Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Auto Sentiment Analysis Failing? Context is King

UK company FreshMinds Research recently ran a test by pulling social media commentary about Starbucks using several popular analytic tools offering automated sentiment analysis of the text gathered.  They found flipping a coin to determine the sentiment of each individual comment would have been more accurate than what the tools reported.

FreshMinds analyzed over 19,000 online conversations with tools from Alterian, Biz360, Brandwatch, Nielsen, Radian6, Scoutlabs and Sysomos.  All content was centered on Starbucks.

The good news is aggregate level reporting of sentiment (average overall) was between 60% and 80% in agreement with a manual coding by trained staff.  Not bad.  The bad news?  Only about a third of individual comments were accurately coded.

Somehow, the randomization of automation errors resulted in an aggregate number of coding all conversations that wasn’t off by much.  But, if you wanted to dig deeper into individual conversations either for more insight or to engage in the conversation, the likelihood of finding the right positive or negative comments is not very high at all.

Their report is an excellent overview of these seven tools and how they perform across geographies and content sources.  And, as a side note, it’s a great marketing effort to get you and me to pull down their paper in exchange for contact information.

It’s not surprising to me that these tools are still so far off.  It’s a micro-representation of a macro-level challenge facing most research firms, agencies, and marketers today:  putting things into context from a people-centric approach.  We have so much data today that making it both accurate and actionable requires a more concerted effort to put everything into context, mirroring the reality of human decision-making and behavior as much as possible.

I’m sure some combination of neural networks, complexity science, and/or agent-based simulation tools eventually will yield “smarter” sentiment analysis tools to speed up the process of sifting through thousands of lines of text-based data.  Those pursuing that dream need not lose sight of the biggest mystery to solve:  understanding the meaning of words within a human context.

The FreshMinds report is definitely worth the read.  I’m curious what the makers of these tools would have to say about their report.

Thanks to Research (the magazine) for the heads up on the white paper release.

Online Tools Built By Researchers for Researchers

I came across a few online research platforms this morning that are new to me.  It sort of spread to a little hunting expedition, which led to a few more interesting discoveries.  Here’s a snapshot of my quick read on a few.

Picture 2

Revelation and QualVu were both launched in 2007.  They stand out to me, however, because they’re legit social media-style platforms, but built the way a researcher would think and want to use the information.

Revelation appears to be the next generation of blog, chat room and bulletin board type research tools.

QualVu is a very robust online video sharing platform.  Their VideoDiary product is a complete solution for easily facilitating face-to-face and/or personal video diary-stye feedback from real people in their real environments.

Picture 3I can’t wait to try them both out.  I’ve heard QualVu has been used by a lot of people.  I’ve still not found a Revelation user yet.  I’d love to get real user feedback.

Of course, this little discovery led to a chase down of a few other interesting tools worth checking out.  One I already bought a subscription to this morning after finding it.

First, CiviCom has it’s own set of 3-D virtual community solutions for marketing research.  I’m not totally certain on the nature of this company in terms of being built by researchers for researchers.  But the idea of helping to facilitate interactive collaboration in virtual environments is very cool.

Picture 5My favorite find of the day (or the one I really hope works as I’ve bought an initial month subscription to give it a shot) is GuapoVideo.  What I love about this is it is built for internal audiences to collectively annotate and analyze video gathered through research.  Brilliant idea — a tool to help make internal collaboration and co-creation even easier.  It’s like a video-editing suite built from a researcher point of view to upload, annotate, and then cut and past clips into your presentations or share via a web page they create for you.

I also wonder if GuapoVideo could also be used as a way to reach back to the person(s) you interviewed and have them respond to your interpretation of their comments in a more co-creative way.  An added-value step in a hybrid research or ethnographic project.

A funny, but practical one, too.  Ask500People is a totally different online feedback tool, but one brand managers, account planners, and strategists could use in a pinch to get some basic feedback on concepts, ideas, etc.  While I take issue with the way they represent margin of error for polls on their site (I wouldn’t call this scientific sampling for the market research purests by any stretch of the imagination), the concept of a quick question feedback tool is an example of easy, collaborative methods for getting others to think about the issues you’re consider.

