Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

John Oliver Gets Spreading Information In The Social Age

Last Week Tonight with John OliverYou can debate back and forth for days on whether Last Week Tonight is a news program or a comedy and entertainment show… or even both. But one thing you can’t debate is that John Oliver has been instrumental in opening the eyes of his viewers to subjects that they should probably know more about.

And when we say viewers, we don’t just mean the people who watch his show live on HBO, we mean everyone that has seen the numerous clips from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight since it debuted at the end of April this year.

Yes, the show we’re talking about is an HBO program, which means that viewers need to subscribe to HBO through their cable company to see the show live as it airs on Sunday nights. However, what John Oliver’s show has done that not many other shows do, especially ones on premium cable subscription channels, is found a way to make his interesting content very sharable by putting all of his segments up on YouTube.

And this is why we say that John Oliver gets it. He knows that if you want your content to spread it has to be three things; interesting, entertaining and sharable. Last Week Tonight is all three of these, which is why it got so popular so fast.

We used MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to dig a little deeper on the social phenomenon that is is John Oliver’s brand of entertaining news.

Since Last Week Tonight debuted at the end of April this year, the show’s name or John Oliver have appeared in over 818,000 social media posts.  Mentions have appeared in 14,496 blog posts, 17,346 online news articles, 26,152 forum postings and 760,222 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

There has also been, over the same time period, 11,973 videos posted that have John Oliver or Last Week Tonight mentioned in their titles or descriptions. And, to add to that, only 83 of those videos come from the show’s own YouTube channel.

Sysomos MAP - Video Activity Summary

While the number of mentions that John Oliver and Last Week Tonight have received since their show debuted is by no means an astronomical number, it’s really what was in those posts and how many people saw them that mattered. And what was in them, was videos from their YouTube channel.

You see, John Oliver and Last Week Tonight knew that not everyone has an HBO subscription. So they made their content easy to find and share somewhere else, the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube. And it’s been working for them.

We pulled up some of the stats from the Last Week Tonight YouTube page. What we found that the channel has over a million subscribers. Even better though is that the 83 videos posted to the channel have amassed over 150 million views. That’s not bad since the channel has only existed for just about 6 months.

Sysomos MAP - YouTube Channel Analysis

Even more impressive is when we looked at which of his videos were the most popular. The top five most popular videos from the channel weren’t the short funny little two minute videos. All five of them were the show’s longer form feature stories that average around 14 minutes in runtime.

Sysomos MAP - Most Viewed Videos On Last Week Tonight's YouTube Channel

Even more interesting though is when we go back to the social mentions of John Oliver and Last Week Tonight we started talking about. When we look at those mentions on our popularity chart, which plots out the mentions over time, we can see a bunch of large spikes in conversation. All of them, including the largest spike on August 18th, happen on Mondays, the day after the show airs on HBO. People would literally be waiting for the videos to go up the next morning so they could see them and share them.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

So, what can you learn from John Oliver and Last Week Tonight?

The main take-aways we see here is that there is no magic length for how long a blog post or a video should be to optimize how much your content gets shared through social media. Your content should be as long as it needs to, as long as you can keep it interesting, entertaining and make it easily sharable. If you can do that, people will be anxiously waiting for your content so they can see it and share it.

And now, just for fun and so those of you not familiar with the show can understand what we’re talking about, here’s one of our favourite clips from the first season of Last Week Tonight (of course it has to do with the internet):


What’s the ROI of Sharing Content on Social Media?

SharingFor all the talk about social media being a place to engage and have conversations, sharing content is probably what most people do the most.

The question is why so much sharing?

What is it about social media that makes it such an active medium to share interesting articles, photos, infographics, videos, etc. with other people?

Is it vanity? Is it goodwill? Is it a way to reward interesting, weird, different or high-quality content? Is it about personal branding?

It’s probably all of the above, as well as many other reasons. The reality is social media is a super-easy way to share content, while human beings are inherently information disseminators.

Telling people information about things we have found, seen or read is part of our personal make-ups. It’s what we do, so social media only serves to facilitate and accelerate this activity.

That said, a recent survey of Canadians using Twitter and Facebook showed some interesting differences in how we use different platforms.

On Twitter, for example, 79% of respondents said the reason they shared content was to endorse it. On Facebook, endorsing content was only cited by 32% of respondents.

Many of the other categories ranked fairly closely with the exception of “gain followers/build a brand”. Only 2% of Twitters users said they shared content to achieve this goal, compared with 11% of Facebook users.

One of the more interesting trends to watch in 2015 is how content curation will become more popular and valuable for brands and individuals.

