Archives for social information processing

Top 3 Online Tools You Need to Track Your Social Media Growth

Tracking your Social Media

Do you know how to track your social media?

Social media is becoming increasingly important as a way for businesses to connect with buyers, prospects, and the market. As social media grows, it will become critical for businesses to brand themselves and build relationships as part of the sales and marketing process. Social media marketing can be a great way for brands to start conversations with their users, but it can also be a time suck. It’s very important for businesses to understand what it is that they want to track and how social media fits into their overall business strategy.

Facebook Insight

Facebook Insights is an excellent free analytics tool built right into Facebook that allows you to track trends among your fans and see how they are interacting with your page. Insights is split into two main sections: users and interactions.

Users give you lots of basic demographic information about your fans, as well as show top referrers to your page.

Interactions can be a real goldmine, offering deep analytics into the updates you’ve made to your page and how users have interacted with it.

You can see which content has been most popular and which tanked, which helps understand what fans like to see on your page. Site owners with Like buttons on their sites can use Insights to see how many people saw the button, clicked on it, and how they got to the page.

Social Mention

Social Mention is a real-time search engine for social media. It’s a great tool for tracking buzz about your firm, product, or launch through Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs, and other social media sites. A widget shows statistics over time like number of retweets, unique authors, as well as twists like the relative passion of the sentiment about your brand. Social media stats are broken down by content type, so you can see where the most attention is coming from. You can also sign up for emails to alert you whenever a keyword comes up in social content.

Bit.ly

Not only is bit.ly the world’s most popular url shortening tool, it is also an excellent way to use analytics to track link clicks and user behavior. This kind of information would usually not be available if the link were to a social site or to one on which you didn’t have access to the analytics software. However, creating a bit.ly account gives you access to its full-fledged analytics suite, showing top referrers, historical data, and more. You can use their shortening service without having an account, but then you’d be missing out on all that analytical goodness.

 

Social media tracking is important. This list is only to get you thinking about how your business uses social media and how you can begin to track all those tweets and blog mentions. It’s important to analyze the data once you’ve gotten it. If social media isn’t directly helping your bottom line, it may be time to re-think your strategy. Above all, use your analytics to better engage and interact with your audience.


Ashyia Hill is a social media advocate at the small business credit cards comparison website, CreditDonkey.  Do you have any social media analytics tools that have helped you grow your business? Let us know in the comments!

Haphazard can be a hazard

Shakespeare on the computer saying "To Blog or not to Blog"

The big question is: embrace social media or not? It is better to abstain then to do it badly. But conversations are happening regardless of your participation. Do you want to know what is being said?

Last week I wrote about being overly excited and over committing to your social media campaign. The flip side to that coin is the lack-luster approach.  A lot of people realize they need to have their business presence in social media.  However, they are not really interested in doing it. So what happens is they set up their accounts, make a couple of posts and then hop on every few weeks to post something new.

The problem with this is there is no engagement, no strategy, no consistency.  For all intents and purposes it would be better to not have the profile at all.

Hazards of Haphazard

  • Your customers try to talk to you but no one is there to listen.
  • You receive negative feedback, and are not aware of it.
  • You look unprofessional because you did not put any effort into your profile.
  • There is misinformation on the wall or profile.
  • Your page is being used as a posting board for spam.
  • You look like you just don’t care.

It can be worse to only do your social media halfway then to not do it at all.  As the movie The Social Network proposes, the Internet is written in ink.  Meaning anything that is said, whether you say it or someone says it about you, is out there permanently.  Now think about that in terms of your neglected social media account.  What if someone is questioning your business practices, or saying bad things about you?  You want the opportunity to respond.

I don’t want to scare you away from social media.  It is not like you are going to get lambasted as soon as you create an account. But we can all learn from Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods chose to keep quiet when it came to the car accident that revealed his affair.  People were commenting online in every possible venue. People were clamoring for him to respond. When he didn’t his audience responded for him….and that was not a good thing.  The responses and explanations that his audience came up with were worse than nearly any response he could have made.

Tiger gave us an example of how ignoring social media can be damaging.  Of course what he also showed us is that there is a conversation happening, even if you are not a part of it.

Ultimately you need to embrace social media and you need to do it with sincerity and honesty.  Interact, and meet your audience. Don’t let the conversations happen without you.

