Defining a Social Marketing Campaign

As marketing departments jump on the "social media" bandwagon and start diverting large portions of their marketing budgets on them, many have no clue on how to effectively execute this effort, nor do they even have the fundamental understanding of how measure their success.

The first step marketing departments need to make is to stop calling it social media. Social media are the individual tools used to spread your marketing message through social interaction. For example placing a phone a call, holding a webinar, setting up a facebook page, establishing a Twitter account, creating social content (a blog), etc. When you add the different social media tools used in your campaign together you get a "social marketing campaign". Now that we got this settled, we can go on to establishing the basic criteria for any marketing campaign its purpose.

The primary purpose of any social marketing campaign ("social campaign") is to draw people together who have a common interest (your product). You can then engage & interact with them. Now for each organization you first need to identify and define your goals and objectives for this interaction. Typical ones include:

  • brand awareness;
  • increase in sales;
  • improved customer relations;
  • improved customer satisfaction
While there are hundreds of possible purposes, you need to pick one. Once the purpose is defined, you can then define the objectives and goals of the social campaign and implement tools to monitor your success towards them.

For example, if you goal is "improved customer relations" you can set an objective of reducing the amount of negative posts (tweets, blogs, etc.) or negative reviews with the goal of reducing these by 50% within 3 months.

With objectives and goals clearly defined, the best social media properties to meet the goals and objects can be identified. Creative material & an implementation strategy prepared along with the acquisition and implementation of tools and methods for monitoring the success of the campaign can be establish.

Last point that all marketing departments need to remember is that social marketing isn't anything new. It's been around thousands of years. Yet more modern examples can be found by simply going back to the early to mid 1990s. Back then a popular Internet hangout (yes mostly geeks) were Usenet groups. Usenet groups to those unfamiliar with them can best described as a place where anyone could post a message and members of the group could post responses for all to see (they would eventually morph into discussion groups).

Back in the 90s a food manufacture monitored a Usenet group on its brand. Within this Usenet group fans of the brand were quickly swapping posts about the various flavors and changes to packaging etc.  Little did they know that there was a fly on the wall monitoring all their posts. This worked wonders as the company would test market new flavors and then seed the conversation with "has anyone seen the new XXX flavor is it any good??". Very quickly those in the test market were responding with their thoughts (too sweet, blah, yummy) which would then be harvested and processed by the brand in determining if adjustments were necessary to new the flavors before a national release or if they should be scrapped all together.

Is this use of a Usenet group any different then what a brand could use its facebook page for or perhaps a facebook page created by an existing fan? Not in the least!

Let's stop trying to reinvent the wheel under the buzz phrase "social media" and recognize our efforts as "social marketing campaigns" and that they've been around forever.


Measuring Your Social Media Success

Last week I both attended and spoke at Pubcon (on of the search and social industries top conferences). The topic of one of my two conference addresses was "Measuring Social Media Success" during a pubcon session entitled "The Convergence of Analytics & SEO".

During my presentation, I equated Social Marketing to a fire and the difficulties of measuring how successful a fire is.

Do you measure the BTUs it generates, its circumference, its height, or how well it attracts people to it?

I'll be expanding on these points in a future blog post.

One of the key points I stressed right at the start of the presentation was the incorrect use of the term "Social Media". Media is a single device/tools/etc. The telephone is a media and when you make a call it becomes one of many different "social media" tools. The correct term we should all be using is "Social Marketing". 

A social marketing campaign is a marketing campaign that uses a variety of 1 or more social media tools. It's that simple!

I know that my message was well received along with many of the other points I was making by a quick review of the twitter stream from pubcon which was flooded with many atteendees tweeting out sound bytes from my session. The session was covered by five different live bloggers.

