How do you measure retweets? Are you sure you’re getting them all?

I noticed something a while back regarding “new” retweets… While it looks like Tweetdeck measures “new” retweets, I started suspecting it wasn’t catching all of them.

First, let’s get on the same page about what an old retweet vs. new retweet is. (Sorry this will be very basic for most users but just want to make sure we all understand what I’m talking about) The interesting thing about Twitter is the social network’s functions started out as VERY basic and the developers have always paid attention to how users use the software and has adapted as a result. (What a concept!). So, for example, in the very early days of Twitter, people started conversing by typing @username before their tweets to address a specific person, so Twitter adapted by making it a clickable link to that person’s profile and adding a replies tab so you could see who was talking to you. This is also how the hash tag got its start.

Anyway, another user-generated activity was retweeting. What users would do was simply copy and paste someone else’s tweet (including their user name) with the letters RT at the beginning. Often times you’d have to edit the original tweet to fit in the 140 character limit. Here’s what an old RT looks like in Tweetdeck:

While Twitter has implementing “new” retweets, many users prefer (myself included) to use old style RTs. Particularly because it allows you to add commentary to your tweet. Also as a user you can turn off the ability to see new RTs from your followers so you don’t really have the assurance of who will actually see a new RT. However, when I really want to RT something that’s over the character limit I do use new retweets from time to time. Also, while Tweetdeck gives you the option to choose new or old style RT, if you ever use Twitter.com or its mobile apps, it’s much more difficult to do an old style tweet.

So new retweets is simply clicking a button that displays your original tweet in the timeline of the followers of the person who retweeted you (minus anyone who asked not to receive RTs of course), with a note that says who retweeted you. I noticed that unlike some other third party apps, Tweetdeck does report new retweets:

Oh, that’s great, it means you can count all your retweets in one place! Or so I thought… Since I do often log into Twitter.com and use it on my phone, I started noticing retweets not reported in Tweetdeck but coming through Twitter.com. What I figured out is this: Tweetdeck only reports new retweets from other Tweetdeck users. ¬†So if I RT you from my mobile or Twitter.com (which I just said I do often) then you’ll never see it in Tweetdeck.

Huh.

Why does this matter?

Why do you need to know # of RTs, other than to feed your own ego? (which, if you are, this blog post is probably great news for you, it may be happening more than you thought!! ūüėČ

What if you’re a brand and holding a contest measured on RTs?

What if you’re reporting back on the success of a project and including RTs? (I hope you’re also measuring outcomes, but this is important to understand the process).

How do you measure retweets? Any tools you use? I’ve found Tweetreach.com to be pretty accurate but I haven’t looked around too much…

Resolution idea: Use LinkedIn better in 2012

Do you use LinkedIn? I mean other than throwing up a profile and accepting connection requests?

My unscientific observation is most people don’t seem to do much else on the business-oriented social network, but there are lots of opportunity–especially if networking is important to you. Hint: if it’s not it definitely should be!

A huge mistake most people make with networking is only worrying about it when they are looking for a job or need something from the network… I hope we all know by now it’s important to build it now so it’s there when you need it. Have you ever had a friend who only ever called you when he or she needed something? Wasn’t that annoying? You probably aren’t even friends anymore, right? Right. Don’t be that person.

Here’s a few ways I use LinkedIn which I find to be to my advantage:

Five ways to use LinkedIn effectively for business networking

1. Edit your profile… Often!¬†

Your career actually changes a little everyday, whether you have a new client or project, skills, or coworkers, whatever happens at work potentially shapes what you do. LinkedIn is like your resume, but they key difference is ¬†it’s also available 24/7 which means you should keep it updated as frequently as possible. (Remember they told you that about your actual resume? Well now it’s time follow through my friend!) Visit your profile weekly or monthly and give it a good objective read through. Think about updating your skills, or headline or really anything that could be better written. Like any good writer knows, there’s always room for improvement!

Why it’s a good idea:¬†¬†In addition to just being a generally good idea to have the most up-to-date profile as possible, LinkedIn also sends an alert to your connections via the home page. It’s a good way to passively stay front-of-mind with your connections. Also it usually just tells you that someone updated his/her profile, and since we’re all curious beasts, it entices us to click through and review that person’s profile, so it really works!