The Gift of Gab: Women’s Advantage in Social Media

Lauren MacEwen being social at a partyWomen have the business advantage in social media. We continue to be the majority of social media users. As a driving force behind a lot of the overall internet usage, women are commanding a powerful influence in shopping, B2B, social media, blogging and content driven sites.   But women are not just the consumers of retail, information and social activity, we are also the drivers.

Socially women are taught to communicate. We are taught to express our feelings and thoughts and spread information along to other interested parties. Community interactions teach us the art of gossip and gab. We are known as the purveyors of information, and we are often a vast and varied  storehouse of information.

Another school of thought argues that women are neurologically better communicators. According to The Female Brain women can process 13,000 more communication events than men and have 11% more brain cells in the planum temporale, which has to do with processing language.

“[F]rom a young age, women are conditioned to nurture, communicate, and express their feelings through words; all necessary qualities of a social medialite. Our male counterparts, no matter how accomplished or web savvy, have to work infinitely harder to master the art of casually dishing information and “gossiping” about industry hot topics.”

According to PsychTests, women are more comfortable sharing their thoughts and more willing to discuss issues and take others opinions into consideration. Also, women are better listeners and empathizers and are more skilled at handling “touchy-feely” conversations.  But does this mean that women are better at social media?

Whether or not you believe that women have a neurological or social advantage, many schools of thought support the idea that women are better communicators than men.  Communication is a skill, and like any skill it can be honed and developed.  This skill is culturally, and possibly neurologically, supported for women. For men, however, the cultural idea of masculinity as the “strong and silent” type is working in direct opposition to developing this ability.

The nature of social media is social. It is about community, communication, conversation and sharing information. The way in which women use the internet supports a social media advantage.  Though men and women both use the internet for research, the way women conduct their research is  is different. “Women tend to treat information gathering online as a more textured and interactive process – one that includes gathering and exchanging information through support groups and personal email exchanges.”

The business of being social is in interaction and the dissemination of information.

Through our skills in communication and our own user trends, women are becoming a force to be reckoned with in social media. “Women are enthusiastic online communicators.” Social media provides a platform where our natural or socially developed communication skills give us a business edge.

The joke in my house is that if you want to know what is going on ask me, not my husband. In fact, my husband often says how much he dislikes gossip and would rather abstain from a conversation than participate in what he feels is gossipy. Me, on the other hand, I am a collector of information. I collect gossip, news, sociological theory, tech developments, and maintain a repository of generally random information.

I often use this information in my business communication to deepen relationships.  Just like friendships, business relationships are not limited to the topic at hand. The gift of gab can be more than a friendly conversation starter, it can now be an entire business model

Some Facts:

Reposted from a guest post written by Lauren MacEwen for Dr. Shannon Reese

The Evolution of Engagement

Today I received a comment on a post I wrote about MySpacefrom a guy named Spencer Kline.  I appreciated his positive feedback and responded to his comment.  I then noticed that he started following me on Twitter.  Since I had just interacted with him, I recognized who he was. I followed him back and tweeted about his comment.

Later that day I got a trackback to my post about MySpace.  An interesting post was referenced that linked to me. The post was called MySpace’s Future.

Since they were nice enough to link me in their post, I thought I would comment on it. So I did.  Though this was a new blog for me, I did not spend the time to explore it just then.  I didn’t even look at the URL. Blame it on being sick, being busy with projects, being lazy, who knows.

A little while later I got an email that someone responded to my comment.  Lo and behold it was Spencer Kline.  So I realized that he was likely the author of the blog.  I hopped back over to the site and dug in a little deeper.  Not only is he the author, it is his blog! Which if I had bothered to look at the URL I would have immediately realized, www.spencerkline.com. But, lazy, sick, busy..blah blah.

Once I FINALLY made the connection, it was a wonderful AHA moment.  What a wonderful circle of connection. He read my post. Commented. I commented back. He followed me. I followed him. He linked me. I commented. He commented back. I link him!

All of this happened within the span of a few hours. It is perfect!

Facebook Not-Mail: Part 5 The opposite of preferred is Spam?

Cartoon with a man saying "You should check your email more often, I fired you three weeks ago."

