TweetReach Blog

Archive for February, 2013

Announcing our new reach algorithm

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This post was written by Union Metrics CEO and Founder Hayes Davis. 

We started TweetReach in 2009 with a simple idea: to provide a simple report that showed people the reach of tweets about any topic. Since that time, we’ve grown far beyond that simple reach report and added comprehensive tracking, as well as many other metrics and insights. But reach is still something we care a great deal about, so I wanted to tell you about some changes we’re making to the algorithm we use to calculate reach.

This is a long post, so here’s the executive summary:

  • We’ve built a new and extremely robust model for calculating reach that will replace our current algorithm.
  • Historical reach data won’t change, and newly calculated reach will change only slightly in most cases relative to historical trends.
  • This new algorithm allows us to increase our data limits across all TweetReach Pro plans.
  • These changes go into effect next week.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about how we built our new algorithm, read on.

Setting the stage

Reach is a complex metric with many definitions across vendors and industries, so let me explain how we think about reach on Twitter. For us, reach is the total number of unique Twitter accounts that received at least one tweet about a topic in some period. Knowing this helps you understand how broadly your message is being distributed on Twitter.

For most of our existence we’ve measured reach by using Twitter’s API to determine the actual Twitter IDs of users who received tweets about a topic. From that copious raw data, we then applied a dose of math and lots of computational horsepower to derive our reach measurement. While this brute force method produces a very reasonable estimate for reach, it has some serious drawbacks in terms of meeting the needs of our customers. It slows down our reporting for customers pulling data on ad-hoc periods and – while our data limits are generous relative to our competitors – it meant we had to place stricter data limits than we wanted on our TweetReach Pro plans.

In addition to these increasingly frustrating drawbacks, Twitter has announced a major set of technical changes to their API. Included in those changes are additional restrictions on the API calls we make to determine the raw data we use in our reach calculation. So instead of working around those API limits and continuing with our brute force approach, we decided it was time to get smarter.

Investigating the data

At TweetReach, one thing we have is data – lots and lots of data. This means that we have an extraordinarily large archive of information about how campaigns work on Twitter, which goes back years and is unique to us. From these data and our experience, we know that the reach of a Twitter campaign is essentially a function of the number of unique contributors (users tweeting), how large their follower bases are, and the overall number of tweets. The question is: What are the mathematical parameters of that function?

We started our investigation by looking at what we call the “potential reach” of any conversation on Twitter. This is the maximum possible reach of any conversation if all people who tweet about a topic have no followers in common.  While it provides an upper bound on reach, it’s obviously flawed; the assumption that no one has followers in common just doesn’t make common sense. It is, however, a good starting point, so we put it in a scatter plot to at least see if there was a relationship between potential reach and actual reach:

reach_vs_potential_reach_raw

The way this graph turns upward at the end shows us there’s not a clear linear relationship in this data, but there might be if we plotted this on a log-log graph.

reach_vs_potential_reach_log_log

There is a nice positive linear correlation after all. However, there are also some pretty absurd numbers. In fact, some of those “up and to the right” data points in the first graph show a potential reach above 2 billion (nearly 30% of the world’s population and more than 8x Twitter’s 250 million monthly active users). As it turns out, this is what many in our industry call “reach”. But we knew we could do better.

Enter statistics

Armed with the notion that potential reach had some value, we set out to combine that with other data to build an algorithm that could predict reach. We experimented with many different approaches that we applied to tens of thousands of data points derived from real Twitter campaigns. And after many iterations, we’ve developed an extremely robust model that explains 99.51% of the variance in reach on a Twitter campaign.

Below is another scatter plot (with a trendline) that shows our reach prediction model applied to a test data set.

reach_vs_predicted_reach

The data have a nearly 1:1 positive linear correlation, and there are no crazy outliers. This means we can predict an accurate reach with an extremely high degree of confidence without having to resort to brute-force methods.

What does this mean for our customers?

For the vast majority of our customers there will be very little noticeable impact to reach. Most of you won’t see any change at all. But a few of you will see some small changes. We will not be altering our reach calculations for historical periods, so some of you may notice your future reach increase or decrease slightly when compared to historical levels. And since no model is absolutely perfect, a small set of customers may see somewhat larger increases in reach for certain campaigns. If you have any questions at all about a change in your reach, don’t hesitate to contact our support team and we’ll be happy to take a look!

