Category Archives: Marketing


Why Reddit will be the new Digg.

If you hadn’t already heard – Digg is dying. Yes, the social media monolith, that used to make servers administrators shake with fear at its mere mention, is leaking users and cool points faster than Kevin Rose.  It’s no surprise he has chosen to distance himself and concentrate on other projects. Traffic is down, and users are leaving left right and centre for greener pastures after the failed attempt to relaunch with Digg version 4.

Getting to the home page of Digg was once the whole grail of publishers everywhere, and although the site still sends huge waves of traffic to websites, it is nothing like the Digg effect of days of yore.

Stepping up to the mark in its place, is the mighty Reddit. A community where more intelligent debate, intimate social connections are forged, and altruism really matters.  It’s classic good verses evil stuff, and David just threw his first rock at Goliath.

A number of reasons exist in my opinion why Digg has effectively shot itself in the foot.

Design by Committee

Right now Digg V4 resembles the Homer. Constant tweaks have alienated the audience, with no attempt made to consult the primary audience before removing key features such as bury and history search.

In comparison the design of Reddit is reminiscent of pre web 2.0 days, and is a hat tip to bulletin boards when community mattered. It is minimalist chic at its best, serving the primary function of its users. Unlike Digg, it isn’t conceited or flashy – allowing the content to lead over design.

Digg users revolted, and rightly so. It’s startup suicide (and arrogant) to make sweeping changes without at least forewarning users that they are coming, and gauging opinion – and yes, Mr. Scoble I’m aware that a volvo is a porsche designed by committee, but when you are a 40 million user base built around community values, that’s a hell of a risk to take.


The reliability of Digg  has been directly proportional to the fallout, and folks get very tired very quickly of poor response times, obvious bugs and general sloppiness. That’s not to say that Reddit has been without it’s own problems, but they held their hands up, and the community answered.

In addition to that the underlying software powering the community is open source, so if there’s a bug, there’s a community of programmers there to spot it, and submit a fix. A community empowering itself.

Revenue Model

When you’ve got investors breathing down your neck, its difficult not to bow to the pressure to deliver additional revenue with all those users. Digg was built on the premise of gain users for free, get them to click on adverts, make money. Digg will continue to struggle with this approach and forced into more abrasive, disruptive advertising, further alienating their audience. In short, Rose sold out with larger publishers and monetised content more frequently reaching the home page.

Reddit on the other hand comes straight out asks for help and provides additional features in exchange for membership accounts. Those users choosing to do so not only have bragging rights, but are proud and loyal members who on the whole feel they are giving back to the community for their contribution. Which do you think is the more sustainable business model?

Community Ethos / Direction

In all its shiny glamour, at the crux of it somehow using Digg still feels harsh and cold. Stories and hyperlinks lead with the social aspect of the news an afterthought. Yes comments are available (as with Reddit), Yes, users can friend each other (as with Reddit) – but somehow the sense of community gets lost.

Kudos is achieved simply by Digging other users stories, with the current messaging architecture politely reminding you who has scratched your back, and encouraging you to do the same. This leads to blind digging, with users often not reading the stories submitted or even caring. A feature implemented in earlier versions to prevent this behaviour seems to have fallen firmly out of the specification of v4. Either that, or its simply no longer working.

Digg is flailing wildly, and lacks direction. Tweets such as this show just how much Kevin no longer really cares.

The Reddit community frequently promotes stories which are simply community conversations (no hyperlinks to a third party site) to the homepage. Think of it as a social forum where threads can receive visibility, and comments have the same privilege. The growth in number and size of new communities on the site, with users being able to easily to create new sub topics has accelerated its growth, and spawned niche topics which everyone can be a part of and find a home in. Well thought out ideas or concepts can also being cross promoted within the site.

Users who provide value to the community get a shout out on a sub reddit. Digg on the other hand used a user hierarchy to showcase its top users which later had to be abandoned due to corruption and sums of money changing hands between power users. Whilst Digg concentrates on user actions within its reward system , Reddit concentrates on community participation, and hand picks an appropriate user. This is a much more subtle way of rewarding users, that can’t be exploited easily.

