Which tools should we use to evaluate Social Media & Websites?

List of the different tools available:

Self-Service Systems
Manual analytical tools usually work on a search, measure, filter and report basis. The best will also allow you to engage with any conversations occurring. The downfall of these systems is that they can be complex to understand. However they are cheaper than the automated alternatives (read down for these). I have listed three manual tools below:

Brandwatch
Launched August 2007 this social media monitoring tool works by crawling web content to match any queries you have entered into the system (this might be brands, competitors, news stories, etc). Crawlers will search the internet for relevant content, filter to ensure any content found is relevant (thus avoiding spam, adverts and duplications) and then analysis to recognise sentiment (ie, the one of a message). More information concerning this process can be found on the Brandwatch “How it Works” page.

Radian6
Mashable named Radian6’s Co-founder Chris Ramsey one of five masterminds redefining social media’ – it is easy to see why, this is one of the most indepth tools around. Millions of conversations are happening about your brand now. Similarly to Brandwatch, Radian6 will crawl the internet watching for your phrases adding both audience and location data. Engagement to any messages found can be quickly posted through their dashboard. They offer a free trail so definitely check this tool out.

Sysomos
The usual mantra of ‘Listen, Measure, Understand and Engage’ is repeated with Sysomos which will crawl all “major social media sources”. This application allows the use of Boolean syntax to greatly vary searches and will allow you to identify the authority of different influencers. The USP of Sysmos is its text analytics service which will allow you to go into conversations into a greater depth to understand the context of online results.

Learning Systems

Adaptive Semantics
CEO of Adaptive Semantics, Jeff Revesz, is not only a mathematical genius but has an interest in linguistics. Both of these combined has results in a social media analytics tool which is designed to take user-generated content (UGC) to recognise a community’s trolls and experts and to act appropriately. From the outset it looks like this tool is targeted towards bloggers – in essence automating a process which may have been a full-time job of an employee on a busy job.

Crimson Hexagon
Founded in 2007 this analytics program allows an organisation to find statistical patterns in linguistics to express the sentiment of different topics whilst also taking into consideration change over time. A far more advanced system than the self-service alternatives. Real-time results, quantitative feedback and ROI measurements have been described as ‘a true social intelligence’ by Crimson Hexagon.

Glide Intelligence
They offer a variety of services but I will be focusing on their Media Monitoring and Evaluation solution. Their service includes a multi-media measurement approach (print, online, broadcast and social media channels). Their website doesn’t go into detail regarding the approach other than saying addressing ‘the distinctly different challenges associated with monitoring and evaluating social media comments’. Judging from this I would put their social analytics system on par with the self-service solution, although please correct me if I am wrong.

 

Website Stats
It is in my personal belief that all social media campaigns must have a point of origin, a website which hosts the main content or sales (there are a few exceptions to this rule). Therefore it will be necessary to measure the statistics your social media efforts are making to your website.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the tool I use to measure traffic arriving on this very blog. It offers an in-depth view which covers almost every possibility of measurement including traffic, traffic sources, visitors, content evaluation and goals. This tool is completely free and is easy to setup. You even have social plug-in options.

Anything else here would be in superior…

 

Have anything else to add?
I am still in the process of exploring different methods to measure social media ROI. Whilst I believe the above analytics tools are some of the most popular there are literally countless alternatives.

 

Which social media tools do you use for measurement?

Google+: Become the Business Brand

Pete Cashmore on Google+

It was inevitable that businesses quickly took the social media opportunities generated by Google+ when it was released. Within a couple of days business had attached their name and motto to a Google+ profile and tried their hardest to gain traffic and influence. Google didn’t like it and they started to suspend business named profiles (more info here).

This was for two reasons:

  1. A Google profile is aimed for individuals
  2. Google+ will have specially designed business pages (rumored to be released next month)

Having been on Facebook since 2007 I’ve seen the network generate from being purely a human business to instead a corporate matter. The amount of money which gets pushed into Facebook Pages by organisations and agencies is astounding. Google+ may be heading in the same corporate direction.

