Black Friday by the Social Numbers

By Sheldon Levine - December 2nd, 2014

Black Friday SaleNumbers vary on depending on where you look, but a lot of people seem to think that Black Friday this year didn’t generate the sales numbers that retailers were looking for. In fact, a lot of outlets are claiming that Black Friday sales numbers this year went down when compared to last year.

But sales numbers aside, Black Friday was still event that people were talking about. And a lot of that talk and sharing of sales and deals was happening though social media.

We decided to take a quick look to see just how many conversation were happening about Black Friday this year using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software.

Looking for mentions of “Black Friday” or the “#BlackFriday” hashtag on Friday November 28th, we found over 3.5 million social mentions on just that single day. That was 17,330 blog posts, 31,221 online news articles, 51,741 forum postings and 3,426,440 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Black Friday

While shopping is sometimes seen as something women prefer to do over men, when we looked a little bit deeper into those Black Friday tweets on Nov. 28th, we actually found that men were tweeting more about it than women by just barely more at 52% vs 48%.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Activity Summary for Black Friday

Now, if you think that 3.5 million conversations about shopping sales in a single day is a lot, you’re probably right. In fact, when we looked at the mentions of Black Friday for the week culminating on the 28th, we actually found that mentions on the day were half of all the mentions. From November 22nd through the 28th the total mentions of Black Friday across social channels was just over 7 million.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for the Week of Black Friday

When we trend those numbers out across the week, we can actually see just how much the mentions of Black Friday rise until the day actually hits. Most of the week before seems to have a few mentions happening each day, but we can really see people starting to prepare and talk about Black Friday on the 27th (which is the American Thanksgiving). But then on the 28th, when Black Friday hits, the numbers just skyrocket.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart for the Week of Black Friday

When we dug deeper into Twitter mentions for the whole week, we found that men and women equaled out in their shares of mentions. What’s more interesting though, is the actual number of tweets that occurred. Even if we minus the number of tweets we showed above that happened on Black Friday (3,426,440) we still have 3.3 million tweets that mentioned Black Friday leading up to the actual day. This is very different than we saw in a post that we did back in 2012 that showed only 1.1 million tweets in the two weeks leading up to Black Friday. That means talk of Black Friday has tripled in those two years.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Activity Summary of the Week of Black Friday

Now, just to be fair, since yesterday was “Cyber Monday,” we thought it would be interesting to also compare the mentions of that to Black Friday. We were really surprised with what we found here.

Many financial publications speculated over the weekend that Black Friday sales weren’t as high this year because people were waiting buy their stuff online instead on Cyber Monday. However, when we looked at how many times “Cyber Monday” or the hashtag “#CyberMonday” was used yesterday we were very surprised. Mentions of Cyber Monday didn’t even hit the 1 million mark yesterday. There was only 7,099 blog posts, 13,065 online news articles, 10,703 forum postings and 806,668 tweets yesterday containing our key terms.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Cyber Monday

Now none of these mentions have any real effect on what sales were like, but we were surprised to see the low number of mentions of Cyber Monday yesterday.

What do you think is happening here? Are people done with the big shopping sales day? Or people just not talking about it as much through social media? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Why Do Social Media?

By Mark Evans - December 1st, 2014

I was approached last week by someone working for a large brand that has yet to jump on the social media bandwagon.

The brand, which operates in a regulated business, believes it needs to explore its social media options as a way to stay digitally relevant.

social mediaOne of the key questions I asked after getting a mini-brief was “Why does the brand want to do social media?”

It sounds like a straightforward question, right? But the answer can be complicated and multi-faceted.

For some brands – e.g. Starbucks, Oreo, Einstein Bros. Bagels – social media is a no-brainer. It’s a way to engage with an audience of people who consist of evangelists, fans and loyal customers. These brands use social media to amplify the overall experience by offering different ways to have conversations about their products. In a competition market, social media can be a vibrant and valuable marketing platform driven by consumers.

