Two years ago we did a recap of SXSWi 2011 in tweets after the five days of the Interactive portion of the festival were over. (In case you’re still unfamiliar, SXSW is a great big gathering of all kinds of interactive professionals – from social media folks to software developers and startup founders, to designers, researchers and basically anyone interested in the digital space. SXSW Interactive is a tech conference, and is followed by the film and music portions of the festival.)
Here’s a table comparing the tweet volume, total number of unique contributors, and overall reach for 2011 vs. 2013:
What a difference two years can make!
Here’s a breakdown of the 2013 SXSW tweet activity:
Were you at SXSWi? How was your experience? Tell us in the comments, old hats and newbies alike.
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!
“Josh Brown, a financial adviser at New York-based Fusion Analytics who is known as The Reformed Broker to his 35,000-plus Twitter followers, says many of his friends at major brokerage firms regularly visit sites like Twitter, just to keep tabs on the chatter.”
“The mental hurdle that bank officers needed to overcome when starting out in social media was the fear of ‘losing control’ of their marketing message. For many of the Marketing Committee members, platforms like Facebook were widely misunderstood. A majority of time at the beginning of this project was spent educating the bank about how social media marketing works (different from traditional media) and how it can effectively be applied to create a deeper loyalty within their customers.”
“At times the Twitter conversation is more liberal than survey responses, while at other times it is more conservative. Often it is the overall negativity that stands out. Much of the difference may have to do with both the narrow sliver of the public represented on Twitter as well as who among that slice chose to take part in any one conversation.”
See the full article for charts on when Twitter’s reaction was more conservative, when it nearly matched public sentiment, and more.
“. . .there is a common thought in the digital universe that goes like this: create relevant content and consumers will continue to connect with your brand. It’s not a zero-sum game and it’s not an all-encompassing strategy. It may be in marketers vested interest to adjust that theory to this: create relevant content and your heavy users may continue to connect with your brand.”
Consists of “7 Questions Every Small Business Must Ask To Succeed” and “Actionable Marketing Tips” for each point
Dealing with Social Media Criticism: Deflect, Defy, Defend? [from KISSMetrics; written by Neil Patel]
“According to a study by RightNow, when customers did receive a response to their complaint, almost half of them were pleased by the company’s interaction, and 22% of those customers posted a positive comment about the company or brand. Keep in mind that this is the same company they were bashing just recently.”
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Brian Conway, Account Supervisor for Weber Shandwick, about his experiences with social media and how his initial personal use of the medium lead to a deeper understanding for the impact and potential use it had for brands. He takes this insight with him into projects with current clients, such as American Airlines.
TweetReach: Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Brian Conway: My initial experience with social media was in the mid-2000s for personal use when platforms like Facebook and Twitter had really only made a name for themselves as being unique to the individual experience. It wasn’t until 2008 or 2009 that I started paying much closer attention to how those same individual messages aggregate over time to form a larger brand picture that can be pretty — or pretty ugly. The fact that individuals suddenly had so much influence over a company’s brand reputation and strategic direction was a huge eye-opener for me— that was my “ah-ha” moment. This understanding has since influenced how I’ve approached some of the community management and crisis roles I’ve held for a variety of clients.
TweetReach:How have you seen your clients approach Twitter as part of their digital strategy?
Brain Conway: Broadly speaking about Weber Shandwick, the number of clientele using Twitter and other social media platforms has exploded tremendously in the last three or four years. Nearly all use Twitter for some kind of public engagement, and that ranges from corporate news to marketing announcements to social customer service. Others still use it for listening only. Message reach and response is always important, but what we encourage companies to look for are individual conversations, sentiment, and reach of positive messages. Brand-building or brand regress happens over time, so any corporate Twitter strategy needs to take ongoing listening into big consideration. From my personal experience, I’ve been very closely tied to American Airlines’ social media program since 2009, and Twitter has become a hugely invaluable engagement resource, as well as a strong component of its award-winning social customer service program.
TweetReach: How important is measurement of engagement on Twitter to your strategy with clients? Do you have specific goals and campaign metrics that you use to measure performance and success?