Google+ currently doesn’t feature any business page options but yet something else is happening, something more effective. CEOs of companies are becoming their own corporate brands, engaging with contacts on a human level. Depending on the actual layout of a Google+ business page this comes with huge benefits.

Google+ users all have circles, different categories in which they can organise their contacts and control the messages which are sent out. This acts as a basic but effective PR medium, companies can control precisely which messages are communicated to each stakeholder.

If I was a clothing brand, much like my friend’s Entirety Clothing, then you could create Google+ circles for males and females to target the appropriate clothing offers. Basic but effective. Google+ circles allows you to communicate purely with stakeholders who are relevant. This is unlike Twitter which is developed to simply shout a message and hope that the relevant people will pick it up.

If Google+ business pages use circles for contacts then great. If not then I recommend CEOs continue to be the brand for their company. The world is full of brands but nothing beats communicating with the geniuses behind the logo.

 

Once Google+ releases their business pages I will revisit my opinion in this post.

What I have learnt after 6 years of Blogging

I’m 21 years old yet I have been blogging in various forms over the last 6 years. Before 2005 I had no idea how blogging would have shaped my life. Now 6 years on I reminisce on what I have learnt and if I would have changed anything.

Comments are Gold and Dust
It is much easier to forget positive feedback than the negative. Negative comments build like dust and unless you brush them away it is easy to let them blind your path. Treasure your positive comments and either forget or grow from the negative. Either way comments are good, it shows you are making a difference.

Your learning will speed up – LOTS!
Once I started blogging alongside my PR course at University I realised writing posts was acting as a form of revision. Every student should be aware of the world around them and blogging accelerates that process.

Be Brief
Most of us scan read when browsing the internet. Dwell times are reduced and so it is necessary for blogs to be brief. Sometimes people on Twitter will RT a post just based on the title! Shorter posts generally are more successful, in my experience the larger ones are more entertaining to write.

Old Posts are always Cringe worthy
To this very day I cannot stand reviewing old blog posts. Somewhere on my computer I have a list of posts which I wrote in 2006 and I am glad to say I have progressed a lot since then. The latest post is always one to keep in mind but be careful what you write, the posts you wrote six years ago may still be Google-able. (Nothing is truly deleted on the internet)

Your Audience is two-way
Don’t think that blogging will provide you international fame. Equally don’t think that an audience will just flock to you. Building an audience takes time (this blog’s audience is certainly niche) and requires you to make the effort to interact with other blogs. Even being listed effectively in search engines requires a lot of work. Perhaps in the next year I will become more popular than Darren Rowse?

Blogging won’t make you Rich
We have all heard the stories of people who manage to blog full-time and make a living from it but they really are exceptions. Through sponsored posts and advertising over the course of the year I have probably earned enough money to purchase a Nintendo 3DS. Compare that with the amount of time it takes to keep the blog running; it wouldn’t be worth it.

Publish Frequently
To maintain an active blog it is important to publish frequently. Quantity keeps search engines happy and causes people to regularly visit for more information. Don’t forget quality though – miss that and you won’t be doing your reputation any favours.

Google Panda Update: Is it Right?

The warning was sent to me through email, “Make sure the Google Panda doesn’t get you”. In April Google updated an aspect of their search algorithm which dictates (I use this word with its full meaning) how sites appear in search. Google Panda is essentially an update which removes those sites which show low quality, questionable or copied content.

Google has listed the below questions as measures of how they rate ‘good’ content. The whole article can be found here.

 

  1. Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  2. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  3. Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  4. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  5. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  6. Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  7. Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  8. Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  9. How much quality control is done on content?
  10. Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  11. Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  12. Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  13. Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  14. For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  15. Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  16. Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  17. Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  18. Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  19. Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  20. Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  21. Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  22. Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  23. Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

 

Google are usually very closed on matters of search algorithm changes and with good reason. If a budding Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) bod got hold of this precious information then he/she couldn’t literally manipulate search results. SEO by default manipulates search results but Google Panda is aimed at making sure only good quality sites make it the furthest through the rankings.

