July 30, 2010
Posted by thenakedpheasant under Brand
, Social media
| Tags: clear display
, RSS aggregator
, RSS Feed
In the early days of RSS I spent some little time scouring the web and a little less time trialling a series of different RSS readers. Few have come as close to ‘home’ for me as SharpReader. Simplicity itself SharpReader’s display is crystal clear; the updates arrive at regular, definable intervals; it is devoid of the advertising noise typically associated with RSS aggregators and the application size is low so it doesn’t hit your PC performance unlike leaving a web-based aggregator open throughout the day.
Subscribing and unsubscribing to feeds is a simple right and left click. By supporting OMPL (Outline Processor Markup Language) SharpReader makes your reading easily transferrable between aggregators or devices for those with a wandering eye or work location.
Some of my favourite features:
• Drag and drop feed subscription enabling you to consume the output of simple syndication or complex Boolean search algorithms for the Jonny’s of the world
• Grouping – to easily follow similar resources or discussions
• Manageable pop ups
• Sits in the system tray so I can grab it when I snack on news
• Images appear quickly within the same interface
July 29, 2010
Posted by AJGriffiths under Brand
, Social media
| Tags: @padday
, Paul Adams
, Social Networks
, World Cup
Diesel isn't afraid to let its fans do the talking, and the influencing, with its Be Stupid campaign.
The t’interweb has changed the way we engage with brands and the things we buy by integrating our friends and networks into the decision process. I realise this isn’t anything new, heck I’ve even written about it before.
But it’s worth a revisit this week. The reason being that Gartner have released a report to quantify exactly how they think this process is taking place.
Drawing parallels with Edelman’s own thinking on the topology of influence, the report explains that 74% of people can be categorised as connectors, mavens or salesmen when it comes to recommending things to friends.
Whatever lexis we use to group people, the fact remains that now, more than ever, our group of friends are the advocates we listen to and trust to the highest level. This is obviously facilitated perfectly by the online world – explained here very well by Paul Adams of Google – leading Gartner to quite rightly/obviously claim that companies need to engage with people on social networks. I’d hope to be preaching to the converted in flagging that fact, but Gartner believe this is ‘a critical but underutilised aspect of the marketing process’.
Critical it definitely is, earlier in the year, we here at Edelman conducted a study which looked at social entertainment (the annual Edelman Trust in Entertainment survey). The research from across the UK and US showed how for the first time social networks have emerged as a source of entertainment in their own right. With more than 70% of 18-34 year olds putting social networks alongside the likes of TV and film as a tool to keep them entertained, the window of opportunity for purchase recommendations is greater than ever.
However, anyone who has the keys to a marketing budget will quite rightly want this ‘influence’ converted into some kind of ROI which makes the following stat from the research pretty interesting – 37% of those who view social networks as an entertainment source, spent more on entertainment this year than last year.
If any brands need further convincing of the importance of influence and engagement over reach, they should take a look at these results from the World Cup which sort of say it all.
Click here for more information on Edelman’s annual ‘Trust in Entertainment’ survey.
July 27, 2010
Posted by Luke Mackay under Consumer
, Social media
| Tags: Borges
, Domini Public
, Gate Theatre
, Library of Babel
, National Theatre
, Online information
, Roger Bernat
, Social Entertainment
If you haven't read the short-story by Borges. Do. It's awesome.
A timely post perhaps – what with yesterday’s revelations about the war in Afghanistan. Without doubt the Wikileaks story marks a significant milestone in terms of the use of data and transparency and there are interesting debates to be had around the role of information, state security and the freedom of the press that more intelligent people than I will have.
I wanted to post about the bulging shelves of Wikipedia (like a wing of the Library of Babel) because while dancing around the South Bank on Sunday – I was struck by how the ‘trusted’ source of info has become far more ingrained in culture than any encyclopaedia before it.
On Sunday I participated as an audience member in Domini Public – presented in the UK buy the Gate Theatre, but ‘staged’ outside the National. (Incidentally I did this alone as a friend couldn’t get out of bed) The concept of the ‘play’ is aces. The audience wear headphones, and are guided by an authoritative yet kindly voice, around the play space. At first the instructions are simple enough: “stand to the right if you were born North of the river”. As the play progresses, however, the audience is divided into three factions: police, prisoner, red cross. What follows is a simple, yet insightful, comment on civil unrest, law and order and the role of the individual within society – all delivered with a wry smile. Alas, Sunday was the last London performance – but should you ever come across the company behind this production do check it out.
