Hard to believe it is 2015. The past year has been one of upheavals internationally, nationally and yes, even locally. Who would have thought a relatively unknown jihadist group a year ago would have taken over so much Syrian and Iraqi territory sending a coalition, including Canada, back into Middle East conflict, or that in Greater Victoria a mayor with well over a decade in office would be out of his job by over 1000 votes. defeated by a complete political neophyte – that happened in Saanich, and was reflected in the City of Victoria. With all that upheaval in mind from the previous 12 months, here are some predictions for 2015. With so much in play in all levels of politics and media…
1: BC Ferries figures it is actually more economical under their financial projections to winch Vancouver Island 20km closer to the mainland to save on fuel costs. Then once again hedges oil at $120 per barrel for the coming year. BC Government heralds this as ‘enlightened management’.
2: SHAW Cable hikes fees another 10%, wonders why users revolt. Hires now ex- BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan as a consultant.
3: Pope Francis appoints a lesbian, transgender, atheist bishop as head of Opus Dei. Becomes a regular panelist on Real Time with Bill Maher.
4: Black Press finally buys out all latent print media in British Columbia, places Tom Fletcher as full editor in charge. Editor Tom immediately reserves all Op/Ed placements for the Fraser Institute – no one notices.
5: National Energy Board in a big ‘whoops’ accidentally releases pre-approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline dated August 2014. Subsequent followup…’ hey folks, look at our record, did you expect anything different?’
6: Christy Clark in a major announcement disbands cabinet. Places Rich Coleman as Minister of Everything, saying ‘look at the guy! He’s BIG – he can do liquor, gambling, LNG – all that great, wonderful, goochy stuff BCers love!!’. Donate here…
7: As a surprise Christy Clark calls a 2 week 2015 fall session of the Legislature – one bill to be debated, making obeying stop signs arbitrary. ‘Just want to be prepared for 2017’
8: BuzzFeed buys out Black Press
9: Trying not to be recalcitrant, ISIS welcomes homosexuals and demands equal panelist time with Pope Francis on Real Time with Bill Maher
10: Jack Knox will have a better top 10!
Happy New Year!
The 5th, or 6th year of doing a ‘Top Predictions’ blog for the upcoming year: inspired by the (ever expiring) Victoria BC Times Colonist journalist Jack Knox (@JackKnox), who annually regales us Islanders with his profoundly insightful prophecy. This year, a connection as the team at #YYJchat, of whom I am honoured to be a member, actually had our hero scribe as a guest – well done, we will never regain our reputations.
Looking over last year’s predictions jiggled the funny bone as a few made the zeitgeist – yep, Mayan Apocalypse certainly gained attention.
1: Chinese year of the Snake: Snakes on a Plane….snakes in the grass…Washington State legalizes marijuana…B.C. in a big election…BC Marijuana Party wins! (stream of thought)
2: Social Media finally combines into an extremely useful, single platform called #PintYourFaceintoMyTube – marketers revel. Google adds a + version a month later.
3: Apple launches iPhone 6, 6.3, and a ‘mini-mini’ iPad (iPhone 4 revamped) all within 3 weeks, with midnight launches. Expectant buyer lineups combine and cause riots around the world.
4: US ‘fiscal cliff’ becomes a ‘cliff hanger’ lasting well into the the next Presidential election – which starts next week.
5: BC Ferries announces $50 million revamp of upper class lounges – though, these will be at terminals. Have a great meal, or 2 – even 3 – while you wait.
6: Lockheed introduces the F36, just to confuse Canadians.
7: Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece all apply to leave the EU and join the Canadian currency. Mark Carney has a giggle fit from London.
8: The Mayans were right, just a month off – it’s January 21st folks!
9: China notes buying and centralizing world iron/steel around Beijing is creating an earth magnetic wobble. Solution: buy these accredited sea sickness ginseng pills from our wonderful, safe and friendly factories.
10: In reference to #9, Harper notes Canadian potash exports help the global production of ginseng.
11: BC Premier Christie Clark goes for broke, and kisses a girl – though it turns out to be Katy Perry who crashed a fund raiser…even the NDP say ‘it could happen to anyone’. John Cummins …. ‘goddamn, why was I not invited?’ Jane Sterk kisses a sewage pipe, and that wins the election….