Finally, in my brief field trip to discover interesting online research tools I came across this informative slideshare presentation by Carol Phillips of Brand Amplitude.

Share more you’ve come across that have been helpful.


05 2010

Social Media and Co-Creation… 30 Years Ago

large_magic-johnson519Co-creation, social media, engagement, viral campaigns, etc. New tools for today’s marketers? Well, yes and no.  The digital side is new… the practice is not.

I’m reading the new book by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and came across a piece of NBA trivia new to me about the 1979 draft that landed Magic at the LA Lakers.  Little did I know it involved a co-creation exercise with a viral component and a social media spin.

The result was the Bulls missed out on drafting Magic Johnson and, instead, picked up UCLA senior David Greenwood.  But they had engaged their fans in helping make the decision:  ”heads” instead of “tails” was the consensus.

Turns out the Bulls and Lakers were up for the first pick in the draft, and Magic was the expected first pick.  On June 25, 1979 the issue was resolved by a coin flip.  But the Bulls general manager, Rod Thorn, didn’t call it out on his own.  The Bulls ran a fan promotion in which the poll results showed more fans wanted Thorn to call “heads” and win the toss to pick up Magic.

As reported on a NJ Nets fan page:

images“I’ll never forget that,” Rod Thorn recalled. “We had some sort of promotion with our fans, and we let them choose what we’d call. And Bill Sharman, the Lakers’ GM — he was on the line from L.A. — Bill was so gracious, he let me call it. Then I hear, ‘Tails, L.A. wins.’ I would have always called tails. It was always luckiest for me, but we did it for the fans.

“But it’s amazing and ironic how life works out, isn’t it? Had the Bulls gotten Magic, we never would have gotten Michael Jordan five years later. The Lakers won all those titles, but I’d say it worked out great for everybody.”

Fascinating concept:  engage your loyal fans to help win the prize on draft day.  So, was it good or bad for the fans given they ended up picking wrong?  Or did they?

Would it have been better to get Magic Johnson in 1979 and miss picking up Michael Jordan in 1984? Obviously, not a question you can answer… and not the point.

The real point is brands have been doing things to involve their customers for years.  Today’s tools make it so much easier, but the rules of needing to provide relevance and utility have only become more important today.

I think the Bulls’ actions show how brands have to be “all-in” to genuinely involve their customers in charting the future of their franchise.  And they have to be willing to risk that what you create together may not payoff in the short term.

Stick with it, though, and you just may find the next Michael Jordan in the process.

Who knew?  Sports, the NBA, social media, and co-creation… all 30 years ago.


12 2009

Sport-Tweet Udpate: SEC Caves, NFL Going Crazy… Why?

Just as the SEC reversed course on its unrealistic ban of all social media by fans at SEC games, the NFL continues to take more steps toward restricting the use of Twitter and other tools to share content they want to “protect” for themselves.  Still sounds so much like the Napster scenario now being played out in the world of sports entertainment content rather than music.

As Adam Ostrow reported last month on Mashable, the SEC ultimately changed, or clarified, its policy to allow personal messages and posting.  But they are very clear about any video or footage intended to be used for commercial purposes as being outlaw.

“No Bearer may produce or disseminate in any form a “real-time” description or transmission of the Event (i) for commercial or business use, or (ii) in any manner that constitutes, or is intended to provide or is promoted or marketed as, a substitute for radio, television or video coverage of such Event. Personal messages and updates of scores or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the Event are acceptable. If the SEC deems that a Bearer is producing a commercial or real-time description of the Event, the SEC reserves the right to pursue all available remedies against the Bearer.

Absent the prior written permission of the Southeastern Conference, game action videos of the Event may not be taken by Bearer. Photos of the Event may be taken by Bearer and distributed solely for personal use (and such photographs shall not be licensed, used, or sold commercially, or used for any commercial or business purpose).”

But the NFL took the opposite approach.  Some talk has been that in an effort to prevent Chad OchoCinco from flying in a fan to tweet during the game on his behalf, the NFL has officially banned social media starting 90 minutes before and during all NFL games.  According to Steve Raquel on the Bleacher Report, the restrictions put in place include:

  • Twittering during a game by either the player themselves or someone on their behalf.
  • Any social media activity within 90 minutes before and after the game.
  • Restriction applies to not only players, but coaches, team personnel, and officials.
  • Restrictions on play-by-play descriptions of NFL games (e.g. Twittering) to only authorized media.

