Did Social Media Betray Michael Brown?

By Mark Evans - August 29th, 2014

0819_ferguson_social_970-630x420As the story of Michael Brown and the ensuing conflict and mounting tension between citizens and authorities in Ferguson, Missouri continues, it seems social networks have been either flooded with the story or left on the sidelines.

This incident paints a rather vivid image of how people connect and engage with certain networks. Maybe some issues just feel out of place whereas others blend naturally in.

Twitter has seen high activity of people sharing their thoughts, feelings and documentation of the events. While on Facebook, it has received far less attention – an alarming lack of activity in some regards.

This is by no means a reflection of the event itself, but really demonstrates and cements the belief that Twitter is first and foremost a news source and a place for people to gather and discuss world events.

It has been fairly well documented how Facebook seems to be absent of activity regarding Ferguson. Other networks as well seem to have content about everything but Ferguson.

This is a very important lesson for digital marketers everywhere. Each network has it’s own purpose and personality, and not everything will translate well across multiple platforms. 

It’s really up to users to how they want to use a network, and that in turn will define it. Facebook lends itself very well to aggregating the news and opinions but Twitter seems ripe for more debate and sharing of news stories.

A story of this calibre feels like it should be plastered and talked about in every corner of social media. Instead, it was mainly concentrated to one area, which of course just happens to be one of the giants of the industry.

What events like Ferguson prove is that Twitter is the home to important news stories, opinion and discussion. 

Social media is the tool to make build awareness and share stories. Why some work better than others is really just based on the user and perception.

It might be upsetting to some to see what was being shared on other networks while Twitter was full engulfed in the Ferguson situation, but by no means are users responsible  for this in any way. Every big story finds a home somewhere in social media.

How The 2014 MTV VMAs Sparked Over 9 Million Social Media Posts

By Sheldon Levine - August 28th, 2014

This post originally appeared on the global Social Media Week blog.

Ever since the days when MTV played music videos 24/7, the MTV VMAs (the popular short form of Video Music Awards) have been a really big deal to the younger generation of music fans.Since the first VMA in 1984, music artists have known that the youth of America, who primarily dictate the ever changing state of current popular music, will completely accept them if they receive a coveted “moon man” statuette to put on their mantel.

While the MTV VMAs have always been a big deal, as social media came into its own, it gave way for a whole new platform for people to connect over the “super bowl for youth,” both for fans and artists. It’s given them a way to turn this event into an interactive experience. Whether it be by live tweeting what they’re seeing to creating gifs for Tumblr of their favourite moments from the show just minutes after they happened live.

Social media has become a huge piece of the VMA puzzle, so we thought it would be interesting to look a little bit more into the numbers behind it.

Using Sysomos’s industry leading social media monitoring and analytics software, Sysomos MAP, we looked across social media channel from Sunday through Monday (to see the day of the show and the follow-ups the day after) for mentions of the VMAs (and other major variations of it).

In just those two days well over 9 million pieces of social content were created that made mention of the VMAs. First, we found that the VMAs were mentioned in 7,953 blog posts, 15,053 online news articles, 3,928 forum postings and an impressive 9,190,842 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary Around VMAs

We then took those numbers and plotted them out over the two days on our popularity chart and saw something very interesting that speaks to how people are using different elements of social media. First off, a look at the chart below shows that Twitter mainly drove all conversation around the VMAs, by so much that it actually out shadows the three other channels. The other thing that we can see is that Twitter surged on the day of the show as people live tweeted their way through the red carpet, performances, and the actual awards.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart for VMAs Across Social Channels

However, when we remove Twitter mentions from the chart we can see that while blogs, forums and online news were talking about the show on the day of, they really surged on the day after by posting all of their follow-up to the VMAs content. What this tells us is that Twitter is used mainly for the real-time as it happens insights, while most other mediums seem to be better for reactions after the fact.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart of VMAs Without Twitter

But these weren’t the only social channels where the VMAs were popular. When we looked at video content created over those same two days that were tagged with or had VMAs in their description, (across sites like YouTube, Vimeo and others) we found 7,367 different videos.

