Tag Archives: twitter

All Truly Great Thoughts Are Achieved on Twitter

When was the last time you stopped and really thought about social media? I’m not talking about strategy, or metrics, or the most efficient methods of raising the virality of your posts. Stop thinking like a marketer, or a business owner, and start thinking like a philosopher. In short, stop asking ‘how?’ and start asking ‘why.’ Why do consumers visit Facebook? Why do teenagers, industry influencers, and celebrities devote hours a day to watching text scroll by on Twitter? In most cases, we can safely say that they aren’t there to visit you.

Social media is supposed to be fun, funny, entertaining. America’s businessmen aren’t wasting their workday on Facebook reading about B2B sales opportunities. They’re tending virtual farms. They’re chuckling at the latest Memebase post, or making plans with buddies for after-work drinks.

I know, I know, these are things you’ve heard a thousand times before. “You need to be more conversational,” or “we should be altering our tone to match the audience.” Stop it. Stop thinking strategy. You don’t need to enter every social conversation with an agenda. When you enter every conversation as a brand, and not a person, you come off sounding like a machine. Sometimes, it may be OK to engage with your audience without worrying about how “it fits into the broader picture of your brand identity.”

Sometimes, isn’t it OK to talk like people? Isn’t it OK to drop the brand-speak and interact on a basic, human level? Obviously, I’m not suggesting you drop everything and abandon your brand. However, once in a great while, let some humanity slip in. This Media Minion blog says it perfectly:

“Humor in a big brand’s social media marketing has pretty much the same effect as seeing a teacher outside of school; “Woah, they’re real people?”

Ambrose Bierce once said “Wit- the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.” Humor is the essential seasoning for an engagement casserole, so feel free to sprinkle a little bit onto your next post.”

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Tim Howell

Tim Howell is a community manager and data analyst for Make Me Social. He studied fine art, psychology, and international pop culture at Bowling Green State University. In his spare time, he is a novelist and social activist.

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The Unfocused Focus Group: The Power of Social Media Monitoring

When I was in high school I participated in a focus group about deodorant. I sat in a room with a bunch of girls that I had never met and was asked to share my memories of deodorant and give feedback on the smells that I enjoyed. The most memorable part of the experience was a girl who shared that she began using deodorant after her mother told her that she smelled like, “A meatpacking plant.” Her delivery was excellent – completely straight faced with no hint of emotion. It was the highlight of the focus group, although I’m pretty confident that the company who paid for that focus group did not enjoy it as much as I did.

Now this was “back in the day” (within the past 10 years) but not so far back that I don’t remember how much I was paid. For less than two hours of my time I made $60 and they gave me cookies. There were probably 5-7 girls in the room with me, each of whom were given $60. We were not the only focus group and I can only hope that they got something more than “girls will use deodorant when shamed by their mothers” out of it. But why all of this talk about how much we were paid? ROI, my friends.

Let’s fast forward to the glorious present, where teens tweet, brands want you to like them, and public content is indexed for your searching pleasure. How could that company get better information today? How could they expand their focus group while refining their data, and without paying for every bit of feedback? Two words: social media.

Your focus group is out there, tweeting, posting, and blogging about their deepest darkest desires, offhand thoughts, likes, and dislikes. They’re talking about your industry, your brand, your products, and even your employees. The social media listening tools that are available are incredibly powerful and allow brands to monitor whatever keywords they desire. For the first time, you have an opportunity to get unfiltered feedback, offered up in real time and without prompting.

If you’re reading this with a questioning mind, and I hope you are, you’re probably thinking: “What happens if that deodorant brand wanted to know what got young women between the ages of 13 and 18 to wear deodorant for the first time? Is it possible to move from monitoring to engaging in order to ask specific questions of specific audiences?” (I love it when you ask questions.)

Let’s respond to your questions by asking three questions:

  • Does this brand have a Facebook Page?
  • Does this brand have the ability to purchase Facebook Ads targeting females between the ages of 13 and 18?
  • Does this brand have the ability to build a campaign soliciting stories through a branded landing page?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the brand can take their focus group from 5-7 girls uncomfortably answering questions for money, to thousands of girls answering questions for fun. People will contribute to your market research without expecting payment if you position the ask properly. Less cost, more quality – and high quantities of – information. ROI, my friends.

It’s time to unfocus your focus group.

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When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys perusing the internet for mentions of her dog, Emma. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.

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Black Friday by the Numbers!

