Collective Mourning and Robin Williams

By Sheldon Levine - August 14th, 2014

Robin WilliamsWe’ve talked numerous times on this blog about how social media can bring the world together over a single event.

Whether it was a finale of a much loved TV show, a sporting event, or, the unfortunate death of a beloved public figure, there seems to be a want for people to connect (if it’s just by sharing the experience or actually talking about it) over these events.

The latest event like this that we’ve witnessed was with the sad news of Robin Williams passing on Monday night.

Within minutes of the news becoming public social networks were flooded with mentions and talk of the actor. There are few people in the world who could say that they didn’t enjoy at least one Robin Williams film, whether it was a children’s favourite like Aladdin, something that made everyone laugh like Good Morning Vietnam or even a dramatic portrayal such as Williams in Good Will Hunting. The man had entertained the entire world at some point or another and we all knew that and it brought us together over his passing.

But an interesting article in the New York Times on Tuesday asked the question of why we collectively mourn through social media? While there was no definitive answer to the question because it could be many reasons; from showing respect to just feeling the need to express yourself about something or someone that moved you, but part of the answer may be so people can say, I was there, I was part of that… (sorry to call it this, but for lack of a better word) event.

And many many people were part of this event.

A simple search on MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics platform, for mentions of Robin Williams or the most used hashtag around the talk of #RIPRobinWilliams shows just how many peoples’ lives he touched, when many had never actually met the man.

At the time of writing this (on Wednesday afternoon) there have been millions of mentions across social channels. We were able to find mentions in 29,914 blog posts, 66,700 online news articles, 14,548 forum postings and 7,199,489 tweets all since Monday night when the news broke.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

In addition to those channels, we also found 14,151 videos that have mentioned the actor in their title or descriptions since Monday night.

Sysomos MAP - Video Activity Summary

On Tumblr, the number of mentions in the same time frame showed 3,240,930 postings of various sorts.

Sysomos MAP - Tumblr Activity Grid

And the #RIPRobinWilliams hashtag has even been used 383,690 on Instagram.

Sysomos MAP - Instagram Activity Summary

None of these are insignificant numbers.

After seeing these numbers it’s hard to call this anything but an event that brought the world together in a collective manner. But why?

We don’t have the answer and you may not either, but we want to know your opinion in the comments. Is the death of world renown person an “event”. Has it always been? Or has social media changed our idea of what an event is or can be?

Let us know below and let’s start a conversation about this.

The Hunt for New Social Networks

By Mark Evans - August 13th, 2014

weheartit-e1372454903105As every brand knows, social media is a daunting endeavour that takes time, money and, ultimately, bandwidth and resources.

The complexity for digital marketing and communications teams is actually much bigger than than many believe.

While everyone focuses on the top dogs – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and a few select others – there are other networks that need to be examined and, potentially, added to a brand’s digital strategy.

One of the keys for success is discovering networks (some of which have been previously discussed in this blog) so they can be leveraged to connect and engage with your audience.

To survive, brands have to adopt a hunt and gather approach that plays into where their target audience like to spend their time.

Here are some networks to investigate and see if they are a place where you can digitally communicate with your potential audience:

Shots

Everyone loves a good selfie. Well Shot is a social network where you can take and share all the selfies you want. Other messaging functions are available as well.

We Heart It

Think of We Heart It as the younger and more colourful version of Pinterest as it has many of the same capabilities. The idea is you “heart” things you like.

Medium

Medium is one of the coolest and most unheralded networks that has come to market in the last few years. A free market of stories and ideas and to date has been an unturned stone in the world of social media for brands.

Tinder

Actually, maybe it’s best we don’t go there.

Oh, and don’t forget there’s also Whisper, Secret and a slew of others.

The web is full of so many great and useful networks. It’s time that brands branched out and see out what works best for them and their audiences.

Happy hunting!