Some of the more tweets included:
“#PubCon @aknecht is doing a fantastic preso on measurement tools in SM. Wooot! Way to tie history and Analytics!” – @lyena

“@aknecht toolbox: kout, twittalyzer, peerindex, webtrends, radian6, trackur, raven – used for their INTENT #pubcon” - @marydelaney11

“Scoring tools measure how big the fish is in its pond ie Klout, Peer Index etc #pubcon via @aknecht” - @schachin

“When using your scoring tools measure how successful you are in your pond, don’t compare. Think purpose, why #pubcon @aknecht”  - @schachin

“Does it really matter if #JustinBieber has a 100 #Klout when he only influences little sixteen year old girls? #touche via @aknecht #PubCon” - @KelseyLibert

“@aknecht dishing out some great info in the analytics session. #pubcon” - @rehor

“#PubCon Facebook fans – what is your cost per fan acquisition? Important for your FB ad spend success measurements. @aknecht” – @leyna

“Tag your posts and tweets with your unique analytics code. Bitly is your measurement friend. @aknecht #PubCon” - @wrightimc

“@aknecht build campfires, not forest fires. control the WOM/community #pubcon” - @marydelaney11

For a great summaries of my address on measuring social media, please check out the different live blogging post at:
blog.search-mojo.com by Janet Drisco Miller
Bruce Clay Inc. Blog by Jessica Lee
Outspoken Media Blog by Lisa Barone
Search Engine Journal by Ryan Jones


#Kloutapocalypse: Day 2

We're into the second day of the new Klout algorithm politely referred to by some as #Kloutapocalypse: and despite everyone's complaints the reality is Klout is not going to rollback anything. Of course the complaints are only from people who saw their scores go down. I haven't seen too many tweets or Facebook status updates screaming "WOW my Klout Score went up 10 points". From asking people I did hear from a few who stayed the same or went up slightly.

As part of what is called the "Klout Squad" was given the heads up on the new algorithm and interface a few weeks back and was on a group call yesterday morning just before the roll-out of the update started. This gave me a heads up of what to expect and to some extent come to the defence of Klout. Another part of the call was a high level (Klout's not going to share their algorithm in detail) of some of the changes in the algorithm and why scores are going to change.

So now that the dust has settled and I've had some time to investigate my own profile here are some thoughts and recommendations to dealing with the change.

  1. Klout scores are just that a score based on your activity. There was no sudden drop since Klout ran a 30 day backdate of their data. So take a look your score might even be on the rise over the past 30 days, it's just that the base line has changed; The percentage change in my personal score over the past 30 days actually is marginally higher under the new algorithm. I was fortunate enough to have a screen shot of it from 2 days earlier as I was going to use it in a presentation next week.
  2. Klout now values facebook activity equally to Twitter and other social properties. If you've only been concentrating on Twitter for the past 6 months and ignored Facebook then yes your score is likely to go down compared to someone who's been doing both. Since "Social Marketing" is not just one platform, Klout is correct in making this change.
  3. The influence calculation has always been an exponent and some of the weightings have now changed. Klout is now putting a much higher value on interactions with your primary influencers. They even now show you who they are and what their scores are. This means you need to have serious interactions with people who are deemed influences to raise your score. You must be seen as influencing them.

    This is where I found some interesting and odd results in the new Klout. Some of the people listed (I do know who they are), I've never exchanged a tweet, saw them RT anything of mine. I have seen the odd "Like" of a facebook status update. This begs the question, what about all people who retweet my tweets? Do they not count? Personally I think I'm wielding more influence on them then some of my facebook friends.
  4. For a few upcoming conference address I was planning and still am talking about measuring social media. Perhaps this will bring more people out to my sessions. The point of my addresses is not to put value in the score itself, but look at what it is telling you about how your expanding your audience and how effective you are at influencing them. This is something that hasn't changed even with the new algorithm.
To demonstrate the real issues and what I must do restore my Klout score if I should chose to, I turned Twitalyzer (a measurement tool that only measures Twitter influence & impact) and their comparison report between Klout and PeerIndex.

