Left: Lithium’s Insight Report provides brands with key community attributes, and automated recommendations.
Measurement is more important than ever
I was briefed by Lithium, one of the vendors in my Community Platform Wave report, of their Insights listening product, which they announced today. In the Wave report, I heavily emphasized the need for measurement, here’s a few key reasons:
First of all, “new” media like social is already under scrutiny, measurement was already important.
During a recession, with dollars stretched, marketers are under increased pressure to prove their programs.
Social media, being largely experimental for many brands, need to measure to quickly ‘course correct’ programs in real time.
During times of cutbacks, marketers must know what to cut, and in order to do so, measurement is key.
Go beyond web analytics
Beyond this need, I quickly noticed there are two types of measurements when it came to communities, the first is server analytics, which we already are aware is web analytics, Google, Omniture, WebTrends provide these services. Secondly, the more advanced measurements are ‘community’ analytics that actually track the healthy, influence, and sentiment of a community.
Lithium’s entry to this space, is a blast at Telligent’s Harvest measurement product, the current best-in-class, and Lithium’s Insight product offers community health metrics (in the form of a 6 attributed ‘rose’ graphic), baseline reports, and premium reports with additional services from account managers for the brand wanting the white glove service. Read Joe Cothrel’s blog post to learn a bit about the history of the project, and about the product itself. The Lithium product, which is based off the research from a scientist Michael Wu, they hired that’s conducting similar research to HP’s Bernard Huberman, has been able to identify the attributes that will help predict if a community will be successful within the first few hours of launch. Another key feature is that the community health metrics will not only indicate which attributes are strong or weak, but will offer practical recommendations to improve the community.
Next steps for measurement –and what Lithium must improve
Despite Lithium’s momentous launch for this measurement tool, there’s still more to be desired: 1) Measurement should be based on business objective, not just attributes on a dashboard, to learn more, understand the difference between dashboards and GPS. 2) Although we’ve yet to see great tools to glean opinions, demonstrating qualitative information such as quotes and even sentiment will be the next step. 3) These reports will need to export and be seamless to other measurement systems and dashboards, although they have a partnership with Omniture, there’s still many other marketing tools used for analytics.
Lithium isn’t alone, there are a variety of listening platforms in this space that are offering social media measurement tools, you should also expect the other community platforms to launch competitive products.
Social Media Measurement is important, and now with the recession, critical.
Tremendous amount of customer and prospect data is available in these communities, the savvy vendors are hiring bright minds to analyze what works –and what doesn’t.
Measurement must evolve beyond web analytics and now focus on community insights, vendors are now hiring scientists to help decipher the community ‘code’.
Analytics tools on their own are worthless, without actionable insights, brands will suffer, vendors must provide recommendations.
To be successful, Lithium must continue to partner with the ecosystem around them, customer communities span the enterprise, that’s why I held this roundtable
Expect other community platform vendors to launch similiar products, most will come before the end of Q3 to meet the needs of the recession.
If you’re a customer of Lithium, leave your opinion, or email me if you want to be off the record. I’m your advocate.
I’m a former community manager, and many of my friends are currently in this role, and I want to make sure they are armed with the right knowledge to succeed during hard times –I know some of them may get laid off.
Community Managers are at risk of being let go
During a recession, we know that marketing, sometimes new media and unknown expenses get cut. Unfortunately, to some, the Community Manager role may sit in all three of those areas of scrutiny. Although I’ve been tracking quite a few Community Managers working at enterprise class companies, they must quickly learn to measure, and demonstrate ROI or risk getting cut.
Community Managers must educate stakeholders and management.
Measurement depends on which objective they are trying to solve, so I’ll break it down into specific objectives and tasks. During incidents the community manager should report in real-time to key stakeholders. Secondly, they should provide weekly updates that can be quickly scanned in 30 seconds to community managers. Each month, they should provide a detailed report, and initiate a 30-60 minute meeting with key stakeholders to discuss changes.