The Guardian has listed known website causalities from the Panda update. Thankfully my website is unharmed. If anything my rankings may have improved, traffic is certainly up from search engines.

  • What do you think of the Google Panda Update?
  • Is Google right controlling the sort of content visible on the internet?
  • Has your website suffered or gained because of the update?

 

Why I Have Tweeted each day since October 2008

I signed up to Twitter October 2008 at around 9am in the morning. At the time I was running a blog going by the name of “A Superfluous Ramble” which mostly discussed Philosophy and Atheism. Knowing that many fellow bloggers were using Twitter as a promotional tool I signed up to it. In a couple of weeks I was shocked to have around 800 followers. Every day since October 2008 I have tweeted. The journey has seen me grow from a shiny eyed 18 year old tweeter to the 21 year old sitting behind this desk today. As I could almost call myself a Twitter veteran I thought I would explain why I have continued to tweet.Twitter Bid Picture

To Connect with the Blogging Community

Blogging is not meant to be a self-obsessive tool, articles are written to be shared. Many pure bloggers’ networks exist but Twitter has provided this blog with networking opportunities unlike the likes of Blog Catalog or Technorati could.

Keeping up-to-date with News

I didn’t receive the sad news of Michael Jackson’s death in 2009 through traditional news mediums such as television or radio; instead I spotted the debate on Twitter. Recently Twitter has been integral for spreading big news events, in some cases it has beaten traditional news to the story. Twitter is citizen journalism.

Make new Contacts (Socially and Professionally)

Cheltenham (UK) is a known for its horse racing but also has a thriving digital business community. As a Public Relations student I have had the opportunity to network with many of the pioneering people in this town through Twitter and have consequently met many in person because of social media. If you are a student then Twitter is useful for networking with professionals around the world. I’m doing it, you should to.

Raise Personal Profile

There is nothing wrong with a little bit of personal branding, you need to sell yourself online. Twitter is great for explaining who you are, using only a small amount of words. Whenever I send CVs to companies I always provide a link to my Twitter profile because it explains exactly who I am. There are no secrets online, fortunately I have nothing to hide (or do I?!).

To Stay in Touch

Twitter has also provided a way for me to keep in touch with friends, almost like a public mobile texting system. Most importantly Twitter allows me to keep in touch with other bloggers online who I admire but do not know personally, Chris Brogan is one of those people.

I suppose the main reason I have continued to tweet for so long is that I am addicted. I have become so used to the above services that it is difficult for me to imagine life without Twitter (sad, I know). Twitter serves a useful purpose which is why I have remained signed up to it.

 

In the past I have spoken to many students and professionals who can’t understand why I tweet. I hope this blog post has helped explain myself.

 

Hangovers as a Sense of Duty: Alcohol & Networking

I’ve been working for Microsoft as an intern for roughly 9 months. The first 4 months was spent learning about the Multinational Advertising Network and from October 2010 I became a Multinational Account Manager for the Microsoft Media Network. At times the job can be very demanding and I can honestly profess that I learn something new each day in this role – it is full on. As far as internships go though, excellent.

Although the most valuable thing I take away from this internship should not be the monthly pay checks but instead knowledge, skills and experiences. Somehow I have found myself at Microsoft, a company who only employs the best of the best (apologies for the cliché phrase). So as I near my contract’s end I have made it my duty to start expanding outside of my own team and network with other employees within the company.

Networking is key. A successful networker doesn’t necessarily need to worry about degrees as they have built up a reputation amongst others. After all, isn’t an interview simply a way for a boss to meet you? I want to reapply to Microsoft’s Graduate programme. How brilliant it would be if I already knew the boss who did my interview? Filling that little black book full of contacts is how people stay alive in business.

There is no better way to network than at a party. I’m not going to shy around the subject, sometimes working in an office is the last thing I want to do. It is far too focused and quiet when one’s mood is high. Most people when sat at their desks aren’t displaying their true character but instead a strange professionalism which the world has become so accustomed to. To truly network you need a pub (clubbing is simply too noisy for conversation) and the ability to forget the people you are chatting to might be your next boss.