While there are many reasons to share content, there is more interest in how shared content is packaged and tracked, and how it can deliver better ROI.

Platforms such as Pressly, which allow brands to create destinations to share their own and curated third-party content, will likely gain more traction so brands can have more control shared content.

At the same time, you will likely see more services such as, which lets people add a small “branding widget” when they share content via social media. It’s a way to gain a little more of the spotlight, other than the goodwill of sharing content.

In many respects, the social media sharing economy is evolving and moving in interesting directions. While people will continue to enthusiastically share, there will also be more ways to capitalize on this activity.

share social media

Book Publishers Embrace the Digital Age

RL-Stine-Twitter-Story-01-685x852The book publishing industry has been an interesting one to watch over the past five years from a social media and digital perspective.

It’s not hard to argue it was going to be hit hard and would be a sector that would be slow to adapt when the world went digital. As it struggled to play by the new rules, social media was a stone the industry left unturned for awhile.

While there’s no argument book publishers were slow out of the gate, a growing number of publishers have started to embrace social media to drive sales as their revenue model has evolved in the wake e-books and a flooded entertainment market.

Children horror author R.L. Stine recently wrote a 2,000 character story on Twitter. Just as important and interesting is comic book publishers after running with their social media success and digitizing their products now more than ever.

Every major publisher is active on social media. Today, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit might be the best way for fans to interact with the publisher’s authors.

Comic book grading authority, CGC Comics, recently scanned Action Comic #1 from 1938 featuring the first appearance of Superman and offered it for free public consumption. A physical copy of the comic book sold at auction for $3.2 million.

This is pretty amazing and further proof that publishers and other parts of the industry are getting creative and inventive.

Social networks dedicated to storytelling such as Medium and Wattpad or networks solely for passionate fans of books like Goodreads are now more popular then ever.

What we’re seeing is an industry coming alive digitally before our eyes. Leveraging passionate readers and writers to create hubs that are elevated by social activity.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see this social activity lead to an increase in sales. This is one aspect that more data is required and will hopefully be made available.

The book publishing industry is one to watch going forward because it looks like the needle is finally pointing in the right direction.

Taylor Swift vs Spotify

Taylor Swift - 1989There can be little debate that Taylor Swift is the hottest thing in music today (I mean, come on. That “Shake it off” song is so just happy and catchy).

There’s also little room for debate that the music industry is very different today than a decade ago, with streaming services being favoured more and more over actually buying albums.

If both of these things are true, then why has Taylor Swift decided to remove all of her music from Spotify, the largest of the streaming music services?

Last week, Swift released her latest album, 1989. However, users of streaming services like Spotify noticed that the album wasn’t on any of the streaming services on the release date. While disappointing, this isn’t very uncommon. A bunch of artists have chose to hold off on adding their albums to streaming services for a few weeks after release to drive initial album sales. And this tactic worked for Swift, as she saw over 1.3 million album sales in the first week, making 1989 the biggest first week for an album since Eminem’s 2002 The Eminem Show.

However, not releasing her new album to the streaming services was just the first step. On Monday, Taylor Swift pulled her entire catalogue of music off of Spotify. A move that many are questioning and talking about.

We decided to look at the conversation around this topic using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, by searching for mentions of Taylor Swift and Spotify that have appeared together in the past 3 days. In that time we found just under 80,000 mentions across social channels like Twitter, blogs, forums and online news sites. By no means is this a large amount, but it does start to show that the topic is on people’s minds.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

There’s also been 249 videos created over the past 3 days that mention both Swift and Spotify in their title or descriptions. Many of these videos question why the artist would do such a thing and many more plead for Taylor to put her music back up so they can listen to it.

Sysomos MAP - Video Activity Summary

This cry is being heard around the world. When we looked at where all of the talk was coming from we found that the United States was making the most noise about the subject (over 52% of it), but a lot of other countries were also talking about. Under the pie chart is a heat map of where tweets mentioning T-Swift and Spotify were coming from and you can see that Twitter users across the globe are talking about this.

Sysomos MAP - Country Distribution

Sysomos MAP - Geo Location Heat Map of Tweets

We also looked at some of these tweets that were happening. The most retweeted tweet that we’ve found on the subject comes from Spotify’s own Twitter account. Spotify made a very clever tweet of a playlist they put together trying to get Taylor Swift to come back to them.


While the numbers that we’re seeing right now around this subject aren’t earth shattering, they do make us start to think about this new world we’ve embraced.

With so many companies these days seeing the value in being social, sharing and streaming their content, why has the biggest artist in the world right now decided to go the opposite route? Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments.