Brian Conway: Measurement of social engagement, be it Twitter or any other platform, is as crucial as your digital strategy. After all, a company doesn’t devote budget and time to a platform simply for the sake of grins, right? I often advocate for a well-balanced approach to quantitative and qualitative measurement for clients, and it all starts with goals. If your campaign goals focus squarely on follower growth or message reach as a measure of success, it’s very easy to track those KPIs quantitatively. But, we believe our clients need to know not just how many conversations there were, but what was actually said and what it means for the company’s business objectives.
TweetReach: Along those lines, let’s talk about the measurement of reach. How do you weigh the importance of the quantity of a campaign’s reach (the overall size of the potential audience) vs. the quality of that reach?
Brian Conway: As I mentioned, it’s very important to have a well-balanced mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis for any social media campaign, proactive or reactive. Again, it all comes back to goals and what kind of success you want to achieve for your organization. Some social campaigns may lend themselves more toward KPIs like audience reach, impressions, sales growth, volume of submissions, awareness-generation, volume of tweets using your hashtag, and the like. Other campaigns may focus more on engagement. Some important qualitative questions to ask: What message points resonated best with our followers? Did our posts trigger any unexpected conversations? How does this Twitter campaign help us prepare for the next one?
TweetReach: Do you have any examples of how analytics have helped you adjust or improve your social media activities? Has this ever happened in the middle of a campaign?
Brian Conway: In one instance for a former client, we had pre-determined the entire course of proactive messaging for the client’s social media campaign. Almost halfway into the campaign, our tracking and reporting revealed significant conversations around a storyline we hadn’t even considered, and it gave us cause to revise our messaging strategy to make sure we spoke more about this other storyline people obviously wanted to discuss. When we reported our findings to the client, we were met with some understandable skepticism about changing our strategy, but in the end, we showed that adaptability and commitment to listening can contribute to campaign success— which is exactly what we saw.
Brian assists with the coordination and management of digital/social media programs at varying levels of strategic corporate engagement, including brand reputation management, outreach strategy, new business development, and crisis monitoring and program implementation. Currently, Brian supports a number of Weber Shandwick clients’ social media programs, including American Airlines and Essilor of America. Among Brian’s primary expertise are community management and message engagement, proactive social campaign strategy, social media crisis comnunications, and blogger relations strategy.
Today, we’re rolling out the beta version of our new Tracker interface to select TweetReach Pro customers! We can’t wait for you to see it. It includes the same full-fidelity, real-time tracking as before, but we’ve totally rethought and redesigned the Tracker look and feel. Whether you need a quick campaign summary or want to drill into the details, we think you’ll find that every part of the new Tracker puts the most relevant information right where you need it. We’ll be releasing it more widely over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of the new look (click for a larger version).
As you know, TweetReach Trackers provide premium real-time monitoring and comprehensive tweet coverage, and are included in TweetReach Pro subscription. And we’ve had the same Tracker design for more than two years, and it’s time for a facelift. The new look is cleaner and simpler and gives you the information you need at a glance. In addition, we’re now able to add a few more metrics to your Tracker’s summary page.
During the beta rollout, Pro subscribers will continue to have access to the previous interface, and will be able to switch between the new look and the old look. We’d love to hear your feedback as we continue to polish the new design.
As you may know, Twitter is making some updates to their API and we’ve been working to incorporate those changes across TweetReach. We will be rolling out these changes to our snapshot reports on March 4. Most of the API changes won’t be visible to you, but a few of these changes will affect our reports, so we wanted to make sure you knew exactly what was going on.
Adding Twitter authentication
You will now need to authenticate with a Twitter account to run snapshot reports on TweetReach. This will be the same simple “Sign in with Twitter” process you’re used to on many other websites. These changes will allow us to run new kinds of analyses, so look for those in the coming months.
This authentication will apply to free and paid reports, as well as snapshots in TweetReach Pro. If you have an account with us – whether it’s a free account or a Pro subscription – you can save your Twitter info so you only have to sign in once. If you prefer not to create an account with us, that’s fine, too, but you may need to authenticate with Twitter each time. If you would like to create a free TweetReach account to save your Twitter credentials and your TweetReach reports, you can do that here.