For other brands (banks, pharmaceuticals, pension funds), social media is a completely different proposition. The rules of engagement are different, the regulatory landscape can be restrictive, and conversations with consumers can be challenging.

For many reasons, it’s easier to stay out of the social media fray. No fuss, no muss, no social media.

But here’s a question these brands probably need to ask themselves: how long can this approach last? The reality is social media isn’t going anywhere, so every brands need to explore how to participate in one way, shape or form. Even it means having a “lite” presence, social media will likely need to be part of their digital portfolios.

For these brands, making their way onto the social media dance floor takes strategic assessment and a nuanced tactical approach. Social media isn’t something they can simply decide to do; it needs to be addressed in a more measured, pragmatic way.

At first, it could simply mean establishing social media policies to set the stage for their eventual leap into a new opportunity.

The next step could be establishing a presence on the social media platforms that make the most sense.

Then, these brands have to decide how they are going to participate. Will they simply share content, or will there be opportunities to engage with other people.

In other words, there will be a lot of steps along the way, and the embrace of social media could be a long process.

That said, it’s probably a better scenario than avoiding social media, which is too big, too ubiquitous and too powerful.

All of Social Media is Talking about…a Podcast?

By Mark Evans - November 28th, 2014

Serial-2Every now and then there’s a piece of rich content that grabs hold of users’ imagination and doesn’t let go. The results are always fun to watch.

Serial Podcast has gotten the attention of listeners, Hollywood and even social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Reddit.

If you haven’t heard of Serial, well you need to read this post then immediately go to and give it a listen. Produced by the team behind “This American Life”, it’s an innovative and engrossing digital exercise that proves the value of great content.

Serial unfolds the 1999 non-fiction murder case week by week of Baltimore student, Hae Min Lee, including the investigation and the eventual arrest and conviction of her boyfriend Adnan Syed.

The subreddits dedicated to Serial are incredibly impressive, as is the amount of Facebook groups and Twitter accounts dedicated to exploring the mystery of who killed Hae Min Lee.

It’s a phenomenon that has social media not just talking but jumping into action. Some passionate users have gone to the crime scenes, took photos and posted them on several networks.

It has even started the idea of crowd murder games which utilize social media to solve real-life murder mysteries. How many podcasts or videos can claim this kind of engagement over the last few years?

It’s completely taken over the lives of some people, and it could not have done this without the power of social media. Social media has a history of taking something well crafted and blowing it up to be consumed by the digital masses.

It’s been hard for even Hollywood to overlook Serial’s social popularity. It’s been reported that several offers have been made for the rights to the podcast but the producers have resisted the urge.

Serial might turn out to  be one of the most active and engaging social media examples of the year. It’s definitely not a flash in the pan and further proof that users crave great content.

What Social Media Network Is Near The Tipping Point?

By Mark Evans - November 26th, 2014

tipping-point-pictureFacebook, Instagram and Twitter are social media royalty when it comes to users, activity, engagement and where advertising dollars are spent. There’s no denying their supremacy.

In the last little, we have seen Snapchat enter the market and make a fairly substantial dent. Others social networks have also gotten some attention, which suggests people are open to joining new networks if they are compelling.

This show there is still room in the digital sandbox, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see a few more players enter the ring and rise to become serious competition.

Here’s a few social networks to keep an eye on for 2015. They are already in the market and have some traction but haven’t reached the next level just yet. They are at the tipping point of popularity.:


Shots has been on the rise and is perfect for our selfie addicted world. It’s a mobile network that lets you to take and share selfies along with commenting and private messaging. There is speculation that Twitter may be interested in buying it. Shots’ success hinges on the selfie phenomenon remaining strong, so it should grow in popularity in the near future.


Whisper is popular and has been on the rise for some time. It’s an anonymous social network where users can share their “secrets”. Whisper perfectly plays on the voyeuristic aspect of social media, while giving users an outlet to talk about anything they want under the veil of secrecy. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Whisper take the next step in 2015.