12: The Amazon cloud sever becomes sentient – John Grisham is forced into slavery to write novellas for Kindle.
13: 13th year of the new century: Blade Runner is looking like a soft landing!
and this is the year of the sneek: who gets your data?
Your comments, questions are welcome – have a great year.
The 2012 Alberta Provincial election was noteworthy as the vast majority of official polls predicted an upset win for The Wild Rose party, while in effect the incumbent Conservatives under Alison Redford won a comfortable majority. The final week of the provincial campaign saw pollsters and pundits echoing published numbers, yet in the background on social media a shift in sentiment was occurring. That was especially true on Twitter and Facebook in the important urban riding in and around Calgary.
Now Calgary is once again in the news as one of three Federal by elections to be held on November 26th. Considered a ‘safe’ Conservative seat a November 17th Forum Research poll for Calgary Centre shows the Liberal candidate Harvey Locke (30%) within the margin of error to beat Conservative candidate Joan Crockatt (32%) in voter preferences – albeit, the Forum poll has a very small sample size and there are very few other polls using the same methodology to use in comparison.
A problem with political polling in Canada is lack of consistent reports, mainly due to the expense with a relatively small population for polling companies and media organizations. In reality only Federal elections and those in more populated provinces receive the number, and variety, of polls with larger (therefore more accurate) sample sizes. Creating a comparison system like Nate Silver did with the 538 New York Times blog, to the humiliation of Republican pundits in the recent US Presidential race, simply is not possible in Canada due to a dearth of data.
Campaigns certainly are using social media, so how do the candidates compare in their use of Twitter and Facebook? Note – each candidate per riding is profiled below with their website, Twitter handle (followers and updates), and Facebook page likes. Number of Twitter updates is based on when they created their account, which in some cases was well ahead of the party nominations – so does not necessarily reflect updates during the actual campaign.
Joan Crockatt (CPC)- website
Harvey Locke (LPC) – website
Dan Meades (NDP) – website
Chris Turner (GPC) – website
Erin O’Toole (CPC)- website
Grant Humes (LPC) – website
Larry O’Connor (NDP) – website
Virginia Ervin (GPC) – website
Dale Gann (CPC)- website
Paul Summerville (LPC) – website
Murray Rankin (NDP) – website
Donald Galloway (GPC) – website
In campaigns social media is largely used to support base voters – those already with a connection to a particular party. That is reflected in the polling especially for Calgary Centre, although the rise in numbers for particular candidates is revealing. While Joan Crockatt appears to have more followers on Twitter and Facebook, the number of interactions is low: compared to Liberal candidate Harvey Locke and Green Party candidate Chris Turner who each have risen sharply in numbers and positive sentiment especially in the last two weeks. This could indicate an upset in Monday’s vote.
The Victoria Riding is also interesting. The NDP certainly came into the by election with a massive incumbent vote advantage from the May 2011 Federal election, which is reflected in the social media numbers especially on Facebook, yet the sewage debate (a central issue in the Victoria campaign) has certainly pushed sentiment towards Liberal candidate Paul Summerville and Green Party candidate Donald Galloway.
This is all academic of course. By elections are challenging to predict as major polls are not available, turnout is usually lower, and local issues can have an undue effect compared to national or provincial elections. However, it will be interesting to see post Monday if social media numbers reflect actual placement once the votes are finally tallied.
As always – your thoughts, comments and questions are welcome.
As social media platforms tout the number of users as a value of their overall worth, the fact many ‘followers’ and ‘profiles’ are fake is illustrating a growing issue with spam and advertising analytics. In July the BBC set up a fake business ‘Virtual Bagel’, began advertising on Facebook, and determined that a large majority of likes came from South East Asia and were most likely fake accounts or bots. Another company, Limited Press, ran analytics on their own Facebook advertising alleging more than 80% of likes were fake.
Facebook itself was forced to reveal in company filings that 8.7% of over 955 million profiles broke rules in some way – duplicate profiles, misclassified accounts and undesirables – those who use accounts solely for spamming.