Before the New Klout Algorithm
After the new Klout Algorithm

You can see the dramatic drops in the various components scores that make up the overall Klout score plus the increase in "True Reach". What I tend to focus on is the percentile report (as calculated by Twitalyzer) which compares my score to other Twitalyzer users. For all but the Klout Network values were only minor adjustments in this percentile despite dramatic changes in the score. This tells me that I was equally impacted. When it comes to the Network score I have concerns.

These concerns as I expressed yesterday may be an issue with how the back-dating of the algorithm change occurred (which showed a dramatic drop on Oct 2 for no apparent reason) or as Klout explains on their site, I need to start interacting with more influential people to raise this score.

It's this last point that truly concerns me. If Klout is putting an exponential weight on the Klout scores of people your interact with, will people stop interacting with everyone and focus purely on communications with those who have a higher Klout score? I for one won't do this, but I'm sure there will be some will that try.

So for now, move on - nothing to see here but a new scoring model. And it's your own dam fault for agreeing to a MBO bonus based on a measurement tool that is owned by a 3rd party and subject to change at their whim. This is the same as SEO's complaining that Google changed their algorithm and their bonuses of how many pages were on the 1st page disappeared. Their bonuses should be measured on how effective their efforts were at driving quality traffic to the clients site. Just a a Klout score is an indicator of how effective you are at interacting with your audience, true success must be measured in how effective you were at using this form of communication to bring quality people to the corporate website, retail outlets, impact overall sales, improve customer satisfaction, increase customer retention, etc.


Klout Updates Algorithm - Scores Go Wild

Have you checked your Klout Score this afternoon (October 26, 2011)? 

Klout is rolling out a new interface and new algorithm this afternoon. I haven't heard yet from anyone who saw a significant increase, but lots of people complaining about big drops. Of course those who don't care about their score are complaining the loudest.

While I personally don't care about the actual number (beyond it's fun to watch it go up and down), the fact the my Klout score dropped from 68.11 this morning to 55.83 this afternoon is shocking. Was Klout's algorithm that bad that the adjustment is so significant or will be a matter of time for their servers to properly process all the historical data or alternatively just start processing the new stuff.

My theory is that since I'm a high volume user of Twitter, that Klout might have had issues pulling a historical record of my past tweets and that's why there is such a significant increase over the past few days (in the reprocessed data). I don't know, but will keep my eyes on this.

My biggest concern however is that organizations that use Klout scores for various things (including selecting event speakers, etc.) might not be aware of the change and still be looking to reward people with scores of over 60.

Here's klout 's take on the today's changes "A More Accurate, Transparent Klout Score" http://alank.ca/w3lHAl


Giving to Charity

Helping 6 Year Old Leah Raise $20,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada
Just over a year ago, my cousin's daughter Leah (at the age of 5) was diagnosed with Leukemia and a big part of the reason she is still with us today is because of organizations like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.

In support of  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada on Saturday October 15th my cousin and his family will be participating in their first charity event, Light The Night Walk. They will be walking in honour of Leah’s courageous battle. 

They have set a goal for their team (Leah’s helpers) to raise $20,000. As of writing this, they have already raised $3,571.00!

While I won't be able to join them in this event, I will support them in every way I can. This includes donating $0.50 for each copy of my award winning book “The Last Original idea – A Cynic’s view of Internet Marketing” that is sold on Amazon between now and October 14, 2011 to Leah and her family's fund raising efforts. This includes both the traditional paper version and the Kindle version.

This donation is in addition to the book’s initial pledge to donate 10% of the its profits to the Toronto Seals Special Olympics Swim Club.