Medium is a popular social network which has successfully built a community of writers and readers. While it’s credibility and usage is solid, it still needs to become the hub for articles and stories (see Wattpad and what it’s done with serialized stories).


Ello might be the quickest to reach it’s tipping point, mainly because it’s advertiser free platform that has been the talk of the town for months now. It’s still in public beta but the anti-Facebook might hit very impressive numbers once it goes live to the world. It’s starting point is already quite advanced.

What social networks do you think are on the precipice for 2015?

The World Watches #Ferguson Through Social Media

By Sheldon Levine - November 25th, 2014

Ferguson Police (image via Reuters)Last night most of North America and people around the world were glued to the televisions as they awaited the the Grand Jury’s decision on indictment charges of an officer in Ferguson, Missouri who shot and killed 18 year-old Michael Brown in August.

The build-up to last night’s decision was a long time in the making as people believed that Michael Brown’s death was unnecessary and the cause of poor race-relations not just in Ferguson, but across the United States. Claims that Brown had surrendered before the officer opened fire, led the general public to believe that race was the real issue at hand and not the crime the young man may have committed just before the shooting. This has led to protests, sometimes violent, and lots of talk about the situation both in Ferguson and around the world since the shooting on August 9th.

We were also watching and waiting to hear the decision last night. We were also tracking talk of Ferguson through social channels using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software.

Just before the press conference to announce the Grand jury’s decision, at 8:20pm(EST), mentions of “Ferguson” or the hashtag “#Ferguson,” which has become the official hashtag people have been using to talk about this topic, were above 613,000 across blogs, forums, online news and Twitter.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary at  8:20pm

At the time that the press conference started, around 9:10pm(EST), the number of mentions of Ferguson had risen by over 200,000 to 838,695 mentions across those same channels.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary at 9:10pm

The full press conference, including the question period, in which they announced that they would not be indicting Officer Darren Wilson took about an hour. At 10:10pm mentions of Ferguson had risen to over 2 million for the day. Many of these started to come in as soon as the news of the no charges was said, but we waited until the entire press conference was over to check these numbers.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary at 10:05pm

After the press conference, protesters started to voice their anger at the decision. Many people in Ferguson started to riot and others around the United States who stood in support started their own protests. Many people sat at home and watched these events unfold through their televisions and online. At 11:10pm(EST) the number of mentions of Ferguson had risen by another million to over 3 million.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary at 11:10pm

The rioting and demonstrations continued long into the night. We looked back at all of the mentions of Ferguson that accumulated over the entire day (Novemeber 24th). Over the entire day, mentions of Ferguson surpassed 3.9 million mentions across blogs, forums, online news and Twitter.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for November 24th

While yesterday created a lot of social media action around Ferguson, as expected, this is an issue that has been bubbling for quite some time. The hashtag “#Ferguson” and references to the whole situation have been happening since August 9th, the day that Michael Brown was shot. We pulled up some data from August 9th up until today to help illustrate this.

Since August 9th to today, Ferguson has been the topic of over 29.7 million social conversations. Ferguson has been mentioned in 168,200 blog posts, 452,673 online news articles, 376,132 forum postings and 28,767,440 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

In that same time, we’ve also found 120,086 videos posted across various video sites that contain “Ferguson” in either their titles or descriptions.

Sysomos MAP - Video Activity

On Tumblr, there have been 6,685,980 different posts about Ferguson since August 9th.

Sysomos MAP - Tumblr Activity

And even on Instagram, we were able to find 566,760 photos that have been tagged with the #Ferguson hashtag.

