In the social media bubbles which we all now populate, the quest to reach an online idyll of collaboration and sharing has long been alluded to. The empowerment the internet has provided has made the recommendations of friends and those in our networks a very strong currency. Yet there is a gap between how well this can actually be integrated beyond certain silos, but a gap which looks to have been closed somewhat by announcements this week from Facebook and Spotify.
Announced at the company’s f8 conference, the Open Graph from Facebook lets users ‘like’ something outside of the Facebook platform. This is then shared with a URL on their profile, whilst visitors to whichever website has taken your fancy will also flag which of their friends have liked certain content or any comments that have been left.
This is big news for brands in terms of cross promotion as it provides a simple way of harnessing the golden egg that is word of mouth marketing. Whilst any good company is already on top of this, these changes will also expose any brands who aren’t on top of their social media profile. Facebook now has the capability to implement user recommendations and flag advocates in your network automatically rather than relying on users to proactively share, something which adds huge value to consumers in terms of integration and collaboration.
Spotify is looking to do the same with music with the unveiling of its upgraded services this week. The changes look for the first time to make music genuinely viral. Whilst the original service may have already changed the way we listen to music, it is now looking to push iTunes out of the way by doing everything it does and more by synching with Facebook to pull in your friends playlists and then allowing you all to swap, recommend, vilify…..
The video above explains it better than I will but all in all it strikes me as a very strong reason to make the move to the Premium version of the service and, like the Facebook development, takes out one of the processes between your friends recommendations and the content you are consuming.
No doubt this trend of simplifying the journey and process between our ‘networks’ and our ‘content’ is one which will continue with rapid pace - there are the expected rumours that Apple is due to bringing out its own offering on the music sharing side of things, whilst as ever, it is only a matter of time before Google tries to assure us that it owns the internet, not Facebook.
Gordon Brown had hardly uttered the last syllable of the word ‘bigoted’ and already the Twitterverse was awash with Tweets about the Prime Minister’s supposed gaffe. Opposition Tweeters were gleeful in their condemnation of the PM – using tags like #bigotgate to propagate the story – while ordinary folk – yours truly included – waded in with their views in 140 characters or less. Strangely, the Labour Tweeters were – at the time of writing this post – noticeably silent. I don’t blame them to be honest.
Ignoring the rights and wrongs of the PM’s comment, this issue highlights yet again the power of Twitter in the run up to the general election. Writing in the Media Guardian on April 26th, Roy Greenslade said it was impossible to say how influential Twitter will be have come May 6th but the tone of his article suggested that Twitter would and already was having some form of influence. I agree completely.
Thanks to Twitter, I’ve found out that a former male glamour model who was kicked out of the Lib Dems for sending sexually explicit texts has been barred from standing as a Labour candidate in the election. I also know that Vince Cable has become a popular muse for musicians looking to pen a tune about installing him as Chancellor and that David Cameron can be made to look like Elvis with just a few strokes of a black marker. Marvellous.
Silliness aside, for me Twitter is making the election far more engaging. Reading endless political blog posts is dull, whereas I’ll happily read Tweets from all sides of the house. Like most people I suspect, I’d rather stick red hot pokers somewhere intimate than watch an election broadcast on TV but I’ll happily read a policy Tweet and click through to link on a party’s website. Twitter is also ace for debating with friends and randoms without getting drawn into heated debates that normally end with the line “I can’t believe you vote ***king Tory.”
The fact that I’m going to ***king vote at all is probably down to Twitter and I encourage everyone to get involved. Follow a few good (in terms of active) political Tweeters . Diversify, don’t just stick with your political allegiances and don’t be afraid to engage in debate just make sure you have something to say with your 140 characters.
And for PRs reading this, you can pick up real insight into how stories are broken and managed by following how a political story breaks and then develops within Twitter. You get a 360 view of all sides of an argument or incident and thanks to the 140 character limit, you tend to get the key information rather than the associated waffle that you get in the off-line world.
For the record, I don’t think Twitter is going to dictate who wins the general election but I do think it has allowed many more people than would previously have gotten involved in the debate to easily access and engage in the election process. So it’s definitely played a part.
The upcoming General Election has been branded ‘the social media election’, with many claiming that this is the first British Election where social media will make the difference. Although we must be careful not to overstate the importance of ‘the online debate’, the use of social media has really come to the fore and is bringing a whole new audience to politics who might not have previously engaged before. It was social media that was credited with being pivotal in the success of Barack Obama’s 2008 US election campaign. The direct connections that Obama was able to forge with voters added extra depth to an already strong candidate.