Please help support this important cause by ordering a copy of book Today. To order Simply visit any Amazon website and place your order or click one of the following links:



If you'd like to personally support Leah and her efforts you can sponsor his team as well by clicking on the following link and then choose a team member to sponsor. You have to sponsor a member of the team, you can’t just sponsor the team itself: http://my.e2rm.com/TeamPage.aspx?teamID=225954&langPref=en-CA

For more information on “The Last Original Idea” and to download a sample chapter visit http://thelastorginalidea.com


Understanding Klout Topics

The most widely known social media measurement tool right now in the market is most likely Klout. They have gained notoriety through their API which have allow hotels to look up your Klout score at check-in (and then providing special treatment to those with high scores), and other applications to help people evaluate other people's influence in the land of social media.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Klout's head office in San Francisco and to sit down with Megan Berry (@meganberry) their Marketing Manager. We had a great 30 minute chat, where we covered a variety of topics from Klout Perks to scoring, to Klout Topics. Klout Topics have dominated my Twitter stream for months now with many people questioning how these topics are chosen by Klout especially when in some cases they seem completely out of character or have nothing to do with what these people tweet about.
People hard at work at Klout

Here is a summary of what I learned and it now is starting to make sense.

1. Klout first looks for specific keywords/themes in your tweets that generated lots of engagement. This can be based on lots of replies to your tweet or retweets of your tweet;
2. Secondly, if you replied to someone's tweet and your response generated lots of engagement then they will look back to the original tweet for keywords/themes;
3. Once they have the keywords/themes where you yield influence, they use semantec analysis to identify   standardized and relevant terms
4. Klout then compares your influence on these standardized terms to see if you are yielding significant influence within your circle and within their user base
5. If you are deemed to yield influence on a specific term it will appear in your list.

Take these two examples:

On person tweets about personal "privacy" 20 times a day. If no-one ever replies to their tweet or retweets it, the term "privaciy" will not show up on their list.

Another person publishes a single tweet on pesonal "privacy", it generates 20 replies and is retweeted 30 times plus many retweets of the retweets. In this case a single tweet has generated influence and it will appear in their list (assuming that they are not more influential on another 10 other topics - the maximum displayed).

This can cause problems when the use of the Symantec dictionary presents terms that don't make senses to you. For example, in my case for more than the past month Klout has told me (http://klout.com/#/aknecht/topics) that I'm influential on the term "tools". I rarely use the word "tool" or "tools" in my tweets and I took it to mean items like hammers. Megan explained to me that I tweet a lot about  analytics software, utilities for measuring social media, etc. In general I tweet a lot about "social media tools" and "analytic measurement tools" so Klout has simplified these items down to just the word "tools".

I have theorized that some of the problems people are having occurs if they click the reply button on a tweet and then start a different conversation with the person not realizing that while in their minds this is a new tweet,  yet in Klout's eyes it is still connected to the theme and keywords of the original tweet that started the conversation.

So that is Klout Topics in a nutshell. Do you think they are on the right track or they off-base?


Webtrends 10 & Bit.ly Integration

As I continue to explore the new features of Webtrends Analytics 10 I'm continually impressed with all the news features and interface. One of my favorite new features is the automatic integration with bit.ly (http://bit.ly).

For those unfamiliar with bit.ly, it is a URL shortener. You simply enter a long and complicated URL and it generates a shorter version (approx. 20 characters). The use of bit.ly and other URL shorteners is exploding because of Social Media. The need to conserve characters for Twitter's 140 character and the desire to hide all the tracking paramenters have contributed to its grow.

While each URL shorter provides it's own basic analytic data (how many people clicked on the shorten URL, where in the world the click happened, etc.) you had to check multiple sources and then how did you correlate this to your site's web analytic data?

Webtrends to the rescue. Webtrends now automatically tracks and reports on all bit.ly links that drive traffic to your site. There is nothing to do for any new profiles. For existing profiles you need to enable an additional report (Pages Dashboard). To retrieve the page's detailed data you simply click on the page's name (Title) in the pages report.

With the page's detailed data report open, you can see how many people clicked on a bit.ly shorten link to come to the page during the reporting period (in this example 85). Additionally Webtrends 10 reports on other important social media including "how many Likes" on facebook (16 in this example) and how many shares (8) the page generated.

A quick summary is also provided of referring traffic sources for the specified page.

And a summary of next pages is also included which if configured correctly will show clicks to external sites.

All in all this detailed page report, brings together all the data you to evaluate an individual page's success or failure.