Newsday reported an analysis on Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney gaining more than 100 000 Twitter followers in one weekend, most of whom were fake. Twitter has yet to publish numbers on percentage of overall fake vs real users, but Tweet spam is a continual and growing headache for many users.
As social media platforms rely almost solely on advertising for revenue, their value to advertisers diminishes dramatically when companies discover ‘likes’ and clicks on paid links are worthless.
A new service, Status People, will parse your personal and business Twitter accounts for fake users, and give you a percentage report. While it is not an exact science the algorithm has some guiding principles, and becomes more accurate as more users check their followers:
“Spam accounts tend to have few or no followers and few or no tweets,” the company writes. “But they tend to follow a lot of other accounts.”
You can then use a system like TwitCleaner to identify fake, bot or inactive users that you either follow, or follow you, and clean up your account.
There is no doubt Twitter has altered the broadcast and news gathering culture of media organizations, but what is behind the 140 character system that aligns so well with ‘news’?
A reason for posing the question is noticing how some news papers and broadcasters are dedicating sections solely to Twitter trends and headlines, others incorporating #Hashtag streams into programming. Recently Maclean’s Magazine – a weekly Canadian print publication covering politics, business, and news – began a daily online article: Daily Headlines via Twitter using Storify to curate top headlines from a number of news organizations.
Next, take a look at a basic search for ‘Twitter’ on the Guardian UK newspaper website. For July 28th, almost all the top headline stories, from the latest Olympic updates to news from Syria, and the passing of actor Geoffrey Hughes have a direct reference to Twitter in the articles, clearly demonstrating the short message service has inordinate influence as a news gathering tool for journalists. Likely because it so quick and responsive, reporters can easily grab relevant content to boost just about any story: a quote, comments, updates etc.
It seems somewhat disproportionate as Twitter has around 150 million active users compared to Facebook’s 900+ million, yet Zuckerberg’s platform is nowhere near as mentioned as a source, or even as a news story itself unless discussing its share price. A news search on Google for “Twitter Olympics” shows 10800 news items compared to “Facebook Olympics” at 127.
Alan Rusbridger, Editor in Chief of the Guardian UK: posted fifteen points on “Why Twitter matters for media organisations” in November of 2010. Nearly two years later, are they still appropriate or actually reinforced, can others be added?
Point One: It’s an amazing form of distribution: No doubt, and even more so now as the user base has extended from around 60 million in 2010 to 150 million today. Twitter (and yes, Facebook and Youtube) have profoundly impacted, some even argue inspired, the Arab Spring and now a necessary communication tool for politicians.
Point Two: It’s where things happen first: Or, where news is reported at all. The now 18 month uprising in Syria illustrates how citizen media can equal, even trump, traditional journalism in places where accredited media are denied access by authorities.
Point Three: As a search engine, it rivals Google: Yes and no these days as even Google has given in to including Twitter profiles and sometimes tweets themselves into results. Social is becoming even more integrated into operating systems and search.
Point Four: It’s a formidable aggregation tool: Where Twitter excels over other search engines – even those within the likes of Facebook and Youtube – is that the aggregation itself is user generated. A #Hashtag can be created by anyone, used and posted to by anyone. It turns search on its head from the realm of mathematicians to a crowd sourced function.
Point Five: It’s a great reporting tool: Such an obvious statement it’s not even worth bothering to comment, except to say journalists and editors must be vigilant on specious tweets and deliberate misinformation.
Point Six: It’s a fantastic form of marketing: Yes, certainly with a growing user base news organizations can directly broadcast both breaking news and more nuanced opinion, to a far larger audience. The problem is twofold: journalists themselves, especially those who grabbed a Twitter user name before many organizations had a brand policy, are in a position to take their followers to another ‘brand’ – and – it is a flat platform. The audience decides who has authority on any given issue. Quite often the most re-tweeted posts are not from news organizations, but citizens directly involved in an issue or event.
Point Seven: It’s a series of common conversations. Or it can be: In fact, Twitter is about the conversation which is why chats surrounding a #hashtag are one the most popular and powerful features. This is where news organizations are getting it wrong, with only a few notable exceptions. Al Jazeera has daily open chats on topical issues, The Guardian has experimented with open editorial – ‘make your own newsroom’ idea, and CBC has a weekly Wednesday Politics chat. For the most part however, the majority of publications and broadcasters are not utilizing discussion features, to the detriment of their own organizations.