But best of all, these changes bring some significant benefits to our TweetReach Pro subscribers. The first benefit is that viewing ad-hoc periods within a TweetReach Tracker will now be much faster than before. The second, much more exciting benefit, is that we’re now able to increase our data limits for TweetReach Pro plans.

TweetReach Pro tweet volume limits

We’ll be rolling these changes out next week and we’ll be communicating with you along the way. We’re extremely excited to share the results of this work with you – our customers! If you have any questions, please let us know.

Written by Hayes D

February 28th, 2013 at 3:43 pm

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SXSW preview: How Twitter is changing how we watch TV

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One of our very own will be presenting at SXSW Interactive this year. Jenn Deering Davis, Union Metrics Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer, will be speaking about how Twitter has changed how we watch TV on Saturday, March 9 during the festival. We wanted to get a preview of her presentation, so we thought we’d ask her a few questions about social TV and share her responses with you.

  1. How do you think social media has changed how viewers communicate about television shows?

Social media provides a great place for us to talk about our favorite TV shows and characters. It allows fans distributed across the country – even the globe – to share the experience of watching a show together. TV is such an important part of our culture, particularly in the United States; many of us watch some TV every single day, and we’re deeply connected to the shows we watch and the people in them. We want to talk about TV, and social media channels like Twitter are the perfect place for those conversations.

  1. What are some of the creative strategies that networks and advertisers are employing to tap into social TV?  

There’s certainly a lot of hashtag use right now. You can’t watch a TV show – or a commercial – without seeing hashtags all over the place. Some of the more interesting fan engagement initiatives include creating character Twitter accounts that tweet during and between episodes, sharing content exhaust like behind-the scenes photos and outtakes, and running social games and contests to unlock premium content.

  1. What shows are doing social TV really well?

So many shows and show runners are doing interesting things on social media. Pretty Little Liars is one of the canonical examples – PLL and the team at ABC Family have created a huge and highly engaged following on Twitter and Facebook. As for others, I love how characters from Archer tweet as themselves (and to each other!), how Hollywood award shows like the Golden Globes post pictures from the red carpet and backstage, and how Netflix capitalized on the huge social interest around its new show House of Cards. There are so many great examples. For more, you’ll just have to come to the panel.

  1. How important is a standard measurement system for social TV and do you think Twitter’s work with Nielsen will push it forward?

Networks have been using Twitter as a way to understand the real-time pulse of their shows for several years, and I think it’s smart of Nielsen and Twitter to work together to formalize some of that. We can learn a lot about what fans think about a show by measuring their tweets. For example, tracking minute-by-minute volume helps us understand viewer interest spikes, telling us exactly what onscreen moments are exciting to the audience. I think this area will mature a great deal over the next few years.

  1. Twitter is at the center of the social TV discussion, but what other platforms do you think are poised to become a larger part of this movement?

Twitter was the first social channel to be really successful in the TV space for a variety of reasons (which I’ll discuss in more detail at SXSW), but we’re starting to see a lot more fan participation in other channels, as well. Tumblr is a big one, because millions of fans go to Tumblr to share and remix  all kinds of amazing visual content about their favorite shows, and that content spreads like crazy on Tumblr. Social TV conversations happen in all the social media spaces we spend time in, but we’ve just heard the most about Twitter so far. I think that’s changing.

  1. How does online streaming content tap into social TV? Will advertisers cater to this demographic, or keep pushing for live viewing?

Great question. We’re starting to understand more about how social impacts (and is impacted by) both live and streamed viewing. I’ll get into this more during the talk, but we’re actually seeing a comeback in live TV right now! It’s fascinating stuff, but I’ll leave that as a teaser for now.

If you want to hear more, then be sure to check out Jenn’s talk at SXSW in Austin next week. And be sure to go say hi afterwards – she’d love to talk to you. She might even have party invites to share if you ask nicely.

