Measuring Social Media Engagement In The Context Of Conversions and Sales

One of the issues I see a lot of business people still trying to wrap their heads around is how to measure the effectiveness and value of their social media investment.  In a lot of ways, it’s the question because no online effort is free. Even if all the tools are free, every campaign still takes time and effort, which you pay for by the hour in most cases. In almost every case where you commit to an online project the analytics will be squishy and gray at best, and you’ll have to come to terms with the immutable fear that your people could be spending their time and energy elsewhere. The fear is a given, and if you don’t have it’s because you’re not really weighing your options correctly. Read More

New Behaviors To Maintain Old Habits

Lately I’ve noticed more and more people putting a “.” before they type a reply to someone in Twitter’s public time line. It’s a small but smart work around for the problem created by Twitter decision to decrease the noise in the system by hiding any message someone sends via the “@[name]” from any of their followers who are not following that specific person. A lot of people were ticked off when Twitter decided to go that route because of the residual value and increased serendipity allowed by everyone seeing who you were talking to. Many people actually like that type of noise because it surfaces the social graph (i.e. the fact that you can see who someone talks to, regardless of the conversational content, is often valuable.) So people are starting to sacrifice just 1 character of their 140 limit to effectively make their conversations public. Simple, smart fix. Right on.

It just goes to show you, when one person finds a smart work-around for a common problem and uses it in public, that idea will propagate across the network as it is adopted by more and more people…until it becomes part of the culture.

Case Study: How To Use Foursquare To Draw A Crowd Into Your Restaurant


[tweetmeme] Restaurant owners are quickly discovering how to use social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and Yelp to their advantage and drive customers to their tables, but there’s a guy in Wisconsin doing it better than almost anyone else.

Joe Sorge, who runs a burger joint in Milwaukee called AJ Bombers, shot me a tweet yesterday to tell me about a Foursquare party they had this week that brought a flash mob of 161 Foursquare users to his restaurant.  My eyebrows shot up when I read that number. 161 check ins in one day?! How could that be? There are only about three or four hundred Foursquare users total in Milwaukee?! Over 150 of them were in the same place, on the same afternoon?

When I called him up, Joe explained. They came to earn the highly coveted and elusive Foursquare “Swarm Badge” – something you can only get when 50 or more Foursquare users check in at the same place at the same time. I hadn’t heard of it, but apparently the promise of this coveted Foursquare badge can really draw a crowd. Read More

How Social Media Can Boost Restaurant Business

This short video was posted by Chris Brogan a few days ago. I love finding real-life stories about how small business owners are successfully using social media to increase their business. Joe Sorge, who runs AJ Bombers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin shares how he uses a tool to humanize his business and keep in touch with customers.

Hitwise Data Shows That We’re All Twittered Out

Some fresh Hitwise data posted by Bill Tancer just a few weeks ago indicates that Twitter might have hit a wall and is now on the decline. Just as Twitter secured an additional $100 million in financing, which would place the company’s valuation in the $1 billion range, Bill dug into the data to take a quick look at Twitter’s market share of visits to see if the hype is matched by site traffic. I’ve included 2 of the key graphs here – Marketshare of Visits (U.S.) to and search volume for “Twitter”. In both visits and searches, Twitter appears to have hit a resistance point as of April 2009, which validates the feeling expressed by many heavy users that engagement seems to be falling off of late.

It should be noted that the chart immediately below indicates visits to Twitter’s website, and does not include application and mobile traffic. That being said, even without application and mobile data, visits to the main Twitter domain should have some correlation to new user adoption. If this interests you, please head over to Bill’s post and start a discussion – perhaps he’ll be nice enough to run the reports again as of this week so that we can get a better idea of whether this is just a temporary setback Twitter is experiencing, or not. My guess is that with the addition of Twitter lists, you’ll see a spike this week back to, but that it’ll be a spike, not necessarily the start of an upward trend.

Marketshare Of Visits (U.S.) to


Search Volume (U.S.) for “Twitter”


Focusing On Value: How I’m Changing How I Use Twitter


[tweetmeme] This weekend I made the decision to switch things up and reboot my Twitter following list. On Sunday night, with a little help from Jesse over at SocialToo, I ran a script that unfollowed almost 12,000 people. This week, for the first time since the summer of 2007, I’m back to following just over 200.

