How Valuable is Social Data?

I just read an article on Mashable which began with a quote from CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo, stating “I really think 2012 is going to be the Twitter Election,”.  I immediately thought that the article was going to be about social analytics and the power of information available freely online through social commentary.

However as I read down it turns out the article was more about Twitter being an essential platform for reaching voters in next years USA presidential election. I agree that this is the case. Something I have been looking a lot at recently is the future of social TV. We have all heard the figures bashed about but what it comes down to is simple. Most people watch TV with another device in their hand (smart phone, laptop, tablet). Whilst the availability of more content online is potentially driving people away from traditional TV in certain areas, live events such as sport, entertainment shows like The X factor and news events such as presidential debates are being complimented by the ability of viewers to participate in the social commentary as it happens. People want to find out what other people are thinking. I think more times than not what they are really looking for is confirmation or justification of what they are thinking!

This is something the candidates in the upcoming election will have to bear in mind. After a debate held in 1960 between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon people polled who had listened in on radio felt Nixon was the clear winner, while people who watched on TV felt Kennedy won. This is because Kennedy’s youthful good looks stood out against a tired, unshaven and disheveled Nixon. During this years campaigns candidates will have to  realise that a social commentary will take place on twitter as well as in the media. If a candidate makes a mistake, people will talk about it. Not after the event, but right when it happens. This can strongly through off a perception and sway opinion.

Twitter. Social commentary. Presidential debate

But coming back to what I originally thought the article was about. How much of a picture can we build up of future events based on social media analytics? I attended the Get Social Conference last year where James Ainsworth from SDL international gave a talk. SDL provide a comprehensive social analytic platform which no doubt costs a pretty penny. James was able to study data freely available online in relation to first the X factor and then the nominations for Time’s person of the year. Now it would be close to impossible to predict the winner of the X factor from the outset. That’s because public perception changes and people haven’t had enough time to make a decision. But as the competition went on and the less candidates there were, the data was there clear to see. With 6 candidates left more people were talking about Matt Cardle ( This was 2010 results), more often and more positively than any of the other singers. The same thing principle applied to this years Time person of the year, where a clear front runner could be found by analyzing what people said.

Both these examples show that where there is a definitive limited number of options available for people to vote, a very clear picture can be built up using data online. I have no doubt that harnessing this information will prove a big advantage to whichever candidate can do it best.

A final thought. With Facebook about to float publicly, it will be interesting to see if whether financial transparency brought on by regulations for public companies, reveals more information about how they use our data. I know they use it as a basis for targeted advertising on their social network platform, but man, with Information being power and them having so much of it, I have no doubt that its been used in other means too!


Twitter : What Have I Learned So Far

In relative terms my Twitter profile has gone through a dramatic overhaul. I have gone from being a passive observer with no followers at all, to being a constant tweeter with a rising number of followers.

Since I have started my course at the beginning of October I have managed to attract 465 people to my flock. Its not huge numbers by any means but I have been pleased enough.

twitter tweets followers retweets

I have sent a total of 1073 tweets now out into the twitisphere. Klout has gifted me the score of 46 whilst telling me I am influential about smart phones, facebook and augmented reality. My Peer index stands at 30 and states that my influential topics are internet marketing, mobile advertising and SEO. It also has ball room dancing in there but that’s a story for another day.

twitter getting more followersTwitter followers Kout peer index

But after the pat myself on the back dust settled and I began to look into my stats a bit more carefully, things are a little less flattering. Looking at the array of tweets I send out and the amount of them that get very few clicks if any is slightly depressing. But then again is this the norm? From what I can see there are figures of between 120 million and 300 million for the number of tweets sent each day. With only 25 showing up in a time line no wonder it’s easy for your tweets to get lost in the storm.

According to search engine land tweets have a half life of less than 3 hours. This means that it has sent half of all the traffic to a link that it will ever send after just 3 hours. The tweet will live on for longer than double the 3 hours, but proportionality, the number of clicks it generates declines rapidly after 3 hours.

So how does somebody get their tweets noticed?

Tweet Timing

First of all I need to focus on when my tweets are actually getting clicks and try to tweet more often around this time.

According to When to Tweet, based on the performance of my past tweets and when most of my followers are online the best time for me to tweet is 15.45.

According to tweet Stats, although my tweets are spread out over the day, I tend to have the most activity at between about 8am and 10am. My lowest level (not including sleeping!) is between about 4 and 7 in the evening.

This something I am going to address and see if I get more clicks around this time. I actually retweeted some of own tweets that didn have any clicks on them last week to see if posting them around 15.45 would work. But it seems that Hootsuite didn’t pick up the links and I have no stats for them???


After an initial flurry of following just about anyone, I have trimmed back people who I dont think are relevant and now try to focus on people with decent Klout scores that contribute good quality content.

Most of the people that I interact with and are my fellow class mates which is to be expected but I am going to make an effort to interact with a wider scope of people and see if this effects my Klout score.

It states that just 16% of my tweets are retweets. I would have though that this was a lot higher because I spend the bulk of my time reading other peoples links and then tweeting them on if I find them good. Perhaps when I take out that persons name in the retweet. effectively claiming it as my own, the stats don’t pick up that it is a retweet???


According to Mashable Frequency of tweeting is nearly as important as timing. If you can consistently and regularly post 5-10 tweets with valuable content, well-spaced throughout the day, you will achieve maximum impact. I have been using Hootsuite to schedule tweets where possible. I have read a lot about buffer and think I will give that a go and see how I get along.


You definitely see the same tweets resurfacing over and over again. Some times with hugely different titles! I think it is really important to be putting out good quality content from a wide variety of sources. I think I am starting to build up a variety of location where I can get content from now.


Looking at my Hootsuite report from October 7th to October 14th I had 69 clicks on my tweets. Nearly half of these were from Ireland. About 16% from the UK and the rest were distributed around the world in very low proportions. (USA 1%)

Moving on a month to my latest Hootsuite report I had 58 clicks for the last week, however nearly 70% of them were from Ireland and 14% of them were from America.

I’m not really sure what this means but I will keep an eye on it to see how it develops.


Most of the tweets I read are from streams of lists I have created on Hootsuite. It’s just not possible to constantly follow your home stream. I have categorised people based on the area of tweets they seem to focus on. I also have some streams based on searches of areas I find interesting.

If any one has any advice at all for me I would be delighted to hear it.

You can follow me @barrytg and I’ll follow back!!