Overall Reddit to me has a stronger hand. Users care about and protect the community.  They and aren’t just out to be top dog or promote themselves or their own content. Intelligent debate takes place, and sub reddits such as IAMA provide useful content to the web that doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s no wonder that average visits currently stand at 15 minutes per user. Community integration and participation within social media is in my opinion where we’ll see growth in 2011, and Reddit positions itself firmly at the centre of that.

Here’s hoping that the success achieved in 2010, rolls over in 2011. Sayonara Digg it’s been nice knowing you.  Now go get an account, and get the warm fuzzy feeling of community for yourselves.


6 essential tools to determine social media influence

Now that Google have admitted that social signals from  platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are going to be used in their algorithm for ranking, its never been more important to start building influence on social platforms. So how do you go about measuring how well your existing marketing efforts are performing?

There are brand monitoring tools, which will give a basic overview of how many mentions your website is receiving, and allows you to respond to positive and negative comments, however this is extremely hard to quantify over time.   The following web applications make an attempt at putting a figure on that influence, that you can easily use to keep track of your progress.

Twitter Grader


Twitter Grader from Hubspot, offers a way to check your Twitter grade compared to other users.  There is an overall “grade” out of 100 used to give your score, based on a algorithm created internally by the team. This algorithm currently includes the following factors in its calculation:  Number of Followers, Power of Followers, Updates, Update Recency,  Follower/Following Ratio, and finally Engagement. You can bet that these are the sort of things that Google will be able to look at to work out your own social score as well. One look at the following social circle link when you are logged in to your Google account, should provide us all with food for thought on how important social will be to the algorithm in the future.



Twinfluence is somewhat different to many analysis tools in that it analyses not only the number of followers you have, but also the quality of those followers. In other words if you’ve been following bots, or simply those who follow back automatically, that is likely to be reflected in your overall Twinfluence score. The site also analyses velocity (how quickly you’ve gained quality followers) and  how many high-influence people follow you, giving an overall profile and score. There isn’t an API available, and due to the Twitter API call limit the service can be flakey at times, however overall, Twinfluence provides a good estimate of social worth.



Developed by the clever folks at Edelman, Tweetlevel uses data from some of the other services mentioned here (namely Twinfluence, and Twitter grader) to provide its final algorithmic score. A smart move all things considered, as it is likely to give a better overall feel for a users influence.  The full explanation of their algorithm can be found here, but is based around the obvious retweet counts, influence score and popularity that you would expect.



PeerIndex is built up of three components: authority, activity and audience scores. All three are normalised ranks out of 100. Authority, audience and activity make up a person’s final Peerindex rank.  A rank of 40+ indicates that you are in the top 10% of the community for example, whereas a rank of 90+ indicates that you are in the top 0.1% of the community. A topic fingerprint shows how much of a resonance within a particular field your tweets reflect. For example, my own showed high resonance with the tech sector.  PeerIndex does have a public API available, allowing developers to access their growing database of twitter statistics. At time of writing PeerIndex claimed to have 6.3 million people, and 40.6 actions of those users analysed.



Klout has made serious waves in 2010, connecting both Twitter and Facebook accounts, they now have a pretty awesome app to measure influence across the social web.  Scores are updated on a daily basis, which makes it easier to monitor change, and they too have an API to integrate with third party services. A comprehensive breakdown is also provided on all aspects of your score which gives you both guidance and additional information on where you are strong, what your social profile reflects, and what you need to do to improve. Some existing customers include Hootsuite, CoTweet and LiveIntent.


Powered by the collection of data @ Infochimps (if you are  developer – this is a must save bookmark) – offers Twitter User Influence metrics, which give back a number of different scores, based on different factors. For example: Feedness provides the Fraction of users tweets that contain urls, whether a user is Interesting, whether they are a Talkative, chatty person, and much more.

The real beauty of this particular offering is the openness of the API, and the simplicity of the application. It really doesn’t take alot of effort to map influence scores over time with their API, making it attractive to those of you looking to monitor your online influence.

It’s important to note that social media influence is only one small subset of the overall search picture, but one that is only likely to grow as the engines gain the data they need. What ways do you guys keep track of your influence online? Let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed in the comments.


A closer look at behaviour on Facebook and YouTube.

