Category Archives: Twitter

The power of social analytics: an example from IBM and Twitter

Wondering exactly what social analytics can do for you? Check out this example based on the partnership between IBM and Twitter:

A tweet on a single bike doesn’t tell you much… but look at tweets from all cyclists and you can decide what kind of bike to build, where it should be sold and who is your target market.

Now, obviously this has an inherent bias towards those who use Twitter (not a massive chunk of the population), but what a contrast to the days of yore where only the biggest organizations would have access to market research, which could take years to complete.

More on the IBM partnership with Twitter

the top hashtags on twitter for startups and entrepreneurs

So where exactly do startups congregate on Twitter? How can you follow along with the broad conversation? If you are looking to get in front of the startup crowd, which hashtag should you use?

Take a look at this ranking report for the last 90 days:

startup hashtags nov 2014

Source: Sysomos

I was surprised to see #entrepreneur outrank #startup. I somehow thought the shorter anglo-saxon term would win out.  Also surprising to see #podcast on the list (although ‘Serial’ may have something to do with that).

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and plug into these convos now!

Can you #Growthhack Twitter? Day 1

I wanna keep this brief as I really just want to see if you can work out techniques that will help me get more value from Twitter. (I won’t go into here why the focus is on Twitter right now).

  • I want to better understand the environment in which I work (currently tech, startup, social, mobile, cloud – you get the idea).
  • I want to hear from the most provocative minds and build relationships with similar spirits
  • I do want to grow my network appropriately: I believe that the smartest person in the room, is the room, and so I want a bigger room
  • I don’t want to employ spammy tactics or automation to engineer results that don’t give me real value (I come from the SEO world and so have been there in the past)
  • I do want to build on a model I used successfully 3 years ago to grow a developer-focused account from 30K to 60K followers in about a year
  • I want to share as much of what I’m doing as possible in the hope that others will share their advice and I might actually help someone(!)

The initial thesis here goes something like this:

The three Cs of Social Media Marketing

I’ve been working in social media marketing for about the last 6 years (and blogging for the last 10)  and working on some major launches at IBM this year has got me thinking that most activities do fall into those 3 C’s: content, community and celebrity. There may be a fourth that Kimberly Legocki brought to my attention: crisis management. Maybe it does fit in. Right now, it doesn’t seem like too big a problem in the ‘Safe For Work’ environment of B2B (am I cursing myself with that comment?). 

So, for day 1 lets take a look at one area I think often gets overlooked: Twitter lists.

Twitter List Management

This is really a prep exercise, not sure there will be real immediate return here yet. Twitter lists are great when you follow more than your immediate family and want to tame the firehose. I also think they are great to keep abreast of your current interests, or people you’ve met through different engagements.

As I do more of my social interaction on a mobile device, using lists has become more crucial. I’ve been keeping lists for some time, so feel like some serious housekeeping is in order. Today I actually managed to get rid of a load I don’t need.

Currently the kind of lists I have are:

  • Related by topic area (socbiz, startup, education)
  • Related by location (Bay Area, NYC, LA) – I have added some related to parts of the world I know people but we’re on different timezones
  • Work colleagues

Take a look at them here. Now, I’ll continue to develop out these lists and will keep you informed of progress Winking smile,  Or you can just see what’s happening at @CagedEther.

developerWorks Twitter account saving over $600K per month: what uplift will Google+ provide?

Here at developerWorks, we get a lot of traffic from Twitter (and StumbleUpon via the URL shortener). We’re talking to the tune of at least 200,000 clicks per month. To get that kind of traffic through other channels, such as paid search, we would shell out at least $600K – and here I’m being seriously conservative.

Great, we’re getting a bunch of traffic without having to pay any third party. But is the traffic any good? developerWorks’ core objective is engagement, and we find this Twitter traffic ranking as high in terms of loyalty (and proxy metrics such as ‘average page views per session’) as any other channel at our disposal.

So here we have a social media strategy delivering tremendous ROI when measured against other marketing channels.

Now talk of using Twitter as a marketing channel may sound heretical. Whatever happened to using social media to engage in conversation? That’s fine, but that isn’t strictly our model. We produce technical content in the shape of articles, technical demos, trials – a lot of content that really doesn’t lend itself to 140 character feedback. So we take a different approach: we adopt a content syndication model. We use Twitter to promote our content. And our content helps bolster our Twitter audience. A swirling symbiosis of content and marketing.

Sure, we’ve reached out and made ourselves known to people in our space (primarily through monitoring #hashtags), but no-one is going to follow us back if our content isn’t appealing. How do we build and promote this content? Largely by looking at what resonates with our audience and building a content and Twitter promotion strategy around this.

This really is a content marketing story. As Edelman’s Michael Brito points out:

"As long as the messaging on a company’s owned media channels is relevant, not inundated with sales propaganda, and delivers valuable information, they will essentially position themselves as a trusted advisor of content related to their own products and/or industry related information."

Being a trusted advisor really ties up with the core mission of developerWorks.