Among these changes they should measure:
Improvement in marketing efficiency
Community Managers should measure increased speed from word of mouth or marketing awareness, the best way to measure this is time from awareness to close –or spread of WOM. This could also include increase understanding of customers (listening) for marketing research, or warning stakeholders about potential detractors before they become real issues. Unfortunately, these metrics aren’t valued as much as the next two, so focus accordingly.
Reduction in support costs
The bottom line is always important to business, so if you can measure a decrese in customers going to physical stores, emailing account reps, or calling the support center as they instead rely on community to help self-support themselves, you can start to put dollar costs on this actual community savings.
Actual improvement to sales
This matters most. Community Managers should start to measure how clicks from community directly impact ecommerce, go to product pages (perhaps if you’re B2B) or to affiliate marketing to demonstrate how community interaction increases revenue. If you can demonstrate this (like Dell’s million dollar sales in Twitter) tout this loudly to management.
Conduct additional research
If you’re like most companies, layoffs are coming, therefore Community Managers must educate the powers that be the value that they offer when it comes to customer service and support. Rather than focus purely on the role that they have, they should demonstrate the overall of the community –then discusss why a role is needed (like a physical store manager) in order to keep it running smoothly. Consider running quarterly surveys that measure Net Ratings or customer satisfaction, and don’t forget to quote qualitative responses from community members themselves, there’s nothing like a pure customer testimonial about why they are customers.
If you’ve other tips for Community Managers during a recession, leave a comment below.
Update: Bill Johnston has some additional tips you should read, he also left a comment below.
I used to promote my blog posts on Twitter, then when I left Twitter, noticed a significant loss in traffic. Yesterday, I did a blog post encouraging others to tweet then retweet my blog post, as you know, being on a Twitter hiatus gives a unique opportunity to try out some experiments.
By the numbers:
Here’s the stats from the experiment: In the last 24 hours, 199 folks tweeted these words “How Bloggers Should Inspire Retweets” within 24 hours.
Although not all of them used the snipurl I created, there were 2,000 clicks and unique clicks 1,280. This means that the average tweet that linked to the post generated 10 clicks, and about 6.4 unique clicks per person.
There were 145 new followers to my twitter account, the daily average is new daily followers 88. This is a lift in follower increase of 60% beyond the daily average.
Google Web Analytics showed that to be the top viewed page in last 24 hours, with 954 views, the graph below indicates that traffic returned to patterns before I took my Twitter hiatus.
Above Graph: Last 30 days visitors according to Google Analytics to my blog, notice the dip when I started the hiatus on Jan 20th, also coupled by the holidays. On Dec 5th the twitter experiment started and brought visitors back up to normal levels.
Above Graph: Twitter was the top referrer of traffic over the last 24 hours.
This means that:
My experiment on ‘energizing’ (word of mouth) was successful from blog to twitter, learn about my goals.
You don’t need to be on Twitter.com as an active user to gain traffic to your site.
Since my twitter account wasn’t involved, the number of Twitter followers doesn’t matter as much as we once thought.
If you have compelling content, and make it easy for people to share, they will, and then it will rapidly spread through the twitter WOM network.
While I do have a good sized blog readership, a marketer with advertising budget could easily generate eyeballs to a blog with less subscribers, and potentially get similar results.
If you read the comments, there were several vendors that are going to offer a tweet icon at the bottom of your blog post, or wordpress plugin, so expect to see more of these.
This experiment isn’t completely scientifically done, if this were for an official Forrester report, that I’d have several control groups, sample with a variety of different websites, blogs, and twitter accounts to find a pattern. The one conclusion is that I don’t need to tweet to get twitter traffic.
Helpful? Copy, Paste, then Tweet it!
Findings: Why You Don’t Need to Tweet to Get Traffic from Twitter http://snipurl.com/9k5xy
Left: The famed HP Labs think tank in Palo Alto.