In an interview the last thing you should be is shy or nervous; it will whittle your character down into a fake stuttering nerd. Instead present yourself graciously and comfortably, be who you are. I admit, easy to write but much harder to do in reality. The beauty of networking in a pub is that eventually alcohol will assist with the talking. Yes, I am advocating the use of alcohol as a sensible business networking method. There was a reason Jesus decided to turn water into wine at the party…

Just promise me that if you heed my advice and arrange networking in a pub that you will keep the alcohol quantity to the same level as the person you are drinking with? Imitation is powerful. Say if I was having a drink with the head of PR at Microsoft, I would aim to keep my drinking at the same level as that individual. To be honest most people do this anyway in a one to one situation, it is polite.

Last night I attended an after work leaving party as several colleagues move onto different roles outside of Microsoft (now preparing myself for the welcome party which will inevitably arrive!). In the space of 5 ½ hours I spoke to more people at Microsoft than I had done in the last 9 months of my internship. People in the company want interns to succeed. The older, humble and wise will confess that my generation will inevitably be the generation which keeps Microsoft going. Rarely can one see their own strengths but I know there are a handful of interns I’ve spotted who should stay at Microsoft, not for their sake but for Microsoft’s sake. The company cannot afford to lose such dedicated, talented and skilled individuals.

So this afternoon I embrace the brunt of a hangover which on the outside may look like mere gluttony. Instead I know that last night wasn’t just a leaving party, it was a business opportunity to network. Many remarkable people work for Microsoft and I had the pleasure of sharing a few drinks with them – priceless.

(For the record networking doesn’t always involve alcohol. Another effective networking method is to arrange 30min coffees during the day with professionals. Use this time to learn about them, make sure they do 70% of the talking.)

My Heroes – Stephen Fry [series]

Inspiration comes in many forms. As part of my blogging in 2011 I shall be covering one of my heroes each month. This month I look at Stephen Fry.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry - iTunes Festival 2009

Think of this article has my public declaration of love. I cannot imagine what life would be like without having an influence so creative, humorous, intelligent or charming. With fear I have left Stephen Fry to my second ‘Hero’ of this year just to prove to people that there are others who inspire me also, however the level in which this man influences my own approach to life is vast. What’s more is that we should not be ashamed of having influences – inspiration from many sources still makes you unique. Stephen Fry just happens to be one of my “greats”.

Before writing this article I pondered to when my admiration for Stephen Fry materialised, it is very difficult to pinpoint. I suppose during my AS levels at secondary school I became aware of this celebrity in a fashion which was beyond fame awe. No doubt about it, Stephen Fry is an international celebrity but I hope “celebrity” doesn’t dampen the expectations to thinking Stephen Fry would be the sort of individual to appear in glossy celebrity magazines which are filled with drivel concerning only a personal fame. Stephen Fry is a true celebrity, a man who has become a public figure through his talents.

One of the reasons why Stephen Fry has done so well is because he presents a clear interest in others, this becomes apparent in many of his documentaries; The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive, Stephen Fry in America, Wagner and Me, Last Chance To See and HIV and Me. Easily as a polymath stories could be constructed purely of his own observations but instead he relies on other individuals to construct the story he is attempting to explain. The virtue of charm expresses the need to oeuvre others. His pathway to the present wasn’t through the channels of serious documentary filming but instead comedy. When I consider classic comedies it is necessary to count Blackadder and a Bit of Fry and Laurie.

Stephen Fry is firmly written into my ego (of the Freudian sort) and will not budge. He has written great lengths in his autobiographies Moab Is My Washpot and The Fry Chronicles (Amazon affiliate links) and so I will not waste time devaluing my words against his and will instead travel straight to the purpose of this “Hero” article, to explain why Stephen Fry is an influence of mine.