Now where does Google+ fit into this? Well, this content marketing model can be applied to any social network that has a strong technical/informational community (for this reason, we’ve seen this model work better on Twitter than on Facebook). Google+ has something to offer this segment. Google does have some history here, having evolved Usenet into Google Groups and swallowed up Blogger.

As an early example on this fledgling community, Digg founder Kevin Rose upped and moved his blog wholesale over to Google+. We’re not quite ready to go that far with developerWorks, but if the platform continues to grow at its current rate, the Google+ for Business model could be a particularly strong fit for our content marketing strategy. There’s a bunch of suppositions here, but this is definitely something we will be keeping our eye on.

If you have similar stories around content marketing on social networks, we’d be interested in hearing these!

From blog post to Twitter: auto-posting the Feedburner way

You got those blogging blues? All that time and effort penning wonderfully erudite missives and no one can be arsed to show up and read the damn things? Just too many blogs crowding out your place in the sun on the mighty Google? Might be time to start looking for alternative avenues to distribute your content.

Like Twitter.

We have our own success story here at developerWorks – which happily delivers us over 200,000 visitors a month. Not bad for a 140-character investment every now and again. Twitter is many things to many people, and one thing it is to some people is a channel for distributing your content. What’s the easiest way of getting blog posts onto Twitter? There are numerous tools out there that will take up your blog posts as soon as you hit ‘publish’ and wrap them up into a handy Tweet, complete with a link back to your site.

You may know Google’s Feedburner service as an RSS manager, but it has other functions too: like being able to autopost to Twitter.

Setting up Feedburner

Create an account

First step is to login and create an account with Feedburner. Pretty straightforward, especially if you use any other Google service (such as Gmail), as you just enter your existing account.

Get your RSS feed address

Once in, the service will ask you for your feed address (to ‘burn’ the feed). Here on developerworks you can get this by going to the bottom of the homepage and saving the URL for the blog entries:


If you can’t find your RSS feed, try giving it your blog address: Feedburner may well be able to figure it out your RSS feed address for you.

Add the Twitter service to Feedburner

Follow the steps through to the ‘congrats’ page and at the bottom click directly through to ‘feed management’. Choose the ‘publicize’ tab and select ‘Socialize’:


Add your Twitter account details and you can tweak the settings if you wish (in most cases the defaults should work just fine). Note that the service uses the URL shortener of choice.

Click ‘Activate’ and you are good to go.

So the next time you put out a post:


You’ll see it show up in Twitter a few minutes later:


That’s all there is to it.

Although there are reasons why you might not want to automate posting of blog content directly to Twitter. One may be that you want to tailor your message for each audience. What works well as a blog headline may not cut it on Twitter. Still, if you don’t have time to manicure your Twitter presence then it makes good sense to use an autoposter like Feedburner to handle this step for you.

More on the value of the Feedburner service.

Welcome any feedback or questions!

Google social search and Twitter: natural bedfellows?

Google has now officially rolled out the latest iteration of its social search which includes much tighter integration between social elements and what the big search giant is commonly known for uncovering: web pages.

Google has been displaying results from social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and its own Buzz in its search results pages, but these were typically segmented out at the bottom of the page.

With the latest update, these are now intermingled with other page results:

(see the first and third result)

The New York Times points out benefits, such as seeing links to pictures from your friend who recently went to Mexico when performing holiday searches for that same destination.

I’m not convinced this will hit such mainstream applications for one reason. There’s a big elephant that is still not in the room: Facebook.

Let’s face it, this is where most of the sharing happens. According to recent reports, we’re talking about 100 million photos a day that just wouldn’t make it into the Google search result pages. Going back to the New York Times example, there’s a big chance that Facebook is where those Mexico pictures would have been posted, so they’ll never make it to the Google search results page.

What kind of results will show up? Areas where Twitter is particularly strong: news (as the recent events in Egypt made clear), technical information (eg. the code samples and tips often searched for by developers), and location-based searches that could show up results from Foursquare, Gowalla and other similar services from local searches.

At the individual level, those who stand to gain are those who have built up a following by sharing content – the curators. (A by-product of social search could be an increase in SEOs employing Twitter curation/syndication models). It will also help breakdown the time zone barrier that has long segmented the Twitter crowd: if you post a Tweet at lunchtime in London, it will be pushed way out of my Twitter feed by the time I wake up in San Francisco. However, if you happen to be in my network, I could see your tweets show up in my search results, even weeks after the tweet.

If these social results start showing up in a larger number of searches, this is obviously a boon for Twitter (as well as the other networks Google features). It’s effectively a free SEO boost.

And what could be construed as a snub to Facebook.

The fight for content from each other’s network has been pretty public. Will this be enough pressure from Google to force Facebook’s hand into releasing its well-guarded trove of user activity data?

That remains to be seen. One potential issue of adoption is that Google social search is heavily tied to Google Profiles and the search giant still has some way to go to make these as visible and user-friendly as other services out there (um, Facebook springs to mind).

Still, go ahead and hook up your Twitter/LinkedIn/YouTube accounts to your Google profile and try social search for yourself.

