#eMetrics Boston: Twitterific!

A few fun facts about eMetrics Boston on Twitter:

  • During the conference timeframe, there were 2,726 tweets from 499 users, averaging 5.5 tweets per user. (For comparison, eMetrics San Francisco saw 3,241 tweets during the conference from 622 users, but it was also a more heavily attended conference.)
  • The top 20 contributors to the #eMetrics hashtag were:

MicheleJKiss 295  (don’t judge me)
BloggerKrista 189
measurefuture 138
june_li 112
eswayne 76
andrewjanis 75
rdo 67
RachaelGerson 66
deniseburns 65
jimsterne 47
Stuart_Wood 45
AnyaPrimavera 43
LdsWebAnalytics 43
codydbailey 40
iwanttobesocial 40
SashaVerbitsky 39
tgwilson 39
Wilson_Lopez 39
johnlovett 35
emetrics 33
JoseAnalytics 33

The tweet that reached the furthest (thanks TweetReach!) with over 430,000 impressions was:

(And in case you’re curious, the second highest also mentioned Gilligan.)

And in case you’re curious what we were talking about:

Thank you to the lovely and clever people at TweetReach for the spiffy data!

TakeFive with TweetReach interview

[Originally published on the TweetReach blog]

Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with notable members of the social media analytics and measurement community. This week we’re thrilled to welcome Michele Kiss Hinojosa, a self-confessed analytics geek and Director of Digital Analytics at Red Door Interactive.

TweetReach: Welcome Michele! Let’s start with talking about how you got started with social analytics. What got you interested in measuring social?

Michele: I first got into digital measurement through web and advertising analytics at Kelley Blue Book. As I started expanding my horizons and wanting to learn more about the digital analytics industry, I started joining in conversations in social media — the Yahoo Web Analytics group, Linked In, Quora, but especially Twitter. For me, social analytics started mostly as a curiosity, just playing around with different solutions and analysing social traffic to my little blog, or analysing the social media behaviour of the online web analytics community through the #measurehashtag.

Now, at Red Door Interactive, my team of Digital Analysts and I get to help clients understand the impact of conversations they’re having with customers, including on the website, in social media or through a variety of acquisition channels.

TweetReach: What metrics are most important for your job and your company? What should we be measuring? Beyond that, is there anything we shouldn’t be measuring? Are there any “bad” metrics?

Michele: I don’t think there are “bad” metrics per se, just less useful ones. There is an evolution as companies grow from a simple like/follower approach to looking more at business impact. This isn’t really surprising, given a lot of companies also embark on social “because we should”, but without strategy or goals for doing so. Ideally, companies should embark on social initiatives with clear goals (e.g., decrease call center volume, drive sales, drive traffic to the website, save on other marketing budgets, etc) and understand what, in a perfect world, you would want to measure. From there, figure out if you can. Do you have the right toolsets? The necessary data integration? If not, come up with something that gets you close, or gives you directional insight while you build out the rest. I’m not saying wait until everything is perfect before you do anything, but make sure you know where you want to get before you start working towards it.

TweetReach: What are your recommendations for someone just getting started with social analytics? What should they do first? What are some important considerations?

Michele: For an analyst thinking about diving into social media, they need to first get involved in social media themselves. I don’t think you can measure what you don’t understand, and getting involved in a variety of social channels is key to understanding them. (And no, just having a Facebook account doesn’t count.) Each channel is different and the goals of being involved are different. I try new social channels all the time. They may prove to not be “my kind of thing” (and no one can possibly keep up with all of them and hold down a job, too!) but at least play around and see what they offer, how the channels differ and how they might be used for different goals or different businesses.

There are key books I would recommend reading – John Lovett’s “Social Media Metrics Secrets”, Jim Sterne’s “Social Media Metrics” and Olivier Blanchard’s “Social Media ROI” (and converse with these guys on Twitter! They are great guys and are always up for a good conversation.) Not to mention a myriad of blogs out there.

From there, start doing it, even if you just start by analysing your own accounts. Better yet, find a local business or non-profit to help (so you can attempt to tie to actual business metrics.) You’ll learn more from doing (and, let’s be honest, making mistakes) than you ever will from a book.

But it’s important to keep in mind social media is just one marketing channel. It’s great to have an interest in social analytics, but like other areas, it needs to be kept in context of the overall business and marketing efforts.

TweetReach: Let’s talk about consistency in measurement. There are a tremendous number of tools and approaches used to measure social media performance, which can produce results that are difficult to compare. Do you see the industry evolving towards a more standardized set of metrics or do you think we’ll continue to see a lot of variety and experimentation?