The IAB have released an interesting study looking at visitor behaviour on both YouTube and Facebook.  The research looks at the behaviour and attitudes of YouTube and Facebook users, with the aim of understanding the role of each in users’ online lives, including :

  • Motivations for visiting the sites and how they feel when they do
  • ‘Social’ activities conducted on each
  • Attitudes towards brand presence & different types of advertising on the sites
  • Motivations and behaviours around viewing and sharing brand content
The online survey had over 1,000 respondents in each country (UK, France and Germany) aged 16-55 years. To qualify, respondents had to use YouTube and Facebook at least once a month. Fieldwork took place in June 2010.

Some of the Key findings:

While it’s commonly assumed that everyone uses YouTube and Facebook, the overlap is smaller than you’d expect.
1. Social networking is greater than any single site. YouTube and Facebook play different but integral roles in a user’s online social experience.
2. Brands that advertise on each site benefit from the perceived attributes of each site.
3.  Users are equally likely to check out brands on both sites, but which brands and what type of content they look for differ.
4. Loyalty and familiarity are not the driving force behind recommendations. Whether people share or like a brand depends greatly on whether its content is interesting.

Some of the motivations towards sharing on YouTube:

Some of the motivations towards sharing on Facebook:
We can see straight away that liking a brand on Facebook is different from the reasons behind sharing on YouTube, with the majority of people interested in receiving additional product info, and the next highest factor being the hunt for a deal. The study found however, that  visitors searching  for additional product info on a brand page on Facebook and YouTube are 50% more likely to share the information they find with friends or family.

This is just one of the statistics found in the report that makes for interesting reading. You can view the full 39 slides of findings in this embedded presentation below. (rss folks, click through to see it, doesn’t seem to have embedded in Google reader).


How to datamine facebook (without getting sued)

Facebook, whilst hugely popular, still remains relatively difficult to data mine without legal implications.  It’s no surprise really. Firstly, there are the privacy issues – which Facebook have struggled with for some time. Secondly, they are protecting themselves from Google, who would simply prefer to crawl their data, and use it for their own core search product. Facebook are all too aware that Google’s expertise in data mining makes them a leader in the search space – a market that Facebook are clearly moving in on. Their relationship with Microsoft / Bing makes this more interesting again, with Microsoft likely seeing Facebook as a one way ticket to stealing market share.

There are however, a couple of ways of getting information out of Facebook using existing services that are out there on the web today, without going to the lengths to crawl their data yourself. I’ve listed a few techniques here to find information within Facebook that you wouldn’t ordinarily get through their existing search interface.

Advertising Platform

Facebook provide information on their demographics free of charge via their advertising platform. Yes, that’s right, you can easily mine how many people are on Facebook with particular interests, simply by following this simple tutorial.

Step 1. Make sure you are logged into Facebook. At the bottom of every Facebook page you will see a standard set of links.  Click on the ‘Advertising’ link.

Step 2. Click the ‘Create an Advert’ button

Step 3. Create your Fake advertisement, selecting a destination URL.  You aren’t actually going to go ahead with payment for this, so it doesn’t really matter what you type in here at this stage. As long as it is a valid web address, anything should be fine.

Step 4. Change the parameters of your search to reveal interesting data. For example the below shows that there are currently 112,960 people registered on Facebook listing Belfast as their primary home at the moment.

Step 5. You can start to record this information regularly in a spreadsheet to reveal changes in your chosen audience segment. For example, you may be interested in how many people from Northern Ireland are Married, Divorced or Single over a period of time. Facebook demographics allow you to keep an eye on this granular society data through their advertising statistics providing you are disciplined enough.

CheckFacebook is a great example of how this data can be utilised, collated and used to provide interesting data to your audience. With the wealth of information that Facebook currently hold on their users, this is certain to be more and more relevant as time passes.

Social Widgets

Facebook provide a number of social widgets for determining what is happening on your own, and indeed other people’s websites. You can use these widgets to determine for example, what URL’s others are sharing, and what content is working for other people. A number of third party website utilise the social widgets and parts of the Facebook API to understand the web that bit more.

ItsTrendingWeRSocial and LikeButton.Me all use these widgets in unison to provide insight into what your friends and other people are sharing on the network. Another addition to your data mining toolkit for Facebook.