Mainly due to the fact no one in Greater Victoria BC had plugged into the concept of a regular Tweetchat, the group at Victoria Wave (of which I am a founder) decided to start our own. In many ways, #YYJchat is a news source on its own with weekly guests – politicians, community leaders, experts – and topical to the region. One wonders why news organizations are not taking advantage of chats and #Hashtags to reinforce their community credentials and brand image.
Point Eight: It’s more diverse: As with any social media platform the greater the number of users, the more diverse the opinions and focus. However, unlike Facebook which is the ultimate walled garden, Twitter does allow non user viewing through search apps and widgets – then again, you still require an account to participate.
Point Nine: It changes the tone of writing: Many would say to the detriment of any language, yet ultimately what Twitter has done to journalism and writing of any form is to highlight the necessity of brevity.
Point Ten: It’s a level playing field: Which goes back to my #7 point – a level playing field means news orgs have to take the initiative and not be afraid to experiment.
Point Eleven: It has different news values: This point from Alan Rusbridger was one of the most poignant. Twitter (and other platforms) highlight trending topics, which often are the goal for publicists, marketers and political parties. One could say ‘Twitter trends are the new SEO’. An open platform, where the crowd is determining what is topical, can force editors into ‘follow the audience’ to maintain online ratings – create a quick article or blog post that fits a trending topic simply for the retweet value is not uncommon.
Point Twelve: It has a long attention span: More so than most would think. In Canada the #Hashtags #TellVicEverything and #HarperHistory still resonate, and are searchable for an archive. This simple function, grouping messages around a tag, beats any searchable query on any other platform.
Point Thirteen: It creates communities: Yes, and relevant to many previous points, with an emphasis that news organizations are not taking advantage of this essential nature of Twitter. Editors and broadcast/publication owners might feel it is not their duty or function to create and maintain Twitter communities – yet they are broadcasting into them, and quite often seek comments on articles and opinion pieces (a blog is a community of sorts). Instead of complaining that social media is taking away an audience, while using published material, news organizations should be taking it on and creating the community – you can’t own a hashtag, but you can be the first to use it.
Point Fourteen: It changes notions of authority: In a much more problematic way now than in 2010. Certainly aggregators like Huffington Post filter and add to mainstream media posts – the bug bear of early social media to traditional media, and now largely discounted as an issue. What has occurred is a confluence of both highspeed mobile access to the web, and simple, equally high end, production. An iPhone, with the right apps, is a media production platform rivaling professional studio output from only a few years ago. Yes, it does take skill to create a video with appropriate context – a blog article with authority – an interview that hits the facts, but this is now in the hands of citizens, and as individuals gain audience, they gain authority. For better and worse.
Point Fifteen: It is an agent of change: Or an agent of the status quo, depending on who owns the trend at a particular time.
No doubt Twitter has radically altered ‘News’ as we know it – and it will become more profound as the platform gains more users. There needs to be a balance however between profit motive editors chasing trends for the potential audience value, vs allocating resources to reports that have community impact.
As always your thoughts and comments are valued and welcomed
Amazing how quickly a year passes, and it is time once again for Social Media Camp in Victoria BC
I am honoured once again to be on the Politics and Social Media panel with Dr. Janni Aragon (@JanniAragon), Micheal Geoghegan (@BClobbyist) and, new this year, Alissa Wrean (@a_birdie). After reviewing the past 12 months of sometimes bizarre interactions with politics and social media we decided on a title of ‘Politics in Social Media: Gifts or Gaffes?‘
The battle ground for hearts, minds and votes has extended exponentially into social media at all levels of government, but are individual politicians doing it well? There have been a number of notable online ‘memes’: in Canada with #Vikileaks #TellVicEverything, #HarperHistory and MP Pat Martin’s famous FU tweet, in the US with the anit-SOPA movement (which worked, to an extent), Slut Walk, and so much more…
While each has gained both online, and mainstream media attention, do they really affect governance and policy? Can politicians and governments ignore social media and still be effective? The panel will discuss these questions, and more – and we look forward to your questions and comments.