Will this be a permanent thing? And if so, will Spotify be able to shake it off? (See what I did there?)

Social Media Debates Push for Change

Picture_1_400x400When news broke that CBC had fired Jian Ghomeshi and that he was subsequently suing the public broadcaster for 50 million dollars, Canadians immediately swarmed to social media to weigh in with their opinions.

When Ghomeshi posted an open letter to Facebook about his sexual preferences and the part they played in his dismissal, the conversation shifted and more users entered the digital arena to debate the issue.

When the story unfolded even more victims came forward telling their story, the online dialogue blew up and even shifted into a full-out debate on the issues that surround this headline grabbing story.

Ghomeshi’s attempts to go on the offensive and get ahead of the story on social media, ultimately proved unsuccessful. In the end, social media proved to be his enemy as the voice of the victims and users flooded the networks muting the original post aimed at labeling CBC as the villain.

Currently, Canadians are finding themselves knee deep in several intense social debates, including the one about Ghomeshi. There’s the ISIS debate, the one about security in Ottawa, about intelligence and privacy, amongst others.

The Ghomeshi story has taken a hold of the attention of many Canadian users and has proven that social media is the perfect avenue for open debate.

Regardless of the topics, opinions are welcome and hopefully they are thoughtful (of course, no one governs this on any given thread). Amongst these opinions, an astute observer can get a sense of public opinion.

The Ghomeshi discussion has become fuel for many other discussions, all of which are in-depth, intense and hint at Canada being a country on the precipice of some sort of identity change.

When this change happens, it’ll be on us to prove that the fire was originally lit within the confines of social media and it was users who fanned the flames.

Sysomos Data Being Used By Bloomberg Politics To Show Issues Driving The Midterm Election

We always love when we come across clients using Sysomos to do amazing things. Here’s one of the latest:


With the United States having their midterm elections today, you can be sure that a lot of people have been voicing their opinions on the issues via social media for the past few weeks, probably even months. But how can you tell which ones are at the forefront people’s minds?

Well, if you’re Bloomberg Politics, you decide to start looking for the signs in what people are saying, reading and seeing. And that’s exactly what they did when Bloomberg Politics launched their “What’s Driving The Week?” site.

Bloomberg Politics Issue Tracker

On this site, Bloomberg Politics has taken what they believed to be the 10 most important issues on the American public’s mind and then ranked them according to their mentions across Twitter, the news, and campaign ads. Bloomberg says that the rankings of issues are based on:

  • “Twitter served to gauge the public’s interest in the issues. Using Sysomos, a [social] media monitoring company, we made complex search queries to find tweets that were relevant to the campaign or public policy–and tried to weed out those that weren’t.
  • To measure how much attention the issues have received in the news media, we searched a database of 55,000 mainstream news sources from Sysomos.
  • Campaign ads served as a proxy for how much attention candidates have paid to the 10 issues. Using data from Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ads on national and local broadcast television and national cable networks, we counted how many times ads aired that included mentions of the issues.”

The team over at Bloomberg Politics then takes each category and scores it out of 100, with a 0 being the issue being talked about least in a medium, 100 for the most and the others scored proportionately in between. The three categories are then added together for each issue, averaged out and then the issues are ranked in order.

Not only are the issues ranked by the talk they’ve received across the United States, but Bloomberg Politics also breaks the them down by state. Clicking on an issue reveals a visual representation of how much each issue is being discussed in each of the 50 states by the size of a states bubble. The colour of each bubble also reveals if the issue has grown or decreased in talk from the week before.

Bloomberg Politics Issue Tracker - State View

So, if you’re American, before you go vote today why not see what issues are most important in your state.


Are you doing something cool with Sysomos data you think we should feature? Let us know by reaching out to

Seven Tools to Put Your Blog on Steroids

Blogging is hard work. It takes time, effort and creativity.

But there are lots of ways to jump-start your blogging efforts – tools that make you more efficient, productive and creative, while driving distribution.

sevenHere are some of the most interesting tools that I have come across recently:

1. Atomic Reach: a free plug-in that uses an algorithm to analyze and score the spelling, grammar and quality of your writing. For some people, particularly writers, Atomic Reach can be challenging because it changes how you write. In time, however, you begin to understand how to use Atomic Reach, and, in the process, it will make you a better writer.

2. Buffer: After writing a blog post, it needs to be distributed. Buffer is a free and paid service that make it easy to publish updates on multiple social media platforms. It recently introduced a new feature that makes a snap to schedule posts to appear at particular times (e.g. now, tomorrow, next week), which is a great way to leverage distribution over time.