What would be nice as a future enhancement by Webtrends is the inclusion of other URL shortners, primarily ow.ly and goo.gl into this report as well.

The tracking of bit.ly and other social media activity make this Webtrends update worth it all by themselves.


Should you trust Klout Scores

There are a slew of social media measurement tools out there. Most of which are free to use and can provide a wonderful insight into what you are doing and how effective you are with your personal social media strategy.

Several months back I talked wrote about 2 issues with these tools. One was how a personal issue with Twitter was killing my scores ("How Twitter Killed My Influence Score"") and the second was focused on understanding what these numbers really mean ("How Big is Your Social Media Pond?").

My biggest concern regardless which tool you make is that many business are now using these tools to evaluation you. That's correct, many companies seek out your score to target potential companies (product give promotions), to provide premium services to existing customers and even to determine which complaints get the addresses the quickest and perhaps even addressed at all.

This is the problem, when companies look at simply your score on any given day. The most well known of these social media measurement tools is Klout (http://klout.com). While I think it's a lot of fun to monitor my score, I don't stress out over the the daily fluctuations, and merely pay attention to what doesn't seem to be working or to measure which types of activities stimulate social media engagement and hence my score. I can then make the decision to repeat these activities & increase my score or not to.

Over this past weekend I was thrilled to see that Klout appeared to have fixed an issue with their "True Reach" score which many had pointed out was broken for a long time. In reality, I noticed it was finally being updated on a daily basis for nearly a month (since April 27) and with a big update/fix on May 20th.

While the fixing of one element didn't seem to have any major impact on my total score, the last update on May 20th, did change my "Klout Style" (social media profile type) from a "Socializer" to a "Thought Leader". Now this is something that I could relate to and had felt that was an appropriate adjustment.

Now here is the issue. Organization who evaluate you based on your Klout score only look at your total score (my personal score has been floating between 60-64 for the past 6 months) and not at the details behind it. So I logged into today for some screen captures to be able to start writing a blog post talking about the fix to the "True Reach" score, I was shocked to discover that my total Klout score had dropped over night from 61.31 to a mere 8.89. Plus my "Klout Style" was changed as a result from a "Thought Leader" to an "Explorer" (aka a newbie). I quickly checked and it appears that almost everyone I know scores crashed over the weekend including the notable @mashable (some more than others) so it wasn't just something I had personally done or not done.

While I'm sure that is just some glitch in the Klout algorithm that will be fixed within a day or two it once again demonstrates the problem with free tools and when business put their faith in these products blindly. Any company that is using my Klout score today may feel that I am not a force in the social media world (or yield any significant influence on any subject) and might treat me differently than if my true score was known.

On this note, a couple of points. First, business should never treat me any differently today vs. yesterday merely because of a third party score. That's just bad business, they should treat everyone like they're the last person on earth who can make or break the company. Secondly, if business are going to use tools like Klout they need to understand how they work, what the number mean and the companies like Klout have to step up to the plate and be reliable.

Webtrends Analtyics & Facebook

Last week I talked about creating a new website space in Webtrends Analytics 10. During the creation process I pointed out that you have the option to create Facebook space.

This option is so ease, it's scary. Once you select Facebook Page option, you'll be asked to login into Facebook. After a successful login, you'll be presented with a list of Facebook Pages where you have administrator access. Select the one you want and Webtrends will do the rest.

You now have access to all your Facebook Insights data in a much more user friendly presentation. As an added bonus, you can now grant other Webtrends users access to this data. Normally your require administrator rights to the Facebook page as requirement to see the Insights data.

Because Webtrends uses the Facebook API, data tends to lag 2 days behind the current date. I've seen it lag more than a 2.5 days behind, but that's not Webtrends fault.

If you have the Facebook Analytics module from Webtrends, you can capture additional data but for most part for small to medium sized business simply having this data all in one spot may be all they need.


Webtrends Analtyics 10 New Profile Creation

One of the features, I love in Webtrends Analtyics 10 is the ease at which you can set-up a new profile.

