Tag Archive - Social network

Time really is money, online

Still think that social networks like Twitter aren’t worth your investment of time?

Read this for an example and a couple of tools that might help change your mind (disclosure; Vrazon is reseller for the second)

What I Wore Today (almost)

What I Wore Today (almost)

A post by a friend, Poppy Dinsey (@poppyd) made me think about this issue today. Since I met her, via twitter of course, she has gone on to launch an internet fashion sensation – WIWT (What I Wore Today) and as she says:

I have achieved endless things because of tweeting. Twitter is still one of the largest drivers of traffic to WIWT.com, a business I was only able to set up because of an idea that spread through – yep, you guessed it – Twitter. Twitter has enabled me to market my business, my sense of humour, my opinions, my style and my writing to literally millions of people. I’ve been able to work with brands from teeny tiny boutiques and emerging designers to global giants like Vodafone, Universal Pictures and Unilever, often solely because somebody has found me on Twitter. I’ve never once paid a PR agency, but have appeared in nearly all the mags and papers of this country for something or other…again, often simply because of journos following me on Twitter or someone recommending me via Twitter to a journalist who otherwise would never have found me. I know this isn’t your ‘usual’ Twitter experience, but it’s one I’m massively grateful for and lord knows I’ve put a LOT of time into tweeting to make it happen. I didn’t have ANY contacts in fashion, tech or property when I started in each of these industries…but I made sure I made them using Twitter.

It has been hard work, but she had a goal, and put in the time and effort.

So how might you benefit too?

LEAD GENERATION TOOL

Lead Generation Sample from Twitter

Lead Generation Sample

Today Twitter announced a new feature that will make it MUCH easier to capture important, and USEFUL, information on your audience: Lead Generation Cards. This new tool will allow businesses to embed a small form in a tweet that users can complete and send back with little or no effort.

This will allow wine businesses; wineries, retailers, journalists selling subscriptions and so on, to get the three most important bits of data for generating a return on investment in twitter; a user’s name, Twitter handle, and email address.

Twitter is great for several things, namely conversations (that you can start, join, or listen-in to), quick questions and answers, and sharing links. However, businesses should have a goal and twitter is not the place for lengthy, detailed explanations, private conversations or selling. Email still is the best way to do this, but if you take them together, you can not only capture people’s email addresses, you can build the kind of relationship that ensures they actually open and read them.

INTELLIGENCE GENERATION TOOL

Vrazon has discovered a great tool for getting to know the audience you have painstakingly built up with your time spent on twitter, facebook, linkedin and through email; Nimble.

Nimble Contact

Nimble Contact

Nimble is an online CRM tool that is specifically built to give you a much broader picture of the people you follow by combining all a user’s profiles on each of these social networks into a single place. You can have thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook, and many professional links on LinkedIn, but combining this information is EXTREMELY hard.

They key, of course, is email because it links them all together.

An email address is still the most valuable bit of information, even in the age of the social network.

All of a sudden, time IS money because you can finally convert effort into leads.

 

 

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When is a Twitter Trend not a Trend?

When is a Twitter Trend NOT a Twitter Trend at all? The answer is “When it is a Tailored Trend”

Many of us are now Twitter users, and we’ve come to understand terms such as “follower”, “retweet”, “followfriday” and even “hashtag”. One term we think we understand is that of “Twitter Trends“. Trends are algorithm-generated insights into what is currently popular on twitter.

TAILORED JUST FOR YOU

In years past, it was possible for a group of enthusiastic wine twitterers to ‘trend’ by getting together and sharing a hashtag for the evening over a bottle or two of interesting wines. As the volume of twitter traffic has increased, it has become harder and harder to get noticed in the noise of Justin Bieber fever, US elections and amusing spoof celebrity accounts like @Queen_UK

Trends, however, are seemingly quite important to Twitter – witness their prominent position on the user’s homepage.

It was a shock recently, to see that one of our events, the EWBC, managed to “trend” for users in the UK, USA and Turkey – as many reported on twitter at the time. I’ve also seen other users mention how they’re “trending” recently.

However, on closer examination it seems that Twitter has changed the interface to create ‘tailored trends’ as announced in June 2012:

“Trends help you discover the emerging topics people are talking about on Twitter. You can see these topics as a worldwide list, or select one of more than 150 locations. In order to show emerging topics that matter more to you, today we’re improving our algorithms to tailor Trends based on your location and who you follow on Twitter.”

In other words, the trends you see (unless you have changed your settings) are not what is popular on twitter, but what is popular amongst the people you already follow on twitter.

BURST THE FILTER BUBBLES

This is a classic  example of the “Filter Bubble“, where the content we see, and therefore interact with, is increasingly limited to that which is “popular” with the people we already follow. It means we exist in echo chambers where we are always speaking to the same people and seeing content we agree with and like. It makes life easier, less challenging, but also less varied and less interesting.

So, the next time you see your favourite wine, brand or event trending on twitter it might be a lot less exciting than it first appears.

I encourage you all to change your settings to make them more general and open to discoveries where possible.

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Measuring influence or communication skills

Do you have influence? This question is causing quite a stir at the moment, but what does it mean in the wine world?