3. Title Experiments: It goes without saying that a good, interesting or eye-catching blog title is an effective way to get people to take a look. Title Experiments is a free plugin that lets you create different versions of the headline, and then promotes the one attracting the most clicks. It’s a great way to test your creativity and get a better feel for the headlines that work.

4. Flare: Along with Digg Digg, Flare is one of the most popular plugins to let people share your posts via share media. Flare can be configured to display particular social media networks, as well as placement in different places on the blog post.

5. PhotoPin: There are many places to discover royalty-free photos, but PhotoPin is one of the most user-friendly and content-rich. You can search by use (commercial vs. non-commercial) and by type (recent, relevant, interestingness).

6. Optimizilla: After discovering the right photo or image for a post, there’s a lot of value in making it the ideal size to save on load times and resources. Optimizilla is a user-friendly and free service to quickly reduce the size of photos and images without losing much in the way of quality.

7. WordPress SEO: Google keeps changes the rules of engagement for search but WordPress SEO (a free plugin) provides a solid SEO foundation for a blog. It’s easy to configure your post’s keyword, meta-description and title.

Social Media Beefs up its Membership

collage4The world loves social media. Very few people in the western world have been able to resist its allure. Those who have resisted seems to eventually come around. It’s just that big of a deal.

Social media has been able to attract two very notable and historic people into its fold recently. These people are Stephen Hawking and Queen Elizabeth II. I would say that this represents a fairly big feather in the social media cap.

Stephen Hawking joined Facebook and Queen Elizabeth II sent out her very first tweet, and the networks got pretty excited about the prospect of their presence.

What was their first order of business? Well Stephen Hawkings made a joke about his robot voice and Queen Elizabeth II tweeted from the British Monarchy account to open the Information Age Exhibit at London’s Science Museum.

This might seem inconsequential but can you remember another medium that could boast that the greatest mind of our time and the Queen were both members.

Granted, their activity level might not be that engaging going forward, but that’s not really the point.

Social media is a beast hat has a life of its own, people from all walks of life gravitate towards social media, once they find a network that suits them. We all know there’s a forum for everyone in the digital world.

Every celebrity, the majority of great writers and artists and also many members of academia have some kind of social footprint. Stephen Hawking and Queen Elizabeth II are further proof of the draw and appeal of social media.

It’s a wake up call to brands that you have to be on social media, but it also should make the average user wonder about someone they know who has refuted social media.

It truly is a brave new world, one that even Stephen Hawking could not have even see coming in all his infinite wisdom.

IHOP Delivers Fat Stacks to its Young Audience

828o-OYq_400x400In the world of social media, a brand can be whatever it wants. The onus is on the brand to find its voice and from there find the opportunity within its audience.

The key is to brand (or in many cases rebrand) in a way that will grow your audience, not alienate your current one. To do this you have to understand your audience and create a plan that will engage them.

IHOP quietly rebranded itself through Twitter by adopting what it calls a “hip hop” tone. The agency who manages the account knew that its audience skewers young and that it needed to alter its voice to grow that audience.

This is a unique case. Can you think of another brand that changed it’s entire social voice, not just as part of a campaign?

Several of IHOP’s hip hop tweets have been shared relentlessly and its new voice has been discussed quite a bit. They have also seen their audience increase by 18%, while drawing some mockery from competitors.

Utilizing the jargon that most associate with hip hop, IHOP was determined to talk the talk and ensure that they came across as genuine.

The danger was in alienating users of their fan base who didn’t understand the lingo and found the tweets to confusing or obnoxious. It’s always a smart idea to grow your most prominent demographic, but you don’t want to break even on the total number.

As of now, this appears to be a win for IHOP, and also as a win for brands who want to shift gears and change their voice. This comes with some much inherent risk, so they might not be in the clear just yet.

IHOP did it strategically and only after they had amassed enough information and data to know that this was the right way to go. The growth of IHOP’s online audience will be further evidence that this risk can come with great reward.

Have you ever considered changing the voice of your social presence?


#GamerGate: Lots of Noise, Not A Lot of Clear Direction

man_yelling_at_computerThere’s a not-so-secret war happening online as we speak.

A lot of people can say that they’ve heard of or seen the #GamerGate hashtag, but not too many people can say for certain what it’s about anymore.

To be fair, there was a clear set of events that set off #GamerGate, long before the movement even started using the hashtag. However, the war has grown and mutated since then in so many directions. People entrenched in #GamerGate have a good idea of what they’re fighting over, but those outside don’t seem to have a clue.

