It’s Official…J.K. Rowling Owns Social Media

By Mark Evans - October 24th, 2014

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Social media is where fans go to congregate, connect and talk about their passion.

One of the most fervent fanbases out there in the digital world belongs to Harry Potter and its creator J.K. Rowling.

Not only do fans of the book series and movies have high social media activity, Rowling uses Twitter to engage entice and intrigue her fans.

Rowling might have outdone herself recently with a recent tweet that sent her fans into a frenzy. The best part of it was that she was constantly at the forefront of the chatter.

After a few weeks of Twitter silence, Rowling tweeted to her four million followers, “Cry, foe! Run amok! Fa awry! My wand won’t tolerate this nonsense”.

The next 24 hours proved to be insane as the tweet was retweeted over 15,000 times.

Harry Potter fans discussed the meaning of the tweet ad nauseam. Was it a riddle? Was it an anagram?

One intrepid fan deciphered the tweet, and Rowling revealed it was related to Newt Scamanader, the author of the textbook featured in the Harry Potter novels. She is working on a screenplay for a film based on the series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Looking at the fan activity and the hysteria, it’s an understatement to say that Rowling nailed it. There are lessons that very brand can learn from what the popular author does online, especially on Twitter. 

It’s fun to see how Rowling plays into her fans and doesn’t just use her account to promote her work. She finds creative ways to engage her audience, while making them feel part of the narrative. Needless to say, it’s not easy making four million people feel included in anything.

Rowling is a case study in how to leverage social media and connect with your fans. Any brand that wants to follow best practice should be paying attention.

Emma Watson Stunt Delivers Social Media Impact

By Mark Evans - October 22nd, 2014

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It’s not easy becoming the talk of social media, and those who get to that level usually didn’t do so on purpose.

The recent celebrity nude photo leak was the hot topic on social media once the story broke. Emma Watson found a way to leverage it through a hoax to bring awareness to a very worthwhile cause.

After the British actress launched the HeForShe campaign at the United Nations in New York City, a threat appeared online claiming that Watson was next.

The threat linked to a website titled, “Emma Watson you are next”. It featured a clock, which led many to believe that nude photos of Watson would be hitting the web and social media when the clock wound down to zero.

Shortly after the threat went viral, the link was directed to Rantic.com a relatively unknown social media company and a brand new campaign to take down 4chan – the Website that most believe is responsible for the nude photo leak.

The amount of tension, suspense and intrigue makes one think they might have mistakenly stepped onto the set of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions.

Is Emma Watson involved? Who is Rantic? Has this helped the HeForShe campaign? What we do know is that social media went crazy with activity about this story and in particular about that ticking clock.

As a social media campaign, it was successful in many ways.

It still left to be seen if Rantic really pulled it off is still to be seen, but if the activity for #HeForShe is any indication, awareness was raised for the cause.

T create a digital campaign this intricate and subversive is impressive. The danger for others who want to imitate is that many hoaxes do go awry and annoy audiences.

Like anything when it is done right, social media takes notices and propels it to great heights.

2014 World Series Social Prediction

By Sheldon Levine - October 21st, 2014

2014 World SeriesWhile baseball may be known as the sport of the summer, everyone knows that the real excitement doesn’t even start until October.

In October the top teams play and vie for their chance to be in the MLB World Series.

Well, those teams have all played and starting tonight we will all bare witness to the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals kick off their best of seven series to see who will be crowned the 2014 World Series champions.

It promises to be an incredibly exciting series. The Giants have been a powerhouse team for the past few years. This will be their third trip to the World Series since 2010 and they won both of their previous times here. On the other side, the Royals haven’t even made it into the MLB playoffs in 29 years, but battled their way through this year and now have a chance to take it all.

It’s really very exciting.

As we’ve done in previous years, we thought it would be fun to take a look at both of these teams and how they’ve appeared in social media over the 2014 season using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to see if that data can predict a World Series winner.