Michele: I’m going to give the very on-the-fence answer: Both. While social analytics often starts as just “likes” and “followers” for companies, pretty soon executives (and hopefully, good analysts!) are trying to tie this to actual business value, and look at social media in the context of other marketing initiatives. Profit or revenue driven are standardised and can apply across all channels, including social. However, let’s be honest: sometimes that’s hard to measure! It involves tying together different data sources, understanding attribution, and trying to measure what may sometimes be unmeasurable. (Do I know that you bought my product after you saw your best friend’s Facebook post raving about it? Maybe not.) But while the answers won’t be perfect, companies have to try to get as close as they can.

On the other hand, new social channels crop up every day, and while these too need to be tied to profit, they’ll also have their own in-network metrics that marketers and analysts will keep track of, and use to understand behaviour. (After all, somewhere there’s a 12-year-old in his garage creating something that will blow Zuckerberg off the map.)

Ultimately, social needs to be tied to business objectives like any other initiative, but the methods we use to do this will get more sophisticated, and I think there’s a lot more experimentation still to come.

TweetReach: We’re hearing a lot about influence right now; everyone wants to measure influence and target influencers. What are your thoughts on measuring influence in social media? What’s the best way to determine who is influential for a particular campaign or initiative?

Michele: Influence is a great example of where social analytics has room to grow. What businesses care about is who influences sales (or leads, or referrals, or whatever your business objectives.) Social tools are measuring “influence” on retweets, or Facebook likes, or video views. I can understand why businesses want to understand who their influencers are, but I think we need to keep in mind the limitations of a lot of current measures of influence — they’re likely not measuring influencers of the business metric they actually care about. That’s when it will be truly useful.

At the same time, I worry about the uses that current influence metrics are put to. I can see a use in using influence to prioritise, for example, response to requests. (For the same reason that food critics get the best cut of meat, those with online influence can have a big impact if they have a negative experience, and I can understand companies wanting to provide excellent service.) But I hope it’s not used as a metric of “you’re not worthy of my time.” Simply put, I can see using influence to determine who to respond to first, but not who to respond to at all.

I also worry about the use of influence in areas such as recruiting. I hope companies make their decisions off more than one number, and look at a candidate or potential consultant’s actual track record, results and skills.

I think these concerns just speak to the overall reality with a lot of social media metrics today — they can be useful in context, but as one standalone metric, we may sometimes attach too much significance, without enough consideration, analysis and scrutiny.

TweetReach: Thanks, Michele!

#eMetrics Twitter Archive

Some of you may know that I tend to tweet a little at conferences. I don’t bother taking notes, but rather archive all the tweets for the conference hashtag (mine and others’) and use those as my conference notes. (A totally valid lifestyle choice, Jim Sterne! :-) )

Since I go the trouble of downloading a Twitter archive, I thought I’d share the archive from eMetrics NYC (held in October 2011), in case anyone would like to to read or analyse.

Twitter archiveemetricstweets.csv
(Happy analysing!)

From these tweets, I like to look at a few things:

  • Most popular words used in tweets (via a word cloud)
  • Number of tweets and retweets from the participating community and
  • Most popular contributors

Topic overview:

eMetrics Word Cloud

 

 

 

 

Total Tweets:

For 10/19 – 10/21 (the official conference days):

3081 total tweets, including 1176 retweets (38%)
That’s over a thousand tweets per day, and over 40 per hour!

Top hashtag contributors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I told you I tweet a little …)

For further information about the #eMetrics community, check out Twitalyzer’s Community Insight report.

Conference Overview

To read an overview of the conference, check out my Top Learnings from eMetrics post.

 

A Penny For Your Thoughts on Influence?

[Originally published on the Measure Mob blog]

I was disappointed to not be able to join Keith, Jason and Olivier on the first two Measure “Mobcasts” – those darn international flights sure do get in the way! However, that doesn’t mean I won’t take the opportunity to put in my $0.22. (It would be my $0.02, but I was in Australia, and their dollar is worth more, so I figure I’ve got the exchange rate working for me.)

I wanted to add what are just a few (minor) “parting thoughts” after having an opportunity to hear the guys so deftly discuss their opinions on measuring social media influence. So here are mine …

1. Measuring Social Media “Influence” is Necessary

The reality is, while companies (and even individuals) would love to have an opportunity to engage with every voice that reaches out to them via social media, that kind of engagement isn’t necessarily scalable or realistic, and even if it was, there would still be a need to prioritize the order in which a company reaches out to people.