There is one glaring issue with the new Facebook email – spam.  There is no spam folder, only an “other” folder. Though we might tend to think this is the same thing, it isn’t. The “other” folder is really meant to filter emails that do not belong in your preferred email box, like bills, newsletters, and annoying friends who only send you forwards with inspirational quotes, etc.  The preferred box is supposed to be for people you really want to hear from. However the opposite of preferred is not spam.

The first part of your email address is your vanity URL.  So if you are www.facebook.com/lauren.macewen  then lauren.macewen@facebook.com will be your email address. These URL’s are crawlable by spam bots which means that any spam bot will easily be able to figure out your email address.

Any spam emails will automatically be put into the “other” box. So, now are you at risk of missing those emails that aren’t spam but aren’t preferred?

Facebook Not-Mail: Part 2 How the email works

stick person shooting an email with a slingshotOne of the biggest reasons Facebook decided to launch an email system (aka Not-Mail) is that more than 4 billion emails are sent through Facebook every day. Mark Zuckerberg feels that they traditional system of email is anachronistic. On this issue he might be right.  People are increasingly use mail rooted in their social network, ie. Facebook Messages, Twitter DM, Linkedin In Mail, text messages, mentions, wall postings are increasingly becoming primary sources for communication. Traditional email is becoming the way of the past. People are wanting their communications to be linked to one another and with higher functionality than type, send and read.  People are moving towards a complete integration of their communication technology.  This is why my calendar is linked to my other calendar which is linked to my Tungle.me which sends me emails that I get on both my computers and my phone. Though this seems complicated, when one is updated it is all updated. Ultimately this makes things easier because everything is interconnected and it doesn’t matter where or how I access it. Facebook is trying to do this without having 10 different applications and sites necessary to accomplish a high level of inter-connectivity.

There are a lot of questions about how the basic email function is going to work. Basically the essentials will be just like email. I type in your contact info, my subject and body and then send.  You receive and respond back.  This will not be that different.

The best change that will make conversation tracking much easier is that all your conversations with a person will be kept in a singular history.  Currently the messages in Facebook do this for a singular conversation but does not for all communications between two people.  The change will keep all conversations with one person in a singular history, and will do this for everyone in your contact list. This includes friends not on Facebook.

As Bos, the senior engineer at Facebook, said at the live announcement, he could track his entire relationship with his girlfriend through the email history.

What makes this so different from the standard Facebook messaging, outside of being able to email people who are not on Facebook, is that people can send you an email to an address and have it go to your Facebook message center.  All users will be able to get an username@facebook.com email address. So whatever your name is on Facebook will be your email address, for instance mine would be LaurenMacEwen@facebook.com. This means that people can send you emails to your facebook email from any email client, and you can email them back.

Soon IMAP will also be supported, meaning you will be able to use your new @facebook.com email address on your mail client, taking Facebook mail completely off Facebook.

Read the overview of Facebooks “Not-Mail” messaging system here

Tomorrow I will talk about the cross-platform integration of Facebook messages, SMS, IM, and Facebook Chat.

Facebook Not-Mail: Part 1 the complete overhaul!

letter that has the Facebook logo and "To the world" written on the front

On Monday Facebook announced their new email solution, also being called “Not-Mail”. This is not a traditional email where write an email and send it, with some spam filtering and maybe some folders for organizing.  As Mark Zuckerberg has said, “this is not email.”  The modern messaging concept is going to involve multiple platform integration, complete conversation history and the incorporation of social mapping for email sorting.

Still wondering what this means.  Here is the break down:

  • When you receive an email, it will pop up in a message through Facebook messaging. It will also be in your email box. If you have and iPhone you will get a push notification. If you don’t have an iPhone you will get a text message.Essentially you will be connected as your emails happen. Don’t worry you can control the types of notifications you receive so you don’t feel like your technology just exploded.
  • The email will keep all of your communications with a singular user in one stream.  This way you can easily see every email between you and that person since the dawn of time…well, at least since the dawn of Not-Mail.
  • Social mapping is something that Facebook already does with the newsfeed.  The social map determines who you interact with the most and who it thinks are the people you are most interested in and then posts their updates on the wall. A social mail box will be the same.  Facebook will use the mapping algorithm to select who it thinks you want to receive email from.  The people not selected by the algorithm will be put in an “other” folder. You can assist the algorithm by adding people to your your “favorites” mail box, or by moving people into the “other” mail box.  The idea is that your friends and family will get priority via the social mapping and your bills will get put into the “other” box for you to look at later.