2. Invest some time in LinkedIn Answers

Admittedly, I don’t spend as much time doing this as I used to, but the value still remains. First, I’ve made a few valuable connections from people who have seen an answer I wrote and took the time to send me a personal message or request an invitation and we’ve stayed in touch since. You also get to learn a lot from reading answers from other users. It’s a win-win and a fun and productive way to spend some spare time.

Why it’s a good idea:¬†Your profile just talks about your expertise and value from your point of view, but Q&A is your opportunity to demonstrate it. Also when you get voted for best answers (by the question asker) it displays in the side bar of your profile so your profile visitors know you’re a smart cookie (and not just because you say so). Round it out with a few great recommendations and you’ve got one bang-up profile!

3. Participate in groups

Again, how often do you join groups and never look at them again? I *used* to do this, and I wish LinkedIn could come up with better email/notification methods so that this feature is better used by a wider audience. LinkedIn Groups contain a captive audience of people who share a similar interest to you… What are you waiting for?! It’s practically a virtual water cooler waiting for your input. Wait, think this through a little first though.. When you start a new job and you run into a new coworker at the water cooler do you instantly start promoting your business/event/blog whatever? I hope not and that’s not the way to participate online either. Start an interesting discussion or participate in an existing one. Like any online community you can start thinking about promoting yourself when you’ve established trust and made friends.

Why it’s a good idea: This is all about networking remember! Perfect opportunity to actually “meet” people through LinkedIn.

4. Pay attention to who’s creeping your profile

I wrote this past summer about how this is my favourite feature of LinkedIn¬†which prompted some interesting discussions. Reflecting on this since then, I do think there’s a lot more that can be said about who’s viewing your profile. For example, think about how you want to be perceived and who your personal target audience is… Are you looking to be findable and desirable to employers? Is there a certain industry or sector you want to be known in? Are those people viewing your profile? If not, then you may not be marketing yourself effectively. Whether formally written or not, you should understand who you want to reach, why and what you’d like them to think of you, and profile viewing is valuable feedback for this. Maybe I’m just a nerd but I love this stuff!

Why it’s a good idea: Self-reflection and evaluation is probably the best thing you can ever do for yourself, personally and professionally.. So I call this one a no brainer.

5. Connect online and offline 

If you want to be great at networking than you absolutely-no-doubt-about-it MUST get out in the “real world” and meet people face to face. I suggest collecting business cards (the old fashioned way), writing down something interesting you spoke about with that person and following up with a personalized LinkedIN update.

Three behaviours I *hate* on LinkedIn

Ok spare me the “there’s no wrong way in social media” argument, but these are three things that I see on LinkedIn that I find irritating. Maybe it works for you, but I can at least promise it won’t work at winning *my* love and affection. And surely some of my readers have my back on this? Come on, pitch in guys!)

1. Sending the default invite to someone you barely know (or don’t know at all)

If we just met once or twice, or know each other from Twitter or some other obscure-type relationship than please take a minute to fill in the personalized message in the invite and jog my memory. Also there’s no harm in sending an invite to someone you don’t know but would like to know, but take a minute to flatter them and let them know WHY you are sending an unsolicited invite. Maybe they run a company you’d really like to work for, or perhaps you have 10 connections in common and really SHOULD know each other… Bare in mind that some people restrict connections to only those they know personally, so don’t be offended if someone doesn’t add you.

2. Auto push ALL Twitter updates to LinkedIn 

I follow you on Twitter to read your tweets. I connect with you on LinkedIn to maintain a business relationship. Not the same thing. Especially if you tweet completely non-professional related updates. Also if you are pushing ALL your updates to both networks (and/or Facebook for that matter) it tells me I’m wasting my time following you on multiple social networks, rather than building a deeper relationship. If you must, use the #LI or #IN tags to sync the occasional tweet but usually ¬†you’re better off just writing custom messages for each network.

