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Friday 19 March 2010

Social Networking Usage Surges Globally

Jennifer Van Grove 19th March 2010,

According to the Nielsen Company, the global average time spent per person on social networking sites is now nearly five and half hours per month (February 2010 data), with Facebook accounting for the majority of that time. That’s up more than two hours from last year.

In arriving at that conclusion, Nielsen measured social network usage per person across 10 countries and compared that to data from the same time last year.

When looking at specific countries, Italy tops the charts with social network time per person just under six and a half hours per month (6:27:53), and Australia is a close second (6:02:34). The United States — which has the largest unique social networking audience — ranked third in usage with the average person spending just over six hours (6:02:34) on social networks.

What’s even more interesting is that Facebook— with its 400 million members — is far and away dominating the rest of the competition.

Facebook is the number-one social network destination worldwide and accounts for nearly six hours (5:52:00) per person with the average user logging in more than 19 times per month. What that boils down to is that the time spent on Facebook is almost five hours longer than the time spent on MySpace (0:59:33), the second closest social network in terms of time spent on site per person.
Nielsen also found that:
- Globally, the average Twitterer conducts three unique sessions for a total of 36 minutes per month.
- In the U.S. the active unique social network audience grew roughly 29% from 115 million in February 2009 to 149 million in February 2010.
- Active unique users of social networks are also up nearly 30% globally, rising from 244.2 million to 314.5 million collectively.

The Million Follower Fallacy: Audience Size Doesn't Prove Influence on Twitter

Written by Sarah Perez / March 19, 2010 7:19 AM,

A group of researchers have proven something we already expected to be the case: your Twitter follower count is somewhat of a meaningless metric when it comes to determining influence. To reach this conclusion, the researchers examined the Twitter accounts of over 54 million active users, out of some 80 million accounts crawled by their servers. They then went on to measure various statistics about these accounts, including audience size, retweet influence and mention influence. The conclusion? Those with the largest number of followers may be "popular" Twitterers, but that's not necessarily related to their influence. High follower counts don't always mean someone is being retweeted or mentioned in any meaningful ways.

The findings from this research project have been published in an research paper available here on the project's homepage.

How the Data Was Analyzed

The data the researchers had access to is astounding: 54,981,152 user accounts, 1,963,263,821 social (follow) links and 1,755,925,520 tweets. In order to collect this massive store of data, the researchers contacted Twitter and asked permission to crawl Twitter's service. Twitter granted them access and white-listed the IP address range for the 58 servers that were used in the data collection. In total, the crawler was able to scan 80 million Twitter accounts during the month of August 2009. Only 54+ million of those accounts were actually in-use at the time, which, in and of itself, is an interesting finding about how many people create a Twitter account and then abandon it. Only 8% of the active accounts were set to private, so they were ignored during the data analysis. The researchers also used the Twitter API to gather additional information about a user's social links and tweets.
The study focused on the largest part of the Twitter network - the "single disproportionately large connected component," notes the paper, that contained 94.8% of users and 99% of all links and tweets. Within that large network of "in-use" accounts, the researchers further narrowed down the data to focus on the "active users." These users where those who had more than 10 tweets and had a valid screen name that could be retweeted by others. (Interesting - it's possible to have an account and not a screen name?) That left "only" 6,189,636 active users out of the initial 80 million to examine.
To measure the influence of these 6+ million users, the researchers looked at how the entire set of the 52 million users interacted with these active users.

The Three Measures of Influence

After examining the data, the researchers found that the most followed individuals spanned a wide variety of public figures and news sources and included accounts like CNN, New York Times, Barack Obama, Shaquille O'Neal, Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears and others. However, the most retweeted users tended to be content aggregation services like TwitterTips, TweetMeme, and, interestingly enough, they counted the tech blog Mashable as an aggregation service, too. Other heavily retweeted users included Guy Kawasaki, the humor site The Onion and again, The New York Times. Meanwhile, those users with the most "mentions" - not a direct retweet including the original content of someone else's tweet, but just a casual mention of their name - were celebs.
These three measures of influence - followers, retweets and mentions - has surprisingly little overlap when looking at the top influentials. The top 20 lists from these three categories only had two users in common: Ashton Kutcher and Puff Daddy.
The researchers also examined the ability of Twitter users to influence others. They determined that the most influential users hold significant influence over a variety of topics, as opposed to being experts in just one area.