Now for the first time ever, the general public can ask party leaders questions directly via their favourite social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. People can post articles, YouTube videos and photos which can be distributed much more widely and quickly through social networking sites. Facebook and Twitter can be thanked for an increase in the number of people who have registered to vote this year. There is even a Facebook application that allows people to write or film questions for Gordon Brown, David Cameron, or Nick Clegg. Feeling more personally connected to the party leaders is helping to break down some of the barriers that have long-existed which make people feel very separate from their politicians.
Increased transparency of information has become something that people are demanding and the web is the perfect forum to store and share what the people to demand to see. The internet presents us with an enormous wealth of information about the election and its candidates, with new widgets available for example the BBC widget that allows you to compare party policies side by side. Power has seen a shift from the party and politician’s control and that of journalist and newspapers over to the public and how well they can interact with their people via social networking sites. Now that the potential for engagement is enormous those politicians who ignore it or are less active than others do so at their own peril.
Analysing the top 1,000 twitter accounts associated with technology, Edelman has found that more and more brands – rather than individual people – are using Twitter to influence and engage with their customers and prospects. According to tweetlevel.com analysis, in April, over 40 of the top 200 technology influencers were brands such as Google and Bing up from approximately 25 in January.
Many of these brands saw their influence rise dramatically too. Between January 2010 and April 2010, Ubertwiter jumped from 57th place to 13th, HTC leapt 103places from 194 to 91st and Google rose to 15th from 17th while its rival bing fell from 118th to 186th. The highest ranked brands were Wired (9), TechCrunch (11), Ubertwitter (13) and Google (15). I have included media mastheads that tweet or rather broadcast as brands but classed as personal when it is the individual journalist who tweets as this tends to narrowcast and involve personal as well as news content. These numbers are accurate as of 23 April.
On the whole, relatively few media make it into the top 200 of the 45 brands and only 7 were these kind of branded media. Individual journalists also only form a small proportion of the list where the biggest group remains industry gurus or consultants. Indeed half of the top 10 fall into this category: Jeff Pulver (3), garyvee (5), rww (6), Chris Brogan (7) and Tim O’Reilly (8). Nevertheless as a journalist, Mashable’s Pete Cashmore remains clearly in number one position for influence though very low on engagement.
The blurring of traditional influencer roles is also matched by a blurring of personal and brand tweet names, the clearest example being Scobilizer: guru, journalist, bird or plane? Even analysts are becoming strangely personalized, James Governor’s Monkchips being a great example. Top of the analyst ranking is Jeremiah Owyang who comes in at number 18.
Is this de-personalisation of Twitter polluting the platform and reducing it value as an objective way of looking at the technology landscape? I definitely think a level of authenticity is being lost even when a person was tweeting as an employee there was often a belief in single point of view albeit often either very positive or negative when it came to their employer. However, brand tweeting is by its nature more faceless and an amalgamation of the collective views behind the brand. This is clearly helpful in that it is officially the view of the brand owner but in truth, this also becomes less engaging. I would love to hear your thought.
If you want to follow this list, you can automatically follow the top 250 by clicking here, or 251 – 500, 501 – 750 and 751 – 1000) (via Tweepml) or via this twitter list.
For the full list see below:
Algorithm and Methodology
Following – Twitter lists the number of people each user follows. The tendency for most celebrities is to only follow a few individuals. The more people that someone follows, there is an increased likelihood of them actively participating in conversations with the community instead of simply broadcasting to it. Following ranges were determined (i.e. more than 20, more than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (0 to 30) that was used as part of the algorithm. Note: Twitter opened its API to TweetLevel so that data could be sourced easily and quickly to benefit the user.
Followers – Twitter lists the number of people that follow each user. Like subscribing to a feed, this is a clear indication of ‘popularity’ as it requires someone to actively request participation. Even though TweetLevel has a ranking of people based upon popularity, it is influence, engagement and trust that is more important. Due to the nature of logarithmic ranges, a change in the number of people that follow someone, such as from 500 – 1000, will give a far higher change in score than a move from 180K – 200K. Following ranges were determined (i.e. more than 20, more than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (0 to 30) that was used as part of the algorithm. Note: Twitter opened its API to TweetLevel so that data could be sourced easily and quickly to benefit the user.
Twitter Lists – TweetLevel calculates the number of times someone is included in a twitter list and the corresponding value of that list (as determined by the number of people following it. Ranges were determined (i.e. more than 20, more than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (0 to 30) that was used as part of the algorithm.
Updates – How often does someone update what they are doing. This number is purely objective as it scores someone highly no matter what the content of their post (i.e. how relevant is it). Nevertheless it is assumed that if someone posts frequently but has poor content then their ‘followers’ will decrease. Update ranges were determined (i.e. more than 20, more than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (0 to 30) that was used as part of the algorithm.