Sysomos MAP - Instagram Activity

All of these mentions across various social media channels has been building up to yesterday. We plotted the mentions out over time and found that mentions were high towards the beginning of the whole ordeal as riots and protests were happening in Ferguson and police were retaliating with military grade weapons and tactics. After those initial protests calmed down, so did the talk, but not completely. There was a steady stream of conversation around Ferguson that occurred over the next 3 months, but they were all overshadowed in our graph by the spike that came after last night’s announcement.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

And while this issue stemmed from the United States, the whole world has been watching and joining in on the conversation over the past 3 months. A look at where mentions of Ferguson were coming from shows that the majority of the conversation was coming from the United States (72.8%), but a look at our geo location heat map of where tweets were originating from shows that people across the globe had an eye on what was going on and something to say about it.

Sysomos MAP - Country Distribution

Sysomos MAP - Geo Location Heat Map of Tweets

While the trial of Officer Darren Wilson may be over, we have a feeling that the conversation around this will continue for quite some time and that “Ferguson” will still be used not as a hub for activity, but as a hashtag and theme that will bring people together to connect and talk.

No Such Thing As Hard And Fast Rules for Social Media

By Mark Evans - November 24th, 2014


According to Forrester Research, many brands are wasting their time with Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s clear that Facebook and Twitter don’t offer the relationships that marketing leaders crave,” said Nate Elliott, a vice-president and principal analyst, concluded in a report, Social Relationship Strategies That Work.”

“Yet most brands still use these sites as the centerpiece of their social efforts — thereby wasting significant financial, technological, and human resources on social networks that don’t deliver value.”

Instead, Elliot suggests brands enhance their Websites to make them more community-focused and interactive. This would give their Websites a digital presence that drives more engagement than Twitter or Facebook.

A few thoughts about Elliot’s thesis:

1. For some brands, Twitter and Facebook are services with high amounts of engagement, enthusiasm and participation. Good examples are Starbucks, Oreo and WestJet. It provides them with the justification and ROI for social media activity and resources.

2. The role and value of Websites shouldn’t be under-estimated because brands own this piece of digital real estate, whereas they “lease” space on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. It counters the notion that Websites are, for some reason, becoming dinosaurs.

The reality is every brand has different products, goals and ways to engage with consumers.

For some brands, social media is a no-brainer because it gives them ways to build relationships and get consumers involved with the brand and each other. This is particularly true for business-to-consumer brands.

For these brands, Twitter and Facebook offers plenty of value that complements their Websites. In an ideal digital world, there is virtuous circle between social media and Websites. Each party involved in the marketing and sales activity supports each other.

At the same time, there are brands that get little benefit from social media, including Facebook and Twitter – despite their size and presence. Their products, marketing and consumers are not natural fits for social media. It’s not the way these brands sell or their consumer buy. As a result, social media isn’t part of the mix – and that’s okay.

At the end of the day, a brand has to decide what works for them to support their strategic and tactical goals – be it sales, leads, customer service or brand awareness.

For some brands, social media is a no-brainer. For other, it’s a non-starter. It’s the way business works.

Regardless of whether a brand is all over social media or treats it as untouchable, the common denominator is the value of Websites – something the Forrester report accentuates.

A brand’s Website is their digital doorway where they welcome existing and potential customers, as well as other stakeholders such as analysts, media and partners.

As a result, a company’s Website needs to be engaging, information, insight and an effective tool to support the business. It’s where business happens.

If I had a choice between investing in social media  and a Website, the Website would win hands down.

But for most brands, it’s not an either/or proposition. They need a Website and they need some kind of social media presence. It’s just a matter of finding the right mix for each business.

More: MarketingLand and Business Insider provide coverage of the Forrester Report.

Customer Service Begins and Ends in Social Media

By Mark Evans - November 21st, 2014

social-customer-care-1The last decade has delivered a lot of evidence that the customer experience begins and ends in social media. The digital experience tends to sandwiches the actual in-store or online shopping portion of a purchase.

Expectations exist that if a customer has a question, inquiry or complaint that it will be satisfied on a popular social network. It has become a great risk for companies to not have a presence and be constantly monitoring.

The truth is, that no one is simply throwing complaints into the social media void. They are doing so to be heard and to in a sense be rewarded.

