— blending the mix

February, 2009 Monthly archive

So you’re a social media specialist/strategist/expert/….well you’re nothing more than a bullsh*tter if you’re not making your recommendations using a monitoring system. 

I read Jeremiah’s post the other day with mixed emotions – I didn’t like the sense of pleasure he seemed to get from social media “gurus” losing their jobs for taking an unmeasurable approach. I’ve been out of work twice and Jeremiah, let me tell you – nice it is not, definitely not something from which to take pleasure, nor wish upon anyone.

BUT, I totally agree with what he was saying about the recession forcing the bullsh*tters to be accountable. I’m not sure if any business needs metrics MORE than social media. As the monitoring industry has matured, there are now clear differences between how and what the systems measure.

I have been using Live Buzz for a couple of years and swear by it, but was introduced to Radian6 last year and spent a bit of time evaluating it. I have to say, I’m not at all convinced about how genuinely insightful it is, especially given the UK/.co.uk problem (the only way you can monitor UK-specific commentary is to tell the system to monitor .co.uk domains) but it does a fantastic job in introducing clients to the concept of measurement over and abover Google Alerts – and the graphs look good too!

But, my opinion is changing. Since seeing the video below, Radian6 looks like it is evolving with some interesting new features – ones which could actually make a big difference to your strategy offering.

I won’t go any further as the video is actually a work of genius:

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Looks like Twitter users are at the very least one-steo agead of Twitter (again) with the launch of Twe2 a free service which does what Twitter no longer does (but may do again soon!)

Ok, so I am a little nervous about giving an app I don’t know yet my mobile phone details and there are some settings to configure which need a bit of thinking about (like how many Dm’s or replies you want to receive per hour – I don;t know!) but it does for those of us in the UK what Twitter does for the rest of the world – and that has to be worth a shout out.

Thanks to @jonpauldavies for the heads up!

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As many of you know, I have been running a little competition to give away a fantastic Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook with 3G broadband courtesy of Vodafone.

I have been astounded by both the volume of comments AND tweets promoting the competition, so thank you to everybody who has taken part.

The winner, I am delighted to announce is:

Paula Brett

Paula, an email is on its way to you shortly. Congratulations!

Again, thank you all sincerely for your contributions…and if you like this kind of thing, be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed to keep up to date with everything social media and technology!


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Cool stuff I was readingFebruary 4th toFebruary 6th:

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So, according to Robert, Facebook is now looking at understanding sentiment. Yay!

To quote Robert:

**Facebook is, he told me, studying “sentiment” behavior. It hasn’t yet used that research in its public service yet, but is looking to figure out if people are having a good day or bad day. He said that already his teams are able to sense when nasty news, like stock prices are headed down, is underway. He also told me that the sentiment engine notices a lot of “going out” kinds of messages on Friday afternoon and then notices a lot of “hungover” messages on Saturday morning. He’s not sure where that research will lead. We talked about how sentiment analysis might lead to a new kind of news display in Facebook. Knowing whether a story is positive or negative would let Facebook pick a good selection of both kinds of news, or maybe even let you choose whether you want to see only “happy” news.

I have been working with sentiment analysis as the cornerstone for my social media strategies for over two years and have found it to be one of THE most useful aspects of measurement on the social web…so much so that it has helped me build a very basic and very assumptive ROI calculator (more on that in another post perhaps!)

Measuring volume is only half the story

“Traditional” web marketers find it fairly easy to see how we can count conversations when using our wonderful tools. It is not a difficult challenge to understand how we can aggregate conversations into the largest or newest topics, or even the most popular locations of those conversations.

But, thinking that the aggregation or watching of the volume of responses is sufficient to understand the true picture of online chatter is to fall into the “no press is bad press” trap.

Sure, understanding how many people are talking about out product launch is one indicator of success but how is it possible to understand the meaning behind these conversations using volume alone?

This is where the measurement of sentiment make the difference and IMHO sets the good social media strategies out from the bad.

Sentiment is actually much more than half the story in fact…

The above is a screenshot from a wonderful tool I use which tracks the volume and sentiment of conversations. Looking at the graph, I can easily see precisely when sentiment was especially good (high) or bad (low) and dig deeper to understand what was driving the score to be so good or bad.

Looking at the table below the graph, I can see what the main topics of conversation are, the sentiment of those conversations but perhaps more importantly, the specific score of that conversation – based on the authorities of the people discussing it.

Frequently, marketers see sentiment as being simply good or bad. BUT by attaching a sentiment score to a comment or topic based on the “authority or influence” of that person, we can get a more precise idea of whether someone is simply satisfied or a real fan of our product.

Likewise, if we are comparing our performance against our competitors, would/should we be satisfied with a positive score of 1.2 if our competitors are averaging 2.4?

Volume of comments doesn’t tell us how we compare. Sentiment does.

Sentiment is all about the feeling

Sentiment monitoring provides us with the ability to measure the emotion or feeling behind chatter, giving us insight into what people really think about our product.