Sysomos MAP - Video Activity Summary of VMAs Videos

On Tumblr, a network known for its visual content and a favorite place for youth to share gifs, we found 295,647 different posts that were VMAs focused over Sunday and Monday.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary of VMAs on Tumblr

Even Instagram users created 494,581 pictures that were tagged with the #VMAs hashtag.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary of VMAs on Instagram

Other interesting things to note about the social popularity of the VMAs; when we looked a little bit deeper at the people tweeting about the VMAs, we found that the awards seemed to be more popular with females. Only 35 percent of all the tweets about the VMAs over Sunday and Monday were created by men. Women produced the remaining 65 percent.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary of VMAs on Twitter

That also speaks to how certain artists are seen. From looking at cultural events in the past that youth are involved in, we’ve seen many times over that artists like Justin Beiber and One Direction get retweeted frequently. However, when we looked at the most retweeted tweets around the VMAs, all of the top six are from members of the band 5 Seconds of Summer. Are these guys the new 1D?

Sysomos MAP - Most Retweeted Tweets Containing VMAs

When we looked at where mentions of the VMAs were coming from across all channels we found that 59.4 percent of all mentions came from the USA. That’s not very surprising seeing as the awards show is American based (MTV does a separate VMAs for their European market).

Sysomos MAP - Country Distribution of VMAs Mentions Across Channels

While the USA did out shadow the rest of the world talking about the VMAs, a geo-location heat map of Twitter mentions reveals that the rest of the world was also engaged in the event. The USA still shows the most Twitter mentions, but we can also see on the map that Twitter users around the world were participating in the conversation.

Sysomos MAP - Geo Location Heat Map of Tweets About The VMAs

So, what was everyone actually talking about? A look at our buzzgraph (which shows words being commonly used in the conversation and how they’re connected) and word cloud show that almost all of the talk was around peoples’ favourite artists that were attending, winning or performing at the VMAs. The two artists that seem to stand out the most though are Beyoncé, who did a 16 minute performance and received the MTV Michael Jackson Vide0 Vangard award (a lifetime achievement award), and Miley Cyrus, who’s Wrecking Ball won video of the year and was accepted by an unknown man named Jesse who spoke to the audience about homeless youth in America on behalf of Miley. The only thing that did not fit in with the category of artists is the appearance of Suge Knight in the text analytics. However, Knight’s name appears because of an incident at a VMAs pre-party that left him injured and made headlines all day on Sunday.

Sysomos MAP - Buzzgraph of Conversations Around The VMAs

Sysomos MAP - Word Cloud of Conversations Around The VMAs

The Summer of the Ice Bucket Challenge

By Mark Evans - August 27th, 2014

dm_140806_headlines_icebucketThe summer of 2014 has been a big one for social media, but nothing has defined it more than the Ice Bucket Challenge; a campaign to help raise awareness and money for ALS research.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has dominated many social networks, especially Facebook where videos of those who accepted the challenge has filled user’s newsfeeds.

The idea is pure gold for digital marketers and PR companies. Best of all, it’s simple and easily went viral because it was for a compelling cause.

All people had to do was turn on a recording device, give a quick message which includes nominating others for the challenge, dump ice water on their head and upload to Facebook and other networks.

Pretty brilliant when you consider the concept and its popularity. The reports suggest that the ALS Association who is credited with the campaign has raised over 70 million dollars whereas normally they raise around 2 million by this time of the year.

Of course, the celebrity involvement didn’t hurt.

The danger now lies with those who plan on imitating the campaign. For other organizations who are looking for a boost in fundraising, copying this challenge might leave you feeling like ice water was poured over your head.

This is a classic example of catching lightning in a bottle. Altering it to fit your cause (since the use of ice water is meant to replicate the feeling ALS has on your muscles in some small way), will only have most people ignoring you altogether.

For digital marketers and PR practitioners, you need to try to get one step ahead and figure out how they can utilize social media and its rabid user base to elicit donations and awareness.

The Ice Bucket Challenge will be a digital marketing case study for quite some time and the desire to imitate will be there. You have to resist or risk having it blow up in your face.

Could Discovery of New Musicians Be Vine’s Killer App?

By Mark Evans - August 26th, 2014

What in the world can you do with six-second videos?

Apparently, Vine is gaining traction as a medium to spark the careers of emerging pop stars.

img vspace=Case in point is Sean Mendes, who posted an acoustic version of Justin Beiber’s “As Long as You Love Me” last year (see below).

For whatever reason, the Vine went viral and Mendes quickly had 10,000 followers.

The next thing you know, Mendes signs a deal with Island Records, and then his self-titled EP hits #1 on iTunes.

Not bad for six seconds, not bad at all!

If Mendes were the only person to capture the spotlight via Vine, it could be written off as a fluke. But it looks like Vine is emerging as a platform to launch the careers of unknown musicians.

So what is it about Vine that is making is a musician-making machine? Is the ability to give people a small taste of something good, so it leaves them wanting more?