This question will be of particular relevance next week at the London International Wine Fair. Why? Because with the massive growth of online sources of information, wine businesses will want to understand who can help them spread their message, and build their brands.

“I’m 47 on that”

Influence“, in theory, goes beyond raw numbers of readers, hits and followers, and instead promises an insight into a wine communicator’s ability to engage their audience and generate some kind of activity (see here for a previous post “Writing Under the Influence of Twitter“).

In many ways, it is analogous to how wines are scored, except this time it is the communicator themselves being scored. Take James Suckling for example, infamous for his point-scoring perspective, in the world of influence he himself is scoring 47 and 53 instead. I don’t think he’d like these numbers, but should he be impressed?

The “science” of measuring this influence is in its infancy, but developing every day to include a wider range of information sources. Two of most widely used services today are PeerIndex & Klout, and for your enjoyment, analysis and feedback, here is a list of “top 100 wine twitterers” I have created from the MANY folks I follow every day:

(Click on the link for the full global list of the most influential wine accounts and for information on what the different columns mean)

You will note:

  • The list is ordered by an overall influence score that does not relate solely to wine (I am hoping to work with this data in the near future)
  • The list is arbitrary & incomplete – I certainly don’t know all twitterers interested in wine
  • It is a mix of all those with interest in wine, covering many different segments – winemakers, marketeers, personalities and consumers that could/should be looked at separately
  • It is based largely, at this stage, on twitter activity (though facebook, linkedin and others are apparently taken into account). So if you are not on twitter, tough luck!
  • Most of all, influence is a very personal thing, so you probably will disagree with this list

For comparison, here are Klout scores for the same top 10:

Klout score for wine

Unfortunately Klout’s list does not allow for more than 10 users at the moment, so it is very hard to compare (but this data should be available shortly) however, you can see a similarity in the general order of users.

In essence, the influence score is a measure of how likely a message sent by this person is likely to be heard and acted upon. It is calculated based on measures such as the size of the audience, the volume and quality of interactions with that audience (messages, retweets, lists), the nature of the content being shared, and how unique and interesting that is, and more.

Measuring your social media skills

But does it mean anything? More importantly, does it help in any way?

I feel uncomfortable with the idea of “most influential” lists, yet I do recognise that the people who feature highly are those I read and look out for.

I believe it would be better for the term “influence” to be replaced with “skilled at social media communication” – unfortunately that is a lot less catchy. I believe that these measures are really about how skilled the person is at communicating clear messages in a way that people will want to follow, read, share and react. Skills are learned, and the effort and time users invest in these accounts is therefore also reflected in the score.

Does it matter? Whatever you think these measures mean, they do reflect the profile of certain people and messages. More decision-makers (advertisers, PR companies, buyers, consumers) are paying attention. For that reason alone, the answer is, Yes … but don’t lose sight of the big picture!

It is always important to keep an eye on the leaders in a field, but don’t forget that in an area that is developing as fast as social media, the next big thing is probably not included yet!

Next week’s LIWF will see a lot of influence at work, and if managed well, see these scores rising. Brands will see their influence scores rise as visitors share their reviews and links online. Communicators will be discovering and sharing the kind of unique content that their readers are interested in, and looking to share. Who wins? Everybody – brands, writers and consumers, and the online wine culture.

Have you checked your score? Is it a fair reflection? Want to know how to improve it? Come along to the Access Zone on F70 at the London Wine Fair to ask us.

Update 10/5/2011: here is a list just of UK wine bloggers as an example

Stay tuned to WineConversation.com as we explore the area of influence, or communication skills, and look in more detail at what this might mean.

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Writing under the influence of twitter

I’m currently working on a project looking at the measurement of online influence. Or is it influence online? Or is that influence of online measurement? The whole concept is hard to grasp. What value do these values and lists have?

First question, what do you measure and what does it mean or imply?

'how to win friends and influence people'
Image by bubbo-tubbo via Flickr

For example, do I have “influence” because I have almost 8700 followers as @thirstforwine on twitter, or do I have 8700 followers because I have influence?

In fact, I only have followers because a few people thought I was interesting and friendly enough that they kindly recommended me to their friends, and then these people did the same. In that case THEY have influence. I now have *some* by extension.

Some influence measurement sites/scores

If you want to look into this area, here are some sites to check out and sign up to, including my current ratings for reference and to demonstrate the variability of scores and their scales:

  • PeerIndex: I have a PeerIndex score of 55 (and an ‘Authority’ score of 45)
  • Klout: My Klout score is 66 and I’m a “Thought Leader”
  • Twitalyzer: I have an impact score of 4.3% (which puts me in the 88.8th percentile) and I’m a “Reporter”
  • PostRank: Not even sure what figures to quote, but I have 411 “Engagement Points” so far for January. Good?

What does influence mean?

I think I can encourage a certain number of people to follow links, but who are they and what are they doing? Is it just robots? Are they curious? Or am I really answering questions they have, and therefore delivering some value?

In the case of wine, should it only be measured by an ability to get bottles into consumers hands?