While the intent of this post is to look at how #GamerGate has spread across social media, it’s important to explain some of the background, which I will attempt to do without upsetting either side of the argument.

Around the middle of August, the ex-boyfriend of a female game developer wrote a blog post about how his ex had cheated on him while they were together. In the post he named some names of some men that he believed she had cheated on him with. Usually, a post like this would mostly go unnoticed on the internet. However, of the names named in the post many were notable names in the gaming world, such as game journalists and game award judges, and they had all been known to say good things and/or promote the female game developers games.

This brought light to the gaming industry that maybe they weren’t getting the un-biased judgement they thought they were around game reviews and awards. This started an uprising within the gaming world where average gamers started calling people out and demanding for some ethics from the gaming journalists.

At this point, there started to become two factions of this fight. The first faction was just fighting others and calling for a reasonable standard of ethics in the industry so regular consumers felt that they were getting fair reviews of games they wanted to spend money on. The second faction was saying that gamers were just upset because women had become part of gaming culture and that people were attacking them trying to keep it a “boys only club.”

It was during this initial uprising the actor Adam Baldwin (from Firefly and Chuck) tweeted the hashtag #GamerGate on August 27th referring to the controversy and the hashtag took off from there.

After this point in the story the water becomes a bit murky. The hashtag #GamerGate grew into a larger thing with many fights happening on many sides. Some are using the hashtag to fight the fight of ethics in gaming journalism. Some are using it to fight against what they believe is misogyny in the world of video games. Some are fighting for what they believe are feminists trying to ruin their gaming culture. And some are fighting just to fight.

It actually has gotten very messy with some people getting personally threatened or attacked and a lot of name calling on either side. I’d prefer not to go in further details. However, if you’d like a good look at what else has happened in the #GamerGate saga, I’ve found this article on Know Your Meme seems to have a fairly unbiased timeline you can follow.

Now, back to the original point of this article….

With so much of the #GamerGate war happening online, I thought it would be interesting to use MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to look at just how big it’s gotten.

As I stated above, the hashtag #GamerGate didn’t exist until the end of August, despite the whole controversy starting two weeks before that. However, since the time the hashtag came into play it’s been used almost 4 million times across social media channels. I was able to find 5,130 blog posts, 3,414 online news articles, 38,606 forum postings and 3,842,346 tweets all making mention of #GamerGate.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

In addition to those channels, there has also been 11,165 videos created in this time that make mention of #GamerGate in their title or description.

Sysomos MAP - Summary of Video Activity

While some movements start out strong and then start to fade, the opposite has been true for #GamerGate. A look at our popularity graph, which plots out all of those mentions over time, shows that the #GamerGate hashtag has actually gained popularity since the end of August when it started being used. This seems to be due to two main factors. The first is that more people are starting to hear about the movement and are trying to get in on the action on all sides of the fight. The second, which correlates to the largest spike we can see in the chart below came when a well known feminist speaker had her life threatened by someone claiming to be part of the #GamerGate movement, which garnered a lot of attention from mainstream sources. The second large spike came from another threat that was aimed at a woman speaking about looking for social equality, which again spiked more main stream sources to look at the #GamerGate controversy.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

Interestingly, when I looked for the most retweeted tweets about #GamerGate, I found that the majority of them had to do with the fight of the sexes going on within #GamerGate. However, the second most retweeted tweet was a plea from someone asking that #GamerGate be used only to talk about the initial cause of the whole thing, ethics in gaming in journalism. Unfortunately, it’s the fighting and few bad things that have happened in the sex war faction of #GamerGate that has garnered the most attention around the whole issue.

Sysomos MAP - Most Retweeted Tweets

When I looked at some text analytics around the #GamerGate controversy, I found that you can actually see all of the different kinds of fights going on within. Both our buzzgraph and word cloud reveal that there is a lot of talk about both the journalism aspect that started the whole thing and the sexism (on both sides of sexism) that is coming to the forefront. I won’t comment on either, but see the word cloud and buzzgraph below to see for yourself.

Sysomos MAP - Buzzgraph

Sysomos MAP - Word Cloud

While it’s hard to know what #GamerGate is really all about anymore, and I’ll let you make up your mind about this, one thing is for sure; no one is happy about any of it. A look at the sentiment from all of the #GamerGate conversations across social media shows that an overwhelming 40% of all conversations is negative.

Sysomos MAP - Overall Sentiment

Again, my intention of this post was not to be in support of any side of this, but simply to show the world how big #GamerGate actually is despite many people not even knowing what it is about.