First, we started our assessment by looking up mentions of both teams over the course of the season (March 22 to October 20). In that time, we found the Giants mentioned in over 10 million social media conversations. They appeared in 191,057 blog posts, 563,685 online news articles, 279,624 forum postings and 9,737,47 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for the San Francisco Giants

Meanwhile, the Royals were mentioned in almost 7 million conversations. We found the Royals appear in 80,985 blog posts, 280,674 online news articles, 242,175 forum postings and 6,287,126 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for the Kansas City Royals

For perspective, we’ve also brought those numbers up as a pie chart for side by side comparison. This shows that out of both teams the Giants lead the way of social mentions with 61% of the conversation while the Royals make up the remaining 39%.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Comparison

As well, side by side in a channel breakdown, you can see that the Giants clearly got more mentions in each individual medium.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Comparison by Source

A look at mentions of both teams shows that throughout the entire season the Giants had a more vocal fan base. The Giants saw more volume of conversation throughout the entire season aside from when the Royals found that they were moving on past the regular season. When the Royals moved into the playoffs there was a huge spike in mentions of the team due to the fact this was the first time they had been in the post-season in 29 years.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Comparison Over Time

The number of mentions don’t mean everything though. Because of this, we also dove into the sentiment around each team… and actually found some interesting results.

Throughout the season the Royals showed a 83% favourable rating. We found that 27% of the talk about the Royals was positive while 17% was negative.

Sysomos MAP - Overall Sentiment of the Kansas City Royals

When we looked at the sentiment around the Giants though, we found that most of it seemed to be in the neutral range (which was strange, so we ran the query multiple times but always came to the same results). The Giants showed a 96% favourable rating. There was an odd 1% of positive sentiment around the Giants and only 4% negative chatter.

Sysomos MAP - Overall Sentiment of the San Francisco Giants

What does this all mean though?

Well, technically all it means is that the San Francisco Giants have a much more vocal fan base than the Kansas City Royals. In fact, earlier in the season the Royals coach called out the fans for not showing enough support for their team.

However, if we want to use this data to try and predict a World Series winner, we would have to crown the Giants to take it all. Their fans have been more vocal about the team both in terms of volume and favourable talk.

So, our prediction is that the San Francisco Giants will take the World Series over the Kansas City Royals.

But since this isn’t a real science around actual player performance, only time will tell who will really walk away as the 2014 World Series champions.

Who do you think is going to take the World Series this year?

Can Keek Achieve Monetization Bliss?

By Mark Evans - October 20th, 2014

keek

In many ways, Keek is the ideal case study of how social media success doesn’t always translate into financial success.

The service, which lets people share 36-second videos – called “Keeks” – has been wildly successful with more than 65 million users. The Toronto-based was billed as “Canada’s Instagram” and it enjoyed such strong growth that it was able to raise $30-million along the way.

Keek’s 64-year-old CEO, Issac Raichyk, was hailed as an example of an older entrepreneur who could enjoy success in a world dominated by 20-somethings.

In that respect, it was a huge success.

The problem, however, was Keek had a difficult time monetizing its traffic to capitalize on its popularity. In the six months that ended Aug. 31, 2013, Keek lost $13 million. That’s almost twice the burn rate the company had during the previous fiscal year, when it lost $15 million.

After a much-speculated $100-million financing failed to materialize last year, the company agreed to sell itself to Primary Petroleum Corp., a Calgary-based listed junior energy company. Raichyk was replaced as CEO by Primary’s Mike Marrandino.

That seemed to mark the end of a spectacular but short run as an upcoming and coming social media service.

But Keek is still around, and it looks like it may have discovered a way to make money.

According to MediaPost, Keek will begin hosting advertisements in the U.S.

Keek will partner with Twitter’s MoPub and Google DoubleClick AdExchange for Web-based inventory. “We project about 10% of revenue will come from the real-time marketplace offering real-time bidding and programmatic, and 70% through advertising networks,” said Keek senior vice-president Bill Blummer.

