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.

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, 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