3. Sending mass messages to gain business or promote yourself

If you are doing something for charity or for the benefit of others, I don’t really mind.. but if you’re soliciting or promoting yourself to your network at least take the time to send personalized messages to your contacts who would be interested, otherwise you’re just spamming. No one likes spam, not in email, not on Twitter and not on LinkedIn and DEFINITELY not through multiple media at the same time. ¬†This also goes for blanket recommendations, don’t ask someone for a recommendation unless you

Do you agree? Do you used LinkedIn in other ways? Let me know in the comments!

#NewTwitter is here (again!) Do you remember what #OldTwitter looked like?

Remember when old Twitter was #NewTwitter? Time must be flying by because it really didn’t seem like that long ago! For some reason people don’t get nearly as upset about big Twitter updates as they do about Facebook, but it’s always kind of a big deal.

Can you even remember what Twitter used to look like? Here’s a little trip down memory lane. (Found these randomly on Flickr/Google Images)

*Update* Here’s what #NewTwitter looks like in case you haven’t seen it yet:

The old “#NewTwitter”
Twitter - Background

This was uploaded in November 2009:

(32) Twitter _ Home

April 2009:
New User Twitter Page

February 2009:
avatar blackout on twitter until feb 24

This one is April 2008:

 Damn it, my background went all Myspace on me...

This is November 2007 (two months after I joined..)
Twitter crica 2007

And finally, the one I’m sure very, very few people even remember, here’s original Twitter in 2006 (click for larger):

 

I especially love part of the tagline… “You’ll never be bored again… E V E R!” So true!

Why are you creating content?

I found this great infographic today, ironically from April Dunford’s post about infographics being “the Lindsay Lohen of content”

In my defence, she was using this one as a great example of an infographic and that’s why it’s inspired this post. Anyone who’s worked with me knows my obsession with measurement and tying activities to business goals, but one thing I’ve understood but often had difficulty explaining is the relationship between certain pieces of content and how those pieces fit together. I’m no sales expert, so while I know that putting out great content such as a whitepaper, an interesting video or infographic can reflect back to business goals, I was never really sure of how to put it… fortunately this graphic visually explains it so well:

The Content Grid

This is obviously a software model, but I think the information can translate to any industry/product service.

A great content strategy is essentially making sure you have a piece of well-executed content at each important step above. The one thing I don’t like about this infographic is it’s strictly talking about a broadcast content model. This should be a piece of your overall social strategy, but there is a lot more too it. If you just treat your Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/etc a account as a broadcast account then your content may end up falling on deaf ears. And if you’re only looking at the above, it may be hard to understand why.

I also want to draw attention to the key performance indicators at the bottom.¬† I love that they’ve been categorized in three ways and break down the relevant metrics at each stage. This makes it really clear that you are working towards something and what to measure at every step.¬† You may only care about making the sale (outcomes) and therefore think you only need to measure the sales, or leads or whatever indicator makes sense, but without the insight on how you got there (i.e. traffic, clickthrough, form submissions etc) you are missing the data that can dictate how to do it better next time, a HUGE missed opportunity.

Giveaway: Private tour and prize pack from CBC!

One of my fondest memories of PR school is when I volunteered with CBC Ottawa for a number of events throughout the summer. For the orientation, the communications team took us around the newsroom which was my first ‘behind-the-scenes’ experience of a television operation, and man, it was cool! The energy and excitement in a news room is a unique experience, and really fun to see first-hand, whether you work in PR or not.

If you’ve never been, I urge you to GO! The good news is that CBC is hosting an Open House this¬† Saturday. If you’ve ever been to Culture Days you know that CBC is always one of the most popular spots and I’m sure this event will be too.

The BETTER news is CBC has graciously offered you a chance (via right here on my blog) to a private tour before the event starts, along with a couple fabulous prize packs. Full prize details include:

The winners would get their own personal tour of our newsroom with Lucy van Oldenbarneveld and Adrian Harewood – hosts of CBC News Ottawa at 5, 5:30 & 6.¬† The tour would be at 9:30 a.m. before the event starts (which means no line-up!)¬† We would also throw in¬†two CBC 75th Anniversary prize packs (but we’d be happy to welcome a family of four on the tour).

Sounds pretty cool eh? If you want to win just leave a comment and answer the following question:

What major milestone is CBC celebrating the fall?