Written by Sarah

February 28th, 2013 at 8:10 am

10 SXSWi 2013 panels you won’t want to miss

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We already mentioned that we’ll be at SXSWi- now just a mere two weeks away!- and we’d love to see you, so drop us a line in the comments if you’ll be there and let us know if you’re hosting an event or participating in a panel. Speaking of panels, we’ve got some suggestions for panels and other events you’ll want to be sure and work into your schedule:

Photo Credit: The Library of Virginia

1. Building Tools for Creativity | Presenter: David Karp (Founder | Tumblr)

2. Get Ready to Rumble! How WWE Is Crushing Social TV | Presenters: John Cena (WWE Superstar | WWE), Khris Loux (Co-Founder & CEO | Echo), Perkins Miller (EVP, Digital Media | WWE) & Stephanie McMahon (EVP, Creative Dev & Operations | WWE)

3. Data, Storytelling & Breaking Through the Noise  | Presenters: Ashley Brown (Dir, Digital Comm/Social Media | The Coca-Cola Company), Dustee Jenkins (VP of PR | Target), Gary Goldhammer (Sr Digital Strategist | H+K Strategies) & Jon Steinberg (Pres/COO |BuzzFeed)

4. Brands, Bloggers & the Social Commerce Future | Lisa Stone (CEO & Co-founder | BlogHer LLC)

5. Mosh Pit of Experts: The Future of Social (Core Conversation)  | Presenters: Sam Decker (CEO & Co-Founder | Mass Relevance Inc) & Sean McDonald (Managing Dir | Pricewaterhouse Coopers)

6. The Rise of the Planet of the Creatives | Presenters: Claire Mazur (Co-founder | Of a Kind), Danielle Strle (Dir of Prod | Tumblr), Jamie Beck (Photographer, co-creator of the Cinemagraph | cinemagraphs.com) & Jen Bekman (Founder, CEO 20×200/Jen Bekman Projects Inc)

7. Social Circles vs. Social Media | Presenters: Austin Carr (Staff Writer | Fast Company), Brian Schechter (Co-Founder & Co-CEO | How About We), Dylan Casey (Head of Prod Mgmt | Path) & Jared Hecht (Co-Founder | GroupMe)

8. Fresh Prince + Downton Abbey: A Perfect EngagementCheryl Engelhardt (Composer / Songwriter | CBE Music) & Michael Schaubach (Dir of Post Production | CollegeHumor.com)

9. From 140 to 0: The Rise in Image-Based Marketing | Presenter: Nate Auerbach (Music Strategy & Outreach | Tumblr)

10. And be sure to check out our presentation on Saturday! How Twitter Has Changed How We Watch TV | Presenter: Jenn Deering Davis (Co-Founder |Union Metrics)

Written by Sarah

February 26th, 2013 at 7:48 am

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Join us for a webinar this Wednesday, 2/27 at 11am PST!

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Interested in more comprehensive, ongoing tweet tracking with TweetReach Pro? Sign up for a short demo webinar, where we’ll show you how it works, what’s included, and answer any questions you have. We look forward to to seeing you on the 27th, at 11am PST sharp!

Register here.

Got questions? We’ll answer them!

(Photo credit: US National Archives)

Written by Sarah

February 25th, 2013 at 10:45 am

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This Week in Social Analytics #38

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It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for This Week in Social Analytics and our favorite posts of the past week in the world of measurement, analytics, and social media. See a great piece we missed? Link to it in the comments!

12 Best Twitter Tutorial Videos of All Time [from Social Media Today; written by Daniel Zeevi]

A great resource for beginners, or anyone who wants a back-to-basics brush-up

The Geography of Happiness According to 10 Million Tweets [from The Atlantic; written by Alexis C. Madrigal]

“Sorry, Louisiana, you are the saddest state. And Hawaii (shocker!) you are the happiest.”

Pew’s fact tank studies American social networking [from Phys Org; written by Nancy Owano]

 ”As for Twitter, the percentage of Internet users on Twitter doubled since November 2010, now at 16%.”

Get the full report here

Tumblr Beat Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn for SocNet Time Spent in December [from Marketing Charts; written by Marketing Charts staff]

“Tumblr outstrips Pinterest despite not having significantly more unique visitors. For 2012 as a whole, Tumblr sported an audience of 30.8 million visitors (up 64% year-over-year), but was closely followed by Pinterest (28.9 million, up 284% year-over-year), and Instagram (27.4 million, also up 284%). In December 2012, it ranked 10th among the largest social networking sites and forums, as measured by market share of visits.”

Tumblr Draws a Distinction Between its Ads and Those of Google and Facebook  [from AdWeek; written by Mike Shields]

“This really hasn’t been a huge issue,” Karp added. “This industry is so bored of display, bored of blue links, so excited to create ads that win awards, that really tell stories, that make customers, that people remember, that get people excited, that you can put in your portfolio. There aren’t a lot of AdWords ads or display ads that you can put in a portfolio.”