Using the new concept of "Spaces" (a space is a digital property, website, Facebook pages, mobile application, iTunes, etc.) you simply click on the the + simple to the right of "Spaces" menu option and you're presented with  a screen of your available options (this will vary based on which services you subscribe to, but at a minimum will include website or Facebook).

You then make your choice (in this example a website) and fill in the blanks.

One of the nice options now a avail is to supplement your traditional analytics data with data from PostRank (http://www.postrank.com/) -see below - which becomes available immediately upon creation of the profile and you don't even need an account with PostRank.

After you save/create your profile you are promoted to either download the basic tracking javascript tag or to go to the familiar tagbuiler through a "Build Custom Tag" button.

As before you need to add your tag to the site to start the data collection process. What I found surprising was that even before any data could be processed, Webtrends through the PostRank API had already done a data extraction and had some data available within the profile.

Once I drilled down to the PostRank Report (under Traffic) I was able to see the details of how many times the domain had been mentioned in various on-line properties (include such popular social media properties, as Twitter, Delicious, Digg, Facebook Posts, Facebook Comments, etc.). What I didn't like was the exsessive horizontal scrolling I had to do to find the details by property.
Note the horizontal scroll bar
Once the site was set-up I just had to wait for data to be collected and processed. And that's my next blog post.

Webtrends Analytics 10

Last week Webtrends released its much anticipated Webtrends Analytics 10. Webtrends 10 is an extension for Webtrends Ondemand 9.2 and will eventually replace Webtrends Insight. The roll out of Webtrends is well underway and I received access to it on Monday May 16.

I've been playing with ever since mostly with existing Profiles and yesterday I got to sit in on a training Webinar. For those who are familiar with Webtrends, get ready for lots of new stuff and new ways to access your data.

I'm going to be doing a series of blog posts on various features as I discover and learn how to use them to optimize the data extraction and available information.

I have discovered a few bugs with it, and a maintenance release is scheduled for tonight. So I'll avoid posting any issues until it's in place and I've had a chance to verify that the issues have been cleared up.


Spring Speaking/Book Tour

I can't believe that tomorrow will be the 1st day of March. My how much of the winter has already past.

From a business perspective, March signals the start of the conference seasons and I'll be speaking at a variety of conferences. This year I get the pleasure of combining my conference addresses with part of my on-going promotion efforts for "The Last Original Idea".

So if you're in the area, or looking for high quality events to attend here is a list of where I'll be speaking and where you can (if you so desire) obtain an autographed copy of my book.

I hope you'll be able to catch one of my addresses at these events. I'm always looking for more opportunities to speak especially at various industry and association events or as an extension of my book promotion tour. So if you'd like me to speak at one of your events, drop me a line.


Book Tour Stop on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio Show

On Monday February 14th at 12:00PM ET I'm being interviewed on Breakthrough Business Strategies as part of The Last Original Idea book tour.

Mobile listeners dial 646-200-3742 Or Listen On-line

On Breakthrough Business Strategies I will be sharing wisdom and insights on Internet Marketing, Search Marketing, Web Development, and Web Analytics. And, I also get to take questions from the Listeners! I know a lot of the questions I'll be facing will have their origins from the contents of my book, "The Last Original Idea". I believe that this radio program's goal for all listeners is "Find out if you are caught up in the hype or really on the right track to achieving your Internet Marketing goals."

So before you head off for a romantic Valentine’s Day evening, spend some time with me on Breakthrough Business Strategies.


Guest on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio

I'm looking forward to to being on Michele Price‘s Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio show on February 14, 2011. During the the show I'm excited to be able to discuss all things Internet marketing related with a strong focus on topics covered in my book "The Last Original Idea - A Cynic's View of Internet Marketing".
The Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio is a popular weekly broadcast over the Internet that has featured famous business authors such as Tony Hsieh of Zapposauthor of “Flip the Funnel” Joseph Jaffe, and author of “UnMarketing” Scott Stratten.  The broadcast gives listeners the chance to ask the experts questions in advance as well as tweet them out during the live broadcast.
Michele herself is no newbie to social media and is a peer who has amassed a lot of success in both speaking as well as consulting not only on social media but also on one’s personal or business online presence.
The theme of my show with Michele will be based around "The Last Original Idea" which is a light hearted look at the world of Internet marketing where too many people think just because the technology is new, that the concept has never been done before.