As always, you get a bonus entry for tweeting, Facebooking, or Google+ing the post (tag me or let me know if you did)

Winner will determined by a random draw and  announced FRIDAY at NOON.

Good luck!
We have winners!

The team at CBC got in contact with me earlier this morning and let me know it would provide not one, but two prizes to give away, so I’m happy to announce the two winners–thanks to the almighty random number generator–are:

  • Jennifer Covert
  • Sasha

I will email you both with details. Thanks again!

t.co and what it means for your analytics

Last month I wrote about how relying on your analytics to measure the traffic gained from Twitter was a bit of a fallacy

Well I have an exciting update for you, this is no longer the case! Recently Twitter announced it was wrapping all links shared through its service with the http://t.co URL. Not only is this good news for users–the three digit URL makes bit.ly links seem long–but Twitter has also implemented some great features along with it.

First and foremost it screens for malicious and harmful links–hopefully this will reduce the Twitter hijacking DM scams that have been getting really bad lately. What I’m excited about though, is it now provides a more accurate analytics data. Now you’ll see t.co showing up as a referral, which includes ANY link clicked through Twitter, not just twitter.com

Analytics Referral Sources
t.co now shows up as a Referral Source in Google Analytics

Interestingly, Twitter.com is still showing up as a referral source, and I noticed this week, for example, it was still reporting numbers in tandem with t.co as a referral source. I’m wondering if perhaps twitter.com traffic overrides t.co, so you can still differentiate the difference between a mobile/third party app and the actual site. If that is the case, I’ve noticed since t.co has started tracking if you compare day-to-day I’m getting three times more traffic from t.co as from twitter.com, which proves my earlier point about taking Twitter analytics at face value is grossly underestimating its value…

Twitter Tool Review: Crowdbooster

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Twitter tool because, well, it’s been a while since I’ve found one I’ve been excited about enough to review.

Crowdbooster is a Twitter analysis tool that provides data on your own Twitter activity. As an analytics/self-improvement junkie, I LOVE the ability to do this. What are my most popular tweets? Who are my most loyal followers? What content gets retweeted the most? Which tweets had the furthest reach?

Overall Impression

Of any tool of its kind, this is the best one I’ve used. The UI is slick and intuitive and FAST. The metrics are easy to understand and logical. Each week Crowdbooster sends me an email with a summary of the week and provides advice (such as the best times to tweet in order to get replies and retweets, presumably based on my own history). My absolutely favourite thing about Crowdbooster is that it allows you to slice the data by week, month, all time and even custom date ranges. Many tools don’t go back that far (especially if you’re a long time Twitter user) and the fact that it loads all-time results so quickly earns major points with me.

What I would like to see…

It would be great to compare some results to other users. Not necessarily in a Klout-style score that becomes a bragging right, but personally I like to see where I stand, particularly in relation to other people I know. I hope that when Crowdbooster is out of private beta and has an established user base, it might implement these types of metrics.

Also the one feature I’m disappointed with is the Influential Followers. It simply displays my followers with the most amount of followers. And as I’m sure we all know by now, high follower numbers =/= influential. Particularly because, all my top followers–while most are celebrities or well known personalities–all follow as many or more people than follow them. So it doesn’t really seem that special that MC Hammer follows me when he also follows almost 40,000 other people. While I enjoy his tweets, we’ve never ever interacted on Twitter, so I’m not sure that relationship has much value to me if I were looking to target influential followers.

Let’s get to the good stuff

Don’t let that dissuade you though, it’s still a fantastic tool and packs tons of value in other places…Let’s see some screenshots:

Follower Growth Chart
Follower Growth Chart

This chart is interesting, particularly if you have a lot of followers and don’t get notifications (WAY too many spam bots). I don’t get upset or concerned when I lose followers, for every great and worthy follower I acquire, there are probably 5-10 others who are simply following me (usually via an automated software) to get a follow back, with no actual interest or relevance to what I do. When you don’t follow those users back they tend to unfollow you in a few days anyway. However, it’s nice to see a general upward trend over time to know I must be doing something right!