Ok, so the idea of a player Tweeting in the end zone or on the sideline is a distraction and I get it, I guess.  But isn’t this about entertainment.  Doesn’t Twitter suddenly make the fanatic follower of a team feel he knows exactly what Chad OchoCinco is thinking at that very moment.  Doesn’t that make same said fanatic follower even more fanatic about following that team?

I love Adam Ostrow’s quote reported by Jennifer Van Grove, also in Mashable, in her very well written summary of the issue:

“Sure, these days someone could theoretically live stream a game from their camera phone. But a shaky, low resolution video from the upper deck of Yankee Stadium isn’t exactly the same as watching FOX’s telecast on your big screen TV. Social media should be viewed as a fantastic compliment to sports that is good for both fans and the TV networks, but at the moment, it seems that’s anything but how it’s being perceived.

That’s the point.  Hello.  Just like the blackouts that force their content to not be shown in local markets if the stadium isn’t sold out… the NFL needs to think about the people who feed their empire.  Sure, so many of us love football to the point we watch even with this silliness… but how much more would we do if more efforts were made to connect with the fan.

I think a bigger issue is the concern the focus in on the player and not the team.  If Chad OchoCinco tweets on the field, it’s not helping the Bengals, perhaps, as much as it is Chad OchoCinco.  They can’t allow individual player brands to be established, shared, and extended.

But, teams can do the same thing, and in an even more powerful way because they have the content people want or need to be fanatics.

Consider what the NY Jets have done (all since losing Brett Favre, of course!).  In August they held a contest to give away tickets to games to followers of them on Twitter (@NY_Jets).  They now have 4,500+ followers on their official Twitter ID.  The contest was put on by the Jets, not by their fans… an important difference, and an indication of an organization trying to reach out.

But the Jets seem to get it.  Again this week they launched a promotion partnership with JetBlue with discount fares for games in Buffalo and Florida — all promoted, shared, and extended via social media connections as well.

The Jets efforts very well may be attributed to blogger, Twitterer, wine connoisseur and social-networking guru Gary Vaynerchuk.  Apparently, he has launched Vaynermedia and lists the NY Jets as one of his clients.

Compare this with the Dallas Cowboys.  I couldn’t find an “official” Twitter feed, but there are 20+ fan-created follower groups of “America’s Team”.  The most popular, @Cowboys, has 13,000+ followers.  Imagine what the team could do with an official feed offering content, access, and connections to fans.

Another argument against the use of Twitter at sports is sharing confidential information, like the recent ban by the US Open to restrict players using it.  Andy Roddick called it right in my view when he explained you’d have to be a moron to share “insider information” that would call into question the integrity of the game.

Ian Paul reported on other decisions by teams in the NFL regarding social media during training camps and in the preseason, apparently to protect their trade secrets (avoid the infamous video taping of signals fiasco):

The Dolphins allow the media to tweet as much as they like for the first 20 minutes or so of practice, but once team drills begin all electronic equipment including computers, cameras, and cell phones has to be turned off, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Dolphins fans, on the other hand, are forbidden to blog, tweet or even send SMS messages while watching their team practice. The Dolphins aren’t the only NFL team wary of new forms of communication either.

Teams like the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, and Detroit Lions all have similar restrictions, while the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers are running tweet-friendly training camps.

I suggest, rather than being so focused on protecting trade secrets or trying to ban players from branding themselves or try to keep fans from distributing content that they own, the NFL, and other sports entertainment brands, should look to how these tools can enhance the relationship with their most important assets: their customer base.

Bring some fan on Twitter who keeps up with what’s going on to the primo seat for free, in exchange for his or her building, promoting, and living the essence of that team. Conduct press conferences for exclusive content that only goes to your followers on Twitter first.  Incentivize your players to get a following, create venues for them to get together with these people who love what they do.

Have a relationship.  Don’t try to enforce or create an “arranged marriage”… those don’t work so well in our world today.