Fans Get Funny In Extra Extra Innings

By Sheldon Levine - August 12th, 2014

Extra InningsI grew up on baseball thanks to my dad and grandfather. I love the sport, but I’ll also be one of the first people to admit that the game can sometimes be a little slow (especially compared to some other fast paced sports like hockey and basketball).

A regular baseball game takes 9 innings to play. On average, that will take about 3 hours to play. So imagine how fans felt when TWO baseball games over the past weekend went to 19 innings (which take a very long time to play).

On Saturday night the Boston Red Sox were in Anaheim to face off against the  Los Angles Angels. This game was tied 4-4 going into the 19th inning when the game finally ended thanks to a walk-off homerun from the Angels’ Albert Pujols. Being a night game, this specific game went until after 1am in the morning on the West Coast. That means if you’re a Boston die-hard fan, you had to stay up until 4am local Boston time to see your team lose.

Towards the end of the game, some fans started to get a little bored and maybe a little loopy, and even the reporters there to cover the game had hoped for an ending to come. Alden Gonzalez, beat reporter covering the Angels came up with this great tweet:

But if that wasn’t enough for baseball fans, the very next day the Toronto Blue Jays faced off against the Detroit Tigers in an afternoon game that also went to 19 innings to finish. This game as well took over 6 1/2 hours to play, so many fans were late for dinner despite having showed up at the ballpark just after lunch (for a 1:07pm start).

Taking a note from Gonzalez, baseball fans started to make jokes about how long this game was taking. What made this game different was that one of the people who started the trend of jokes on Twitter about the game used the hashtag #BeforeThisGameEnds. The hashtag quickly caught on and was actually trending on Twitter… probably sometime around the 14th inning.

Using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, I did a quick search and found that the #BeforeTheGameEnds hashtag was actually used 1,875 times on Sunday alone to make some jokes about things that might happen before the Jays vs Tigers game finally ends.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Activity Summary

I also took a look at some of the most retweeted tweet that came from this funny hashtag and thought I’d share some of the better ones. Some of the jokes on the #BeforeTheGameEnds hashtag focused around baseball jokes that most fans would laugh at; such as:

Some of the jokes that were being slung made reference to other big sporting news:

Some of the tweets on the hashtag were just trying to be funny without any of the sports references; such as:

And, as is usual for Toronto fans, we started to make jokes about ourselves (and our sports teams in general) with tweets like:

Which is a reference to Toronto still being one of the few teams left to still use Astroturf on our baseball field.


Which references just some of the star Blue Jays that happen to be injured and not playing currently.

 

And, of course, no round of jokes about Toronto would be complete without someone getting a Rob Ford joke in:

So, while a 19 inning baseball game may take a long time to play and may not have a ton of action, it’s nice to know that social media can give fans watching a way to connect and have a good time with one another.

Sharing — It’s Based On Emotions

By Mark Evans - August 11th, 2014

positive_realismTo truly understand social media, we need to keep delving into the emotional underpinnings of what and why people share.

A recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison examines the outlets used by people based on the emotional content of the message.

Researchers found people were most likely to share positive events via texting and Twitter.

These mediums are easy to access via smartphones when they are happening, and are non-intrusive — recipients can reply whenever they like.

About 70% of the events that people experienced and shared were conveyed via new technologies.

Study subjects — 300 university students who kept track of their communications via a daily diary — revealed that sharing using new technologies enhanced the emotional impact of these events.

So much for the good news, literally.

When experiencing negative events, people were more likely to pick up the phone and interrupt friends or family to share.

Add this tidbit to what Facebook recently discovered in its (debatably unethical) study that found a lot of negative information in a person’s newsfeed can inspire them to be negative themselves — and on the flipside good news triggers positivity.

Again and again, positive energy is demonstrating considerable social media power.

While research keeps fine-tuning our understanding of just how emotions work online, in the meantime the message is clear: good news travels fast online.

 

 

Social Media gets Hit by Another Sharknado

By Mark Evans - August 8th, 2014

sharknado-2-bannerEvery large film studio, tentpole franchise or network television show feels entitled to not just the most profits, but the most buzz, including in social media.