When you first log in, you see a dashboard that also gives you this chart:

Graph of your most successful tweets

This chart shows you how your tweets are doing in terms of how many retweets or replies they get, and the combined reach (your followers+follower #s of retweeters). This is really interesting because particularly if you look at all time results, you can see what your most successful tweets have been. In my case I tweeted:¬† “Looking for a social media savvy PR guy with a knack for great content development? Let me know. Comes with a reco from me!” The funny thing is I don’t even remember who this tweet was about, but apparently it reached 157,000 people and I hope whoever it was got at least a job lead out of it!

Finally my favourite feature is the chart of top retweeters. I want to know who is retweeting my content most often. These are now my favourite people… Thanks: @catehstn, @mikemachargo @sophiejodouin, @sherrilynne @KetevanN!!!

Top Retweeters

And as mentioned earlier, I love that it sends  me a weekly summary of activity. Keeps me interested and engaged with the tool:

Weekly email screenshotIf you are in anyway using Twitter in a professional capacity, you should consider this tool.

The sad news is for now it’s still in private beta… I do have five invites available and if you leave a comment (here on the blog) I will draw five lucky winners by the end of this week.

Rely on analytics for social referrers? You may be selling yourself short…

I have a big beef about web analytics. While analytics are useful, informative and quite frankly, absolutely crucial, the ease and access to free tools like Google Analytics has caused many to use analytics tools without really understanding them.

Here’s the one thing I hear often from skeptical marketing people who don’t fully understand social (an imaginary example): “I get Google Analytics reports, and less than one per cent off our traffic comes from Twitter so clearly it’s not working for us.”

So here’s the problem: analytics, while providing more precise and in-depth metrics than ever afforded to marketers, is NOT a perfect science. I could go off on several rants at this point, but for the purpose of brevity I’m going to focus on Twitter referrals.

The reality is most Twitter users do not access and use Twitter from Twitter.com. They use Tweetdeck or another desktop applications, and they also access Twitter often from mobile devices. When someone on Tweetdeck or an iPhone clicks your link and visits your site, this does not register as a Twitter referral, but in most cases as direct traffic. Direct traffic is essentially the “other” bucket when the analytics tool can’t figure out the source. This includes email clients, bookmarks and any other non-browser application.

While I can’t find an official number of Twitter.com vs Twitter app users, a recent(ish) study by Sysomos revealed that 42 per cent of the 25 million Tweets analyzed originated from non-official Twitter apps. That’s not even including the official Twitter apps (aka Twitter for mac + Twitter for iPhone/Android/BB, at the time). That tells me at the very least, a significant percentage of Twitter users are NOT using Twitter.com and therefore, to the untrained analytics watcher, not driving traffic to web sites.

Now I hate to complain about anything without a helpful solution, so here’s my advice:

  1. Tracking links – if you are pushing out content via Twitter or other social networks, you can use a tool to code those links (before shortening), you plug in a few tracking details and get a lovely URL that looks like this:
    http://www.kellyrusk.ca/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=fun&utm_campaign=Kelly’s%2Bfun%2Bwith%2BURLs
    with all that fun stuff at the end telling Google Analytics information about the URL for tracking purposes. You can then take that ugly long URL and plug it into a service like bit.ly and distribute the shortened version.
  2. The “lite” version is to just track all your bit.ly links which does in fact tell you more details, here’s an example:
    As you can see, bit.ly does in fact track different clients, (but still has a “catch-all” category).

I would use the first example if you’re pushing out marketing campaigns and tracking clicks and conversions as tying it back to the source is pretty important and the tracking URLs will allow you to keep tabs on a referrer right through to conversion. If you’re just pushing out content (i.e. blog posts), while you can still do the Google tracking, it’s not completely necessary if there’s no direct call to action.

Finally, again I will emphasize: this is not an exact science! Even with the tracking URLs–if I click on a URL in a tweet, read it and decide to re-share it, I’ll copy and paste the URL from the browser and cut out all that silly tracking mumbo jumbo (you think I’d know better, but I still do it!) and paste the original link in, thus crushing your clever measurement trick! If I do that I’m sure others do as well.

Track what you can, as much as you can, but remember it’s a trend, an indication, but not an exact number. Measurement needs to be an ongoing process and you can only really do so effectively when you measure consistently, benchmark and compare against your own results.

