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Thoughts on the Twitter archive deal with Gnip

After turning off the firehose to Google last year I’d been wondering what they would do with their huge database of users tweets as the next logical step appeared to be granting the search giant access to their archives as well. They announced today that they’ve partnered with Gnip to provide the company with every tweet back to March 2006 when the company launched.

As someone who has developed social/ digital personas as part of the larger marketing strategy this is great news. Using data from various social platforms is a fantastic way to get a broad (and granular) sense of what issues most resonate with consumers, how they feel about your products and your competitors. By analyzing that data a richer picture of your customer emerges.

In the past we’ve only really been able to gather data for the past year, but with this announcement the ability to look at trends over time becomes a possibility. Is the same issue recurring? Has customer service improved over time or gotten worse year over year? Are there seasonality trends that weren’t immediately apparent? All of these data points could now be analyzed (or re-analyzed) based on this new data.

Unless you’re a very sophisticated (and deep pocketed) brand storing broad term data year over year and merging it with the same query sets was probably not at the top of your radar. As Gnip merges this data into standard listening tools running ad hoc reports and performing a detailed analysis becomes much simpler.

I’m looking forward to seeing this roll out and doing some digging. What do you think about this move by Twitter?

Image credit: fagalar on Flickr

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Analytics, focus and your digital presence

analytics, data, planning

Being present online these days is standard for any company whose customers can be found in this medium, be it with a website, or taking it further to the social media space. One aspect that remains mandatory, no matter how big or how small you are participating is understanding and being actionable with your website analytics data. Your site data is different from conversational data which comes into play and is layered on when you get involved in the social web.

Setting up your analytics and determining what and how to measure is a key first step in managing your focus and presence in the digital space. Having a strategy in place for reviewing and incorporating the insights gleaned is a must. Doing so up-front will save money and effort in the long-term.

What are some of the things your data can teach you?

  • What content are people the most focused on or drawn to? Does it align with your preconceptions of what was important?┬áIf not, what are you missing? How can you adapt? What can you do to increase engagement with the content you think should be a higher priority?
  • Are there frequently specific areas of abandonment on your website? Why? Is it as simple as a 404 error, or more complex – heavy load time, unclear navigation, mis-labled content, etc.
  • What content drives traffic but isn’t sticky? Review it with an open mind. Take off your marketing glasses and put on your consumer hat.
  • Where is your traffic coming from? Links? Do you know who the people are who are advocating your content? Are you present where your content is being shared? Are you optimized to encourage sharing?
  • What type of search engine traffic are you getting? Is it quality? Do you rank well for some terms and not for others? Are the engines indexing the pages the way you would want them to?
  • What are some of the keywords that are driving the most traffic from search engines as well as from social networks? Are they what you anticipated? Do they align with your content and focus? What can you do to adjust?

Taking the time to set a strategy in place can provide a goldmine of actionable data and, if included in review cycles, can continue to be a road map to how your digital presence is managed, and can help refine and focus your marketing initiatives. It’s a must.

[photo credit: jef_safi via Flickr]

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Recognizing the need for benchmarks in social media measurement

As the social space begins to mature and more attention is paid by marketers on how you can provide some type of measurement on your outreach efforts through social media channels, efforts are being made to define benchmarks for metrics. To that end, Joe Thornley, of Thornley Fallis Communications, has organized a Social Media Measurement Roundtable for May 20th, 2008 in Toronto. There are some very smart and accomplished people coming (yours truly included), and we will be spending the day debating and trying to establish “dashboards” for measurement and assembling the results in a white paper for social distribution. The participants hail from Communications, PR, Marketing, Analytics, and the social media space. Kudos to Joe & team for doing the heavy lifting and organizing this session.

As those who know me, or read my blog, are aware, I’m a wee bit of an oddity in the social media space because while recognizing the power (and necessity) of community, communications and honest engagement, I also come at the space from an integrated marketing standpoint and recognize the need for brands to continue to “brand”, that awareness still matters at a certain point in the interaction/funnel, that there will always be a “next” but history and context still matter, businesses need to sell stuff, and that the digital tools (and creative) used can impact the nature of the interaction… among other things! To that end, a few of the issues I’m very interested in talking about is interaction and engagement from the “time spent engaged”, “long-tail” & “opt-in” aspects. I’d also love to hear from the community on any questions or points you would like raised during the day-long session!

Leave a comment, drop me a line, or tweet @ me with your thoughts or insight… I’ll share results as we go, and plan on attending Third Tuesday Toronto (on yes, wait for it, a Tuesday this time! :)) and will be happy to chat further!

[photo credit: chrisjohnbeckett via flickr]

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Social networking traffic continues to grow: Nielsen/NetRatings

Social networking traffic grows

Via Mashable comes the latest Nielsen/ NetRatings report on web traffic in August for social networking, video and blog sites. Of particular interest is that while FaceBook leads in growth amongst social networking sites at 117% growth to 19mm uniques from August 2006, MySpace continues to dominate traffic and usage with 60mm unique visitors in August and 23% growth. For marketers, as much as we have come to view MySpace as “so last year” it is important to note that the public in general continue to find it useful.

[photo credit: maddog on Flickr]

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Scraping around YouTube

The Wall Street Journal’s Lee Gomes has been scraping around YouTube and comes up with some fascinating numbers:

  • In one month the number of videos posted on the site grew 20% to 6.1 million
  • Number of video views reached 1.73 billion
  • 70% of YouTube’s registered users are American, roughly 50% are under 20 according to self-reported profile data [this point is especially relevant to marketers considering using YouTube as a media channel]
  • The total amount of time people spent watching videos on YouTube since it started last year is 9,305 years

These metrics are impressive, but there are a few points which I feel need further exploration (hint, hint Hitwise folks…)

  1. How many of those videos are related to brands or products? Of those, how many were UGC vs. brand promo content?
  2. Of the user-base how many are active participants vs. passive users?
  3. Of the videos posted how many reside in the long-tail and how many are at the head? What is the percentage of overall videos with less than 2% traffic?

Gomes also makes note of the types of terminology used within the video titles to infer popularity of subject matter, and finds that the standbuys of “love”, “music”, “dance”, and “girl” are at the top of the list (as to be expected from the majority youth demo). However, he then completely over-reaches with this interpretation of his findings:

Also, nearly 2,000 videos have “Zidane” in the title. Who at a desk anywhere on the planet didn’t watch at least one head-butt video in the days after French soccer star Zinedine Zidane’s meltdown in the World Cup final? For all the talk of the Internet fragmenting tastes and interests, YouTube is an example of the Web homogenizing experiences.

This conclusion warrants further thought from a few angles as it’s quite broad with little context. Yes, there are 2,000 videos with Zidane in the title, but are they all the same? Or are they each a reflection of an individual’s perspective on the incident? Some are funny, some are nothing more than the clip itself, some are shorter, some are longer, etc. Is that homogenization or is it embracing a shared experience, making it your own and expressing it back to the community? Metrics alone, as marketers know, rarely provide a full picture, but rather a directional basis for analysis and interpretation.

Additionally, the Zidane example actually proves the point of fragmented interests – out of over 6 million videos on the site ONLY 2,000 have Zidane in the title. Is that not the definition of niche interests? Finally, user-generated videos are not “The Internet”, but rather one part of a much larger and more complex whole.

[H/T - Micropersuasion]

[photo credit: Al-Fassam on Flickr]

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