09 2009

Authentic Social Connections

Two recent experiences add to what I consider the good side of the technology behind social networks and communication tools that are constantly emerging.

This morning, I was jogging and came across a moleskine book on the side of the road. It was a little wet from the sprinklers, but it was obvious someone did not intend to “store” it there. I grabbed it and finished my run… in fact, I kept thinking a number of the people I saw along the way must have wondered why I felt compelled to jog with a notebook in my hand! :)

I saw the name inside the notebook. Got to my computer. The first place I turned to was Facebook to search for this guy. Sure enough, from his profile I could easily tell it was him. I clicked on “send ___ a message” and told him about the find.

Later today I’ll connect with him out near my home and get it back to him. Easy. Quick. Non-invasive. Benefit for the both of us… feels good to find something when you know what it feels like to lose something, plus he has his book back now.

Earlier this year I posted about a chance encounter I had on a flight home to Austin. I was so touched by my interaction with Dawn that I felt like I had to share the way she approached adversity with honor and commitment. She and two of her children are now serving in Iraq with the MN National Guard, leaving her husband and teenage daughter back home.

Just a few days after posting the story, I was surprised to see a post from Dawn’s husband, Todd.  Then several other people with family in the military shared their own experiences. Eventually, her young daughter, Meagan, even posted her feelings and gratitude to those who had shared support. Together, we were able to share thoughts and a common sense of respect for someone who would never promote it herself. And it isn’t about pointing a spotlight on Dawn, it is about expressing appreciation for goodness, honor, and respect.

This person captured my reactions, too:

Picture 4

Just a few weeks ago another comment to my post on Dawn came from a friend of hers from years ago.

Picture 7Dawn’s husband, Todd, replied and explained Dawn had talked about her friend many times over the years. I assume they’ve since connected and she’s been able to send a care package to Dawn.

My point in sharing all of this? Ambient awareness through social networking tools has a good side. Used for uplifting purposes we can find good and honorable people, things, and experiences.

Likely, I will never meet Todd and Lois and others who have shared in this story. But I’m a better person knowing what they’ve shared. How cool is it that we can facilitate such connections today?

Sure, these tools have as many, if not more, negative sides.

But I appreciate the good that can come. In the end, authentic connections between people on issues that matter will drown out the self-interest and negative scheming via online social networks. In my world, these are two examples of what I mean…

Hurry… Ban Twitter! No… Don’t Try to Control, Find Relevance.

In my last post I tossed out the question regarding etiquette for using Twitter to broadcast private conversations you happen to overhear. Good fun, or even good material for stand-up comedy, or just inappropriate?

This is the craze all over the professional world right now.  The NFL, the military, the scientific community, the theater/acting world, and college football are just some of those struggling with “… to Tweet, or not to Tweet.”

But the SEC (football conference, not the regulatory body) recent action takes the prize for crazed reaction without considering the consequences. I can just imagine the conversation: “I know, let’s just make it illegal for anyone to send anything about our games. That’ll work.”

Seriously, the SEC is expected to release today it’s formal ban on all social media during SEC games. Their ban extends to the average fan reporting on the game via Twitter.  It reads:

Ticketed fans can’t ‘produce or disseminate (or aid in producing or disseminating) any material or information about the Event, including, but not limited to, any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information concerning the Event.’

Why?  The SEC has a $3 billion deal with CBS for coverage rights of the games. Apparently, they think they should be the only ones to give access to what happens at football, basketball, and other events. And, what’s more, they believe they can keep anyone else from sharing anything to anyone else.

I couldn’t agree more with Adam Ostrow on Mashable:

For the moment, these policies seem a lot more grounded in fear than reality. Sure, these days someone could theoretically live stream a game from their camera phone. But a shaky, low resolution video from the upper deck of Yankee Stadium isn’t exactly the same as watching FOX’s telecast on your big screen TV. Social media should be viewed a fantastic compliment to sports that is good for both fans and the TV networks, but at the moment, it seems that’s anything but how it’s being perceived.

There are real issues for sure. The contract with CBS is huge, and its how people make a living. But their fear is driving them to a policy that will have much greater negative impact on that contract, and their bottom line, than had they done nothing.