Created with the main aim of exposing just how much of your personal data is available through Facebook’s API – OpenBook still remains one of the best ways of searching across public updates. It offers seaching filtered by blokes or ladies as well, giving access to both images and text from within Facebook by keyword.



Bing will undoubtedly continue to integrate further with Facebook, and we can expect to see a much improved people search filling the void in the weeks and months ahead. Just this month they announced further plans to integrate friend relationships and photos on particular search queries. The below video provides some background on this. I’ve previously used Bing to do sitewide searches for brands as their RSS allows you a certain amount of control that Google doesn’t.

Simply try this search on Bing: {query} to find the information that they are currently indexing. My guess is that it will be much more comprehensive than Google as they join forces going forward.


This is why social media rocks.

I’ve recently come across a brilliant story which captures perfectly the essence of why social media empowers us. This isn’t your average Starbucks marketing campaign, forget your whistles and bells Skittles homepage takeover. It’s a human story, with an outcome that has blown me away personally.

Via Fox Detroit

7-year-old Kathleen Edward is in the final stages of a degenerative brain disorder diagnosed as Huntington’s Disease - the same disease which killed her mother, Laura Edward, when she was only 24.  Neighbors Jennifer and Scott Petkov, who have been feuding with the family, admitted to posting grim depictions of Laura and Kathleen on Facebook.  One photo depicts Laura in the arms of the grim reaper, while the other features Kathleen’s face as part of  a “skull and crossbone.”

A disturbing, hate filled, cruel and disgusting story, that is hard to fathom. Full coverage here on Fox who broke the story Monday.

The story was picked up on the social news Reddit,  who asked the simple question ‘What can we do to make this little girl’s day awesome‘ – a message that as well as restoring faith in good over evil – reached the home page, rallying pretty much the entire Reddit community. One of the first threads which gained exposure was posted from a business owner in the Trenton region, who owned a toy store near Kathleen’s home. A paypal donation site was setup via TreeTown’s website, to collect donations for toys from the community, which far in excess surpassed anything that the community could have imagined.  Donations started to flow, momentum spread. Multiple other Reddit threads got behind the movement, and so far, thousands of dollars have been raised from Redditors and the wider web community. Pledges have been received from around the world, as far away as Tokyo and  Australia, and the message of hope and kindness continues to spread across the web in a viral fashion.  An awesome response to a horrible situation that so far, has resulted in this proposal for 7 year old Kathleen:

Having a limo pick her up at her house (a local limo company offered their services)
Giving her a private shopping experience unlike anything she’s ever seen.
Let her also pick out toys for other terminal kids in the hospital nearby (with the scale of the response, seemed like a great cause)
Get her home, happy and with lots of toys
Hope it helps her have an incredible day
Raising over $12,124.54 for sick kids.

If a smile is worth a thousand words, then this pretty much says it all. Well done Reddit, and all of you who helped to turn an awful story into a positive one. This is why social media rocks.


3 silky smooth social media startups to watch out for.

As a developer myself, it normally takes quite a bit to impress me.  I’m sceptical of many new web services to hit the web, as often they are old ideas repackaged as something else. Recently however, I’ve discovered  couple of truly unique ideas for web applications that have left an impression with me. I’ve no doubt that these services are going to be huge and definitely need to be shared. So here we go..

One True Fan


One True Fan is a service which enables a deeper level of interaction with your website, by using game theory. You can think of it as a Foursquare type service for websites, where check-in’s are performed on every website you visit to achieve points. The more sites you check-in to, the more points you accumulate. The more actions you perform (e.g. social sharing) the higher your score again.

When you become the current leader – what they term the ‘One True Fan’, an email is sent to the person who lost that position, and to you, to let you know you are now in the lead. This information can be utilised by the publisher to work out which individual playing the game is driving the most traffic, and pageviews back to the site. It’s a simple concept, and once you start playing, it is insanely addictive. The Team are ex-MyBlogLog, and know a thing or two about social connections online, to date they’ve received $1.2M in funding, and I can see a real and viable business model emerging with a couple of angles.