Time: Friday June 8th, 11am to Noon
Place: Social Media Camp, Victoria Conference Centre, Victoria BC (Conference Registration)
We are mostly humble, or at least within our peer groups. Around the BBQ, and especially online, giving any heed to social media influence scores most often results in snorts of derision. ‘Who cares?’ – we say. ‘A Klout score really means nothing’ – we intone (surreptitiously logging in to check the latest numbers). Our clients don’t worry, so why should we? Speaking as a marketer, online, in social media, clients are beginning to care, so should we.
As Catherine Novak posted on Google+
Meh. I just merged my Klout accounts for @catherinenovak (long, well established reputation) and almost-brand-new @netscribe Cath, and it averaged out and changed me from a Thought Leader to a Socializer. I preferred being a Thought Leader. Oh well. AND the score I try not to care about just dropped 16 points. Trying hard to to care about this…. really.
Here is the problem. The internet has reached a majority of the population in most markets, and social media a majority of those online (in Canada especially), not only in terms of accounts, or profiles, but more importantly the rise in interaction. See a recent blog post on Canadian social media usage. Any company or organization that does not incorporate social media as an integral part of an advertising, and continual engagement, customer service campaign, is missing the majority of the population and most likely throwing good marketing dollars towards a quickly diminishing and inneffective print and TV advertising sector.
There are no Masters of Social Media programs at your local University; and at least in Canada (somebody prove me wrong) there is no credible organization which regulates companies, or individuals, self-declared as ‘social media experts’. Certainly there are for graphic designers, public relations and advertising, but a credible body which provides accreditation for social media marketers, based on an academic program, has yet to be created. Yet, this is the fastest growing area within PR and marketing, and open to both those who are effective due to experience, innovation and continual research, and those simply jumping on the bandwagon. It is the Wild West.
One measure: ‘Social Media Influence Scores’. There are a few, Klout.com taking the field. How do they work?
The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.
True Reach is the size of your engaged audience and is based on those of your followers and friends who actively listen and react to your messages. Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale of 1 to 100. Network score indicates how influential your engaged audience is and is also on a scale from 1 to 100. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.
We believe that influence is the ability to drive people to action — “action” might be defined as a reply, a retweet, a comment, or a click. We perform significant testing to ensure that the average click-through rate on links shared is highly correlated with a person’s Klout Score. The 25+ variables used to generate scores for each of these categories are normalized across the whole data set and run through our analytics engine. After the first pass of analytics, we apply a specific weight to each data point. We then run the factors through our machine-learning analysis and calculate the final Klout Score. The final Klout Score is a representation of how successful a person is at engaging their audience and how big of an impact their messages have on people.
That should be the measurement on how any marketer works with a client and the consumer. Especially true with both online (direct website interactions, ecommerce) and social media. The metrics are directly available, yet hiring a company, or consultant to handle social media engagement is often problematic. The issue for any business is understanding that engagement is not advertising – but can be more profitable – and that social media is the contemporary customer service model.
Anyone can create a Facebook page or Twitter account (and we wait for Google+ business profiles) – are they used effectively?. The fact social media profiles are open creates the confluence. A brand, company or organization is seeking influence across a wide ranging profile – so who should they choose to enhance potential? A company who cares about social media influence scores, or not? How many companies are seeking a Klout rating, and are willing to pay for that effort?
In choosing a marketing professional does Klout provide a metric? Yes – if PR and advertising firms do not pay attention to metric scoring then they are doing a disservice to themselves and clients.
I pay attention to Klout scores
When judging the impact of Social Media on communication and marketing ‘culture’ many proponents quote number of accounts on various platforms. While those totals are important, more informative are the numbers of active accounts and sharing metrics. The latest Ipsos Reid survey of Canadian Social Media Usage illustrates what many have noted in the past few months – that the number of Canadians signing up new social media accounts is beginning to peak, but there is a dramatic rise in interactivity. Canadians are active daily and weekly on Facebook especially – more than most equally connected countries – and the demographic statistics show youth no longer dominate.