It is left to be seen whether Keek can financially successful but it does illustrate that being popular doesn’t necessarily equate to driving revenue.

One of Keek’s problem as it exploded was the lack of a strong business plan to reap the benefits of having lots of users. It was a classic example of a startup that figured it would eventually find a way to make money.

In that sense, Keek was behaving in the same way as many other social media networks who adopted a build-it-and-we-will-make-money-later approach. Case in point is Twitter, which is driving significant revenue growth through advertising, while e-commerce is on the horizon.

While the future is still uncertain for Keek, the upside is it has another chance to become a business rather than simply a popular service.

Did JetBlue Boot a Passenger Because of a Tweet?

By Mark Evans - October 17th, 2014

140602172212-jetblue-plane-story-topWhile social media is a powerful asset to both brands and users, it has a folly which can sometimes undermine its capabilities. This folly is that it is meant to share opinions in real time but those opinions can come back to haunt you in an instant.

This was proven recently when JetBlue kicked a passenger off of a flight, believed to be because of a series of tweets that the pilot felt were accusatory. The accusation was that he was intoxicated.

A delayed flight, this time from Boston to Philadelphia, tends to lend itself to Twitter coverage. In general, Twitter has become a hub for complaints about delayed flights, unruly passengers and bad experiences with airlines.

This time was no different, but it seemed to reiterate the point of accountability and how brands view tweets in a very serious light, one that prompts immediate action or reaction.

The comment by the passenger seemed rather innocent. It involved the passengers saying it had been a long night and he hoped there was a fully stocked bar on the airplane.

JetBlue like any organization had to decide how to handle that situation which best protected its image and reputation. It’s tough to fault them for acting so swiftly, regardless of how you interpret the tweet.

Social media has changed so many aspects of brands and how they do business, and the fallout seems to be that so many are on constant high alert.

In fairness to those who believe JetBlue overreacted, it did administer a sobriety test for the pilot. They claimed afterwards that the passenger was removed due to unruly behaviour, and that they would never remove a passenger for expressing criticism on any medium.

This might be one of those social media tales where the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Sysomos Stability and What You Need To Know

By Sheldon Levine - October 15th, 2014

A message from our CEO, Jim Delaney:

If you’re a Sysomos customer, you’ve probably noticed we’ve had some downtime lately.

First and foremost, you need to know that we don’t find this any more acceptable than you do. We understand that you rely on Sysomos to get business done, to deliver reports and analytics, and to keep tabs on the real-time world of the social web. When it’s not working, you’re losing productivity and information.

We’re committed to making this right.

Second, we’d like to explain what we’re doing to fix the problem so we can deliver the Sysomos reliability you’ve come to expect and deserve.

These recent issues have three main root cause: some migration issues with our ongoing move to grid server architecture, a lack of redundancy for some of our social data feeds and inputs, and data input growth requiring rapid increases to our network capacity.

To address that, we are:

  • Immediately and rapidly replacing hardware we’ve outgrown with new, high-capacity servers. You’ll see a big difference in performance by early next week.
  • We’ve already installed additional and more sensitive alerting systems on our server infrastructure to ensure we fix issues before they impact you.
  • Backfilling data from sources like Twitter that were unavailable last week, which will be complete by the end of tomorrow (Thursday).
  • Continuing our move to a grid server architecture, which will provide better stability, capacity, and 99.9% uptime once finished. That migration will be complete early 2015, but we’re moving things continuously to this new structure.

We’re also hiring like crazy on our grid, systems and engineering teams (know anyone great? Check out our career opportunities) to make sure we continue to have the smartest, most capable minds building and maintaining our infrastructure and products.

We’re evangelists for the power of social intelligence. But we also know that having the information and the social data you need to drive your strategies isn’t optional, it’s essential. And it has to be reliably available when you need it.

We’ve let you down there recently, and we’re hard at work around the clock to make it better.