Is it Vine’s audience, which is looking for instant-gratification, and then discovers it wants a whole lot more of certain things being discovered?

As important, could the discovery new musicians be Vine’s “killer app”?

To be honest, it’s difficult to suggest that Vine has landed upon it’s raison d’etre because a handful of musicians become wildly popular.

You could argue that Vine is still scrambling to find its place within the social media landscape. At only six seconds, Vine offers little digital real estate, but that doesn’t mean it can’t establish a foothold if just the right use case emerges.

Maybe Vine will establish itself as the way to find new musicians at a time when platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have so much content, making it difficult for anyone to rise above the crowd.

At a time when Vine’s future is still unclear, music might become the way for people to quickly sample many artists rather than having to watching three to five minutes videos.

It could be that Vine becomes the “instant gratification” medium that brings people in the door, and then sends them to YouTube for more content and information.

For Vine, music could be the silver bullet that it’s been seeking, so it would probably be a good idea to see how far and fast it can run with the concept.

Can Online Popularity Predict Emmy Winners?

By Sheldon Levine - August 25th, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Social Media Week global blog.


Seth Myers Hosts The 66th Annual Prime Time Emmy AwardsOn Monday night many viewers will be tuning in to see if their favourite TV shows are also the worlds best shows when the 66th Prime Time Emmy Awards go live to air. This year’s show will be hosted by Seth Myers (of Late Night With Seth Myers and formally of Saturday Night Live) and is the biggest night of the year for those involved in the television industry and TV show fans alike.

The fans play a huge role in the TV industry because unlike movies that most people see once, fans of TV shows tune in (in most cases) once a week to catch up with their favourite characters and stories. They form a bond with these shows and anxiously wait for the next episode to air.

And social media has also played a huge role for television in the past few years. The ability to connect with millions of other people that are watching and discussing the same show you’re watching in your living room makes a TV show into an event in its own right. Social networks have deffinitely taken notice of this. Perhaps the best example is Twitter, who is usually the network that sees the most traffic around television shows as they air live, who has created a whole ad unit around being able to target people for promoted tweets that are talking about a TV show as it’s airing.

With this much invested in the social space for television, we got curious and wanted to know if the online popularity of a show can predict if it will win an Emmy. So, using our industry leading social media monitoring and analytics software, Sysomos MAP, we decided to look at talk around some TV shows that are up for Emmy’s next week to see how popular they’ve been online and compare our results to the actual winners.

We decided to focus just on specific shows for this fun study. The following will be a look at the popularity of TV shows that are up for Outstanding Drama, Outstanding Comedy and Outstanding Miniseries Or Movie. For each category we will show you the number of mentions each show received between August 20, 2013 and August 20, 2014. After looking at the numbers of mentions that each show received, we’ll make our pick for the predicted winner of the category. After Monday night we can come back to these predictions and see if they were accurate.

We now present you, without commentary, the data around each nominated show and the predicted winners;


CATEGORY: Outstanding Drama

Breaking Bad

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Breaking Bad

Downton Abbey

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Downton Abbey

Game Of Thrones

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Game Of Thrones

House Of Cards

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for House Of Cards

Mad Men

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Mad Men

True Detective

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for True Detective

Side-By-Side Comparison

Sysomos MAP - Comparison of Mentions for Outstanding Drama Shows

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Over Time Comparison of Outstanding Drama Shows


Breaking Bad




CATEGORY: Outstanding Comedy

Big Bang Theory

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Big Bang Theory


Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Louie

Modern Family

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Modern Family

Orange Is The New Black

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Orange Is The New Black

Silicon Valley

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Silicon Valley


Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Veep

Side-By-Side Comparison

Sysomos MAP - Comparison of Mentions for Outstanding Comedy Shows

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Over Time Comparison of Outstanding Comedy Shows


Big Bang Theory




CATEGORY: Outstanding Miniseries Or Movie

American Horror Story: Coven

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for American Horror Story: Coven

Bonnie And Clyde

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Bonnie And Clyde


Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Fargo


Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Luther


Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Treme

The White Queen

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for The White Queen

Side-By-Side Comparison

Sysomos MAP - Comparison of Mentions for Outstanding Miniseries Or Movie

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Over Time Comparison of Outstanding Miniseries Or Movie


American Horror Story: Coven


What do you think about these predictions? Can online popularity actually predict an Emmy winner, or do certain shows just lend themselves better to online talk and memes than others? Let us know in the comments.

Will the Social Bubble Ever Pop for Investors?