We’re only asking for read-only permission to your Twitter account, so we will never post anything from or on behalf of your account. We will not be able to see your DMs or your password. We will only be able to:
- Read Tweets from your timeline
- See who you follow
There’s more about third-party authentication on Twitter’s help center, which we encourage you to read if you have any questions about how this process works and what it allows. We’re also happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you have, so please let us know.
Replacing exposure graph
We’re updating the exposure bar graph to now reflect the follower counts for all tweets in your report. With the new graph, you’ll be able to see how many tweets were sent from accounts with a certain number of followers. The x-axis shows follower tiers (0-99; 100-999; 1,000-9,999; 10,000-99,999; 100,000 or more), and the y-axis shows the number of tweets in each follower tier. For example, want to know how many tweets in your report were sent from accounts with more than 100,000 followers? This new graph will make that quick and easy.
Handling native retweets
In addition, we’ll be handling native retweets differently from now on. Twitter’s Search API no longer includes native RTs, and this change impacts all tools built on the Search API, which includes our free and full snapshot reports. All snapshot reports will now include a slightly limited set of native retweets. Full reports will include up to 100 native RTs for each of the 15 most important tweets in a report, and our free (50-tweet) reports will include up to 100 native RTs for each of the five most important tweets in a report. This change does not impact manual, copy/paste type retweets or modified retweets. For most of you, this will provide more than enough coverage to include all retweets, since it’s quite rare to see a tweet with more than 100 retweets. There’s more on our helpdesk, including our full-fidelity options for comprehensive analytics with no limits.
Changes to our reach metric
We’re also updating our reach algorithm, which we’ve already blogged about you can read all about here. Our new reach algorithm is based on a rigorous statistical model built on years of Twitter data. We’re very happy about this change, because it means reach will be faster and less resource-intensive to calculate.
So, to sum it up…
We’re really excited about these changes! Reach is so much smarter than it was before, and using Twitter authentication means we’ll be able to build new kinds of analyses, so there’s lots more coming in the future. We also know this is a lot to take in, so if you have any questions about any of these changes, please let us know.
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!
“Three social networks in particular – Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram – each gained more than 10 million visitors over the course of the year in part by catering to a desire for more visually appealing content. comScore has called this phenomenon “the rise of the visual web.” Of the three, Tumblr had the largest audience at 30.8 million visitors (up 64 percent from the prior year), while Pinterest (up 284 percent to 28.9 million visitors) and Instagram (up 284 percent to 27.4 million visitors) both shared the same outsized growth rate.”
Download the full report at the link above.
“On the digital side, mobile and social media were the two categories expected to see the most increased attention in 2013. In fact, more than eight in 10 of those polled named mobile media as a target for increased focus, while just over three-quarters of respondents said the same for social media.”
“A full 40% of marketers only have ‘an average amount of data,’ which does not sound like an overwhelming vote of confidence they have the information they need to intelligently plan, and execute, tests that will help them learn more about their customers.”
“They say that when the costs–the time and effort–associated with being a member of a social network outweigh the benefits, then the conditions are ripe for a general exodus. The thinking is that if one person leaves, then his or her friends become more likely to leave as well and this can cascade through the network causing a collapse in membership.”
It also depends on how large each user’s network of friends is. Overall a fascinating read on the death of Friendster.
“This research underscores the need for brand marketers to go beyond considering social media in the traditional sense of being a media entity. It’s more than a place to post and distribute promotional messages. Social media requires being social. To this end, brands must engage with their prospects, customers and fans as humans and understand why they’re on social media.”
6 Tips on How to Use Twitter’s New Vine Video App for Marketing [from JeffBullas.com; written by Jeff Bullas]
What to do with 6 seconds of marketing video time.
Friday fun with hypotheticals:
How many unique English tweets are possible? How long would it take for the population of the world to read them all out loud? [From What If?; written by Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd]
“Reading all the tweets takes you ten thousand eternal years. That’s enough time to watch all of human history unfold, from the invention of writing to the present, with each day lasting as long as it takes for the bird to wear down a mountain. 140 characters may not seem like a lot, but we will never run out of things to say.”
And a bonus, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of this:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
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)
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 Engagement | Cheryl Engelhardt (Composer / Songwriter | CBE Music) & Michael Schaubach (Dir of Post Production | CollegeHumor.com)
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!
Got questions? We’ll answer them!
(Photo credit: US National Archives)