Name Pointing – e.g. @name – How many people engage in conversation with a celebrity or point to their name. The clearest way to establish this is to run a search on the number of people who reference @username in a message. This calculation is based upon a one month period combined with a 24 hour period. The number of times this happens is calculated with each range was assigned a number (0 to 30) – again this was then used as part of the algorithm.
Retweets – Has a tweet caused sufficient interest that it is worth re-submitting by others? Despite a great deal of ‘noise’ (i.e. posts that are not relevant or interesting), when someone sees something that is of high interest, their post can be re-tweeted. The clearest way to establish this is to run a search on the number of people who reference RT @username in a message. This calculation is based upon a one month period combined with a 24 hour period. The number of times this happens is calculated with each range was assigned a number (0 to 50) – again this was then used as part of the algorithm.
Twitalyzer – “This is a unique (and online) tool to evaluate the activity of any Twitter user and report on relative influence, signal-to-noise ratio, generosity, velocity, clout, and other useful measures of success in social media.” This 3rd party tool is a useful method to combine automated metrics dependent upon criteria within posts and publicly available numbers. Where tools such as this are available, we incorporate them into the algorithm to achieve a more confident score. Twitalyzer gives users scores from 0 to 100. Ranges were determined (i.e. more than 20, more than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (0 to 20) that was used as part of the algorithm.
Twitalyzer noise to signal ratio – Signal-to-noise ratio is a measure of the tendency for people to pass information, as opposed to anecdote. Signal can be references to other people (defined by the use of “@” followed by text), links to URLs you can visit (defined by the use of “http://” followed by text), hashtags you can explore and participate with (defined by the use of “#” followed by text), retweets of other people, passing along information (defined by the use of “rt”, “r/t/”, “retweet” or “via”). If you take the sum of these four elements and divide that by the number of updates published, you get the “signal to noise” ratio. Twitalyzer gives users scores from 0 to 100. Ranges were determined (i.e. more than 20, more than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (0 to 20) that was used as part of the algorithm.
Twinfluence Rank – Twinfluence is an automated 3rd party tool that uses APIs to measure influence. For example: “Imagine Twitterer1, who has 10,000 followers – most of which are bots and inactives with no followers of their own. Now imagine Twitterer2, who only has 10 followers – but each of them has 5,000 followers. Who has the most real “influence?” Twitterer2, of course.” As with Twitalyzer, this index uses 3rd party tools to add greater confidence in the overall Twitter score. Similar to the other criteria, ranges were determined (i.e. less than 20, less than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (0 to 20) that was used as part of the algorithm.
Twitter Grader – Twitter Grader is the final automated tool to add greater confidence to the final index. This site creates a score by evaluating a twitter profile. Similar to the other criteria, ranges were determined (i.e. less than 20, less than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (0 to 20) that was used as part of the algorithm.
Involvement Index – The Involvement Index is unique Edelman IP that calculates a score based upon how an individual engages with their community. It is calculated by analysing the content of an individual posts. People who score highest in this category have frequent, relevant, high-quality content that actively involved the twitter community (asking questions, posting links or commenting on discussions) and did not purely consist of broadcasting. Ranges were determined (i.e. less than 20, less than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (0 to 20) that was used as part of the algorithm.
Velocity Index – As more people engage on Twitter, it may become harder to keep activity going. The velocity index measures changes on a regular basis and assigns a score based on increased or decreased participation. Ranges were determined (i.e. less than 20, less than 30, etc.) and each range was assigned a number (0 to 20) that was used as part of the algorithm.
Weighting – Each specific variable listed above was given a standard score out of 10. Using a weighting scale I varied the importance of the each metric to establish an individual’s total score.
Weighted for Popularity – the key variable is the number of people someone has following them. There are many online tools that show this such as Twitterholic.
Weighted for Engagement – the key variables are an individual’s participation with the Twitter community (as measured by the Involvement Index), with additional emphasis on the frequency of people name pointing an individual (via @username), the numbers of followers and the signal to noise ratio. Other attributes were included in the final score but were given a lower weighting.
Weighted for Influence – the key variables in this instance is a combination of the number and authority of someone’s followers together with the frequency of people name pointing an individual (via @username) and the how many times and individuals posts are re-tweeted. Other attributes were included in the final score but were given a lower weighting.
Weighted for trust – the best measure of trust is whether an in individual is will to ‘trust’ what someone else has said sufficiently that they are also prepared to have what they tweeted associated with them. The key metric in this instance are a combination of retweets and number of followers. Other attributes were included in the final score but were given a lower weighting.
Capturing the data.