5 Reasons to Schedule Tweets

Many including myself have said that “Scheduled Tweets” are bad and go against the norms of social media. In a general sense we are correct, why tweet when you’re not around to respond since the majority of people use scheduled tweets to say something during the night when they are a sleep or keep their twitter stream active when they’re not available (on a plane, on vacation, etc.). But like all guidelines there can be no absolutes, so here are 10 reasons why schedule tweets are OK to use and how to use them correctly.
  1. Deferring a Tweet – you’re up late and spot important something that you want to tweet or Retweet but know that the majority of your followers are asleep. So why not queue up that tweet to go out several hours later when they’ll see it in their streams and of course you’ll be on-line at that time;
  2. Follow Friday Recommendations – I frequently have to bend my brain backwards and think back every Friday of who I want to recommend and why. So I’ve now started to recommend people as they inspire me, but I set that #ff hashtag and schedule the Tweet for Friday (at a time of course that I’ll be on-line);
  3. Event reminders – you know of an event that you want to help promote and you came up with a killer Tweet. So off it goes but you want to remember to resend that tweet or a variation of it out at key times. So why not copy the tweet and schedule it. Of course make sure they’re schedule for times you are most likely to be on-line;
  4. Slowing your stream down - You’re on a roll, flipping through daily reading list at the speed of light and have discovered so much to Tweet out. Yet you don’t want to overload your follower's Twitter streams, so take a deep breath before hitting that “Tweet Now” button and schedule them with perhaps a 5, 10 or maybe 15 minute gap.
  5. Content Promotion – you’ve taken the time to write that blog post and as soon as it’s done off goes a tweet to promote it. Great, but we all know that most tweets go unseen by most of our followers. So we then have to remember to send out a tweet again a few hours later or perhaps even the next day. So why not schedule these tweets! There’s nothing wrong with it as long as you plan on being on-line when they are scheduled to go out.
In essence there is nothing wrong with scheduling tweets, provided you’re going to be on-line when they go out and can respond to people if the comment on it on Twitter. I also like to review any tweets I have scheduled at least once a day, to make sure I’ll be on-line when they do go out, to double check for typos and if I know I’m not going to be around when they are scheduled, I reschedule them for a more appropriate time. 


How Twitter Killed My Influence Score

In the world of social media, many of us look at how we can measure its impact on business. Traditional web analytics tools and concepts simply don’t work. Over the past year, several companies released tools to measure people’s impact and influence on the popular social media tool Twitter.

The two best measurement tools in this sector (in my opinion) are Klout and Twitalzyer. Having enjoyed the valuable information provided by these tools plus achieving a relatively high score I set out to understand (reverse engineer) what makes these tools tick. During my tests and trials I continually drove up my score to some very impressive levels and then one day BANG my daily Twitalzyer impact score plummeted to a new low.

This occurred (Nov. 8, 2010) the day before PubCon an event where I’d be tweeting a lot from and which in turn would generate a lot of retweets (2 factors both tools highly value). I quickly set out to understand why this was happening so I could get it resolved quickly. What I discovered was that Twitter had deleted nearly 12,000 of previous Tweets. Now since all tools don’t just look at what you did today, but what you’ve done over various different pre-defined measurement periods this killed my score. After all, Twitalyzer thought that in my 2 years on Twitter I had only tweeted a half dozen times.

It’s important to note that I have Twitalyzer on manual update. So during PubCon I did not perform any updates knowing that any update would impact my overall score. The disappearance of tweets happened to several of us at the conference and we had all seen it before. So we just left it as expecting it to be fixed in 1 or 2 days. It wasn’t so I set out to contact Twitter.