By Mark Evans - August 22nd, 2014

sentiments-435cs110112For the past couple of years, new social networks have emerged, old ones have evolved and several have gone public. During this time, many people have predicted the social media bubble would eventually pop.

Those who cover the tech space and the markets believe we were on the precipice of another 1999 burst.

According to a Mark Cuban interview, there will not be a repeat the dot-com boom/bust that happened more than a decade ago. He suggests that investing in social media and the technology sector is fairly secure.

This comes on the heels of a report from the Federal Reserve, which stated that valuations are stretched for smaller social media companies and some biotech stocks.

The Federal Reserve has a right to be cautious based on history and the volatile nature of the digital world. 

What this really illustrates is that social media isn’t a blip on the radar. It’s trending upwards as it engages more users and becomes part of the overall global fabric.

In fact, the strength and popularity of social media will only convince more networks to go public, following in the footsteps of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

This is a far cry from a few years ago when pundits thought Facebook would crash and burn after hitting the market. In reality, Facebook has monetized quite well and seen its stock hit a record high recently.

For brands, the message is crystal clear: investors are telling you it’s a good idea to invest your time and money in social media because the future looks bright.

If you are waiting for social media to fall off the cliff, it’s not going to happen. In fact, it might continue to climb up the mountain until it reaches a new peak. 

The Social Backlash Towards The Teen Choice Awards

By Mark Evans - August 20th, 2014

TEEN CHOUCE 2014: Logo.In the world of social media, honesty and transparency is key and non-negotiable. This should be apparent to everyone who understands the medium and how to communicate within it.

For some reason, this approach was not clear to those who run the Teen Choice Awards. The backlash erupted after it was revealed how winners are picked.

Once fans discovered the award ceremony dedicated to performances, shows and movies geared towards teens was rigged, the digital gloves came off.

The lowdown is that teens vote for their favourites on teenchoiceawards.com. Then, the Teen Choice Awards gets to select the winner from the top-four vote getters.

How big did this issue get? The hashtag #TeensDontHaveaChoiceAwards was the top trending topic.

The whistleblower in the instance was Vine celebrity Cameron Dallas, who exposed the show to his 3.1 million Twitter followers. Dallas was a winner who claimed he found out about this six days before the awards show was to air.

Voters were up in arms on Twitter, referring to the awards as The Producer’s Choice Awards, and tweeting up a storm about the hours they have wasted in their lives voting for something that didn’t matter.

How the TCA rebounds for next year remains to be seen. Right now, it needs to repair its relationship with its fan base and voters and repair its overall image on social media.

This is a huge lesson for every brand in social media. You must always be transparent, and that doesn’t mean a quick disclaimer for legal purposes.

As important is if you ask people to care and invest their time, you have to be genuine about how their involvement matters. Pretending it matters has to potential to blow up in your face.

How TCA will engage fans for future voting will be interesting to watch, but right now they have a lot of work to do to fix a broken relationship.

Shark Week Puts Up Impressive Numbers Despite Backlash

By Sheldon Levine - August 19th, 2014

Shark WeekAnother Shark Week has come and gone.

Everyone’s favourite week of television devoted to the worlds most cunning killing machine has just finished running for it’s 27th time. Yes, Shark Week has been an annual event on Discovery Channel since 1988 making it the longest running cable television programming event in history.

With such a long running history that pulls in millions of viewers a year, we were curious just how popular the event was on social media. To find out, we did a little digging on the social media numbers behind Shark Week by looking up mentions of it using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software.

We looked for mentions of #sharkweek OR “shark week” OR #sharkweek14 OR #sharkweek2014 and found 2,138 blog posts, 3,296 online news articles, 692 forum postings and 1,647,658 tweets between August 10-17.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

During the same time period we found 85,772 posts on Tumblr of all sorts that also made mention of Shark Week.

Sysomos MAP - Tumblr Activity Summary

And on Facebook, we were able to find over 17,000 public status updates that were talking about Shark Week.

Sysomos MAP - Facebook Activity

These are pretty impressive numbers. But as we did a little more digging, we found that people didn’t seem to be as in to Shark Week as you might have thought. When we looked at how some of those numbers above played out over time in our popularity chart we found that Shark Week was a big deal when the week kicked off, but then tailed off as the week went on. Sunday August 10th was the first night of Shark Week and was the day that saw the most people talking about it. As the week progressed though people were talking less and less about Shark Week.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

Another disturbing thing that we found while looking at the numbers around Shark Week was that people seemed to be complaining about it. When we looked at the sentiment around the entire week of shark related programming we actually found that only 11% of the conversations about Shark Week came through as positive. At the same time, a whopping 40% of Shark Week conversations had a negative connotation.