One True Fan is genius on two levels. Firstly, they’ve added a new social layer to the web.  There’s absolutely nothing out there on the web at the minute that allows you to see, (and connect) with your social circle live on the websites that you visit, and One True Fan brings that to it’s users. I’ve no doubt that as the service grows in popularity, this will be built out to enable real time interaction other friends viewing the same website as you. e.g. chat features etc.  This is all achieved by leveraging your existing  social profiles that exist on Facebook and Twitter, and installing a browser plugin, for the websites that don’t yet implement One True Fan’s javascript.  Secondly, they’ve provided incentive for users to start the sharing process, and the seeding of content.   This is a service that you’ll absolutely see a lot more of as publishers realise the benefits, and as the web realise how much fun it is to stalk follow the websites that other people in their circle are visiting. Simply awesome.

Empire Avenue


Empire Avenue is another web application with a social layer which is alot of fun. Essentially, you can think of it as a virtual stock trading game, where you setup your account, and connect your different social profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube accounts) so that an overall picture of your influence can be built up. Your influence is then translated into stock inside Empire Avenue that others can buy. As your influence grows, so too does your share price. The more you do online, the greater your influence and the faster your stock will rise. Blogging ,tweeting and updating social statuses all affect your overall price, and increase your reach.

From a business model point of view, influencers will be given control over the advertising they carry, and rewarded  within the game for doing so, with an increase in share price, working in a similar way to a affiliate marketing. Empire Avenue sets itself apart not only in its unique feature set, but also by employing a revenue sharing model unlike other major advertising networks. As you can pick and choose what to  advertise, this is much more of an endorsement than an advertisement, and is likely to be received in higher regard by your peers.

Once I got setup and logged in, and attached the variety of accounts at my disposal, straight away I received notifications of people buying a stake in me, which in turn set me off on a bit of a buying spree myself. Obviously new members are hot property as they are much more likely to rise in value. The aim of the game is not only to raise your own value, but to find valuable other players that already exist in your network and are likely to be influential.  It’s an insanely addictive little product, that reminds me alot of Celebdaq, with a new and social spin on it. Well worth taking for a test drive. (Oh by the way, my stock ticker is WEBIRE – feel free to buy up a slice of goodness :0)



If you’ve used Twitter search before, you’ll know that it isn’t exactly up to scratch. It’s an area that is technically difficult for them to perform, as there are literally billions of tweets to process into a manageable form. Fortunately DataSift hopes to change all of that.  Created by the folks behind services such as TweetMeme and, Datasift exposes a new GUI and API Engine to interface with Twitter’s data, essentially offering much improved curation of the stream to developers

Datasift can be thought of as a Yahoo pipes product for a Twitter stream, that will also allow you to filter the retuned results. Sentiment analysis is also performed on top of Tweets to give deeper understanding and meaning to existing information,  which is something many developers are screaming out for. They have two revenue models. If you consume the service for free there is in stream advertising. To those who want the technology to utilise in there own application without advertising,  there is a paid option for that.

With more and more information being shared on Twitter DataSift appears to be a very exciting product, with very real application in the social media sphere, and just recently went into Alpha. Definitely an app worth looking out for.


Segmenting question queries for fun and profit.

In dealing with larger websites, there’s often little snippets of useful data hidden away in your analytics software.  When analysing the keywords which send traffic to a site,  it makes sense to segment that data to help make it easier to process, and understand. On a recent project of my own, I found that technique particularly useful when looking for question queries , and making sure that the website was providing the information necessary to answer the question, and either convert – or prevent a bounce.

What are question queries?

Simply put, question queries are the direct questions that your visitors are asking the search engines, and landing directly on your site.  e.g. “What colour is the sky?” – Google have been trying to improve this section of their algorithm,  (see this research paper from Googlers who realised that question queries, as opposed to keyword queries failed more often) – with a social question engine Vark (acquired) most likely being used to improve the results when question related queries are presented.  Interestingly, they also found that question queries are also formulated more often when other search terms failed, so this often presents webmasters with an opportunity to “plug the hole” so to speak, and provide searchers with the information they need.

Finding your own question queries?

