This is the Hot New Social Network, Literally

By Mark Evans - November 17th, 2014

this

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.

Changes for Twitter on the Horizon

By Mark Evans - November 14th, 2014

_71715727_187243543In an effort to keep up with users and raise their already heightened profile, Twitter announced some changes coming to their incredibly popular platform.

During Twitter’s recent inaugural Analyst Day, big promises were made where the hope is to make Twitter even more engaging for its user base.

Twitter is taking a rather aggressive and decisive approach to improving their platform, and will be rolling out changes within the coming months. Some of the changes are rather significant.

The discussed changes included timeline highlights, breaking news alerts, real-time video editing  and improving the video messaging functionality.

These would be 4 major changes to the social network, and have the chance to further Twitter’s place in the market. Part of this is to alter the user base which seems to have many who just stop by without interacting with the platform. The goal of all networks is engagement and Twitter recognize they still have room to improve.

When you breakdown what these improvements it becomes clear that there will be a greater focus on streamlining the platform and ensuring that the important content is placed under the spotlight.

Adding more capabilities to the private messaging function (an area where other networks seem to have Twitter beat) would allow users to stay on the network longer. It’s not hard to believe that users leave Twitter and use another platform when they want to speak directly and privately to someone.

While some would see these changes as panicking or reaching, Twitter should be credited with not resting on its laurels and for looking at a gap in its business. Social media is a medium that evolves fast and those who are on top today are at risk of losing relevancy by tomorrow.

To not take the user base at just a surface gaudy number, and to dig in to ask why a greater percentage isn’t more engaged is how they will ultimately build a stronger network.

Is Benedict Cumberbatch the Most Popular Man in Social Media?

By Mark Evans - November 12th, 2014

benedictcumberbatch1When everything you do both professionally and personally causes an eruption in social media activity, you have to consider yourself to be something special.

This is exactly what Benedict Cumberbatch is and continues to be. News of his secret marriage flooded Twitter. And when he was reportedly cast as Marvel’s Dr. Strange, social media activity was out of control with tweets, posts and general opinions on the big news.

The popular actor rose to fame after appearing as the titular detective in BBC’s Sherlock Holmes and he has appeared in The Hobbit and The Fifth Estate. He is an actor and personality, who seems to transcend platform.

There’s many Tumblr’s devoted to him, as well as Twitter accounts and Facebook fan pages. A small amount of the activity is negative and some of it is just for the sake of comedy, but there’s a lot of it

The fun part is that Cumberbatch doesn’t contribute that much to the frenzy. He’s just a well-liked and hard working actor. If you polled groups of people on who was the actor beloved by social media, it’s a fair guess Cumberbatch would not be the first guess.

He has become a digital brand onto himself, and many brands need to follow his fan base to learn what causes people to get so excited. It’s just too hard to ignore the activity and engagement.

One thing for brands to watch for is the impact of overexposure. It is something that could surface at some point, and should be a real fear for anything that becomes this popular in social media.

Beyond that, this is the beauty of social media. Not only can we connect as fans and enjoy someone’s talent, but we can have a lot of fun with it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Benedict Cumberbatch is the most popular Hollywood actor in social media. What do you think?

John Oliver Gets Spreading Information In The Social Age

By Sheldon Levine - November 11th, 2014

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?

By Mark Evans - November 10th, 2014

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 Snip.ly, 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

By Mark Evans - November 7th, 2014

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

By Sheldon Levine - November 6th, 2014

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

By Mark Evans - November 5th, 2014

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

By Sheldon Levine - November 4th, 2014

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 community@sysomos.com.

Seven Tools to Put Your Blog on Steroids

By Mark Evans - November 3rd, 2014

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.