The reality is that while most of these projects are heavily discussed online, sometimes it’s smaller fish that take a shark like bite out of the competition.

When Sharknado first aired, the film generated an amazing amount of online chatter. At the height of its popularity, it was mentioned in social media 5,000 times a minute. That’s impressive when you consider it was conceived as a silly B-movie.

These numbers made it the most discussed program on television. It didn’t matter if it was cable or broadcast, the world was talking about an Ian Ziering movie about tornadoes that carry deadly sharks that terrorize Los Angeles.

Sharknado 2: The Second One (yes, that’s the title) grabbed hold of peoples’ imaginations and the creativity of social media again. The tweets were relentless, and it’s easy to believe that Syfy has another hit on its hands.

The message is clear: the biggest budgets and marketing pushes don’t always equate to the greatest social media success.

This can be said about any product. Dollar Shave Club has a huge social following, one that might rival competitor Gillette, because it’s digital marketing and communications gets the world talking.

Maybe it isn’t about the money spent but knowing your brand and what you are selling. Syfy doesn’t pretend that Sharknado is “12 Years a Slave” but with sharks. It knows its audience and what they want to see.

Get creative and be inspired. You don’t need millions of dollars and the most compelling and polished product to get the digital social worlds ramped up. You just need something that makes users want to talk about it.

Not an easy feat, but well worth the trouble.

The #SMmeasure Chat Gets A New Home On It’s 4 Year Anniversary

By Sheldon Levine - August 7th, 2014

So much to measureFour years ago, when Sysomos became part of the Marketwired family, we wanted to do something to bring our two online communities together. The result was a weekly Twitter chat that focused around discussing issues about social media and the measurement and analytics associated with it that we called #SMmeasure.

Almost every week for the past four years we’ve gathered fantastic groups of people on Twitter to chat. Some of these people have been joining us for all four year, some have joined us for short periods of time and moved on and new people keep joining in on the discussion every week. These people range in knowledge from those who have just started working with social media and want to learn how to measure it and some have been in the industry for years and join to help others and get new ideas from different perspectives. No matter who has been in the chat though, every one of these people has been fantastic and we thank each and every one of them (and you) for being part of the community.

If you haven’t ever participated in the chat, we invite you to join us any Thursday at 9am(PST)/11am(CST)/12noon(EST) on Twitter.

Something that has really blown us away over the years about #SMmeasure is how it evolved so naturally. What started off as a weekly chat with some likeminded people blossomed into a full-blown community of people who share ideas and articles through the use of the #SMmeasure hashtag all week long. Some of the people that share over the hashtag don’t even participate in the chat; they just found it a good way to communicate about measurement in the social media world. To them (and you) we say thank you as well.

Today, we’re going to evolve the #SMmeasure chat just a tiny bit more. For years we’ve posting the chat’s questions on the Marketwired Facebook page and using the @Marketwired Twitter handle to help amplify the questions in the chat. But in our effort to focus in on our communities’ needs on both sides of the Marketwired and Sysomos families, we’ll be handing most of the #SMmeasure duties over to Sysomos.

From next week forward (because this post is appearing on both the Marketwired and Sysomos blogs today) the questions for the #SMmeasure chat will be posted on the Sysomos Facebook page. As well, the @Sysomos Twitter handle will be taking a more active role within the chat starting today.

Now, since we’re talking about the #SMmeasure chat on the blog today, we also thought we’d post today’s questions on the blog as well. And, because we’re also celebrating four years of #SMmeasure, we thought we’d take the questions from our first two chats (we hadn’t figured out yet that 5 questions was optimal for the hour long chat yet, so those two combined give us 5 questions) and look at how everyone’s thoughts and ideas on social media measurement have changed since 2010. You’ll also notice how some of the discussions we had back then have become irrelevant in four years and how others are still being discussed and debated. We think it will make for a very interesting hour.