A few months ago, I spent an entire day with the HP Labs group in Palo Alto, they’re responsible for the R&D and innovation that goes into their thousands of technology products on the market. I was pleased to see this deep dive scientific research on Twitter by Bernardo A. Huberman, Daniel M. Romero and Fang Wu.
You can read the free Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope (PDF). Written in an academic style, it’s a bit dense for the casual reader. I write for a business audience and I’ll strip out the most important findings, and add my own insight to what I think matters. As always you’re welcome to chime in the comments.
Understanding HP Lab’s Twitter Research:
If you just need a summary, I wrote this in a way that you can just read the bolded elements to get a sense of the report. I hope this saved you some time.
Most users have a smaller inner circle they communicate with: Within a social network, it was found that most only frequently communicate with a small segment of users –even if one has a large community. Makes sense, everyone has an ‘inner circle’. Finding the true network that an individual has (even if they have thousands of “friends”) is what’s really important. Although Scoble solicits imput from thousands of contacts, he leans on a smaller subset of folks to trust above all others.
HP Labs Sample Size is @ 6% of the Twittersphere: HP Labs took a random sample set of Twitter users, for a base of number of 309,740 users. According to my social network stats tracking page, Twitter’s total universe is somewhere between 4-5 million (still very small). I’ll value the network on the 5 mil side, so that’s sample size of about 6%, which is pretty healthy.
On average, most had 85 followers: They found that the average user has 85 followers in their network, this number seems reasonable when averaged out across the network.
On average, most had 80 friends: Most users followed back 80 others, which is close to the actual follower number. Perhaps some weren’t following spam bots, or people that follow everyone. James Governor has been discussing asymmetrical networks, but it appears that on the average, most are symmetrical.
Tweet Frequency? About one a day: On average, these users had posted 255 tweets, and since the average users has been around for nearly 7 months, thats about 36 tweets per month, or little bit over one a day.
68%: are active users Social networking stats are almost always flawed, as the vendors don’t disclose how many are truly active. I define active user base as logged in and completed an activity in the last 30 days. Among the 309,740 users only 211,024 posted. It’s unknown if this filtered out spam tweets, although nearly 2/3rds of users have returned (site stickyness. That’s a pretty good return to site rate.
Most members have been on twitter nearly 7 months: The research showed that the average person (from first to last post) was active for 206 days. This means that June 2008 (report written in Dec) has become somewhat of a trigger point, perhaps where a growth curve started to point upwards. I noticed an influx of users on April 2008, two months before HPs findings, see comment #579
A quarter of tweets (@) are directed at other users: The report showed that Around 25.4% of all posts are directed, by using the “@user” which is responding to others. This could suggest that the other 75% of tweets are updating their network of what users think is interesting or discussing ‘what they are doing’
The more followers, the more they tweet –up until a point: Figure 1 indicates frequently in posting the more followers they have, right up until about 500 followers where the frequency starts to level out (if the graph were smoothed). The data around number of friends suggests a similar graph, although there’s no saturation point (see figure 2). I’ll suggest the more connections a user has, the more value they have, and therefore are more active.
Despite having large networks, a smaller circle is maintained: For users with a high number of followers, they actually only still communicate with a smaller subset of users. This rule remains constant see figure 4.
Where’s the value? within the hidden network: To find out the real value of a twitter user and their network, finding out their true network of folks they communicate with on a regular basis will show their trusted network. Finding out who the Scobles’ communicate with the most will determine will help find out how he is influenced.
Business Opportunity for Measurement Vendors
If you’re a social media measurement company, and can find out the true influence model of who people really trust above all other users by looking at actual “@” behavior and follow behavior, be sure to leave a comment below showing how you can do this. Then, conducting this by topic, will find out the true influencers by market segment within the Twitterpshere.
As we know, traditional advertising doesn’t work well in social networks, ‘carpet bombing’ isn’t effective. However, conversational marketing is also costly, as you have to spend great resources on labor to communicate with influencers. Therefore brands who want to be effective with their resources should find out who is an influencer in their market and focus their conversational marketing primarily on them.