It tells us (amongst other things):

  • Has our product been well received?
  • If yes, who are the people expressing positive sentiment about it?
  • If not, why and who are those people?
  • If sentiment is being expressed, what are the key issues that this sentiment is being expressed on?
  • If positive, who are the people we can begin to engage with to help us spread the word further?
  • If negative, who are the people whose problems we need to be solving or to show them the light?

Only through understanding sentiment can we really get to the heart of social media conversations and if Facebook are looking at this seriously, they have a great opportunity to take Market Sentinel’s lead in using the measurement of feeling to drive more targeted and therefore more relevant content to users (I use the word content rather than ads, because i genuinely feel that if advertising is to get anywhere on social networks it has got to be through interactive content with compels people to respond rather than simply being a passive piece of colour on a web page within a social network).

Social ads were/are great, polls are the great untapped gem of a resource on Facebook and go some way to delivering a targeted message, but both are only targeted to a fairly static personal profile – it’s like advertising convertible cars on a billboard all year round because someone who lives nearby once said they liked convertible cars – targeted but not relevant at a given point in time.

Imagine ads that could be delivered according to the feeling of someone’s status updates, or infamous relationship status’…and we are getting somewhere near where sentiment can truly take us.

Sentiment moves us closer to Social Media ROI

I’ve been thinking and tinkering with the idea that if we know the numbers and identities of the negative commenters, that we can use outreach to try and “turn” them positive. (i’m being blunt with the term “turn” for brevity) In turning negative commenters into positive ones, then the chances are we are going to increase the number of buyers.

If we know that form a certain site or referrer, the conversion rate is a certain % and that the ABV is worth £XX then theoretically (and with some generous assumptions!) we arrive at some sort of ROI for social media activity.

I hope to explore the thinking behind this a little later, but for now…just imagine what you could do with your social media activity if you knew what people were FEELING.

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Saw these little babies on the PSFK blog thanks to Will. They allow people (ok, kids!) to connect offline, but swap their online ID’s, much like some of you may remember E does.

I love this idea of being able to bring online offline and vice versa. Whether the next web app or network is the next big thing (i.e. goes mainstream) largely depends on the simplicity and therefore speed with which it allows non-techies or early adopters to use it and therefore catch on. Kids have swapped toys for years, kids have been on social networks for years – isn’t it amazing that it has taken this long for something like Poken’s to come along?!

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As we have all seen with fantastic tools such as Twitter Friends, the influence and breadth of your audience is almost as important as what you say or link to.

The audience in its (in)finite wisdom decide what it thinks its followers would be interested in and communicated it accordingly to their audience. As such, the perception of your brand is as much governed by who spreads what as much as what you spread.

I’m always keen to learn more about “my audience” given that there are now over 1000 followers in it and this lovely little tool, Twittersheep (thanks for the heads-up Sam) tells me a little bit more about my followers by looking at their/your biogs and effectively giving me a tag cloud of the main words used.

Anyone embarking on social media activity of ANY type should always begin by listening and understanding to what the audience is saying, but few (free) services allow us to understand the profile of our audience.

Even though we can dig down into each of those terms, it would be great to be able to see a list of all those people who sit under each of those terms. In the next iteration maybe?

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As headlines go, they don’t come much more dramatic than this, but Yes, that’s right, I am giving away the brand new Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook (below) with 3G Subscription thanks to the guys at Vodafone.

This little beauty featured heavily in the Vodafone Live Guy competition, where Live Guy gave away clues to his whereabouts on the move sing the machine. It comes with integrated Vodafone 3G access which allegedly is the fastest mobile broadband on the market. As an existing 3 mobile broadband customer, I can assure you, Vodafone doesn’t need to be lightning speed to lead the market!

Nevertheless, to quote Live Guy:

My Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook gives me all my everyday Microsoft® Windows® XP applications without the need for a bulky laptop. Because it’s just 9.1 inches x 6.7 inches, and weighs only 1KG, my back gets an easy time.

And, with Vodafone’s built-in broadband, I can keep all my online information up to date at super fast speeds. Depending where I am I can browse the web at speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. There’s no fuss, no fiddling with modems, no untangling wires and no searching around for a wireless hotspot.

So what do I have to do to win?

The short answer is…nothing (much)!

Simply leave a comment below, making sure you leave your name and a contact email address.

I will then make a random draw this time (5:30pm) on Sunday 8th February and will announce the winner on this blog post. You might want to bookmark this post to delicious. Please tag it “blendingthemixvodafone” please…pretty please…

There’s more??

To get another freebie (worth a few quid too!), simply:

1) Follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/paulfabretti
2) Tweet the Following by clicking here or copy / paste:
“Free Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Laptop. Follow @paulfabretti and Retweet. http://budurl.com/6bdj. He Also Follows Back!”


1. Leave comment (and an email address)

2. Bookmark THIS POST

3. Re-tweet/use the links above

4. Come back on 19:00, Sunday 8th February to see if you have won.

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