The above statistics provide the basics for advertising agencies and public relation firms to convince clients a social media presence is now vital for the Canadian. A more vital note from Ipsos Reid is: 48% connect in some way with at least one brand or company either by ‘liking’ on Facebook or ‘following’ on Twitter, and of those who connect with one brand, the average number of connections is over 6.
As Steve Mossop – President of Ipsos Reid Western Canada – mentions:
A new era has dawned in the social networking space, The first five years was about building awareness and usage around socializing, and consumers responded positively. The next five years will be about commercialization of social networking. Companies who understand, and enter this space will gain a whole new way of interacting with and engaging their customers.
Companies and organizations with an active social media presence should also note that 41% of Canadians are directly influenced by their online connections in choosing whom to ‘like’ or ‘follow’, with that statistic higher in those aged 18-34 (46%) vs 55+ (34%)
While the number of Canadians creating new social media profiles is slowing, and possibly eventually peaking at the 60 to 70% level, the increase in participation illustrates how users are changing online habits from ‘search’ to ‘share’. The Ipsos Reid survey was published before Google+ was launched, but the impact of the new platform will have consequences on interaction statistics when G+ business profiles become available. G+ will likely not increase overall social media account new users, but it will be interesting to see if existing Facebook and Twitter users migrate and spend more time there.
The continually and rapidly changing nature of communications has radically altered the way people interact, businesses market their products and services and in many ways has left government behind. Politics has changed with candidates happily (or not) jumping on the social media bandwagon out of a necessity to connect with voters, and in the case of the United States – a result likely of the success, and promise, of the 2008 Obama campaign – the US Government has been notably proactive using social media platforms for information, policy discussions and engaging citizens. That trend has not impacted Canada to the same extent, with little consistency at any level of Government – Federal, Provincial or
Municipal. It’s largely hit and miss even within a single level, say the BC Provincial Government, with some ministries and departments proactive online, others languishing in pre-internet norms.
A reason often touted, especially when it comes to video, is cost. That was true even a few years ago when producers of online video had to pay for space and bandwidth on their own servers, but with the recent launch of YouTube branded channels for Government, it is no longer a barrier. YouTube channels used to be for top end brands with a startup cost of $50 000, but Google, the owners of YouTube, are now offering the high end service free of charge, a huge benefit for especially municipal governments who are often cash-strapped for communications.
Here’s what Google has to say for the advantages:
Provide useful and relevant content.
People search YouTube all the time-provide timely information by uploading speeches, TV appearances, and campaign footage.
Control the story.
Media sources often incorporate YouTube videos into their stories. Stay ahead of the news cycle by posting videos in response to current events.
Start a conversation.
Use free Google Moderator on your YouTube channel to hold Q&A sessions open to the public.
Turn supporters into evangelists.
Get supporters to subscribe to your channel so when you post new material they’ll spread it for you. Embed videos on your site or automatically share them on Twitter and Facebook.
Learn about your viewers.
Use YouTube Insight to find out who is paying attention to your videos
One service offered that incorporates the best of social media engagement, with a branded channel is Google Moderator.
Google Moderator allows you to build an audience around a particular topic or event. It’s a free online tool you can embed on your YouTube channel or website that allows you to solicit questions from your audience. After you pose the topic, your audience submits questions, either as text or video, and then votes on which questions they’d most like you to answer.
With these high end and free tools now available for any level of government to engage with citizens there is little excuse for the oft heard refrain – ‘no one is listening’. A list of Canadian Government Channels can be found here.
Video – Government on YouTube – Governor Chris Christie (Channel)
What do Facebook, Twitter, Four Square have in common? They are the platforms where the new dynamic of marketing is happening. There is s fundamental shift from simple advertising to engaging with clients.
Facebook: Do you have a business profile – and page, community events listings? If not, you are missing out on a wealth of new clients and potentially missing creating a new relationship with your current customers.
Twitter: This is where news, conversations, sharing happens in real time. A great way to let your community know the latest news, and to connect, make the relationships that help shape your brand.
Foursquare: You might have the best restaurant, retail outlet or service in the area, but it does not matter if no one can find you. FourSquare is one location service that connects social media users with business.
Integration of all these social media services can be a challenge. Making it happen can prove to be the boost your business is seeking.
Contact The Wright Result today