Thanks to the HP labs team who did a great report and really helped to further understanding Twitter better, when you have time, invite me over for lunch, I’m in the area.
Word of Mouth, the Holy Grail of Marketing
Word of mouth marketing is one of the most desirable activities to brands, why? Because research on trust shows that consumers (folks like you and me) trust the opinions of people we know more than anyone else. It makes sense of course, think about the next time you’re going to buy a car, who’s opinion are you going to trust, those of your friends or the opinion of the sales guy representing the product?
[Information within Microblogging communities like Twitter encourage rapid word of mouth --of both positive and negative content]
Twitter, Although Small, Continues to Demonstrate Influence
Twitter, which I’m seeing informal stats of around 5 million users, has continued to show it’s viral capabilities, with last week’s Motrin mom’s brand punking of an advertisement to news being spread about natural disasters faster than traditional news, this toolset allows content to spread faster and farther than we’ve ever seen. Watching how Al Gore’s Current TV integrated tweets live on their TV broadcast and how CNN and CSPAN mentioned this microblogging service during the election months is a nod to it’s power. In some ways, long form blog posts like this seem so much slower and plodding compared to how quickly information can come and go in Twitter.
[Within the Twitter community a "Retweet" is a social gesture indicating endorsement of an idea]
The “Retweet” How Information Quickly Spreads
As a result, the most powerful activity within Twitter is to watch the “Retweet” phenomeneon. A retweet is when one individual copies a tweet from someone in their network and shares it with their network. It’s perhaps the highest degree of content approval, it means that the content was so valuable and important that they were willing to share it with their network –causing it to spread from one community to the next –retweets are the core essence of the viral aspect of content spreading. Early research from Peter Kim indicates that twitter users are brand sensitive, and spread information. Since content can be shared, consumed on mobile devices, this information can rapidly spread faster than any other infectious technology we’ve ever seen.
How to Measure and Monitor the Coveted Retweets
Expect to see social media measurement tools appear that measure the spread of retweets, URLs, and other commonly repeated content to look for how information is passed from a source to a node, to an entire community. In fact, in a very primitive way, you can see those that are repeating the content of others, for example Tim O’Reilly’s content. See this search query showing “Retweet @timorielly“, or “RT @timoreilly” (an abbreviated version).
You should do the same query for your brand, products, and those of your competitors, start with this query “retweet yourbrand“, and change out yourbrand. At some point we can expect a service to appear that will track a tweet from a single source, then track how it is retweeted, then by who (and their number of followers) then to create a numerical value of the velocity of that single original tweet as it cascades through a community.
Impacts to Users, Brands and Vendors
Twitter Users: If someone retweets your content, be and feel honored, it means that your content was so important or interesting to them they are willing to share it with their own trusted network. If you need some guidelines on how to retweet, read this handy guide.
Brands: Companies should pay close attention to how information spreads and should do searches on their product and brand to learn what type of information is being spread by who.
Vendors: Social media measurement companies like Cymfony, Buzzmetrics, Radian 6, Buzzlogic, and others should start tracking the retweet stream around a brand and product to monitor and map out community and content hotspots. It’s possible to create some type of “Digg” or “Delicious” tool that maps the social voting and bookmarking based off the data gleaned from Retweets and TinyURLs.
I’ll echo Shel Israel who posted similar thoughts that retweeting is the most powerful single aspect of Twitter.
Update: some stats are starting to appear about retweeting, see the Retweetist.