Social media is no longer disruptive (Social Media Week SF Breakfast)

So, looks like I managed to bookend social media week in San Francisco catching the PeopleBrowsr event on the first day, and today, one of the final sessions with headliner Shel Israel. I’m sure there’s no need for introduction, but just in case.

An interesting takeaway for me was Shel’s statement that ‘social media is no longer disruptive… it’s in the process of normalization’. What does that normalization look like? Facebook and Twitter buttons are on the website of almost every major brand out there. It also means many companies now have a dedicated person performing some form of social media management role – generally spawned out of the marketing or comms department (although potentially covering much more than that).

Shel mentioned how brands like Dell and Best Buy are hiring journalists to come into the organization and report what they see. As the other Shel present (Holtz) emphasized to me, this is significantly different from journalists jumping over the fence and becoming PR professionals. This is journalists independently reporting about what they see within an organization (kind of like when a journalist team embed themselves in an army unit during conflict, but without the need for body armor).

Shel Israel also described how companies (including IBM) are using social media to inform product development. Upcoming features and betas are shared with users prior to general release. As Shel points out, amongst other things, there can be huge cost savings in marketing departments: no need to go out and try and convince an audience they need to buy a product they didn’t really want in the first place.

As Katy Keim, CMO for Lithium later suggested, we are moving to a paradigm where social business is just a metaphor for good business. In fact there’s no reason to call it ‘social’ business (ties up with what Charlene Li said years ago about social networks becoming like air).

I do strongly agree with the sentiment that ‘social’ is now heavily woven into the business psyche – it’s getting increasingly difficult in business circles to find individuals who will discount the importance of social media in practicing business today (which wasn’t the case two years ago). However, our business processes and organizational silos are yet to materially come up to this ideal. One example I heard this week: social media monitoring is still largely only applied to marketing campaigns, rather than building a picture of all conversations happening around an organization. Whilst the spirit of disruption may no longer be there, I think there is still some change management ahead of us before all business is truly social.

See more of the conversations around this event on Twazzup.

Attend a future Social Media Breakfast (East Bay).

It’s fine to plot the interest graph, but what happens next? (Social Media Week panel)

In a panel discussion today on social listening at the swanky new SF PeopleBrowsr office, the interest graph formed the basis of a lot of the discussion. I guess I’m out of touch with social media monitoring as this concept was new to me. First we had the social graph, of which I’m aware: a mapping of all your connections (say friends and family) to whom you are connected across social networks. Now with some degree of overlap, you can also plot an interest graph: this time mapping connections based on a shared interest. Susan Etlinger of Altimeter used the example of a fashion site where people build connections based on couture. You may not share these interests with your grandma, but only a small subset of your friends, and the extended network of aesthetes you meet on the fashion site.

Jodee Rich from PeopleBrowsr suggests these interest networks are of more value to businesses as it gives a truer value of an individual’s importance to them. Businesses will get more value by targeting their communications around those people who have authority in that interest area (interest graph). Context is everything. You only have authority in relation to an interest (or theme). Having 500K followers on Twitter means nothing unless those followers share the common interest which is of value to the business tracking you.

This got me thinking where my own social presence and my social and interest graphs lie. By day I work in the technology sector and I generally share with people with this interest (from within my company or external folk) on Twitter. This is where I geek-out. Now I do have the other side to my online communication: where I share pictures of my newborn, other interests like music and art and bizarre oddities I find on the web. This extra-curricula activity all happens on Facebook. And rarely do the twain meet. I know not everyone divides up their online existence to this extreme, but many will have some degree of division and in these cases businesses need to ensure that they have tools that can map across the different networks in use.

When it came to what businesses should do with all this listening intelligence they build, I felt that there were more questions than answers. Tim O’Reilly proffered that sophisticated companies will go beyond business intelligence and use social listening to shape business processes. Effectively molding products and services around what the audience says it wants. However, he also suggested that this ‘autonomic’ model of business should have some human component if I understand rightly what he later said about ‘humans going the last mile’. Computers can only go so far before some level of human intervention is required to make sense of the data and take appropriate action. I’m uncertain as to at what point human intervention really makes sense and I know this is a hot topic of debate in decision management science.

O’Reilly also states that ‘great companies have everybody listening’. Listening isn’t just the domain of marketing or comms departments, but everyone can get involved and use this input from the market to drive the company forward.

I can see a flaw in this plan: the tooling.

I have problems enabling anyone to listen who doesn’t have social media responsibilities written into some part of their function. Even if I can get them access to a social media monitoring dashboard, they’ll be looking at the predefined generic terms determined by the marketing/comms team that setup the tool. This won’t include the terms that a local office would need to monitor the conversation relevant to them. So I inevitably end up pointing them to personal social media tools like Tweetdeck, which lacking any kind of workflow, offers no scope for coordinating conversations.

Brian Solis deserves a shout-out for doing a wonderful job of guiding the conversation and even working in a ‘sexy’ Marvin Gaye reference.