So what does Wikipedia have to do with all this? Well, during the warm-up section the entire cast/audience were grouped at one side of the space. We then had to take four steps forward, if we could answer yes to the following questions:
- Have you finished a book in the last week?
- Have you seen a concert in the last seven days?
- Have you been to the cinema this week?
- Have you referenced Wikipedia this week?
Watching the 70 or so audience/cast members play out their answers to these questions, was really quite interesting. I wouldn’t go as far as saying we displayed a microcosm of society (it was the Southbank on a Sunday, not a census), but what followed was quite startling. I’d say the audience were aged between 16 and 60, though, so a good mix of ‘consumers’. I’ve put in brackets below the rough percentage of who in the audience/cast moved.
- Have you finished a book in the last week? (15 per cent)
- Have you seen a concert in the last seven days? (10 per cent)
- Have you been to the cinema this week? (20 per cent)
- Have you referenced Wikipedia this week? (85 per cent)
So why did this interest me? Well, it was a clear illustration that online media, entertainment and information are all now a central part of our once analogue culture. The immediacy, ease and (in many cases) low cost of social entertainment encourages us to use the internet as a more frequent source form of entertainment and information than traditional mediums. On Sunday, as a crowd of people, of mixed backgrounds and ages, surged forward four steps – broadcasting their association with Wikipedia – it made a profound statement about the place of Wikipedia, and the internet, within the future of our society. I’m not very good at maths but if 15 per cent of people are reading a book, but 85 are reading online – you can see how this is going to continue to snowball.
In case you’re interested, I took 12 steps…
July 26, 2010
Posted by thenakedpheasant under Analyst relations
, Social media
| Tags: algorithm
, careless twitter costs lives
, Jonny Bentwood
, Keep Calm posters
, lawnmower man
, the curve
In a scene reminiscent of the 90s cult classic ‘Lawnmower Man’, it is understood that Jonny Bentwood – pioneer of the celebrated Tweetlevel online popularity contest – has been consumed by his own Twitter algorithm; in the process becoming the first human being to become physically socially networked.
Concerns were first raised when semi-digital manifestations of Bentwood appeared on computer screens thoughout the company, during prolonged physical absence from his desk alongside the Edelman Technology team – concerns that were confirmed when he disappeared altogether and became wholly digital.
The first unexplained phenomenon was the appearance of a series of seemingly motivational – yet slightly unsettling – Twitter related posters (right). These were followed by ghostly bangings from the server room, alongside muffled, digital screams about ‘influence’, ‘popularity’, ‘engagement’ and ‘trust’. White-noise and repeated yells of the word ‘retweet’ have also been heard in what is being dubbed a ‘polterzeitgeist haunting’ by experts.
It is now feared that Jonny has used his integration into the Twitter portal to access other online territories, with the Edelman server under attack, and traditional media lists being erased from client files to be replaced by an audio file of someone reading out complex and often nonsensical algorithms and laughing maniacally.
"At this stage we’re at a loss as to what to do," commented a spokesperson, "this is entirely without precedent and we’re unsure whether to eradicate the threat; monitor and analyse it; or whether this is in fact an innovative route to influencers not seen before, which we can exploit and use to bypass newly evolving platforms being used by early adopters. Harnessing Jonny’s new digital access and power has the potential to put us so far ahead of the curve we may well rebound back onto ourselves and BECOME the curve."
It is understood several Helpdesk tickets have been raised, and allocated to a member of the IT team to handle; although an unnamed IT member said that they were unsure as to how to tackle this threat other than "turning something off and on again and hoping for the best"
July 26, 2010
Posted by thenakedpheasant under Brand
, Social media
| Tags: Advertising
, Cascadian Farm
, Mafia Wars
, New York Times
, Social Gaming
Zynga, the fast-growing maker of Facebook games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, has been called by the New York Times “the hottest start-up to emerge from Silicon Valley since Twitter and, before that, Facebook.” This week, its CEO, Mark Pincus, is profiled in the story, the second in two weeks, highlighting the company’s recent success (though not without its fair share of controversy). Among other things, the article profiles Pincus as a fearless entrepreneur and visionary aiming to build an online entertainment empire as important to the internet “as Google is to search.”