Tomorrow is the big day, so let’s take a snapshot of the social media campaign results, it took me a few minutes to dive into their profiles and grab numbers. Here’s what I found:
Internet Usage in United States
United States Population: 303,824,646
Internet Usage: 220,141,969
Penetration rate: 72.5%
Growth from 2000-2008: 130.9%
Stats from Internet WorldStats (Census, Nielson)
Obama: 2,379,102 supporters
McCain: 620,359 supporters
Obama has 380% more supporters than McCain
Obama: Friends: 833,161
McCain: Friends: 217,811
Obama has 380% more supporters than McCain
Obama: 1792 videos uploaded since Nov 2006, Subscribers: 114,559 (uploads about 4 a day), Channel Views: 18,413,110
McCain: 329 videos uploaded since Feb 2007 (uploads about 2 a day), Subscribers: 28,419, Channel Views: 2,032,993
Obama has 403% more subscribers than McCain
Obama has 905% more viewers than McCain
Obama: @barackobama has 112,474 followers
McCain: @JohnMcCain (is it real?) 4,603 followers
Obama has 240 times more followers in Twitter than McCain
Community Platforms/Branded Social Networks
MyBarackObama: I was unable to find total number of registered members (anyone have data?)
McCain Space: I was unable to find total number of registered members (anyone have data?)
Interesting that the ratios between MySpace and Facebook are the same, Youtube nearly the same. I was not able to find data on LinkedIn, they don’t make it easy to find ‘connections’ numbers.
It’s clear that Obama is dominating the social media activity, this could because of two reasons: 1) Obama campaign moved quicker to social networking and soical media, McCain only recently launched his own social network with KickApps. 2) The Social Technographics (behaviors to adopt social media) skew heavier towards demographics, yet these percentages are far greater than the margins shown in technographics.
I’ll link to any other social media campaign analysis, leave a link below –later, if I get time, I’ll try to do a summary.
Forrester’s Josh Bernoff: The social profile of political candidates
Pew has some very interesting data about social networks and their influence, many charts
Pew Research: The Internet and the 2008 Election, stats and data about usage.
Obama campaign bullies MySpace fan out of his namesake as the MySpace Obama page wasn’t started by official Obama campaign
Left Image: The dashboard in a car measures key health metrics, but the most important screen is the GPS, it tells me where I’m headed, where I am. and how to get there.
Yesterday, I attended Federated Media’s Conversational Marketing Summit in the gorgeous Presidio (my family has history there, my Grandfather was a First LT in the Airforce in WW2 and spent much time there) and moderated a panel on one of my favorite topics: Social Media Measurement. On the panel I had Rob Crumpler, President and CEO, BuzzLogic, Avinash Kaushik, Author, Blogger, Analytics Evangelist, Google, Shahar Nechmad, Founder and CEO, NuConomy, and David Veneski, representing demand from the brands at Intel. These guys were smart.
Although I wasn’t there, apparently the first panel on this topic broke the rules on panels (pushing their products) and didn’t give the audience what they wanted, and we had a fiery conversation. Essentially, we pushed why measure, starting with questions to the brand side, as you may know Intel, a culture of engineers takes measurement very seriously, then learned about the different types of measurement from NuConomy’s X Engagement measurement, Google’s Web Analytics, and Buzz Logic’s Influence measurement style.
[Although Social Media Dashboards tell us key health readings, to be successful, brands need "GPS" to find out where are you headed, where are you now, and where are you going. Measure against an objective]
I questioned them to prove that their methdology was really going to help brands know if this triggered a true conversion all the way to buying cycle –they group could not prove it except with one off anecdotes. This is not a fault of the panel at all, but a major challenge with social media marketing –it’s generally unproven.
Also, FM (who have fielded some impressive campaigns) launched a brand new metrics dashboard called the Conversational Marketing Toolbox that aggregates data from many conversational sources (including Twitter) and was one of the first aggregated dashboards that I’ve seen out of the box, I certainly will take a closer look. I’ve seen the measurement dashboards of quite a few social media measurement companies, and have also advised large brands on how to configure their own dashboards internally, and I’ve noticed a trend across many of them.