The reason social media can placate our need to be satisfied and appeased by those we give business to, is because as a digital user base we have grown accustomed to instant gratification.

A study by JD  Powers and Associate noted that two-thirds of US consumers reached out to a business through social media in 2013. This put businesses in a very public position where they had to respond and repair almost immediately.

This is not an easy climate for businesses to navigate in. There’s the requirement for resources and technology that can streamline this new customer service model. As of now, it is still heavily reliant on people monitoring almost 24/7.

The hidden issue beyond customer service is brand protection and users know how to use social media to push businesses’ buttons.

In fairness, for a long time businesses use to have their customers spend a long time on hold waiting for a service rep who may have not even been able to help. Call it customer retribution, with social media as the new equalizer.

if customer service was ultimately satisfactory across the board in the old model, then social media wouldn’t have taken over so quickly. It was needed and now it is necessary.

Bill Cosby Memes Backfire

By Mark Evans - November 19th, 2014

bill_cosby_620x480_cemrfSocial media requires a lot of activity and for an individual or teams with expertise to constantly be coming up with fun and inventive ways to connect with audiences.

It’s never good when a tactic doesn’t engage audiences, but it’s a downright nightmare when it completely turns against you.

Bill Cosby has been under fire recently amidst 14 allegations that he raped several women. His social media team dismissed the allegations and focused on a career rebirth built around a new show he is developing for CBS and a Netflix special..

His team decided to have a meme generator available on Bill Cosby’s website to hold a simple tactic where fans can create memes based around their favourite Bill Cosby images and expressions.

Users didn’t hold back when creating and sharing memes. A myriad of memes that tackled the allegations were created and Twitter and Facebook were flooded with them.

The impact of the memes have partly led to several appearances for Bill Cosby being cancelled, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see some of his projects go the same route.

The lesson is that you can’t gloss over issues or allegations when creating and executing tactics. You can’t pretend that everything is peachy keen, because if you do social media has a way of reminding you that not everything is okay.

When controversy strikes, your social media needs to reflect that. Even if you aren’t able to specifically discuss the situation, you can’t continue just publishing as if nothing is happening. It’s a very risky proposition for a social media team to undertake.

It takes strategy and finesse to not anger audiences in these types of situations. It’s also one of the few times where no activity is acceptable.

The memes don’t seem to be slowing down, making it one of the biggest digital communications failures of the year.

Sysomos MAP and Heartbeat Updates: Tweet Life and Spredfast Integration

By Sheldon Levine - November 18th, 2014

We’re super excited to tell you about two new features that you’ll be able to find in our software starting today; Tweet Life in MAP and Spredfast Integration in Heartbeat.

Tweet Life

The way that a message spreads can be very important to you. Knowing how your message spreads beyond your immediate network can help make or break the resonance of your message. You can know how many times a message has been retweeted, but wouldn’t it be nice to know which people helped to spread your message the furthest?

Well, as of today, you no longer have to wonder how your tweets are spreading through the Twitter network. Today we’re super excited to tell you about MAP’s latest feature Tweet Life.

Tweet Life shows you the path of a tweet as it spreads. Tweet Life shows you which of your followers retweeted your message, which of THEIR followers retweeted your message, and so on.

Sysomos MAP - Tweet Life Tweet Tree

Tweet Life analytics can be accessed in a variety of ways. The first is to copy the tweet ID directly from a tweet’s URL and paste it into the ID box on the Tweet Life section of Twitter in MAP.

Sysomos MAP - Tweet Life - Analyze A Tweet by Tweet ID

The second way to access the Tweet Life analytics of a tweet is to find a tweet of interest under the Most Retweeted tab of Twitter in MAP and directly under all the tweets that appear on the page, you will have the ability to click a “Tweet Life” link.