Don’t try to control the world of social media. Find relevance. When you do, you add value to your enterprise. When you don’t, you hurt yourself more than you hurt.

Two weeks ago, the NFL started clamping down hard requiring its players to not text information and not to use Twitter as reported by the NY Times.

In that story, however, I loved comment in the NY Times by nose tackle Jason Ferguson. He’s weighing when it’s worth the fine. Hilarious.

I don’t have an account (Twitter). I was thinking about getting one until I got the information. O.K., won’t get it now. Can’t do it. I don’t want to get fined, not yet.

Consider the broad action by the NFL and some teams (like the Green Bay Packers) in contrast with what the NY Jets are doing.  It was reported today the NY Jets are actually encouraging their players to use Twitter.

We really made a conscious decision that we were going to embrace social networking because it’s an outgrowth of our motto that we talk about internally:  Remove the barriers.  Football, more than other sports, probably has more barriers that you have to overcome. With the helmet, you don’t really get to see players’ faces or expressions. twitter enables you to communicate with players directly, one-on-one.  Matt Higgins, EVP of business operations for the Jets

In my view, that is finding relevance.

It’s ironic to read ESPN’s reporting of the NY Jets actions given their own stated position acted on earlier this month.  ESPN has implemented a policy for all of its employees that amounts to only using Twitter if it benefits ESPN. You can see coverage here on for latest and reactions.  The deal is their currency is news and information, so ESPN is grasping at whatever control it believes it has to require its employees to not use Twitter for anything related to sports.  The full memo is very strong in its constraints — you can see it here on Mediaite with the full memo at the bottom of the post.

Again, why not find relevance over asserting control in this way? ESPN’s personalities have a huge following on Twitter, and it is because of who they are, how they talk, and what they share. Trying to assert editing control over that audience of fans is directly contrary to why they follow in the first place:  unvetted access to the people they trust, like, or enjoy listening to.

There’s got to be a way to find relevance and drive greater loyalty to ESPN.

In some cases, Twitter’s open access has more obvious reasons to be shut off, or at least re-direct. I previously wrote about the banning of Twitter at certain scientific conferences in which confidentiality of material being presented is paramount to intellectual property rights issues at play (pick up more of that story here if interested).

The military is starting to do the same thing.  About the same time as the NFL made its announcement, the Marines declared a total ban on social media networks, including Twitter.  The Marines’ ban is said to last for one year while the military makes a full determination what to do.  They cite security concerns, of course.

But, even with the military, it’s interesting to note that Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has a Twitter account and over 5,800 followers.  So, it’s about finding relevance and not trying to assert total control, even in high-level security situations like these two. Cut and dry bans are just crazy and short-sighted in my view.

Finally, here is yet another interesting example to consider. Is it appropriate, or not, for a casting director to live-Tweet information and thoughts about the actors auditioning in a closed, private casting call?  The acting industry is now facing this very issue.

A story in the NY Times covers a recent controversy involving casting director Daryl Eisenberg and her comments shared about what she was seeing/hearing during a recent audition.  Eisenberg shared a few tweets like these:

If we wanted to hear it a different way, don’t worry, we’ll ask

If you are going to sing about getting on your knees, might as well do it and crawl towards us … right?

Eisenberg defended herself even before people got up in arms citing the “there is no rule” defense:

There is NO rule/guideline against Twitter/Facebook/MySpace/Friendster. Freedom of speech. Ever heard of it?

But, the Actors Guild, Actors’ Equity Association, and others got involved and she has since agreed to not use Twitter in the audition room.  The main argument made by the union folks is:

“It’s a very long road for an actor to get from seeing the casting notice to getting that audition. To have it mocked is unfair to the actors and to the other people who are working on the particular project. It’s very simply that there is an expected level of respect and professionalism, and these values were violated.”  Maria Somma of Actors’ Equity Association

Part of that defense strikes me as a bit too sensitive–I mean, these people are seeking a career that is very public, get some thicker skin than that. But, it points out the absolute need we have in these various dimensions of public and private life to define what is appropriate and what is not when it comes to using technology such as Twitter.

Personally, I don’t believe the answer is hurry up and ban Twitter–that’ll fix it!  Actually, it won’t. It will just cause bigger and different problems, long-term.