Sysomos MAP - Sentiment Summary

Some of this negative talk may have been due to some of the programming that has come into play over the years during Shark Week is fictional stories about sharks, while it was traditionally a week about learning real facts about sharks. This year Shark Week kicked off with a special called Submarine Shark. The story was based off the tales of a giant shark in South Africa that was actually made up by reporters in the area to see if they could fool readers. The tale grew into an urban legend with people claiming to catch a glimpse of the shark, but no evidence ever surfacing. People felt duped because they thought they were watching a documentary about a real shark and took to social media to complain about it. However, Discovery Channel never claimed that any of it was real and the the Shark Week Twitter account even asked it’s followers if they believe that the shark exists.

Despite people’s feelings about getting tricked or knowing that some of the programming was fictional, there’s no doubt that the talk in social media definitely put up some good numbers and did its job of raising awareness for a week of “killer” programming.

Does Engagement Matter More Than Followers?

By Mark Evans - August 18th, 2014

Pied_Piper2For social media success, what is more important: engagement or followers?

This question came up recently during a strategic planning session when an organization talked about how the number of Facebook followers surged after a recent contest.

While having more followers looks impressive, the digital marketing team was asking what it really meant. Does having more followers mean their social media efforts are more successful, or does it give them more opportunities to be successful.

It’s a quality versus quantity proposition.

Personally, engagement strikes me as a more important consideration, although size does matter. A vibrant and active community can provide brands and organization with a powerful platform to drive strategic and tactical initiatives.

A large community, however, that is inactive or not terribly engaged delivers far less value.

In an ideal world, it would be great to have engagement and big numbers but this is probably a luxury that few brands get to enjoy.

In a recent blog post in Marketing Magazine (U.K.), Matthew Burns talked about how brands such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull are taking a close look at the effectiveness of Facebook as an engagement platform.

“The brands that are huge on the social site are the ones that were fastest to appreciate Facebook’s strengths, but are now also first to be wary of its limitations: why pay Facebook to reach and engage fans if we can achieve similar objectives, mostly for free, on other networks?”

Burns discovered, for example, that Red Bull’s main Facebook page has 44 million fans but it generated only 330,000 interactions in July. This is less than one monthly interaction for every 100 fans.

As brands look to drive more engagement to extract value from their social media activity, Burns suggests brands will start to explore other platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

The focus on quality versus quality reflects the fluid and dynamic of social media. As brands looking to drive return on investment, they are constantly tweaking the dials and looking for competitive advantages.

The interest in engagement suggests there may be too much of an investment happening to build bigger and bigger audiences. It could be that some brands will start to redeploy their social media efforts to get more people actively involved.

If engagement gains more momentum as a social media “must-have”, it could do two things: force existing players such as Facebook to adopt, or open the door for new engagement-friendly players to seize a golden opportunity.

What do you think? Is social engagement gaining more momentum?

Hotel Issues Fines for Bad Reviews

By Mark Evans - August 15th, 2014

union-street-ghSocial media is an honest medium for the most part. It’s a place where people go to connect and chat, and where they will tell their networks about their experiences – both positive or negative.

Business owners have been thrown into a new world, one where their fans, customers and potential customers are constantly discussing them. It’s not easy but it is a fact of doing business for now and the foreseeable future.

What you can’t do is fault or punish those who speak poorly of you. This might be the biggest indication that you don’t quite get social media.

A New York City hotel recently fined guests who gave them poor reviews. Union Street Guest House was backpedalling recently, as news of their policy towards negative reviews hit the web and went viral.

A hotel guest came forward and publicly posted how the hotel came after him to collect the fine after a negative Yelp review. The hotel has a clause that stipulates $500 will be held from deposit for any negative reviews posted online.

Needless to say, social media was not kind to the establishment and those who run it. It might be important to note that this hotel currently has a 1.5 Yelp rating.

This is a definitely a no no in social media, and if you are getting negative reviews or word-of-mouth than the thing to do would be to invest your energy in fixing your product or service, not dusting off the pitchfork and trying to collect fines.

Social media can be an enormous boon to your business, and negative posts should be seen as an opportunity.

With social media you now know what your customers are thinking, and if they aren’t satisfied than you have a place to connect with them and try to change their perception.

Everyday we are treated to examples of businesses that use social media to propel them to great heights. This is one of the more unfortunate examples, and one that should not be repeated.