The first thing to do, is to work out what constitutes a question. My own technique for this with Google Analytics, is to pull out all question words. For example “Who”, “What”, “Where”, “Why”, “When”,”Should”,”Can” are all words that constitutes a question when used in a long tail phrase – particularly when used at the start of the string. You can create a segment to show you these quite easily.

In Google Analytics Under “Manage Segments” > Go to, Create New Segment, then make your screen look like this:

Or alternatively,  I’ve shared the segment directly here. You should hopefully be able to click on that link and apply it to your own Google account. Once you have that in place, you can apply the filter, and see what terms come back. Plugging these back into Google will let you see how you are performing, how well your page answers the query, and where you can possibly improve.

If nothing else, this data alone could make up the basis of a frequently asked question page that takes visitors to other pages within your site that better answers the question.


7 tips for more successful internet fundraising

Raising money online is something that all of us will probably have to do at some stage. The days of knocking on doors looking for sponsorship are slowly coming to a end, with the web offering one of the easiest ways of sending money, and rallying around a particular cause.  Once you’ve rounded up friends and family, the next stop is often online, and your social circle.  I’ve seen a couple of great examples of internet fundraising, and I’ve seen people that don’t really know where to start having a go – achieving moderate success.  So here are some common sense tips on fundraising that I’d recommend to help achieve your goals that bit quicker.

Raise awareness

If you know in advance that you are going to be raising money for a particular cause or charity that is time sensitive, start raising awareness from day one, prior to you having the methods in place to collect funds.  Tease and Reveal if you will.. You can also start to attract Twitter followers, without the need for any fancy website, and inform your audience of the work that you are doing. When you are ready to take donations, you’ll have already built up a decent sized audience from the beginning, making things that bit easier to get off the ground.

Get Friends and Family in first

A very simple little tip is to get your friends and family to donate to your cause online first. Assuming that you are showing (see Update Progress) your audience who has donated, and the amount that they’ve pledged, this will prevent people from being intimidated by your page, and scared off. The sheep effect most definitely comes into play here.  As people will generally match the previous amount which has been donated, it makes sense to get your big spenders in at the ground level.

Give people a goal

Human rational behaviour is naturally goal driven (Douglas T. Kenrick. et al. Social Psychology: Goals and Interactions) , and one of the easiest ways to garner a response in your audience is to give them a goal. Whilst in many cases, there isn’t an upper limit to the amount of money you are hoping to achieve from sponsors, not providing one actually negatively impacts progress of the fundraising campaign – as the participants have no focus.  One of the easiest ways to improve your response is to set a goal for you audience, and if you manage to exceed it, so much the better.

Update Progress

The progress of your fundraising should continually be communicated to your audience. Assuming you’ve set a goal, a visual indication of the progress that has currently been made further encourages people to respond. It also plays a big part in getting the people who have already donated to spread the message further.

For example, if they know that their donation accounts for a small amount of the total, they will tell their friends about the campaign so their own donation isn’t ‘a lost cause’, and help to keep the ball rolling. You can also employ Twitter to great effect here, with regular status updates reflecting the distance to goal, and encouraging retweets of the cause. It’s also a great way to rally the troops behind you. Knowing that others have donated money also serves as a form of social proof, and increases the likelihood that others will also donate.

Provide Incentive / Reward

Incentives are often forgotten when trying to encourage people to react. These don’t always have to be financial – something as simple as a badge, a website link, or a twibbon can be more than enough to get people behind you. In particular a badge that the pledger puts on their website and / or twibbon (showing on Twitter for example) helps to provide a viral element to the campaign and raise awareness of your cause.

Viral Element

There should be some part of your campaign that uses the web to its full advantage, and encourages a viral effect as an important step in the fundraising process. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use the social media tools which are already out there.  Adding a Twitter / Facebook  sharing option with friends, or even a status update letting people know that a pledge has been made can be enough to increase the reach of the campaign exponentially. Add to that an incentive, and you’ve got a real reason for others to publicise your fundraising efforts – and it doesn’t cost you a thing. Widgets that people can embed on their own website or on their social profile also help to give additional reach to a campaign.