Everyday we prescribe the POST methodology (someone published some slides), essentially, we want brands to have an actual objective before they set off and and experiment with social media tools. The same applies here:
The one piece of insight I provide them, and now you, is that social media measurement is like driving a modern car. You may have a dashboard with all the lights, toggles, gauges, and metrics, but remember, the most important piece of data to have in front of you is the GPS screen. The GPS screen indicates where you want to go (your objective), where are you now, and how to get there.
Update: Susan Etlinger has key quotes from the panel yesterday that she published from the Horn group blog, I enjoy how she stays engaged in the conversation.
Thanks to Brett Crosby for taking these pics of the panel yesterday.
I was watching the chatter, and participating in the conversation, with great fascination. I’ve recorded some data using free social media tools (minutes after Obama left the stage), that look at keywords on twitter, as well as ‘traffic’ to websites of the runners. I rarely place much weight in any single use of these tools, but there is a clear trend towards Obama getting a great deal of activity. Is this telltale to the future? I’m not sure.
Above: Twist provides activity of keywords over last 7 days. I recorded this immediately after Obama spoke. No surprise that Obama frequency would be higher during this event centered on him.
Above: TweetVolume, date range unknown, making it difficult to place any weight on the value of this graph
Above: Tag clouds comparing the three keywords, interesting, but not telling much, other than idea association, of course, context is everything, so the terms could be used in a negative way.
Above: Blog Activity Over last 30 days, this is telling, Obama keywords much higher frequency.
Above: Alexa Website activity to Candidate sites, Obama has higher traffic
Above: Compete website activity to Candidate sites, again Obama
Related Forrester report from Josh Bernoff: The Social Technographics® Profile of Voters. Love to hear your analysis on this. Also, leave comments below if you know of other websites that are tracking the web strategy of the campaign.
Was this interesting? Share with others by Digging it. Also, see this analysis on viral videos.
The trust and influence around brands, products has moved to discussions around communities’ lifestyles, often in blogs, social networks and other locations ‘off’ the corporate domain. A new class of measurement tools have emerged, that measure the impact of social media, among them is the BuzzLogic group out of SF.
What’s interesting is they look at who’s being influenced by what data node, and who the influencers are in any given topic area. For example, Scoble may have influence in the early adopter technology space, but has little credibility in the alpha moms space. This is important, as leaning on an universal wide measurement system (like Technorati) isn’t relevant as we create more niches around topics and markets.
This video talks to the employees, as well as showcases a demo of their products. If you’re seeking a segmentation and rating and ranking of the buzz monitoring space, colleague Peter Kim has done a Wave Report, which is also available on the Forrester site.
Have you used BuzzLogic? What did you think?
Marketers and individuals know how important it is to track conversations in websites, especially where peers connect to each other (sometimes, where the highest trust occurs). A handful of new tools are starting to emerge that give specific tool based search, which I’ve started to list out below.
This list is specifically for tools that track discussion boards, forums, and communities, for a broader reach, see this list of companies that measures brands on the social web.
How to use these tools? Plugin your company name, product name, executives names, for your own company and your competitors, to see who is saying what about your brand.
Companies that Track Discussions in Forums and Communities:
“BoardTracker.com, a Pidgin Technologies property, is an innovative forum search engine, message tracking and instant alerts system designed to provide relevant information quickly and efficiently while ensuring you never miss an important forum thread no matter where or when it is posted. Boardtracker brings the most targeted audience closer to the boards, by being a search engine only for boards and by supplying a categorized and highly effective searching and browsing experience to users.”
“Linqia creates an independent search for online communities and groups with user ratings and comments. From the biggest and most famous online community to the smallest most hidden group, Linqia surfaces existing online communities and groups which can either be uploaded by our users or just commented and rated according to YOUR opinion and experience.”
Our goal is for Twing to work perfectly every time, and that you’re quickly and easily able to find exactly the information you’re after. But should you need help, we’re here for you. After all, online communities are about people helping each other, so as a community search engine, we take the same approach.
If you know of any others, please leave a comment, and I’ll add it to this list.