While that doesn’t mean, to Jason’s point, that anyone should be ignored because their Twitalyzer scores aren’t high enough, some kind of measure of where to start is realistically necessary, especially for companies with a large number of social interactions.

2. Social Media Influence Measurement Isn’t Perfect

I feel like part of where we get hung up is in thinking that if a measure isn’t perfect, it’s not useful. I agree with the guys that a measure of “influence” should be considered in context of other data, and I also agree that it’s probably more realistic to call it “potential influence.” After all, you never know whether someone who is considered to have social media influence is actually going to influence behavior of fans/followers/friends.

As we love to say in the analytics industry – you can’t manage what you don’t measure. However, the unfortunate reality is that you can’t measure everything that you would like to manage. (And our attempts to do so often end with “KPI” Dashboards that show fifty metrics instead of the one thing that executives want, because that measure isn’t truly possible at this stage.)

How could we measure true influence? Maybe: Person A engages with Person B, or shares a positive experience with everyone. Person B then goes, “Huh – I hadn’t thought of going to Restaurant X for dinner” and heads on over. Well, sadly we don’t have that insight. (Yet, or maybe ever.)

So what do we have? We have measures that look at, in the example of Twitter, how many contacts someone has, how often their tweets are shared or responded to, as a proxy for influence. Does that mean that the person following will “monkey see monkey do?” No. Is the measure perfect? No. Is the measure useless? No. Understood for what it is, it can be helpful. Blown out of proportion, of course it’s not. However, I know one thing – digital measurement is a constantly evolving industry. We will get better at this. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do something with our “first draft”.

Social Media Analytics: Moving From Engagement to Measurement

[Originally published at The Review]

It’s no mystery that social media has been the new buzzword of the past few years. However, companies are quickly moving from “Gee, we really should be doing social” to “Now, how do we measure it?” There are a number of ways a company can begin measuring their social media efforts and those include:

1. Measuring the effect of social media efforts within the network itself

2. Tracking social media links back to your website

3. Understanding social media in the context of other initiatives

Measuring within the network itself

Analysis of Impact and Engagement

Step one of measuring your social media initiatives is to measure success within the network. While there are a wide variety of social networks, we’ll focus on Facebook and Twitter as the primary two.

Measurement of Facebook might include monitoring number of fans, fan demographics, fan interaction with posted content (comments, likes), organic fan posts and traffic to Facebook page, or use of a Facebook app. Facebook analytics can come from Facebook Insights, but there are also options to add the code from your web analytics solution to your Facebook pages.

Twitter has its own set of tools. Two popular ones are Klout and Twitalyzer. Klout combines thirty-five different variables into one “Klout” score: a measure of social influence. While the variables behind Klout score are intentionally hidden to avoid “gaming” the system, one downside is that the lack of visibility makes it hard to understand what’s driving your Klout score – or how to increase it.

Twitalyzer, on the other hand, provides transparency into all their calculated metrics. For any compound metric, a user knows exactly what is going into this score. For example, “Impact” is based on number of followers, mentions, retweets and post frequency. What’s more, Twitalyzer provides users with data-driven recommendations for how to increase their scores.

Other Twitalyzer measures include number of followers, number of lists you are on, number of mentions or retweets, plus calculations of both potential and effective reach: how far your tweet may reach within the network. Twitalyzer also offers users the option to tailor their report to see only metrics of interest to them, as well the ability to set goals. Other benefits include a visual network map to explore your connections, a comparison tool to compare your scores to other Twitter users and customizable sentiment analysis.

So why would you measure your impact within Twitter or Facebook? Social media is more than just a broadcast network – engagement matters. By measuring more than just fans or followers, you can begin measuring your success in engaging with consumers.

Search or Hashtag Analysis

Tools like The Archivist and Twapper Keeper allow you to build an archive of a particular search or hashtag. The Archivist even provides you a dashboard view of top contributors to a hashtag, tweet volume by day and top words used. However some tools (Twapper Keeper and Tweetake) will actually allow you to export full Twitter content, for offline analysis in Excel, SPSS, SAS or any other data analysis or exploration solution. This offline analysis allows for rich time/date and textual analysis of Twitter conversions.

These types of analyses can tell you what time of day a community tends to tweet, and allow off-line, more robust sentiment analysis. These insights allow for tailored posting schedule and contents, to best suit the audience.

Measuring social media back to your website

Measuring your social engagement within the network is a great start. But if your social efforts don’t result in traffic, sales or leads, it’s hardly a justifiable effort.