Reality Tweeting: A New Trend? Another Type of Live-Tweeting?

Early this morning (like 1AM) my colleague, Jim Wilkerson, pointed me to a bizarre (searching for right word here) and entertaining (sort of) live-tweeting going on by a guy on a plane narrating an argument between a couple apparently sitting next to, or near, him.  Jim was alerted of the exchange by Augie (August) Ray by this tweet to his 2,114 followers:

picture-16When you click on @jmatusin you can follow his mad rush to the gate at the MN airport, the help he got from a non-English-speaking gal who let him cut in line and who he then helped to her gate, the Traveler’s Insurance ad he spotted along the way to his gate, and… then this exchange he broadcasts to the Twitterverse between two people seated near him on his flight (read from bottom to top in case you’re not familiar with Twitter stream flow).

picture-18He closes out the experience with this observation on the whole thing.


So, aside from being entertaining, this version of live-tweeting raises a lot of issues. I’ve covered a number of posts on this blog about our analysis of live-tweeting at business conferences and events.  I’ve reviewed pros and cons… but this now opens a totally different realm of live-tweeting life, for entertainment value.

Suddenly, material for stand-up comedy is live broadcast to an audience whose limit or potential is hard to define. It’s funny because it’s real. But that’s why it’s weird, too.

Certainly, the couple was having a conversation between the two of them. But, we’ve all overheard such exchanges and privacy can’t be expected, especially when you listen to aspects of this drama.

So, what does this mean for ethics, protocol, and human interaction? Anything can be shared and likely will be shared if it has inherent pass-along value like this does. @jmatusin provided his protocol by using HIM and HER and not trying to convey anything that could identify people.  What other socially acceptable norms for this behavior will emerge?

I can see a new line of employment opportunities for college students or interns hired by authors, writers, and Hollywood types to work through their lives broadcasting the real-life sitcoms they encounter along the way.  What can be better than the real thing, right?

Interesting… this can’t be the first time someone’s done this?  Any other examples? Do share…


08 2009

From A Tweet, Why Would I Want to Connect on FB?

So this afternoon I just got a direct message on Twitter from someone I recently followed after being intrigued by some of his tweets.  Literally came about 10 minutes ago.


Since this is not the first message like this I’ve received, I guess the timing hit me to capture my reaction and share it.  I’m curious if I’m missing something or if others feel the same way as me.  And it made me realize an important separation between social networking tools that at least I employ in my use.

So, here’s the deal.  @Stefan_Berg I don’t know you.  In fact, I don’t know anything aboutimages1 you other than having reviewed your recent tweets.  I’m interested in what you have to say from what I saw, so I decided to follow you.  Over time, if you post way too much or content that offends, I’ll probably stop following you.  If you post great stuff, I’ll probably look more into whether you have a blog and what else I can learn about you.

But, @Stefan_Berg, I will not likely ever connect with you on Facebook without some direct, human, and, perhaps, face-to-face interaction.  If my interaction with you is only work related, I’ll not likely ever connect with you on Facebook.  If we do business together, or if you are connected in circles important toward my expanding my company (PURSUIT) then I’ll probably find you on LinkedIn and connect there.

My question:  why would I want to connect with you on Facebook based only upon my decision to follow you on Twitter?

imagesTwo words with different meaning:  connect suggests a binding of sorts, follow is more of look and see, listen and learn or watch.  I bind with friends and family.  I look at, watch, listen to, and learn from interesting people, sometimes friends and family, often strangers and human beings just living their lives.

I think it’s a real mistake to assume that Twitter is a way into someone’s Facebook account. Certainly, this vehicle is a way to share ideas and get attention from others.  But they’ll not become a fan or friend off the same criteria used to decide to follow you.

If others have a strong opinion how/why you disagree, I’d love to hear and learn.

To me, authenticity matters in real and in virtual social circles.  And that means there are images2boundaries and uses that vary, accordingly.  Twitter = listen and learn and find and share and follow.  Facebook = connect and stay in touch and share and keep track and reach out.  LinkedIn = network and promote and search and learn.  