Over the next few days I will go into more detail about these features.

Facebook is positioning itself to become the center of your online social experience and focusing communication through the site will help accomplish this.

Will you use Not-Mail?

Did Facebook Predict New Mexico’s Election?

*This is a reprint of the guest post by Lauren MacEwen on nmpolitics.net

Vote 2010 NM

As New Mexico continues to increase its use of social media, we are going to see a corresponding expansion in the influence it has on local politics.  The national trend is reflecting a substantial rise in the use and influence of social media in the political realm, and New Mexico is following this trend line with vigor.  Though our state has the lowest percentage of Facebook users in the country, we are the second fastest growing user base, with a  701% growth rate in the past 24 months. Currently, 23% of the New Mexico population is on Facebook.1

The conversations on Facebook on November 2nd were dominated by the election. By mid-afternoon, the midterm elections nationwide were already breaking internet records.  At 5 pm EST, internet users were 5.6 million per minute, a 1.4 million user/minute increase from the 2008 Obama victory which was the 4th highest traffic day since the 2005 inception of the Net Usage Index for News.

Not only were candidates posting last effort calls for voting, people were posting their “I Voted” badges on Facebook and telling friends to go out and vote. As the results rolled in, friends posted good luck wishes, congratulations and condolences on their candidates’ pages.

So how did New Mexico fare in the 2010 social media election?

Social media did play a role in New Mexico’s recent midterm election, although we were about 20 points behind the national trend.  Where Facebook might not have been a definitive predictor in the NM election, it was a certainly an influencer.

The majority of Statewide elections had active social media campaigns, often with both Facebook profiles and Fan Pages campaigning in tandem.

National Political Social Media Trend:

74% of House candidates with the most Facebook fans won their race
80% of Senate candidates with the most Facebook fans won their race
78% of incumbents that lost their seat had fewer fans than their challengers

New Mexico Political Social Media Trend2

60% of all the races used Facebook through Campaign Fan Pages or through Profiles.
57% of the winners used Facebook
57% of incumbents that were overturned used FaceBook3

This is a list showing candidates, their races, what percent of the vote they had and whether they were on Facebook.  “Y” indicates they had either a Profile or a Fan Page on Facebook. The candidates in bold won their races.4

list showing social media presence of candidates in the New Mexico midterm 2010 elections

Click to view the complete list of Candidates

Comparison of Social Media Presence and the Effect on Statewide Campaigns5

Generally when a candidate was the incumbent and had a stronger Facebook presence than their challenger, they won their race. The one race (from the sample below) where the incumbent was overthrown, the challenger had a much stronger Facebook presence than the incumbent. The only race (from the sample below) where a strong social media presence did not result in a win was for the Office of the Secretary of State.

This is a list of candidates showing how many followers and friends they had on their Fan Page and Profile. Candidates in red were the incumbents. Candidates in bold won their races. More candidates had Pages than Profiles, though candidates with Profiles (or both Profiles and Pages) had a wider reach than candidates with just Fan Pages. 6 & 7

New Mexico 2010 midterm election candidate list with friend and followers numbers from Facebook listed for each candidate

List of Candidates Network Influence on Facebook Fan Pages and Profiles

US Representative District 1- Both Martin Heinrich and Jon Barela had Facebook Fan Pages and Profiles.  Barela’s Fan Page had a farther reach by 313 fans, Heinrich’s Profile had a larger reach by 1,714 friends. Heinrich was the incumbent.

US Representative District 2– Steve Pearce had a much stronger Fan Page than Teague, by 2,934 fans. Pearce overthrew the incumbent.

US Representative District 3– Ben Ray Lujan had a much stronger Fan Page than Mullins, by 1,218 fans.  Lujan was the incumbent.

Governor– Susana Martinez and Diane Denish both had Fan Pages and Profiles.  Martinez had a strong Fan Page by 6,639 fans. Denish had a stronger Profile by 1,360 friends.  In this case, Martinez’ reach with her Fan Page far over-shadowed Denish’s reach with her Profile.6

Secretary of State– Dianna Duran had both a Fan Page and a Profile whereas incumbent Mary Herrera only had a Profile.  Herrera’s profile was much stronger by 2,427 friends, but Duran prevailed.