 

Written by Sarah

February 22nd, 2013 at 9:05 am

9 tips for getting the most out of Twitter chats: As a host

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Interested in Twitter chats? This is the second in our two-part series about Twitter chats. Check out the first one here, and get some tips for participating in a Twitter chat as yourself or a brand.

Hosting a Twitter chat? It can feel overwhelming, so here are some tips to help you get started and stay organized:

First things first:

  • Check that the hashtag you want to use isn’t already in use elsewhere, and isn’t common enough that your chat will be flooded with irrelevant chatter (you can do this by checking the spreadsheet in the next point, or simply utilizing Twitter’s search function).
  • Check the master schedule of chats and schedule yours at a time that won’t compete with another established chat in a similar topic vein (if there’s a time you want and the other chat is completely unrelated, go for it).
  • Add your chat to the master schedule, so interested parties can find it.

Promote your chat:

  • Announce to your Twitter followers that you’re starting up a Twitter chat, and be sure to include the time and hashtag.
  • Reach out politely to influential followers to help you promote it, if it seems like something they’d be interested in.
  • Reach out to influential followers and/or industry folks who might be interested in being a special guest. An intriguing or high profile guest can spark more participation.

Moderate:

  • Keep the conversation flowing with prearranged questions, but don’t be afraid to throw them away or save them for later if the conversation picks up on its own
  • Don’t be afraid to block someone if they’re being consistently rude to other chat participants
  • Welcome newcomers: most will proclaim themselves, so give them a warm hello and follow them if you feel its appropriate

Got any tips we missed? Add them in the comments!

Written by Sarah

February 21st, 2013 at 10:22 am

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10 tips for getting the most out of Twitter chats: As a participant

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Interested in Twitter chats? We’ve got a quick two-part series of posts about them! Here’s the first. Check back tomorrow for the second. 

If this spreadsheet is any indication there are a lot of Twitter chats out there; no matter your brand or area of interest, there’s sure to be one you can benefit from joining. But where to start? Check out these tips for maximizing your Twitter chat experience.

First things first:

  • Identify the chat or chats you want to join in on, and schedule them on your calendar with a pop-up reminder. This way they won’t sneak up on you and if you get busy, you won’t forget about them.
  • Lurk before you jump in: most chats are completely welcoming of newcomers, but if it makes you more comfortable just to sit back and observe a few times, do it.
  • Read over a transcript of an old chat session before joining in. Searching a chat hashtag will show you if they have one, and allow you to discover if it’s a good fit for the type of chat you’re looking for, and you can learn the conversation style.

When you tweet:

  • When you do join in, tell everyone that you’re new! Many will go out of their way to welcome you, and encourage you to join in on the conversation.
  • If you’re planning on tweeting for your brand, consider joining in on a personal handle first. That way you can get a feel for the way the conversation rolls in action, without any potential harm to your brand from a misunderstanding. 140 characters is short, especially when you’re adding a hashtag!
  • With that said, keep your tweets short and sweet: other chat participants can more easily add their own thoughts and retweet you if you keep it as succinct as possible

Chat étiquette: 

  • Don’t be afraid to respectfully disagree with someone else’s opinion on a strategy or tool, etc, but keep it courteous; it goes without saying that you don’t want to be contentious enough to get blocked from the chat
  • If you think someone misunderstood you, clarify your meaning and intent. If they’re determined to be upset, apologize and drop it
  • Don’t talk over the host or special guest, if there is one meant to be answering prearranged questions. Add your thoughts or expertise and share resources, but don’t dominate the conversation when you’re not the special guest
  • Some chats won’t have special guests and the hosts act more as roundtable moderators, moving the conversation along. Chime in freely here.

Joining in on Twitter chats is a great way to connect with people in your industry, learn more about a topic or facet of an industry you’re new to or want deeper knowledge of, and to pick up new tools of the trade recommended by others.

By making regular twitter chat connections, you’ll potentially find yourself with more meet-ups at the next conference you attend, an online mentor to ask tricky industry questions to, or simply some new and wonderful Twitter friends.

Got any tips we missed? Disagree with one? Talk about it in the comments!