So, without further ado, here’s the questions for today that were also our questions for the first two #SMmeasure chats in 2010:

  1. What are the most important elements to measure in social media?
  2. What tools do you use to measure social media?
  3. What’s more important to you; followers/fans vs. brand mentions?
  4. Which ranks higher on the priority list; growing followers/fans vs. growing discussions?
  5. What would you rather have; a few key people mentioning your brand vs. having masses of random people?

Don’t forget to check the Sysomos Facebook page every week from our here forward for the #SMmeasure questions of the week and please join us in the chat today (or any time) on Twitter by adding the hashtag to your tweets.

In case you forgot already, the #SMmeasure chat happens on Thursdays at 9am(PST)/11am(CST)/12noon(EST). See you there!

Social media’s balance sheet

By Mark Evans - August 4th, 2014

5_10_2013_15_08_38_bhnmo6cd32g63tp1nrb8i69n07_zpliyujvtzSocial media sites suffer from the ultimate business conundrum: they have customers, but they don’t always make money. The path to monetization is still long, convoluted and the experts are still drafting and debating best practices.

This week’s earnings report from Twitter reveals that one of the web’s biggest success stories still has untapped financial potential. Yet, Twitter is on a tear, setting up local offices around the world and hiring like mad. Its ever-growing staff is innovating like crazy, testing out a hashtag “translator” that explains some hashtag short-forms and debuting monetizing features such as organic tweet analytics.

While the business side of a social media site and its content interface seem like separate entities, in truth every online moment is deeply influenced by the money piles (or lack thereof) in the background.

Facebook may be ahead of other sites in achieving financial stability, but the experience for businesses and end users has gone through an often rough ride as the site has tried and tested dozens of ideas. Sites such as Foursquare, once a hopeful mainstream player that many small businesses got involved in, keeps pivoting and rebranding as it struggles to find an audience and income. Following the money on potential booms and busts helps you know who to invest in (and how much they’ll be asking for), and who to write-off. But since every monetization milestone on these sites not only costs you money, but often results in a surge of user complaints, you can’t keep your eye off the ROI for a second.

The bottom line is, businesses ARE the bottom line for social media sites. Few sites expect to make money off users, but they fully plan to dig deep into the pockets of B2B clients. Keep your eye on their finances, because they will be impacting your budget soon.

 

The Hashtag Conflict

By Mark Evans - August 1st, 2014

353-twitisralestineAs global conflicts take centre stage in the world, it tends to also take centre stage in the digital world, primarily in social media. 

It’s widely known that social media contributed to the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall St. along with other crucial events that have occurred in the past 5 years. Now, it is contributing on a much grander scale.

Social media sways public opinion and creates a direct pipeline to the conflict. Viewpoints from those experiencing the conflict firsthand along with military and political personnel can all be accessed 24 hours a day.

One of the current conflicts that is being waged is happening in the Middle East, more specifically in Gaza. A subsection of this war has been waged in social media through such hashtags as #IsraelUnderFire and #GazaUnderAttack.

Social media is also  being used to wage another war, where the ammunition and infantry is information. 

This is not to say that any side is correct, but in these modern times of communication social media is both an ally and an enemy, depending on what side you stand on.

Consider this, the hastag #GazaUnderAttack has been used over 4 million times since July 22nd, 2014. That’s a lot of activity in a relatively short period of time.

The power and reach of social media is unequal and any conflict is now being viewed through the millions of lens that now have a digital soapbox.

As digital marketers, you most likely want to sit on the sidelines for conversations of this nature. It’s also vital to understand that it’ll be slightly more difficult to garner attention when topics like this own the medium.

As every day passes, social media becomes more and more intriguing because of its capabilities. It’s hard to argue that it’ll only become more engulfed in global issues going forward. 

The real question and the one that will be studied is how the digital battle for public opinion affects conflict in the long run.