State Auditor– Incumbent Hector Balderas had a very strong presence.  His Fan Page was stronger than Chavez by 1,540 fans and his profile was stronger by 4,659 friends.

Attorney General– Gary King, the incumbent, had no Facebook presence, and won his race even though his challenger had a strong Profile and Fan Page.

In the Statewide races Facebook seemed to be both an influencer and a predictor.  With the exception of one, the candidates with the strong Facebook presence won their race. Is Facebook becoming the social media equivalent of the exit poll?

1 NM user percentage is Based on US Census and Facebook demographics. I focused the social media analysis on Facebook because very few NM campaigns used Twitter. Also because Facebook allows for more detailed trending due to availability of detailed user demographics.
2The candidates analyzed and shown are only races that had challengers.  Races without challengers were not figured into calculations and their social media presence was not accounted for or analyzed.
3This statistic is based on races where at least one candidate used Facebook.  There was only one race in which an incumbent was overturned where neither party used Facebook.
4Facebook information was gathered by Lauren MacEwen.  Facebook Fan Pages and Profiles were not verified by the candidates, but were determined through content, network associations and candidate web page links.  Pages and Profiles were sourced from candidate websites when possible.  Due to profile settings of candidates, Lauren MacEwen was not able to determine if all candidate profiles were used for campaign purposes. Due to profile settings, not all candidate profiles may have been found and may therefore not be listed.  Profiles and Fan Pages of candidates were searched for on Google and Facebook as well as cross-referenced with specific network connections to compile as much complete and accurate data as possible.
5In the case of Commissioner of Public Lands where one candidate had a page and the other had a profile, I could not fairly analyze the comparative influence of their social media engagement due to the substantial differences in network growth, ie. active personal networking, ads, organic growth and suggestions.
6I did not include the Facebook presences of the Lt. Governor candidates in this analysis.  As they were joint tickets I decided to focus on the lead candidates. Additionally I would not have ben able to compare Colón and Sanchez as as Colón had a significant Facebook presence whereas John Sanchez did not.
7Profile and Fan Page data was collected on November 3, 2010.


Lauren (Armstrong) MacEwen is the primary social media consultant and strategist for SM Cubed Consulting.  Follow her on Twitter. Find her on Facebook. Read her blog.

Facebook Pages vs. Groups

classic painting from the end of Rocky III called Rocky vs. Apollo

Rocky vs. Apollo

Here is a list of differences between Facebook groups and pages.

Groups

  • In menu bar on your home page
    You can easily access your groups and see if there have been any updates.
  • Privacy Settings
    You can choose if you want your group to be completely private, moderately private or completely public.
  • Ads
    You can create ads for your group.
  • Encourages engagement
    By letting members know when people post, either through email or the notifications number next to your group name on the menu, it encourages them to see what the new activity is.  The comments section acts as a message board and encourages discussion.
  • no NFO
    Groups bypass NFO because they are on your menu bar, showing if there have been updates. Though group updates come through on your newsfeed, they are not dependent on it to distribute updates.
  • Member Settings
    Members can choose their user setting for the group. You can choose what updates you receive, if you want group chat messages, if you even want the group in your navigation menu. You have control over your group experience.

Pages

  • On your profile menu bar under “Likes”
    This does not show updates and most people don’t know how to find the pages they like.
  • No Privacy Settings
    Pages are public. The only privacy you can implement is if people are allowed to write on your wall.
  • Ads
    You can create ads for your page.
  • Encourages engagement?
    If you post updates that ask for interaction, then your page will encourage engagement. But the page setup itself does not.  Your fans do not know about an update unless they see it on their wall or check the page itself.
  • NFO
    Pages are dependent on the newsfeed for distributing information. So if you do not have good NFO, your updates might not even be seen.
  • No member settings
    The only control you have over the information you receive from a page is if you hide the posts in a newsfeed, or if you unlike the page.

Ultimately, groups and pages serve different purposes.  Before, pages were the default choice because groups were not very effective and honestly seemed more like a page with a few features that were arguably more cumbersome than valuable.  The new group features allow people a different set of options that genuinely add value to usability.