Written by Sarah

February 20th, 2013 at 9:23 am

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Join us at SXSWi!

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Are you going to be at SXSWi this year? We’re going to be there and we’d love to see you! Email us if you’d like an invite to our happy hour.

Also, let us know if you’re going to be on a panel, and come see one of our founders, Jenn Deering Davis, on hers: How Twitter Has Changed How We Watch TV.

Here’s to a great time at SXSWi 2013!

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CEO Hayes Davis & friend at SXSWi 2010 

Written by Sarah

February 18th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

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This Week in Social Analytics #37

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It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for This Week in Social Analytics and our favorite posts of the past week in the world of measurement, analytics, and social media. See a great piece we missed? Link to it in the comments!

7 social media lessons from the Grammys for organizers of other events [from CNET news; written by Sree Sreenivasan]

What the Grammys did well, and what they could do better.

Big Data And The Landfills Of The Digital Enterprise [from ReadWrite; written by Matt Asay]

It’s okay not to have The Big Data Answer.

Marketing Analytics: 4 techniques to discuss with your data analysts [from Marketing Experiments Blog; written by Daniel Burstein]

“Recent research in the MarketingSherpa 2013 Marketing Analytics Benchmark Report indicates 48% of marketers are using analytics platforms to customize reports, but only 24% are creating and testing hypotheses.”

How US Consumers Value Online Media [PDF from The Boston Consulting Group; authored by Jean-Manuel Izaret, John Rose, Neal ZuckermanPaul Zwillenberg]

“U.S. consumers realize large and growing value from online media. In fact, they now derive more value from online media—net of the associated costs— than they receive from offline media, according to new research by The Boston Consulting Group. We call this measure of value ‘consumer surplus’ and, for online media, it amounts on average to approximately $970 per U.S. connected consumer, or online user, per year—or about 2.5 percent of the average annual income in the U.S.

The highest surplus ($311), accounting for about one-third of the online total, comes from UGC and social networks accessed through such platforms as Facebook and YouTube.”

Great Social Media Requires a Bigger Trash Can [from Social Media Explorer; written by Nichole Kelly]

 ”That’s right, I said it. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Vine or any other social media channel you are using will NOT generate success for your company. Ridiculously amazing content is what generates success.”

26 Ways to Market Your Business With Tumblr [from Social Media Examiner; written by Debbie Hemley]

SME’s post takes a look at 26 businesses with a presence on Tumblr and discusses the techniques they use on the platform, in addition to breaking down some of Tumblr’s features and lexicon. (Of course, we disagree with the assertion that only visually based brands belong on Tumblr.)

Social Media, Take Note of the Echograph Acquisition [from Social Media Today; written by Ioannis Tsiokos]

Echograph: somewhere between Vine and the GIF?

Written by Sarah

February 15th, 2013 at 9:07 am

7 tips to maximize your conference attendance using Twitter

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We’ve covered how you can maximize using Twitter during your conference as a host– now what about as an attendee? Here are some quick tips to maximize your conference experience via Twitter:

The basics:

  • Learn the official event hashtag & double-check that you’re typing it correctly: seems simple enough, but you’ll miss out on a lot of connection and engagement with a typo
  • Make sure you’re following the host’s official account (or accounts): check periodically to see if there have been any changes in the scheduling, location of panels or smaller events, or any other breaking conference news
  • Advanced move? Research food places (and coffeeshops; even bars with good happy hours!) near the conference location, and follow some of them on Twitter. You might score a discount with a Twitter coupon, or at least have a place to invite follow attendees around sessions!

What you’re saying:

  • Quoting someone? Cite it as the speaker or an audience member, and tag it with their Twitter handle, if you have the information handy
  • Keep it short and sweet: you’ll be more likely to be retweeted if you keep your character count low, and other conference goers don’t have to trim your tweet down to add their own thoughts before retweeting
  • Share, follow back, add your thoughts– don’t just lurk in the conference hashtag streams! This is how you strike up conversations and form relationships with fellow attendees
  • Turn online interactions into offline: notice you keep tweeting with the same people? Meet up for lunch, coffee or happy hour to take your conference networking offline

Got something we missed? Share it in the comments. And we’ll see you at #SXSWi 2013!

Photo credit: Scott Beale/Laughing Squid at laughingsquid.com

Written by Sarah

February 12th, 2013 at 11:44 am

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