Jon Stewart And Fans Have Plans For CNN

By Sheldon Levine - July 31st, 2014

Jon Stewart Starts A Kickstarter To Buy CNNOne of the great things about having access to Sysomos MAP, a tool that allows you to perform unlimited searches and receive unlimited results about what’s happening in social media, is that on a whim you can look up what people are saying about any trending topic or just things that interest you. You could imagine that around the Sysomos offices we use this quite often, both for serious and fun topics.

Here’s a topic that we’re currently having some fun watching:

Last week on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, they ran a story about how Rupert Murdoch, the man behind News Corp and all their media holdings, wants to buy Time Warner. However, the deal would mean that Murdoch would have to sell off Time Warner’s channel CNN because he already owns another 24/7 news channel, Fox News. When Jon Stewart heard the news, he had a brilliant idea… to buy CNN. So, he decided to do what anyone with big dreams would do in our modern age; start a Kickstarter campaign to make the dream come true.

While the idea made for a funny joke on the show last week, The Daily Show has decided to run with it for a bit longer.

On Tuesday’s episode of The Daily Show, Stewart came to a realization about his lofty plans; if he owned CNN, he’d also have to program the channel with original shows that can run 24/7.

 

Admitting that he couldn’t come up with all the ideas by himself, he turned to the public for help. Stewart asked fans to help him come with some ideas, not just for programs, but also for new technology and slogans for CNN. He did so by asking fans to tweet their ideas using the hashtags #NewCNNshows#NewCNNtech and #NewCNNslogans. 

The Daily Show Asks For Users Suggestions Via Hashtags

We’ve been watching these hashtags for fun and thought we’d share some of the “great” ideas that people have been offering by looking through some of the most retweeted ideas on each hashtag.

#NewCNNshows

Since Tuesday night we’ve found the #NewCNNshows hashtag used in 1,249 tweets (with more new ones being added all the time). That’s about 17 new show ideas an hour. This is also the hashtag that has seen the most use so far.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Activity Summary

Here’s a few of our favourites so far:

 

#NewCNNtech

The #NewCNNtech hashtag has been used the least with only 415 tweets so far, but has also produced some of the funniest ideas. (And apparently, people really like holograms)

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Activity Summary

 

Here’s some of our favourites so far:

#NewCNNslogans

The hashtag #NewCNNslogans has been used 930 times so far. This one has produced some of the meanest tweets towards CNN so far, but some of them will really make you chuckle.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Activity Summary

Here’s some of the funnier ones we found:

 

And to our friends at CNN, we want you to know that we don’t have anything against you, we just think that Jon Stewart and The Daily Show are hilarious.

 

 

The Harsh Side of Social Media

By Mark Evans - July 30th, 2014

87877_064e228062fffa215f214e305c95c907_625ab8e1350442c270d0800ecd35bbc8Social media has many unique attributes and capabilities, but they are not always positive. Once an idea spreads through a social network, it has the chance to go very big very fast.

Comic book writer and artist Rick Remender can vouch for this aspect of social media, as a hashtag almost brought his lengthy and noteworthy career to a screeching halt. 

#FireRickRemender was the hashtag that swept through comic book fans on Twitter, and like a classic Marvel villain it was relentless.

The reason for the uproar was three pages from Captain America #22 which were viewed by one fan as sexist, and involved The Falcon (Captain America’s superhero colleague) having sex with a young woman.

The young female character was said to be 23, but many fans traced her timeline to try to prove that she was much younger.

One passionate fan started the critical maelstorm, and it was discussed for days all over the world on Twitter. It was even picked up by some major news publications.

The passion of fans combined with the open microphone of social media is a powerful cocktail. This is what digital marketers and brand managers everywhere need to understand, be wary of and also leverage for their own use.

Social media might have gone too far to try to have someone lose their job, without ever having any real conversation or debate about the material in question.

The networks should be used to debate ideas and their validity. A hashtag meant just to get a writer fired might be over-the-top. This happens often and while sometimes it is justified, it feels abrupt.

The power of social media is constantly on display everyday in both small, medium and large examples. This might not be the biggest example with the most dire consequences but it is definitely one to remember. Rick Remender most likely willl.