In this post I’ll discuss why I decided to reboot my list and how I’m planning on changing my approach to using Twitter moving forward. I’ll also show you some data, bust a few social media myths and tell you a few things that those “social media gurus” with large Twitter followings  don’t want you to know. Ready to rock and roll?  Buckle up… Read More

An In-Depth Look at the Most Active Users on Twitter

sysomos-logo150x68When Sysomos published its initial “Inside Twitter” report last month that looked at the people on Twitter and how it was being used, we discovered that 5% of users accounted for 75% of all activity. This finding was based on indexing 11.5 million accounts, and then looking at the top 5% users who accounted for most number of Tweets. Now they’ve taken it a step further and done an in-depth analysis of that top 5%. Here are some of the highlights of the findings…

  • BOTS Tweet The Most: Of the most active Twitter users updating more than 150 times/day, nearly all of them are bots operated by sources such as hotels offering deals, regional and national news services, regional weather services, the top news within Digg, games, anim services, tags within and financial aggregators. These very active bots account for one-quarter of all tweets.
  • 4 Of The Top 5 People That Tweet The Most Are Celebrities: Among the most active Twitter users with more than 50,000 followers, we find singer Tyrese (@tyrese4real), actress Alyssa Milano (@alyssa_milano), celebrity Tila Tequila (@officialtila), tv host Jonathan Ross (@wossy) and evangelist Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki).
  • The Most Active Users Live In the U.S. – 60.6% of the most active Twitter users live in the United States, while 6.9% are located in the U.K, 4.7% in Japan, and 4.3% in Canada.
  • The Top Men Tweet More Than The Top Women: The split between genders among the most active Twitter users is fairly balanced, but the men post more – 54% male, 46% female.
  • They Rarely Miss A Day – 88% of the most active Twitter users have never missed a day without making at least one update, while another 2.1% have only been inactive for one day.
  • Only Half Of Them Have More Than 100 Followers: 48% have more than 100 followers, compared with 6.3% for overall Twitter users.
  • They Follow More People Than The Average User: 44% have more than 100 friends, compared with 7.5% overall.
  • Most Of Them Are Veterans: 33.7% of the most active Twitter users have joined Twitter this year, compared with 72.5% of overall Twitter users who have signed up this year
  • A Higher Percentage Of Their Tweets Get Retweeted: In examining more than 80 million updates made since July 23, ReTweets among the most active users accounted for 5.06% of their activity – about 20% higher than overall users which is 4.02%. Given that some of these people are Tweeting as much as 30-50 times a day, this is quite surprising. It gives some indication that for all the noise they’re adding to the ecosystem, they’re adding more (perceived) value than most.

Twitter’s Starting To Out Smart Spammers

Jesse Stay, Marshall Kirkpatrick and Dave Winer recently posted some interesting and insightful pieces on how Twitter is going after people who game Twitter to get more followers. There are some solid arguments made in each post in support of Twitter’s move, as well as on the dubious and controversial nature of Twitter’s suggested users list (SUL). When it comes to the issue of eliminating spam and improving usability, I fundamentally support what Twitter is doing. That said, Dave Winer makes some excellent points on Twitter’s SUL. The three posts in tandem are great reads if you want to understand the core issues and what’s going on. There are also many gems in the comments.

Twitter Is Apple’s Support Forum

The iPhone 3.0 upgrade software was just released and, within minutes, #iPhone and #iTunes popup on the trending topics list as the iPhone community rushes to their computers to upgrade their phones. Between the time I ran the search and took this screenshot, there were over 1000 new twitter posts mentioning #iTunes – literally in the space of a minute. Hundreds of people are all having similar problems, asking questions, helping each other. Amazing. And Apple is no where to be seen in the stream. Lesson learned…get your community manager and techies monitoring Twitter when someone pushes the “RELEASE” button. Read More

Encouraging Randomness and Accelerating Serendipity

If you’re a heavy Twitter user like me, you may be familiar with the awkward, tense feeling that can grip you when a non-Twittering friend or co-worker decides that enough is enough and it’s time to confront you about your “habit” (Twintervention?). Regardless of the events that lead up to said awkward moment, the blank, confused-slash-condescending look that says “Whyyyyy do you do this?!” is often the same.  It’s happened to all of us at least once, hasn’t it? This situation doesn’t get my knickers in a twist anymore. I’ve armed myself with a canned answer. “I’m accelerating serendipity!” I’ll say with a boyish grin, and then wait for a response. On a few occasions, I’ve been able to turn this traditionally “ack” moment into a productive discussion. Let me explain… Read More

I’m A Guest On TwitterTalkRadio!