Sysomos MAP - Tweet Life via Most Retweeted

So why would you want to see the life of a tweet? Here are just a few examples of how this new great feature can help you:

  • Compare the spread of different Tweets from your own accounts to investigate whether specific language, themes or times of day are most effective for spreading your message.
  • Discover how your message reached, and was spread by, Twitter users who are NOT your followers.
  • Benchmark how quickly your tweets spread to help you find ways to increase the velocity and virality of your social communications.
  • Compare the retweet engagement of your tweets against your competitors and identify the key individuals who are most likely to help your messages spread further.

For more information on how to use, understand and make the most of the new Tweet Life functionality, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Sysomos representative who will be happy to provide you with more information and answer any of your questions.

Spredfast Integration in Heartbeat

Back in June we announced a partnership between Spredfast and ourselves. This partnership would allow Heartbeat users who also have a Spredfast account to send social content found through Sysomos over to the Spredfast engagement platform.

Today, we’re happy to announce that all of the behind-the-scenes work has been completed and Spredfast integration is now live in Heartbeat!

If you’re a customer of Spredfast as well as Sysomos please contact your Sysomos representative who will be happy to help get your Spredfast account setup in Heartbeat.

Once you’re set up, the use couldn’t be easier. Simply click on the tool tip next to a tweet or Facebook post in the “Your Heartbeats” tab of Heartbeat. You will then see a new tab marked “Spredfast.” Under that tab you can reply to both tweets and Facebook posts and retweet tweets. Once you click one of the options a Spredfast window will pop up and allow you to take action. All actions will be recorded both in Heartbeat and Spredfast’s workflow logs for you to see afterwards.

Sysomos Heartbeat - Spredfast Integration

That’s all from us today. But we have a lot more cool stuff that we’re working on and can’t wait to share with you soon.

If you’re already a Sysomos customer and want to learn more about these great new updates, please feel free to reach out to your Sysomos representative.

If you’re not already a Sysomos customer but would like to learn more about these features and Sysomos overall, please feel free to contact us here.

This is the Hot New Social Network, Literally

By Mark Evans - November 17th, 2014


Another day, another new social media network to tantalize and tempt. The latest entrant is This.

It’s a social media network with a twist: You can only share one link a day. And the idea is you share a link featuring great or interesting content, rather cat photographs.

This is still private-invite so we haven’t had a chance to check it out. But you can get some insight from Pando Daily, which describes it as “an alternative to Facebook that makes sense”. That is pretty lofty praise, indeed.

This was created by Andrew Golis, who was entrepreneur-in-residence at Atlantic Media, which has funded the project. (It’s always good to have deep pockets out of the gate!).

So why is This interesting?

For one, it seems anti-social in some respects. The idea of sharing one link a day goes completely against the grain in a world where sharing is seemingly out of control. How is anyone supposed to share a single link when there is so much good content – and we’re being really loose with “good”.

But when you think about it, controlled sharing makes a lot of sense.

It taps into the growing content curation movement.

Rather than share everything, there appears to be more interest in less content or, at least, content sharing that reflects the reality that many people are overwhelmed by content.

In simple terms, less is more.

It could be that This is the right social media network at the right time because it aligns with how people want to experience and consume content.

For years, we’ve been drinking from the content firehose but it’s become too much. Instead of adding value, all this content has become too much.

What we may be seeing is the pendulum swinging from quantity to quality, and from more to less. While some people are happy to wade through lots of content, more people are saying “Enough!”.

These people are looking for different (better?) ways to consume content that meets their needs or interests in some way, while being less work.

With any new social media network, it’s difficult to tell whether it will stick. I mean, people were falling over themselves to use Ello but that story seems to have come and gone.

The problem with Ello is it seems like Facebook with no ads and the benefit of anonymity. Is that enough to convince massive amounts of people to jump on the bandwagon beyond simply taking it for a spin? The short answer is: we’ll see.

This may turn out to be that social network that had some short-lived appeal. Or its simplicity and the power of a single link could be a value proposition that wins over people looking for something new, different and user-friendly.