Examining the 233 "All-Time Influentials"

Out of the 6 million active Twitter users, the researchers picked the top 100 users in each of the three categories. Due to the overlap, there were only 233 distinct users on these lists. These were dubbed the "all-time influentials." Some of these accounts belonged to news organizations or celebs, but others were just regular users. Regarding that last group - it appears that those users who limit their tweets to a single topic are the most likely to increase their influence scores.
In the end, what the researchers found was that follower count alone is not necessarily a worthy measure of determining influence. Other factors come into play as well. Although some heavily-followed accounts are also mentioned and retweeted a lot, just looking at audience size doesn't reveal an account's ability to influence and impact the Twitter universe.
According to the project's homepage, the researchers are hoping to make the data they collected available to the community at large. Before doing so, they will discuss it with Twitter in order to determine that their data sharing plan agrees with the company's policy. They plan to have an update on this situation - possibly the data itself - by May 2010.

Friday 12 March 2010

73% of Twitter Accounts Tweet Less Than 10 times

Twitter Users Not So Social After All

By Julianne Pepitone, CNN Money

NEW YORK ( -- Twitter may be a fast-growing social network, but most of its 50 million accounts merely follow other users rather than posting their own messages.

In fact, a whopping 73% of Twitter accounts have tweeted fewer than 10 times according to a new report from Barracuda Networks, a Web security company.

It seems that Twitter is becoming more of news feed than a social network, said Paul Judge, author of the report and chief research officer at Barracuda. And that raises questions about its growth potential, as well as how the Internet phenomenon will make money.

As of December 2009, only 21% of Twitter account holders were what Barracuda defines as "true users," meaning someone who has at least 10 followers, follows at least 10 people and has tweeted at least 10 times.

That indicates that most Twitter users "came online to follow their favorite celebrities, not to interact with their buddies the way they would on Facebook or MySpace," said Judge.
The follow-only trend exploded when celebrities helped push the microblogging site into the mainstream during a six-month period that Barracuda calls Twitter's "red carpet era."

From November 2008 to April 2009, several celebrities, including Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey and John Mayer, joined Twitter. And the site grew 21.2% in the month of April 2009 alone.
"The most famous people have already joined Twitter, so I don't think they'll see another growth spurt like that," Judge said.

So the question now, said Judge, is whether Twitter can get more of these followers to start tweeting themselves.

"The bottom line is, most of these people are getting online because Ashton asked them to," Judge said. "If those people do nothing after that, [Twitter's] growth can't hope to continue."

How Much Are You and Your E-mail Program Worth?

By Simms Jenkins, ClickZ, Mar 11, 2010

One of the most persistent conundrums of e-mail marketing is its incredibly high ROI, yet it is often underfunded and understaffed. What's more, those managing e-mail marketing programs are undercompensated., an e-mail metrics portal my company founded with the Email Experience Council, set out to take a deeper dive into how e-mail programs really looked under the hood. What we found is concerning, though not totally surprising.
In the newly released Compensation & Resources Report, we surveyed over 200 e-mail marketing professionals on the client- and services- (agency, ESP, consultants) side. Our partner on this report, Morgan Stewart, director, research and strategy at ExactTarget, helped make sense of the numbers.

The Client-Side Challenge: Resources and Budget
  • Over 40 percent of client respondents stated they had $100,000 or less of their annual budget dedicated to e-mail marketing
  • Fifteen percent had $100,001 to $249,999
  • Fourteen percent had a budget of over $1,000,000
  • Additionally, 14 percent did not know their budget
  • Thirty-seven percent of client-side respondents said they have only one to two people within their organization who are directly working on e-mail marketing
  • Thirty-four percent said they had three to five on their team
While budget is always a clash in the e-mail world, larger companies (22 percent surveyed are companies of 1,000 or more employees) will have an uphill battle on maximizing their e-mail programs on a budget south of $100,000 and only a few people on the team. A major cause for concern: 14 percent did not know their budgets and almost 40 percent have one to two people working on these efforts. While this may speak to the often inexperienced teams managing e-mail programs, it also highlights the need for managers involved in this essential channel to better understand the broader business goals and restrictions they may be facing.