You will notice clear characteristics between all of the individuals who I name influencers of mine as having the ability to relate to a figurehead is important, more than that, it is vital. My heroes will be thinkers, writers and comedians as these are the three characteristics and avenues I recognise talent. Of course there are those who create art (other than writing), maybe iconic sportspeople or even ventriloquists. All these skills are incredible but not paths which wholly interest me.

Michael White & Stephen Fry 2008
Michael White & Stephen Fry 2008

In my opinion the best thing Stephen Fry does is writing. Coupled with his intellect and sense of humour the words which splash upon the page are unlike any other writer I know. He doesn’t necessarily write in a manner which could be considered compact or neatly sown but uses the full leaps and bounds of the English language to paint his sentences with colour. The year in which Stephen Fry started blogging (strangely my first blog post was about mobile phones and a few days later I noticed Mr Fry’s first blog post was almost identical called ‘Devices and Desires’) I literally wet myself with excitement. This is not a man who is passionate because of money, he writes because that is part of who he is. I’ve often uttered that if I was told I could not write again then I would rather die, without writing, life is not worth living.

Over the years I have made a concerted effort to seek Mr Fry on his travels in a manner some may describe as stalking! The first time I met him was in 2008 in Cheltenham for his ‘Stephen Fry in America’ book. Proudly I was first in the queue and even managed to get a photo with him (A little later I saw how Stephen Fry doesn’t like the kerfuffle of photos at signings. Felt a little guilty but glad the photo was taken quickly) and within the book is written,

“To Michael White
Love
Stephen Fry

First in the Cheltenham Queue!”

A few months after the signing I managed to watch several QI shows being recorded, watched a talk by him at the iTunes Festival in 2009 and last year I was at Cheltenham Racecourse where he and Mark Carwardine (also a great man) spoke about their documentary Last Chance to See.

I know for a fact that Stephen Fry is a very generous man in his spare time whom isn’t afraid to depart with money to support causes, quite the philanthropist. As each year passes I am constantly left in a state of open-mouth awe at how he brings various projects to life and just how talented he really is.

His attitude to life has taught me how to enjoy work, to be determined, always approach life with a sense of humour and how politeness goes a lot further than rudeness. I can’t ever imagine Stephen Fry retiring, for this I am thankful. There will never be someone quite like Stephen Fry.

Being Shaped By Business

Influence can be triggered through many different forms, none is more potent than working within the business environment. To work effectively at a job it is necessary for you to fill a role not only through skill but also character, only then will you have effectively fulfilled your duties. It could be said that different career paths are set to different stereotypes.

If I were to ask you to form a character in your mind of a Vicar, Journalist, Policeman or Thief then it is easy to associate your character amongst a series of foundational rules:

  • Vicar: Will be moral
  • Journalist: Will be hectic
  • Policeman: Will be just
  • Thief: Will be deceptive

Occasionally there will be exceptions to the rule but each character seems to have a key attribute.

As of writing this I have been working as an intern for Microsoft for 7 months. This started with me working on Trade Marketing pieces, becoming a Multinational Account Manager (AM) and now undertaking an AM role whilst also being involved with Technical Account Managing (TAM), the scripting side of online advertising. All of these roles require a different sort of person.

It could be said that generally a TAM might be a quieter person who is naturally technically minding. An AM on the other hand must feature a social side to communicate well with clients, plus an acute ability to problem solve.

Using online tests/books such as Strengthsfinder 2.0: Online Test from Gallup’s Now Discover Your Strengths
(Amazon affiliate link) it is possible to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses. Not only for personal interest but for a manager to observe how best you would work in a team (comparing the results of many people and matching together is extremely effective).

One of the challenges I have had during my intern year is to let the company I work for mould me into the worker they need. No doubt students will sometimes be the roughest of employee diamonds to set foot in an office but the challenge for the organisation who took you on is to teach the intern student how to fit into the working world. From the basics of arriving at the correct time in the office, to working effectively within a team and the attitude you show each day.

Part of being an intern is to allow the company to mould you into the person they would like to see. A slight character change, a learning curve, but a mould which doesn’t necessarily have to set permanently.