The Twitter profiles for this survey were obtained by extensive internet-based research and submissions following a call to action in January to submit technology Tweeters to the list. Obviously, a list like this is dynamic and there are bound to be omissions or the odd errant addition. We encourage you to send any anomalies our way so we can continue to improve the quality of our data in this. Likewise, please send suggestions for inclusion.
Whenever these lists are published, there are several points that always get raised which we will address now…
1. This twitter account is someone who I would regard as being in technology.
The argument as to who is a technologist or not is largely moot. In our opinion if someone is actively talking about technology on Twitter – regardless of whether it’s their day job or not, then that qualifies them for inclusion. We know this will cause a huge amount of disagreement but as an outsider looking in this is the way we see it. This will doubtless lead to issues around non-technology Tweeters (Stephen Fry for example) ranking above more well known technology journalists or brands. But this surely serves to raise the issue of who is considered influential and if it sparks debate and discussion then it’s definitely a good thing.
2. The twitter handle is a brand or written by multiple authors.
We took the decision from the start that technology brands should be included along with individuals. Indeed, it’s the core tenet of our article around brands getting more savvy using the platform. The merits of a single twitter account author allows understanding of the tone of author without having to understand the many personalities that are associated with it but as the results of the survey have shown, brands are moving up the rankings so it would be nonsensical to exclude them and by planning them into context alongside individual Tweeters again debate and discussion is encouraged.
3. Hey – you have forgotten to include this list.
Please let me know the name and we will include it as an edit.
Technology story of the decade? Possibly. Apple software engineer Gray Powell has certainly booked himself a place in geek folklore as the person who got p**sed and left a prototype new iPhone on a bar stool in California.
Had he have done the same thing in say Dudley or Walsall, he’d probably have gotten an email by the time he was home offering him his phone back for £500. Alas and alack, losing it in a bar full of technologically-curious drinkers meant that it was soon in the hands of top technology news website Gizmodo, and low, the secrets of the next generation iPhone were out.
A bad day for Apple then? I’m not so sure. Apple‘s security is notoriously tighter than a chicken-wire tourniquet, so would it really let an albeit it heavily disguised new phone out on the town? Yes, Powell could have gone off-piste and disregarded rules about how and where you road test new products, but there’s still a slight whiff of “fit up” about this.
For one, the new specifications seem a little too obvious; camera flash with front facing video camera, higher resolution screen, bigger battery. Do you need to road test these? Secondly, the design looks like it’s taken a step backwards. It’s gone bulkier and less rounded (though of course the case could just be work in progress).
I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t an intentional Apple curve ball, thrown to keep the IT pack off the scent of the new handset which, let’s face it, will be launching into a market that is a lot more hostile than the one the original phone made such an impact in.
Either way, Gray Powell has made himself a quiz question for Technology PR agencies the world over, while Apple has got everyone talking about the iPhone, at a time when everyone is still talking about the iPad. Clever boys.
And should all this turn out to be true, then Apple can take solace in the fact that no matter how much this leak will damage the legendary mystique that usually accompanies an Apple launch, it’ll be nowhere near as bad as Coca-Cola’s launch of its bottled water Dasani. Apparently early adverts carried the slogan “bottled spunk” (until they did a UK slang check) and it was soon ‘outed’ as being treated tap water, from Sidcup apparently. Then it was linked to causing cancer – and not even by the Daily Mail which usually holds the copyright to such speculation. Apple has nothing to worry about.
There’s a fascinating piece on TechCrunch, live notes from a Google event where CEO Eric Schmidt gave CIOs a look at some new cloud technologies and then took questions from the floor.
For me, the Q&A threw up two areas of real interest. Number one is the open admission that Google is becoming a competitor to many of its partner companies. How do you manage that sort of relationship? Schmidt talks about the upcoming Chrome operating system and how it will realise the vision of cloud-based computing, removing the need for expensive hardware and bringing down the cost of device ownership. How do you square that vision with the device manufacturers that Google is working with? They’re locked in a constant battle of technical one-upmanship on specs yet Google is talking about a future where less is more. Surely there’s trouble ahead?
Secondly, this piece clearly shows that Google is on a collision course with Apple. We know the relationship has already soured with Schmidt quitting his place on the Apple board, but with him describing Google as an “information company” and talking upfront about the importance of applications, Google seems to have moved on from the world of search and is now on a mission to bring portable, connected, affordable and engaging computing to everyone and anyone that wants it – and that is surely where Apple wants to be as well. There’s a good piece on the ensuing ‘war’ between the two giants on Electricpig.
All told, I find it hard not to like Schmidt and the vision he paints for Google. There’s a simplicity about the company that stretches from the single search box at Google.com right the way through the products and services and into Schmidt’s vision for a more simplified way of connecting and communicating. The question is, do Google’s current crop of partners feel the same?