Listing Donations

Listing donations can have a positive impact on the response. Take care though. Some people are comfortable putting their name beside a donation, others are not. On the whole, selfless acts are hard to come by, and many businesses are quite happy to receive an extra bit of publicity for taking part in a fundraising event, so providing a form of advertising for the pledger is never a bad idea.  You may (as I’ve mentioned) want to link to their website alongside listing their name.

Have any of you guys ran any internet fundraising before? What sort of things have you done to aid with responses? Let me know in the comments.

Analysing social media marketing without Google Analytics.

As I’ve already discussed in the series, there are a number of ways to monitor the results from your marketing efforts, via Google Analytics, but unfortunately – these tools don’t give context. Social networks are more and more giving us the data back to make informed decisions, but with the more closed platforms – data mining is hard. We need access to this data to make informed decisions about time and monetary spend on social media campaign’s performance.

There’s no way to know from G.A. if the conversations, or links being shared via social media are positive – or negative, or to work out whether you audience contains influencers that you should be conversing with that already engaged with you. Thankfully, there are loads of tools out there to watch these conversations as they occur, both commercial and free – here’s a collection of some of the best out there, to help you measure, monitor and analyse your social media presence without using Google Analytics directly.



Trendistic graphs Twitter mentions over time , allowing you to see if  brand terms have increased as a result of your marketing efforts on the platform or not. As I mentioned earlier it would be really nice to expand this out to the other services on the web to really get a feel visually of mentions that are happening out there. Still the data that is provided is accurate, and you can monitor trends in real time.



The web is changing, and influence, reach and interaction are fast becoming the new backlink. In any case, the more retweets or shares a user receives, the more their voice is being heard with that network, and the more chance the content they share has of being seen. TweetMeme concentrate on showcasing the top retweeted stories in the past 24 hours, organised. This is useful for two reasons – firstly it lets you see who is being mentioned, and secondly it allows you to understand the type of links being shared. Knowing this may help you emulate and understand what makes content more likely to become viral.

AppSpot Spy


Spy is an aggregated social content feed, which runs on Google’s Application Architecture AppEngine. Whilst this is similar to the social media dashboard I’ve previously talked about, as an application its main advantage is the RSS feed of activity under a keyword, combining all of the social media mentions into one feed. Uses some of the infrastructure of other tools here, and combines their data in one place.



Wondering what content makes people follow and unfollow you? TweetEffect gives you a breakdown of the tweets that caused you to lose followers and the content that resulted in new followers. It reminds me a bit of Qwitter, which emails you when a user unfollows (along with the associated message) – but also reports on the positive / successful messages as well.  If you are running a campaign that is being managed by different people, with different content styles it does allow you to get a feel for what sort of content is improving your brand reach.



Who’s Talkin is another aggregator of feeds and scrapes from a selection of sites, giving you a combined picture of mentions across the social web at any one time. It is however vastly superior to the earlier mentioned Appspot Spy application, providing many more services to monitor. Images, video and content based services are all covered, as well as social bookmarking sites such as Delicious. Who’s talkin may be the warning system every website needs if their content is doing well within these sorts of networks, giving you the warning sign that your content is going hot, and your servers are in need of some extra love.

One minor gripe was that I couldn’t find an easy to use RSS feed, which would have been a nice additional touch – however the API is open to programmers to do so if they wish. I’ve also thought that graphing of mentions over time for these sorts of apps would also be an additional extra that is relatively easy to implement, with benefits for the userbase. However all in all, a very nice application that could well have other uses for creative developers not scared to get into the API – well worth a look for monitoring the social media sphere.

Tweet Stats


Tweet Stats gives some really nice graphs and stats  on frequency (tweets per day), tweet density (time of day that you tweet most often) and who you retweet most often. They use some of the libraries mentioned in my graphing solutions post to great effect, and its a great little service if you are looking to create some quick infographics about Twitter usage. This can be also be useful to find the network of people connected to major influencers, and when they are likely to notice your own tweets, based on their own patterns.

You can also see what twitter clients are more popular than others and a tweet cloud of the words most frequently used tweets for particular users. Of particular interest to me was tweetstats trends, which can give another indicator of what is happening across the web as a whole.