Each social network platform I use is unique and plays a different role in the journey of my life.  I guess that’s why, @Stefan_Berg, your invitation seems so “not authentic” and/or presumptive.  You may be a very nice guy, but why would I want to connect with you?  Right now, I’m just interested in listening to what you have to say and seeing if you are interested in anything I have to say.


07 2009

Beat It: Social Spread of Michael Jackson’s Death

So much has been written about Michael Jackson in the last several days that the total storage space connected to the web must have doubled, at least.  That’s no surprise given the significant role he played in our society on so many levels… the King of Pop certainly had every aspect of social buzz in everything he did.

Obviously, much has been said about the spread of his death via Twitter and other social media tools in a way that traditional news media outlets couldn’t match.  Had the news turned out to be a rumor we’d all be having conversations about the terrible nature of these tools to spread falsehoods.  But, it didn’t and we aren’t.  Truth is it was fascinating to watch.

I found myself in the odd place of being near the home of the King of Rock and Roll when the death of the King of Pop was confirmed.  Changing planes, I checked twitter to see if confirmations had been made (I had picked up news immediately before my flight left DesMoines to Memphis) and then saw the airport TV screens with traditional outlets covering it.

My colleagues and I wanted to see a bit of the spread, or at least try to, by reaching out to the Twitterverse and asking when and how people first learned of the news.  You’d expect the answer to have been all Twitter given our audience, right?  Not so… the first two were radio and Instant Message.  

We didn’t have a huge sampling, but enough to see an interesting flow (some were duplicated times/channels so we’ve justarticle-1195651-057bd37f000005dc-899_468x460 shown specific times reported).  Check how fast this all goes down (all times pacific) … 12:21pm paramedics called to Jackson’s home, at 2:26pm he is officially pronounce dead, at 2:44pm TMZ reports his death.  Six minutes later our respondents (from all time zones in the US) first heard the news, starting with radio.

2:50pm Radio (but reported not confirmed)

3:00pm Instant Message from friend

3:01pm Twitter

3:04pm Tweet from Ashton Kutcher @aplusk

3:05pm Twitter

3:07pm Twitter

3:30pm Time Square rolling news reports

3:32pm NY Times app on iPhone

4:00pm Text message

4:30pm Twitter

Television was nowhere in this early mix, and nearly all were friends or social networks reporting the news within 14 to 24 minutes of the official word being pronounced by the coroner.  And so it spread across the world.

Twitter activity started with news of Jackson’s death at almost the same moment as TMZ made their announcement, preceded by news of the fact he was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest.  Some of the earliest I could find on Twitter via Twist:

3:04pm @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher) Mike Jackson passed away today from a heart attack

The group composition of some of the earliest Twitterers of this news fascinates me:  @BreakingNews is BNOnews the breaking news wire across the globe.  As of today (7/3/09) they have 719,412 followers.  @tshore1023 is a self-described “slightly obsessed Madonna fan – my musings, rants, desires, and whatever else wants to spill out of this freakish mind into cyberspace!”  She lives in North Carolina and has 1,011 followers.  @aplusk is Ashton Kutcher, no intro needed, and he has 2,579,368 followers.  Finally, @japanberlynne is someone named Amber who lives in Williston, North Dakota (population 12,393) and has 25 followers.

The reporters:  a major news wire, global movie star and Twitter phenom, a Madonna fan, and a gal from a small town in North Dakota.  Across this crew, in a matter of minutes you have 3,299,816 people who had the possibility of seeing this news. Within seconds it spread dramatically wider. And here you see the fascinating reality of today’s world of information spread–you and I, celebrities, and news organizations have equal opportunity to spread to very wide audiences.  The debate, of course, now centers on whether this is good or bad mostly because of the confidence (or lack of confidence) in the truthfulness of the information shared.

article-1195651-057d3ad0000005dc-992_468x393Many of us participated in this activity like crazy.  In fact, by 3:30pm Michael Jackson references on Twitter reached above 20% of all Tweets.  News reports now suggest Twitter, Google, and Wikipedia all hit capacity at the same time. [As a side note, we're seeing similar activity on Sarah Palin's resignation as I wrap up this post].

Traditional news outlets reported on a different timeline.  The LA Times appears to be the first to confirm the death.  And it wasn’t until 3.27pm that the AP reported “a person with knowledge of the situation says Michael Jackson has died” and nearly an hour later, at 4.25pmCNN reported Jackson died. [Special thanks to the UK's MailOnline for timeline and other resources.]