Service-Side Dilemmas: Spread Thin in Offerings and Accounts

Despite e-mail being a highly specialized area of digital marketing, it seems those working in the service-side of e-mail may be spreading themselves thin. Other lines of business that e-mail service firms offer:
  • Strategy and consulting (66 percent)
  • General interactive marketing (53 percent)
  • Social media (43 percent)
  • Web design (42 percent)
  • Search (34 percent)
  • Mobile (30 percent)
Traditional advertising firms appear to be flat-footed in offering e-mail, despite its near universal adoption as a marketing channel. Only 36 percent say they offer e-mail marketing. It is also worth noting that 37 percent of survey respondents on the service-side said they work on 11 or more accounts, further supporting that service-side e-mail firms need to increase staffing.

Compensation in the E-mail Marketing Industry

Here you may find the ammunition to get a raise or conversely, you may find that you want to keep this data to yourself:
  • Twenty-five percent surveyed said they make between $50,000 to $69,999 annually
  • The next highest bucket was $35,001 to $49,999, closely followed by $70,000 to $84,999
  • Less than 5 percent of participants make $200,000 or greater per year
Interestingly, marketers on the agency-side earn higher salaries than their client-side counterparts. However, those at the director level and above tend to earn higher salaries working on the client-side.

Our findings showed that the size of the dedicated team correlates with the overall e-mail marketing budget. Teams that run the majority of their e-mail marketing efforts in-house must staff their teams with more experienced, thus higher salaried, employees. The median income for employees managing programs with only one or two dedicated e-mail marketing resources ranges from $50,000 to $69,999 for companies with an e-mail marketing budget of less than $100,000. For companies with an e-mail marketing budget of more than $100,000, the median salary ranges from $70,000 to $84,999 range.

You can take these findings with a grain of salt or you can use them to help fund and staff your e-mail program to get the most from this highly targeted and measurable channel. The choice is yours.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Reduce Your Twitter Followers (Without Annoying People), 8th March, 2010

There are countless posts out there telling you how to increase your twitter followers. And there are countless businesses using follower numbers as proof of brand awareness and influence. But there are precious few posts out there telling you how to lose followers that aren’t useful to you. Why would you want to do this? Besides delivering a healthy dose of humility, it just reflects your influence better and it reduces the likelihood of you getting pointless @ replies from bots that just clog up your message stream.

Of course the easiest way to lose followers is to be annoying and to be abusive, inane or too prolific in your posts. But that’s more likely to generate unfollows from real people, and not from bots or zero-tweeters. So this post focuses on ways to lose followers without being annoying.

Getting followers is actually remarkably easy. All you have to do is tweet regularly and offer interesting content. It helps if you can speak at events and/or cover events using twitter and a hashtag, and if you get coverage of your tweetstream in mainstream media. And if you look out for interesting people and talk to them on twitter, you will soon find people will follow you.

But of course, both getting followers and using followers as proof of your popularity are basically pointless. While some of your followers will be legitimate (particularly if you actually do talk to people on twitter), many will be bots, or what’s been described as ‘fauxlowers‘; twitter accounts, particularly of celebrity users, who autofollow you back, even through they have no intention of reading anything you will say on twitter and probably won’t even read your replies to them.

If your objective is to use twitter for productive conversations, or if you want to use twitter to get ideas or research keywords, or if you want to access people who are interested in your products and services, then what you actually need is to follow other people and listen in to their conversations and contribute where appropriate. Ultimately this leads to followers, but you get decent quality followers; people who engage and who probably more accurately represent your sphere of influence anyway.

But in addition to getting better quality followers, there’s the issue with cutting out the rubbish followers from your total. I wanted to share a couple of resources you can use to clean your follower lists. It’s not just about unfollowing people (I use the marvellous ManageTwitter for that) but about getting rid of the bots and lurker or disengaged followers in your list. After all, so long as your account is open, you’re not actually stopping anyone from visiting your twitter user page to read your posts there. You’re just ensuring that people who follow you are actually engaged. is probably the most efficient means of seeing who follows you, and allowing you to see how many followers they have, and when they last tweeted. You can login using your twitter sign in, and then jump straight to ‘Manage your followers’. Then sort your follower lists by last tweet and gasp at the huge number of followers you have that have either never tweeted or tweeted last sometime in 2007 and then abandoned their accounts. Most, you will find, are bots. Yes alright, there may be some among this list that might just enjoy peeking over your shoulder at what you do, but they can do that at What’s the point of having them among your followers if they don’t tweet and they don’t talk to you? Get rid of them. Block them now!