If you’ve got questions, concerns, or need a hand, here’s how you can reach a human, directly and quickly:

  • Tweet us at @Sysomos
  • Call our support line at 1.866.483.3338 between 8:30a ET and 8p ET
  • Email our support team directly at clientsupport@sysomos.com or email your dedicated Social Media Specialist

The exponential growth of social data is only matched by the sheer capacity for social intelligence to help our enterprises grow and thrive.

We absolutely believe in that potential. We’ve made more investments in our infrastructure in the last three months than we have in the three years before that, precisely because of the growth, opportunity, and power of social for business.

And while roadbumps like this are not a fun part of that evolution, we appreciate your support and patience as we navigate them.

We promise it will be worth it, and that it’s all in the name of delivering the world-class social intelligence platform that you need for your business.

Thanks, as always, for being part of our journey.

Feuding Movies Go Social

By Mark Evans - October 15th, 2014

gcpd-batman-movie-jack-snyderThere’s a crossover war happening between Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and the new Star Wars film. The battleground is social media and fans seem to be eating it up.

It all started when the director of the next instalment of Star Wars, J.J. Abrams, sent the man donning the cape and cowl as the Dark Knight, Ben Affleck, a photo of he and his camera operator wearing cheap Batman masks.

Affleck then showed the photo to Zack Snyder, Director of Batman v. Superman, and then all bets were off.

From there, Snyder posted an image of storm troopers being pushed into a police cruiser by Gotham City police officers. Abrams responded with a video teasing the Millennium Falcon where underneath the Batmobile was camouflaged and hidden.

Something so simple escalated then exploded into an elaborate and fun exercise in buzz building across multiple social networks.

All of the images were shared over and over again, and it even created a social war of words between fans of Star Wars and those of DC. Anticipation for both films (Star Wars in 2015 and Batman v. Superman in 2016) is sky high and these stunts have only heightened their appeal.

It has also quelled the disgruntled fans who are upset about the Affleck casting or that the Star Trek director is helming another iconic sci-fi franchise. This might have been the greatest gift of this spontaneous social media campaign.

The lesson for brands is to have fun and leverage your competitors in playful and creative ways.

No Stopping the Facebook Juggernaut

By Mark Evans - October 13th, 2014

According to a new survey by Piper Jaffray, teenagers are losing their fascination with Facebook.

Between fall 2014 and spring 2014, Piper Jaffray found that Facebook use among 13 to 19-year-olds dropped to 45% from 72%.

social media, facebook IPOThe news attracted a lot of media coverage but investors shrugged it off given Facebook is trading just below a 52-week high.

In the past, I haven’t been convinced about Facebook’s ability to drive ultra-growth but I have now realized it is a juggernaut with the ability to adapt and innovate.

And if Facebook is unable to innovate internally, it buys what it needs – e.g. Instagram, Oculus, WhatsApp.

As important, Facebook is maturing and expanding as a business. Armed with huge amounts of user data, Facebook is the leading place online for advertisers to target specific groups.

If you’re an advertiser, for example, interested in 35-to-year-old males in Seattle who play chess, you can micro-target them on Facebook. That’s powerful data for advertisers that want a return on investment.

At a conference last week in Toronto, Gary Vaynerchuk was enthusiastic about Facebook as an advertising platform.

In particular, he talked about the value of “dark posts”, which are posts that don’t appear on a timeline but can be access via a direct link or by clicking on an ad. (Check out this post by Duct Tape Marketing to learn more about why dark posts are the best approach to Facebook advertising.)

You may not like how Facebook keeps changing the rules of engagement in how the service works. And you may have problems with how much of your data is being leveraged to make the platform attractive to advertisers.

But the reality is people use Facebook because it is a user-friendly way to keep in touch with friends and family. It has become a part of your personal digital presence, as much as having an email address.

And while people may gravitate to Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter as alternative to Facebook, they don’t offer the same utility as Facebook so they can’t be replacements.