While Zynga will cite profits and player numbers as success criteria, it is another recent trend Zynga is pioneering that has caught my attention; advertising through social gaming. Zynga came under fire recently for allowing advertisements into its games. Some ads, for example, signed up players for subscriptions to costly text-messaging services. This caused a PR headache for the company with TechCrunch, the technology blog, calling the practice “ScamVille,” after some users filed a class-action lawsuit.
But with 211 million players every month, according to AppData.com, Zynga is perhaps well on its way to making social gaming as important to the internet as anything else thanks to a new partnership with an American food manufacturer, (also covered in the New York Times recently). Cascadian Farm, an organic farm in the U.S. and subsidiary of General Mills, is using one of Zynga’s more popular games, Farmville, to reach a growing customer segment through advertising. Instead of your bog standard click-through ads a la GoogleAd Words however, the Cascadian Farms content will be integrated into the gaming experience.
In Farmville, you participate, create, build and manage your own farm. You gain experience points by visiting your friends’ farms and lending a virtual hand. From next week, players in the U.S. will be able to purchase (using farm bucks) and plant, an organic blueberry crop from Cascadian Farm. In doing so, FarmVille users will learn about organic farming and green living through standard game play, and at the same time, earn additional points to grow fruits and vegetables or raise animals on their virtual farms. Cascadian Farm executives said in a New York Times article that they hope that the company can expand its food niche and make itself better known by increasing awareness among FarmVille’s audience – that’s 221 million players a month. Users will also be able to access a $1 off coupon.
It will be curious to see just how successful Cascadian Farm is on Farmville. Will the strategy work to attract and educate potential customers through participation and content or will it back fire just like the imbedded ads? While integration in game play gives the user unique exposure to content in an experiential manner, will users see through the stunt and reject it as advertising or is this campaign just clever enough to work?
July 21, 2010
Posted by Jonny Bentwood under Uncategorized
Leave a Comment
Who are the analysts who use Twitter the most effectively?
In my regular call for analysts to be more competitive with each other in this mock top trumps scenario, it easy to forget that I don’t care who is number 1. What is crucial is:
who are the analysts that important for my topic area?
If semi-conductors or telecoms is your game then talking with Jeremiah Owyang will be interesting but not a good use of time. The way I would use this list is to focus on those analysts that are important by category. Nevertheless kudos must be given to those analysts who have excelled – they have understand that business models are changing, conversations in the online space are moving at a pace and enabling connections that were previously impossible. These analysts understand that if they are not part of the conversation, then the analysts that are influencing (and probably gaining the revenue) are their competitors.
Using SageCircle’s excellent database combined with a good number of my own I have used TweetLevel to understand who are the most important analysts on Twitter.
The majority of the top 500 names are included on this Twitter list.
The tool I have used to compile this league table (also now being used by MTV in their apprentice style reality show) compiles twitter data from over 30 sources and feeds the data through an algorithm to rank an individual according to four weightings:
- Popularity (i.e. How many people follow you)
- Influence (i.e. What you say is interesting, relevant and many people listen)
- Engaged (i.e. You actively participate within your community)
- Trusted (i.e. People believe what you say)
Of course, the explanation above is a simplified definition of a complex algorithm(the full methodology of this is shown at the bottom of this post).
Ranking Criteria The primary ranking metric is influence. However, it is interesting to see that when we analyse the same 1,000names by influence we get a completely different top 10 list.
Findings Once again a huge hat tip and pat on the back to Jeremiah Owyang who leads the way by a country mile. Everyone should take note how he uses Twitter to engage with his community and provide real value. For the first time I have now seen a larger number of brands in the top five than individuals.
eMarketer, Forrester, EConsultancy and Altimeter Group all fair extremely well. We should therefore recognise other people who punch well above their weight scoring exceptionally highly even though they are only in smaller firms.
Common complaints Whenever these lists are published, there are several points that always get raised which I will address now…
- This twitter account is not from an analyst. The argument as to whom is an analyst or a consultant is becoming largely moot. In my opinion if someone is independent and directly influences technology procurement then they are an analyst – I for one therefore see Vinnie Mirchandani as an analyst (as well as all the enterprise irregulars and Stowe Boyd who mailed me to tell me he is one too). I know this will cause a huge amount of disagreement but as an outsider looking in this is the way I see the market. This is not to say that some analysts have different strengths over others, it is more a case that I think as an AR pro, I need to monitor the lot of you.