The easiest way is to leverage the analytics that your URL shortener provides. When social media links are posted, they are typically shortened (to save characters) through services such as bit.ly. These services provide data about how many clicks you received to each link. However, that’s where it ends. A click tells you only that: that the visitor clicked the link. It doesn’t tell you what they did after that. Did they close the browser window before it even loaded your site? Did they see one page of your site then leave? Or did they actually engage with your content, and perhaps funnel through into an online sale?

That’s where campaign tracking comes in. Using the same methods of campaign tracking used for other online initiatives, you can track your social media behavior back to your website.

Each web analytics tool does campaign tracking a little differently, so it’s worth touching base with your marketing or web analytics team to see how to set this up for your solution. For Google Analytics, campaign tracking involves appending campaign variables, in a specific format, at the end of the URL for Google Analytics to read. (Note of course that this is only an option when your social post contains a link.)

Without campaign tracking, you might post a Tweet and link back to:

http://www.mysite.com/

Campaign tracking would involve adding variables at the end of the URL:

http://www.mysite.com/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=nutrition&utm_campaign=freedietbook

source=twitter  tells you the source of the traffic. In this case, this link was posted to Twitter.

medium=social  tells you that this was a social media post (vs perhaps an online media or PPC link.) Think of this as representing the “channel”.

content=nutrition  tells us that we’ve categorized this post as a “nutrition” related. Content allows you to group “types” of posts. (For example, quizzes vs nutrition vs recipes.)

campaign=freedietbook gives you a short description of what the post was. It should be short, but enough for you to recall the post.

To create these campaign codes, you simply use Google’s campaign tracking code generator. Based on your inputs, it will auto-generate the URL with campaign tracking. This new URL is then fed into your bit.ly or other URL shortener, and carries through campaign information into your web analytics solution.

So why do you need this?

This campaign tracking will allow you to compare different mediums (for example, Twitter vs Facebook) and the quality of traffic they drive. By categorizing posts into different “content” groups, you can analyze how different types of posts drive traffic and behavior, and even look at how visitors driven from one particular post behave. This includes looking at whether these visitors leave your site, stay and engage, how many page views they see, how much time they spend, and whether they convert into a lead or a sale.

This information can help to optimize future posts. For example, if recipe posts convert well into sales of a book, a business may focus on more of these posts. You can even compare multiple of elements: for example, do recipe posts perform better on Twitter or Facebook? Add in day of the week and time analysis, and you have a rich analytics opportunity to provide insights for future posts.

Campaign tracking even allows for calculation and optimization of ROI. If you know the time that is spent on social media efforts, and the actual sales driven by traffic through those posts, you can calculate that return on investment.

Understanding social media in the context of other initiatives

So by now you’re measuring your impact and engagement within the Facebook or Twitter community, as well as the behavior of social media traffic back to your website. However, couldn’t social media have an impact even without someone engaging with your brand or visiting your website?

Coupons are a clear way of tracking a social media promotion back to sales, as a specific coupon code can be used to distinguish between different channels.

Loyalty cards may be leveraged, if you can entice consumers to couple their loyalty card with their social media identity.

Another approach is to simply ask. Customer surveys can help here. The “Where did you hear about us” may help tie at least a portion of your offline sales to social media, though there will likely remain a segments of customers who choose not to answer, or who don’t necessarily recall when or why they first decided to purchase your product.

You may also analyze the correlation between social media efforts and sales to tell you directionally whether your efforts are working.

Finally, don’t forget that it can often be a culmination of different initiatives that result in a visit to your site, or a customer walking into your store. A customer may engage with your brand through social media, then later visit your site through a paid search link to research a product, and ultimately purchase offline. Television, radio, print or banner ads may be further mixed into this, requiring some pretty serious multi-channel analytics efforts.

Get Started

The next step in social media is to move from simply getting involved to measurement. While social is a new channel, it is not so uniquely different that we can’t leverage learnings and best practices from other channels to help us understand its impact. Leveraging social media analytics tools, campaign tracking, and multi-channel efforts can help you understand the impact of your social media efforts.

Twitter Analytics: Presentation from Social Media Masters

For anyone who is interested, my presentation from Social Media Masters is available for viewing on Slideshare:

Twitter Analytics: Michele Hinojosa, Red Door InteractiveTopics include: Twitter research for competitive intelligence, hashtag and network analysis, download, export and backup tools, Twitter account measurement using Twitalyzer and Klout and tracking Twitter links back to your website. Originally presented at Social Media Masters Twitter workshop in San Diego (2/11/2011)