How will this social spread of information continue to change the way we look at the news and powerful news stories?  Clearly, gossip and irresponsible junk will always be there, it always has.  But, the other power we saw in the social spread tools is our ability as a “crowd” to quickly sniff out the lies.  As a result, it seems the method of vetting information for its accuracy actually spreads and evolves through the rapid spread of the masses, the news wires, and the celebrities at once.

Fascinating stuff.  Now let’s figure out what it all means in terms of new services emerge to leverage these tools and meet our daily interests and needs.

Hey… to help out… if you don’t mind:  When AND how did you first learn of Michael Jackson’s death?  And, what do you think this all means? Thanks! Happy 4th of July!


07 2009

Social Media Panel at Audience Measurement 4.0 Stumped

What question do you suppose would leave a panel of leading experts in media measurement stumped?images During an otherwise informative and interesting panel discussion at the opening session at yesterday’s Audience Measurement 4.0 conference (put on by the ARF), such a question was asked that resulted in dead silence.

Irfan Kamal of Ogilvy PR Worldwide was the first to capture on Twitter the noticeable lack of response from the panelists to a question about planning for social media within media mix discussions.

irfankamalSocial media panelists asked how a marketer can evaluate which
channel to spend how much on - no answers from panelists..#am4.0
about 18 hours ago from TwitterBerry 


The keynote panel was titled Forecast 2015: Social Media & Their Impact on Audience Measurement.  The discussion was good and the participants were solid:  John Burbank – CEO, Nielsen Online, The Nielsen Company; Chris Cunningham – Founder and CEO, appssavvy, Inc.; Dean DeBiase – CEO, TNS Media; Joe Doran – Founder and CEO, Media6°; and David Smith – CEO, Mediasmith, Inc.

None could answer, however, the audience generated question about “how do I fold in social media into mix decisions?”  Burbank eventually broke the silence by giving a basic “it depends” answer along with “the tools will catch up.”

It’s a tough question.  How do you determine the most effective and impactful spend levels for social media in your overall media plan?  Marketing mix models and econometrics can provide a rear-view mirror analysis to guide budget and mix decisions.  But what if you want to try something you’ve never before done and, therefore, you don’t have any past data, but you still need help anticipating what might happen and how much you should spend on the effort?  These tools alone can’t effectively address such an need.

Enter agent-based simulation techniques.  

Companies like Icosystem, ThinkVine, and Decision Power, among others, are findings ways to create a “virtual test market” from the individual person up, rather than only using the aggregate/total data across the system.  More will come along as they see the benefits of using these tools in tandem with marketing mix and econometric models.

Basically, this technique defines rules of engagement for millions of “agents” (think people as well as media, messages, and other influencers in the real game of life) within a specific environment.  Rules mean how “agents” behave and interact with other agents, etc.  

Once all of the agents are programmed, computers run thousands of simulations to tease out and identify emergent behavior (something that hadn’t been there before and couldn’t be seen without the modeling).  This forward-looking simulation allows you to play what-if scenarios for marketing activities you’ve never before tried.  How does that work?  Because you build the simulation from the bottom-up, you’re modeling individual human interactions and not just looking at the historical relationship between aggregate data like how much you spent and how many people bought your stuff while you spent that.

At our company, PURSUIT, we apply Icosystem’s Concentric platform to our client needs for planning, optimizing, and reporting ROI on all channels, including new and social media. I love it because it is truly people centric in its very design and execution. You have to define how people behave as individuals, then let them interact with each other to see what new behaviors emerge. 

Don’t get me wrong, econometrics and marketing mix models have a solid role to play in analytics and campaign resource allocation.  They’re ideal for incremental improvements in efficiency and effectiveness (how do I get more out of my mix this quarter as compared to last, etc.).  

But, answers to the question posed yesterday will be more fully addressed when marketers and advertisers embrace the application of simulation tools that mimic individual people and how they interact within and across the worlds in which they live.  These tools can directly address the questions of “how do I fold social media into my mix” and/or “what will happen if I try this?”


06 2009