blogging at The Social Penguin this week

I’m featuring on The Social Penguin blog this week, delving in to the Black Art of Twitter Analytics. It’s a really interesting article that also looks at the numbers behind social media marketing campaigns in a small business.

Check it out here.




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