This week was my friend Angie Swartz‘s first week hosting TwitterTalkRadio on I first met Angie at the Charity:Water Twestival at the beginning of this year in downtown San Diego.  She’s a superstar. She’s a successful entrepreneur and currently runs several websites including, and

On Monday she shot me a message asking if I would call in to the show and we had some great pre-show discussions about self branding and using Twitter as a tool to build your business network. Here’s a link to the podcast where Rieva, Angie, Alan and I discuss transparency, authenticity & going local with Twitter.

Congratulations to Rieva and Angie on a successful first week! You guys did a bang-up job.

Status Culture – Public vs Private and Why It Matters

[tweetmeme]I recently made the decision to stop feeding my Twitter posts into Facebook. The reason is simple – I continually get negative feedback from my non-Twittering Facebook friends on how I update my status. Some hated how often I updated, some didn’t get what “@” and “RT” was, some didn’t like that they couldn’t join in on conversations that weren’t actually taking place inside Facebook’s walls, and some people didn’t like how “impersonal” most of my updates were (I use Twitter like a shared feed reader a lot).

Not all the feedback was bad, of course – I don’t mean to exaggerate. I’ve gotten quite a few Facebook friends into Twitter because they noticed the difference in how it’s used and saw the value. No, my choice was because there’s a significant difference in status culture between the two platforms, and, because I’m a heavy Twitter user, I would continue to violate social rules inside of Facebook (and piss off my friends).

Recognizing the emerging differences in status culture is an important step to understanding how people behave on either platform and how we can shape interaction with good design. In this post I’ll offer some insights into the differences between Twitter and Facebook, how they change people’s behavior, and argue that the differences in public-ness and prive-ness cause fundamental and important shifts in how people interact and use each platform.

Friends vs. Followers: How We Group Contacts And Establish Relationships Matters

How we establish and organize our relationships makes a difference to how we interact on any platform. The design of the connection mechanism drives who we (can) connect with, how we connect, and how we display our (implied) relationships (and social responsibility to others). Makes intuitive sense, right?
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The Best Techniques For Building Your Tribe On Twitter The Right Way

[tweetmeme]Twitter is one of the most powerful community building tools available today for two reasons – simplicity and transparency. With the right tools and techniques, you can use Twitter to find people who are like you and share your passions, and build strong networks quickly, effectively and cheaply. The ability to form tight networks in this way is almost unprecedented, and is one of the main driving forces of the Twitter Revolution. In this post I will discuss tools and techniques for using Twitter for effective personal networking and building a tribe, not for using it as a marketing tool.

For People Who Want To Use Twitter as a Marketing Tool

There are several ways to use Twitter as a tool, and they require fundamentally different mind-sets and strategies. If you wish to use Twitter is a marketing tool (that is, to  decentralize your efforts and get your message out to as many people as possible, quickly) there are tons of posts already on the web that are great resources for you. Here are some of the best that I’ve found from a couple of Twitter superstars:

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Visualizing Positive Vibes of the 44th Inauguration via Twitter

On Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 12pm, Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States of America. As we all watched Obama being sworn in front of the massive crowd, Twitter lit up with excitement worldwide. One of Flowing Data‘s latest visualization projects shows us just how excited the Twittersphere was over time as Obama got sworn in by displaying the tweets worldwide that included inauguration with a “positive attitude” as the event took place. You’re literally watching millions of people broadcast positive vibes 140 characters at a time.

The map starts early Monday morning. As the day moves on more people wake and tweet at a steady rate with increasing volume as the time comes nearer. Europe gets in on some of the action when the US goes back to sleep. Tuesday morning comes in with a new beginning in the air. Then boom, it’s time, and Twitter bursts with excitement.

The moment that Twitter really starts to groove is when Obama gives his speech and is sworn in. I think that this little clip is absolutely mind-blowing.  Watch for yourself.