Whether or not you’re a Facebook fan, you have to give Facebook a lot of credit for being agile, aggressive and unafraid to changes thing to keep the platform and business moving forward.

This is not an organization content to rest on its laurels. The $2-billion acquisition of Oculus, which develops virtual reality technology, shows how Facebook is already looking over the horizon strategically.

I would suggest that anyone who believes Facebook has peaked or lost its mojo should think again. The Piper Jaffray survey is interesting but it doesn’t really suggest there are crack in the Facebook armour.

What do you think? Is Facebook still the dominant social media player, or do you see signs of trouble?

social media usage

 

Social Media Sneers at Subway Ads

By Mark Evans - October 10th, 2014

subway-halloween-eat-light-hed-2014Another week and another brand feels the not so gentle lash of social media outrage.

This time the brand in question is Subway, who recently ran a series of ads about how Subway sandwiches can help women fit into their halloween costumes.

Both men and women took to Twitter and Facebook to label the commercials as sexist and old fashioned. Now, this post is in no way to pass judgement on Subway, it is merely to look at the swift hand of justice that belongs to social media.

The ads were slammed. There’s no way to sugarcoat that. Whether you think they were sexist or not, the social media activity reflected a very negative tone.

Many users were not kind to Subway, wondering what was going through the minds of those who produced the ads.

Social media reflects the pulse of our times. We are currently in a zeitgeist of questioning gender equality. This is a constant streaming conversation on many social media platforms.

like any brand that has encountered this trial by digital fire, Subway will rebound from this and best of all they will learn many valuable lessons.

One of these lessons is that regardless of the medium in which it airs, social media will judge your content. In 2014 and going forward, mediums are interlocked with social media. Even billboards are not a safe haven.

Another lesson is that you have to be aware of the important topics that are being discussed in the world. Before brainstorming ideas, check out social media and see what users are interested in and figure out what to put forward and what to avoid.

Social media expects brands to be modern and conscientious, respectful of both customers and non-customers. It’s not an easy job but it’s now the cost of doing business.

Four Easy Ways to Improve LinkedIn

By Mark Evans - October 8th, 2014

For business professionals, LinkedIn is ubiquitous. It’s the new digital resume (does anyone have a resume anymore?).

But LinkedIn is far from perfect, which is surprising given its size and how aggressive it has been to deliver more features beyond connecting with other people.

img vspace=If I was running LinkedIn, here are a few things that I would improve.

1. Make it easier to make and ask for recommendations. Right now, you need to do the following:

– Click on “Account & Settings”.

– Log in, even if you are already logged in.

– Click on “Manage your recommendations, which is one of many options on the page.

– Click on “Ask for recommendations” or “Give recommendations”.

It’s a lot of work for what is an important part of the LinkedIn experience. It’s puzzling why the feature is buried deep inside the Website to the point where it’s almost inaccessible.

2. Write content, which is a feature that LinkedIn recently introduced. Too bad, it’s so difficult to find.

After some pecking around, I finally figured it. There’s a tiny pencil in the “Share an update” box that launches the publishing tool. It’s not the best or most prominent way display a key feature given LinkedIn wants to become a place where people create content. What about the idea of a call-to-action: “Write a Post” using a bright button? I bet that would probably get people to write more posts or, at the very least, discover the feature exists.

3. Better and easy way to search connections: It’s super-easy to request and accept connection using LinkedIn, which explains why there are a lot of people with hundreds or thousands of connections.

But why doesn’t LinkedIn make it easier to search through your contacts. There should be a more user-friendly, intuitive way to quickly discover your connections than the existing tools.

4. A powerful and/or effective lead nurturing tool. Now, this would be a super-cool tool that would amplify LinkedIn’s value. It would make LinkedIn far more interesting and valuable for people who have a lot of connections but would love a way to get more business from them.

The improvements I would like to seem like low-hanging fruit, and could probably be ticked off with some UX/UI work. So, what do you say LinkedIn?

What other improvements would you like LinkedIn to make?