Fact: Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year. Millions of dollars are spent on ads to get people in the stores and make them aware of the doorbuster deals.

Using foursquare data publicly shared on Twitter we can get an idea of how well some major retailers did this Black Friday. Users that share their Foursquare check-ins on Twitter are a consistent group and as a result statistical patterns can be established. These same users are also giving away branded impressions at no charge.

The 6 Black Friday pushes that were evaluated using Foursquare check-in data were:

Target, Walmart, and Best Buy: These are the obvious 3, every year they expressly go after tech savvy shoppers with their discounted TV’s, video games, and cell phones.

Gap and Kmart: Very different stores with the same strategy: be open when everyone else is closed.

Macy’s and Kohl’s: Both spent a lot of money this year attempting to drum up excitement about their offerings via TV ads.

Sports Authority: Sports Authority actually ran a Foursquare promotion, making for an interesting case study. Every hour they were giving away $500 gift cards to their store via Foursquare. They didn’t broadcast it much other than leveraging their database and they didn’t provide many outrageous deals.

The Question: Which retailer had the biggest spike over their average on Black Friday? 

The baseline: Which brand got the most check-ins?


This data consists of public check-ins within the 5 days of black Friday. Walmart clearly dominates check-ins, with Target a close second. On the surface level it would appear that Target and Walmart are the big winners.

However environmental effects need to be considered:

- Consumer preference

- Technology proficiency of a consumer group for a given brand

- Average Age of the consumer group and corresponding technographic profile

- Income: can the group afford smart phones/smart phone plans?

- Number of distribution centers

In short we need some more significant data to work with….

The next level: Trending- Were there actually any spikes?

This graph is a little more telling. Clearly, there were spikes by all 6 brands on Black Friday. It is also clear that Walmart averages the most check-ins for this sample group. Finally and most importantly for the purposes this analysis, the samples are fairly consistent.  In almost all cases the standard deviation was less than 20% of the mean. Only Macy’s had a Standard Deviation large enough, above 80% of the mean for the 30 days leading up to Black Friday, to create measurement questions/require deeper analysis of outlying data.

This trending graph doesn’t fully explain which brands had the largest percent of success. How much did Walmart or Target actually improve above their daily average on this Black Friday? This graph doesn’t give us that information.

Actual analysis: The mean is an important number statistically, it’s like the foundation of a building. The mean often gives more information about a sample than we care to realize and needs to be expressly included in analysis. Walmart averaged 1305 check-ins shared on Twitter every day for the 30 days leading up to Black Friday, Target averaged 1035, Best Buy averaged 358, Macy’s (adjusted) 238, Gap averaged 86, K-Mart had 76, Sports Authority got 27, and Kohl’s had a very small 14 .

It is important to note that these samples don’t include Black Friday data, which would skew and destroy the sample. As will become apparent later, Black Friday as a set are super-outliers for all brands.

Which brand actually did the best?  

It is interesting that Kohl’s was one of the biggest winners. On Black Friday they  averaged 31 times their normal standard deviation. I would question the base sample size if no other brands were close to multiplying their standard deviations to that extent. However, Best Buy, who had one of the largest, and most consistent, regular samples sizes had a LARGER multiplication of standard deviation. Again these numbers were very normative when compared to the mean against each other. Kohl’s and Best Buy were within .01% of percentage standard deviation against the mean. Both Kohl’s and Best Buy were within 2% of Target’s and Walmart’s standard deviations compared against the mean. Only Macy’s required further analysis, after which the data falls right in line with Walmart and Target. Macy’s averaged around 15 times a normal standard deviation, when points greater than 2 standard deviations (outliers) were excluded from the sampling.

What does this all really mean? 

#1 Apparently this ad worked…

#2 Best Buy is the place to go if you are a tech savvy shopper

#3 Target, Walmart, and Macy’s averaged about 6 times their average check-in traffic on Black Friday. Most likely they had similar foot traffic spikes.

#4 Keeping a store open on Thanksgiving doesn’t generate a tremendous lift. Kmart and Gap both had strong returns, however, both stores were still on the bottom of total Black Friday checkins, and had some of the weakest returns.

#5 A Foursquare promotion doesn’t skew data just because it exists. Sports Authority needed better media support.

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Mike Handy has been working in Social Media since Facebook was only for college students. He started his first blog in 1999 when most people were still figuring out this “Internet thing”.  These experiences paired with his background in advertising and data-centric approach provide him with a unique view of social media. When he isn’t working he is probably watching, playing, or doing something hockey related.

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