- The twitter handle is written by multiple authors. Some twitter accounts have several analysts writing them whereas others do not. The merits of a single twitter account author is something that I personally favour as this allows me to understand the tone of author without having to understand the many personalities that are associated with it. Regardless, for this table, my view has not been to argue this but merely to present the data.
- It is irrelevant showing all the tweeters as I am only interested in a specific topic– bingo, that is exactly right. My suggestion to all AR pros is to identify which of your analysts are on this and only look at those. If you would like to understand who is important for a particular micro-topic area, please let me know.
- Hey – you have forgotten to include this list. Please let me know the name and if I will include it as an edit.
Top Analyst Tweeters (ranked by Influence on TweetLevel)
These names are included on this Twitter List
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.
Since the initial creation of TweetLevel, we have now been able to incorporate Twitter Lists into this part of the algorithm. Someone’s follower score will increase depending upon the number of times a user is included in a list, the number of people who follow that list and the authority of those people.
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. In the true spirit of ‘open sourcing’ this work, I welcome your comments, views and criticisms in how this approach can be as accurate as possible. Whereas I don’t believe for one moment that TweetLevel has found the holy grail of social media measurement, I think it is a good step forward and look forward to discussing this with you.
IceRocket Tags: analyst relations
,top analyst tweeters
July 19, 2010
Today’s Geeks were born in the world of abundance for them the world of the Long Tail needs no explanation. They are used to choice, thrive on choice and rail against without a world without it. They look for real and trusted descriptions in what they are choosing not just in the long tail of product and services but the parallel long tail of ideas which is rapidly developing. When this choice is seen to wanting or a particular idea stands out our geeks comment and they comment. Commenting is the way that authority is shared in the new world. It links the thought to other communities and ideas it conveys authenticity and engergises the conversation. There are multiple ways of commentating. Here are just some categories: the troll, the enthusiast, the expert, the mad man, the philosopher, the fan, the bombast and the verbose. It’s easy to scoff at many of categories in the cold light of day but it’s the variety and enthusiasm of commentators that makes the new world of digital influence go around.
In the Long Tail this mechanism is brilliantly set out with the example of the sales around an adventure story. In 1988 Joe Simpson wrote Touching the Void a near death story from the Andes 10 years later a similar book Touching Thin Air became a sensation. As Chris Andersen observered thelongtail.com:
“Book sellers began promoting it next to their Into Thin Air displays and sales began to rise… By mid 2004, Touching the Void was outselling into thin air more than two to one. What happened? Online word of mouth. When Into Thin Air, first came out a few readers wrote reviews on Amazon.com that pointed out the similarities … which they praised effusively. Other shoppers read these reviews, checked out the older book and added it to their shopping carts … they started recommending the two as a pair. People, wrote more rhapsodic reviews more sales, more algorithm-fueled recommendations – and a powerful feedback loop kicked in.”
Commentators are very often engaged with a community or conversation it for this reason that such a powerful multiplier kick in. They have skin in the game and take this responsibility seriously sometimes a commentator may also be an idea starter or curator but very often they see themselves as important simply because of their comments and a commitment to engagement. Perhaps idea starters and curators are too busy starting and organizing to simply comment. The huge volume of comment that some online citizen’s generate is actually a sure sign of a true freak geek who is using new technologies to hugely boost their productivity.
Back to Andresen again, “Amplified word of mouth is the manifestation of the third force of the Long tail. It is not until this third which helps people find what they want in this new super abundance of variety, kicks in that the potential of the Long tail market place is truly unleashed.”
For me what motivates the commentator that is truly intriguing? An idea starter is motivated by creativity; an amplifier or curator want to share but they also crave a very unstandable status and leadership recognition. A commentator is I think truly taking part they feel the desire to share and I believe realize that by sharing they get to also find what they want in return at some point. It is a mutually rewarding activity this may explain why the comments tend to be shorter, pithier less heavily invested but also so prolific as I say in many ways commentators are the true revolutionaries and the missing link. I would love to hear your thoughts on why commentators comment or why a troll trolls? and possibly explain why a large proportion of comments are also gibberish more I think than in real world conversations?
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