Twitturly allows you again to monitor in real time the popular links being shared on Twitter at any one time. However, it also includes the most popular Images (including TwitPics) , Video and recent News. Being able to separate out the content that you tweet that is image , video or just regular tweets is useful addition to your social media analytics toolkit. User profiles allows you to see the links that you share, and the aggregate users who also tweet the same which can also identify users in the same mindset as yourself.



Twitalyzer features over a dozen reports including sentiment analysis, tagging, integration with Google Analytics and click-tracking.

They cover nearly 30 metrics and measures that are important indicators of a user’s behavior in Twitter, and report on important factors such as Impact, which works out

1) The number of followers a user has
2) The number of unique references and citations of the user in Twitter
3) The frequency at which the user is uniquely retweeted
4) The frequency at which the user is uniquely retweeting other people
5) The relative frequency at which the user posts updates

Engagement which is defined as “a measure of the type of interaction the user has in Twitter by examining the ratio of people referenced by the user to the number of people referencing them.”

Influence which is defined as the likelihood that a Twitter user will either A) retweet something the user has written or B) reference the user. While this definition is similar to clout, influence takes both retweets and references into account, whereas clout only looks at references.



Klout analyse your social graph in a similar way to TwitAlyzer, providing you with an overall influencer score. Whilst similar in nature to TwitAlyzer, Klout concentrates on influence within particular topics, allowing you to find easily the influencers in your niche. Other useful features including the provision of a “save to Twitter list” function, which in one swoop collects the people you should be communicating with into a list for you.  When processing your own username, you can find the people who influence you, and the people whom you influence – and by my reconing this seemed pretty accurate.

Klout also shows a graph of what kind of Tweeter are you, putting different types of user into different boxes.



FavStar FM allows you to find the favourite tweets that others make of your content. It makes for interesting reading, as this is something that isn’t already available in Twitter’s main interface. You can start to get a feel for the things which you’ve tweeted which have made the difference to others – and that’s what its all about! – Interaction is the new backlink. You can also easily see what content other people find favourable amongst your competitors as well – which makes it a must see tool for Twitter. Its also a lot of fun seeing what the top tweets that got favourited are!



Backtweets provide a genius little service that mines Twitter for links. If you’ve got a website, and want (read need) to know who is sharing your content around, BackTweets is the perfect way to do this, providing an RSS feed for searches for links across Twitter. It’s a relatively trivial matter to get this RSS feed to email, should you feel more comfortable in monitoring your social media marketing efforts in this way.



From the creators of the above mentioned tool, BackType offers comment searches across the web, allowing you to collate the conversations you are having on other people’s sites, and turn them into an RSS feed. If you think of comments as a reflection of your persona – and something that you simply can’t hide from, having the ability to collate these in one place is of great benefit.

You can begin to understand your competitors even more, by reading the sort of comments that they leave, and you can be assured that no one is hijacking your website’s good name, and commenting on your behalf all by monitoring the conversations via BackType. It also has the benefit of reminding you about conversations you’ve partook in, and may need to return to, as often a comment conversation can take things out of context.



I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited into the service which introduces a unique real-time dashboard that will provides you with even more information than the standard service. It’s a real-time view of how your content is being distributed across networks like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace and services like email, SMS, and instant messenger, and also allows a custom domain URL shortener.

A couple of others.

URL: – another influence tool

URL: – watch your Twitter count over time.

URL: – Google’s social graph for you makes for interesting reading, sign in to your Google profile, and you get a feel for just how much they know about you.

URL: - another pretty interesting tool from Google, that again highlights how much attention the social graph is being paid to by them.

URL: – a great way to see content that is interesting on Facebook, from friends of yours.

Google have also recently got in on the game, with their “Updates” section. You can see from the video screencast below how to go about monitoring what is happening across both Facebook & Twitter – which is great considering that Facebook still feels ‘closed’ with regard to finding links shared by other people. Even though their OpenStream API was designed to allow access to this sort of data, currently their privacy settings keep some data under lock and key.  No doubt this will be expanded upon within the Googleplex to contain even more data, and to profile social link profiles further to improve their search. Notice on the right “top links” – which is aggregated data from both networks.

This is part 3 of a 3 part series on monitoring social media campaigns. If you enjoyed this post, you might just like these:

Monitoring social media with Google Analytics

Segmenting social media with Google Analytics

Thanks for reading!