Of course there is no email or telephone number to contact support at twitter just a Twitter ID. So I browsed their website and was fortunate enough to find a post on Twitter about this problem, add my own post and within 1 day the missing tweets restored.

So I then proceed to update my Twitalyzer account and it appeared to work but something still seemed wrong. At this point I contact Twitalyzer and they told me that there was now something else wrong. That their queries through the Twitter API were timing out or something else was wrong  either way, they couldn’t retrieve any information on my Twitter activity.

I was once again tweeting the issue to @support on Twitter and posting in the support area of their website. In no case did I hear anything back, but data started becoming available. Great I thought but the data still looked wrong. A further discussion with Twitalyzer, I found out that they were only getting partial info now on me. For low volume users this wouldn’t be a problem but I’m on the high end of how many tweets I do a day plus how many retweets and references by others (all 3 important measurement tools) so  their 7 days averages were (shall we say) extremely messed up.

What was the impact of this on my Klout score during this period? Nothing as Klout was limited to a manual update once every 7 days. So I didn’t update my account during this mess. But they Klout changed how it worked and started doing automatic daily updates. This change in their policy coincided with a new algorithm which gave me an immediate boast which lasted a short period of time, but now that their measurement period starts after my Twitter problem started, my score has been declining steadily.

Klout 30 day trend taken Nov. 17, 2010

Klout 30 day trend taken Dec 30, 2010

So it’s been nearly 2 months since this problem 1st started, I’ve tweeted it to @support on Twitter at least 20 times, I’ve posted it in their help area and at best I might get a day once in awhile where these tools can properly index my Twitter activity. 

To help visualize the problem, look at the two charts below (obtained from my Twitalzyer account) that displays my Twitter activity for the previous 7 days. This includes the number tweets, mentions  and retweets – 3 key Twitter measurements. The first one was taken at approximately 1 pm on December 30th and the other around 5 pm. Note the reported activity on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. While I’ll admit I did very little tweeting on the Saturday, Friday was a typical day of approximately 50-60 tweets not the zero reported for both days. Pay close attention to the change in the reported activity on the Sunday. The number of tweets drops from 29 updates to 2 updates. How is that possible? Simple Twitter is blocking Twitalyzer from retrieving information beyond the past 300 updates. The result is what appears to be 2/3 days out of 7of limited impact/influence on Twitter which translates into an overall lower Twitalzyer Impact & (while can't prove it) Klout scores.

Taken December 30, 2010 (at approximately 1:00 pm)

Taken December 30, 2010 (at approximately 5:00 pm)

In a nutshell, Twitter appears to be throttling the API access to my user activity which is killing my influence scores.

To see for yourself, conduct a simple search on search.twitter (http://search.twitter.com/search?q=aknecht) for my twitter ID and you'll see the problem. At times you’ll get a blue whale on the 1st page results, another time you might get 1st page results but the blue whale will show itself when you go to page 2.

While both tools still provide me with valuable information on the effectiveness of what I’m doing on Twitter, Twitter is killing my various influence scores. Why do I care? Because many companies are looking at peoples scores (usually Klout) to decide on which company to hire to help them with their social media campaigns and some conferences look at these scores to see who they should invite to speak at their events. While this is not what these tools were made for, people are using them as such and all of us in this industry now eed to worry about our influence scores.

My options are limited. I know Twitter is a free tool and as I always say “What is the cost of free?” – so I don’t have a support person to call, I can’t withhold payment etc. My contacts at Twitalzyer and Klout also have the same problem when it comes to contacting Twitter. So all I can do continue to tweet to twitter support, post in the support blog and hope & pray that someday someone at Twitter reads this post and fixes my account.

The alternative is to start a new Twitter account and try and get my current 1,700 plus follower to switch which if happened over the course of 1 or 2 days would look like a spam account and would likely be shut down by Twitter. So as in the immortal words of Otis Redding “I guess I’ll remain the same...”