But what about the followers you have that do tweet regularly but are still bots? TwitBlock is probably the best site to detect whether your followers are spam or bots, and allows you to scan for ’spaminess’ among your followers – marvellous! And if you want to block a spammer just as they start following you, it’s always worth checking an account name with Tweet Blocker to see if they’ve been reported as a spam bot.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop someone following you back if you want to follow them (ie: as a news source). So even after you get rid of the spammers and bots and useless twitter followers, your follower list will still be full of people like Guy Kawasaki who actually reads maybe 4 people but ‘follows’ about 54,000 people. I read Guy and I like him, but I have no clue why he follows me because he almost certainly never reads anything I say, even when it’s an @reply directed at him.

So I still can’t help you ensure your follower lists are completely genuine and useful. But perhaps these tools may just give you a more accurate sense of what your influence is more likely to be and a stronger capacity to meet the needs of those who follow you.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Social Media Marketing Spend Up in 2010

With special thanks to Matt McDougall, who runs the excellent Sinotech Blog, Matt McDougall, Sunday, 07 March 2010 18:12
I am a keen proponent of using Social Media Marketing (SMM) in digital campaigns as part of a multi-channel approach. However, I am often surprised by some of the comments from clients suggesting they see this channel a niche or the edgy side of digital marketing. I know that the Internet is littered with firms and individuals touting themselves as social media 'experts' and just like the "snake-oil salesmen" of the old wild West, we will see this segment go through a period of rapid growth as many jump on the social media bandwagon.

Below, you can see the spending trends emerging in SMM and clearly we are seeing the first phase of a rapid period of growth. Although these are numbers of based on US research, I have no doubt we will see this reflected in China and in Asia more broader.

Here are a couple of charts from "The CMO Survey" undertaken by the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association, as reported by eMarketer:

  When you compare the spending on social media marketing from August 2009 to February 2010, overall there's an increase of 60% in the budgets (from 3.5% to 5.6%). Similarly, the planning for the next one to five years shows a similar level of consideration as well: in August 2009, social media spending was thought to be 6.1% for the next year and 13.7% for the next five years; and now, it's more like 9.9% in the next year and 17.7% in the next five years.

And since this was a survey of CMOs, it's a good indication that these budget predictions may get some traction, rather than just being a  fond wish of industry pundits. So we know we are in for some interesting growth in SMM, just watch out for folks/firms offering social media solutions too good to be true.... most often they simply are too good to be true!

Wednesday 3 March 2010

How Small Business Are Using Social Media

Jennifer Van Grove,, 3rd March 2010

The University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business looked at the relationship between social media and small businesses and found that the technology adoption rates in the U.S. have doubled in the past year from 12% to 24%.

The data comes straight from the university’s third installment to its Small Business Success Index report and is based on a December 2009 telephone survey of 500 small business owners. Adoption rate calculations are compared against a baseline report conducted in December 2008.
The study concludes that one nearly one in five small business owners are integrating social media into their business processes — Facebook and LinkedIn were the most popular sites. In fact, 45% of surveyed respondents even believe their social media initiatives will pay off financially in 12 months or less.

As the graphic below details, the small business owners who are using social media are primarily engaging in social media through company pages (75%) and status updates (69%) on Facebook or LinkedIn. What’s especially intriguing is that a much smaller percentage of respondents — just 16% — are using Twitter as a customer service channel.

Another interesting notion is that small business owners now believe social media can help them on the lead generation front, and that is the primary motivating factor for engaging in these new customer service channels. So while half of surveyed respondents found the time it takes to use social media sites more daunting than expected, 61% are still putting in the hours and making active efforts to identify new customers.

Clearly social media has become a valuable tool for small businesses, but we’re especially curious to see how Twitter adoption rates fluctuate over the time. While we expect more small businesses to use Twitter as a customer service channel in the year ahead, as it stands, Facebook and LinkedIn have become the predominant platforms for small business owners.