Influence ought to mean “creates action or change”, but how can we measure that, even just online? What many tools really look at are just a proxy for that – followers, retweets, mentions, etc.

Worst of all, are these ‘influential’ lists just self-referential? For example, the lists of ‘top blogs’ add weightings to links from other ‘top blogs’ that mean that once you are ‘in the club’ you are more likely to stay there until you make the mistake of linking to newer blogs and giving them a boost up the ladder (note; this is intended to be ironic – seems we need to be sure to qualify things these days). Once you are listed as influential, it is more likely you will be followed, retweeted, quoted, measured and interviewed and so you become more influential.

What use is it?

Once I’ve had a look at the actual rankings I will also post some thoughts on how, if at all, these measurements might be useful for anything other than stroking a few egos.

The Plan

I will be working with one of the services listed above to put together a view of Wine Influencers on Twitter, providing them with a reasonably comprehensive list of wine twitterers to review. It should be fun to plug in some names to the algorithms and see what list/order emerges and then get your feedback.

Who would you say is “most influential” in wine (online, on twitter)? How do you even define it? Leave me a note to link me to you favourite list of wine twitterers and I will do my best to get them included.

UPDATE 25 January: In writing this post I realised I had not properly signed up for PostRank analysis. I have now done so and update the line above. Firstly, it is VERY confusing. I have no idea what stats mean, what is public, what is about me, versus the blog, and how it is calculated. However, it SEEMS to be extremely powerful and FREE, so I will keep looking into it. Any recommendations or help? Do you use it?

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Should We All Quit Facebook? Not Yet (IMHO)

Don't quit, Mike!
Image by SuziJane via Flickr

Last week, the brilliant Josh Hermsmeyer at Capozzi Winery (also known as @PinotBlogger) posted a controversial post entitled: Why I Quit Facebook, And Why Wineries Should As Well – it is well worth a read.

Josh manages to combine a great marketing mind with a brilliant passion for making wine, great technical knowledge and an ability to communicate (yes, a bit of a hero to me). It is just a shame that I may never get a chance to taste his wines. However, his posts are always worth reading.

Having said that, I disagree with him on this one.

The conclusion of his post is summed up as:

Bottom line: Even if you never plan to advertise or otherwise leverage Facebook’s “social graph,” You do not want your brand tainted, even by association, by the sh*tstorm that is engulfing Facebook.

His argument is that the kinds of activities that Facebook has been accused of entering into should not be condoned, and that if you are a winery (or any business) on Facebook, you will be tainted by it by association:

… there can be no doubt that the risks of maintaining a presence on, and thus providing a tacit endorsement of, Facebook far outweigh any benefits you can possibly think to imagine. Act accordingly.

You can read his report and plenty other reports out there about what Facebook is accused of doing, but essentially it seems to be about breach of trust. In his view, that breach is so serious that he simply cannot be part of the network. That is his decision. It is also the conclusion of many other influential individuals such as Jason Calacanis and many thousands of others.

I respect Josh’s principled stand. In the comments he says:

Even if you are using Facebook just to have a conversation where your customers are, you are tacitly endorsing the medium. I can’t do that any longer. I owe the peeps more than just looking out for my brand’s interests.

My actions are communicating to them louder than any wall post what I value, what Capozzi values, and where we draw the line in terms of where commerce ends and a trusting, worthwhile relationship begins.

Wineries who are on Facebook may well be there simply to engage with their customers around the world. This is still one of the best places to do that, even if I do recommend that this is just a means of taking that relationship elsewhere (like a winery’s own blog).

Essentially, I don’t believe that having a business presence on Facebook “tacitly endorses” whatever may or may not be going on behind the scenes between Facebook and their advertisers with our data any more than running a local wine shop “endorses” dubious commercial property deals by banks.

Wineries NEED to communicate with their customers, and if the customers are on Facebook and are willing and eager to engage there, then wineries will have a presence there. IF there are privacy concerns, there is no “ethical duty” to disengage with the network. It is not the business’ or brands’ role to make decisions for their customers about these things. As long as they are part of the network they can & should lobby for things to change and do their best to communicate this to their friends and customers.

“The REAL issue is that this is a closed network that is trying to justify, and monetise, itself …”

As I write this I hear that new privacy arrangements are being made by Facebook. I’m dubious that this will quell the discontent fully.

The REAL issue is that this is a closed network that is trying to justify, and monetise, itself by getting bigger and offering even more options to everyone. I don’t believe it can do this without getting too complex. It is getting so big that the revenues it needs to achieve become astronomical, encouraging “extreme” behaviour. We need to keep an eye out and complain, but not necessarily run away.

There is a precent for this. AOL grew exponentially by educating millions of us about the internet. However, eventually we grew tired of the walled playground and we left it for the more exciting WWW. Facebook introduced many individuals and businesses to the Social Web. The time will come when many of them will cut the apron strings and venture off into the wider social world. But not yet.

——————-

Please read Josh’s full post AND the comments. This is a wonderful example of what kind of conversation a blog can create. This is Josh’s topic, but anyone can respond, disagree or agree, and he engages with all of them to clarify and refine the message.

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