Influence is not the right word!

So this topic has been rolling around in my head for a while, and I wasn’t quite sure how to articulate it.

First let’s talk about Klout. Klout gets a lot of praise and a lot of criticism. I guess I sit somewhere in the middle. I like some of the metrics it provides, and there is merit to it. However rating people by “influence” based on a *top-secret* algorithm, is a little bit bologna.

First what I dislike about Klout: simplify the complex into one single number. First, it turns Twitter into a popularity contest and inflates egos. And it doesn’t really mean what people think it means. Just like all publicity is NOT good publicity, All Klout is NOT good Klout–Just because people respond and retweet someone, it doesn’t mean they trust them, or respect them, or even like them. It’s not news that the Internet LOVES controversy and being controversial can get you followers and retweets, but as a brand targeting influencers, do you really want to associate your brand with controversy (maybe, but my point is it’s being overlooked). It also doesn’t mean that if you give that person a product, they will help sell it by talking about it online.

Ok, now for some positive: Klout isn’t all bad. I like how Klout gives more accurate reach numbers than straight up follower numbers. Unfortunately there’s still a lack of transparency, so we don’t actually know *how* that number is reached. Follower count and the number reached by a message is definitely not the same and Klout at least has started to demystify this. Quite frankly if you’re measuring clicks and conversion, then relying on Twitter follower numbers is doing nothing but setting up you up for failure.¬† Too many are still hung up on follower numbers and mistaking that for “reach.”

Also, ego inflating aside, the ranking is helpful when you are comparing a number of similar accounts and want an overview of their activity and interaction. I’m building a very specific list for a client and I find it useful. I’m not putting a ton of weight into the number, but it is definitely a helpful indicator, particularly if you’re trying to get the focus away from number of followers.

However, to blindly select “influencers” based on this score is plain silly. There definitely needs to be a human element involved, and particularly someone with experience and know-how in social media. Robots simply can’t replace human intelligence… SkyNet anyone?!

All I’m trying to say here is that influence is a really misleading word. I don’t know what the right word is to be honest. I also don’t know if someone who spends a lot of time online interacting with others is any more influential than, say, someone who is clearly passionate about a brand/product/service and already speaking about it. And you don’t need Klout to find those people. It’s usually fairly obvious.

Crowdsourcing a Community Manager Job Description

Yesterday I gave up a sunny summer Saturday to attend the Social Capital Conference here in Ottawa, and boy I’m glad I did! It was a fun day at the University of Ottawa where I had the opportunity to meet a ton of new faces (something that doesn’t usually happen to often at Ottawa events, and have some great discussions.

A couple months ago, I was asked to lead a roundtable at the event. I’ve facilitating roundtables a number of times, and I’m not really too crazy about them. I mean, we usually end up having great discussion and I meet a handful of awesome people, but I wanted to ensure participants would actually get something useful out of it.

In mid-June I held a meetup for the Ottawa Community Manager group, and I let them know about the roundtable and asked for ideas on how to make it interesting and engaging. I think it was Simon who suggested we use the time to build a community manager job description.

I loved this idea because frankly, a community manager is an often mis-understood position. And one interesting thing I’ve found about community¬† managers, is most of the ones I’ve met (myself included) have actually written their own job description–they came in as a new position at a company, and preetty much decided what they would do.

Anyway, so I brought activity sheets and invited the roundtable participants (from three different groups) to write down their thoughts and ideas while we also had a discussion about it.

I’ve compiled the results into Wordle, because they look pretty but also give a good overview of what most participants agreed upon:

Essential Skills

Personal Qualities

Preferred Experience

Job Duties

With one of the groups, we even had a great discussion over the title Community Manager, and if something else was more appropriate. The general consensus is at its core the community manager job is a communications job, so potentially could be replaced by a more generic communications title. I don’t totally disagree but I also think often communications means certain things that aren’t always the role of community managers, so I personally like it as is.

A huge thanks to the conference organizers: Lara Wellman, Vicky Bisson, Sara McConnell, Rebecca Stanisic, Andrea Tomkins and Karen Wilson.