-

Comments

Is social media, just a fad?

Posted by Sandi on Jan 4, 2011 in Social Media

Sometimes when you are entrenched or involved in something you can think its bigger than it is, but this is not the case with social media as whole. Social media has changed the dynamic of how our society interacts, receives and transfers information. This YouTube video does an extremely good job of using statistics to prove that social media is very much here to stay, and not a fad. It is our society progressing, changing the way we communicate and wanting information faster and easier. As they explain: “we no longer search for news . . . the news finds us — we will no longer search for products and services . . . they will find us via social media.”

But enough with the quotes – watch it yourself to see what I mean.

LinkedInFacebookStumbleUponRedditDeliciousGoogle BuzzGoogle ReaderPrintFriendlyGoogle GmailEmailShare

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
-

Comments

A Politician’s Role in the Twitterverse: Megaphone vs. Telephone

Posted by Sandi on Dec 30, 2010 in Political Thoughts, Social Media

It all began with a tweet from a college friend – and so began our Twitter discussion on the role politicians should play within the greater Twitterverse, and how they may view their own roles as part of the greater community.

Politicians are just like other tweeters, are they not? They use Twitter to share and disseminate information, while also striving to stay current and absorb additional news. Twitter is also a new way to hear from district and national constituents on specific issues that are being discussed. The real issue is that every politician approaches their use of Twitter differently, some don’t even utilize it at all.


Megaphone vs. Telephone

Obviously, today’s politicians see the Twitterverse as an  asset, but there is still a disconnect in how it should be  used. More than 70 members of Congress, including  almost twenty sitting U.S. Senators, tweet. Candidates  for public office, whether gunning for a position on the  school board, state representative, or U.S. Senator use  Twitter in a variety of ways – some more effective than  others.

Most politicians these days (and businesses) use Twitter as a mouthpiece, instead of a tool for conversation. Too often, social media tools are seen as megaphones to blast a message, not telephones to foster engagement. The secret to using Twitter as a telephone is the same as any other basic community relationship: you have to listen as much as you speak.  Engaging the community is the best way to communicate and have influence on Twitter.

Community engagement on Twitter can be anything from responding to @-messages or asking your Twitter followers for their opinions on a particular bill that is being debated in committee, to having a Q&A session with the Twitter community. By engaging your audience and giving them an actionable role, your followers feel they have a voice and stake in your political success. Telephone conversations aren’t always perfect, sometimes they can be a bit one-sided, but there is still a chance for the other party to participate. Where as a “megaphone method” of tweeting doesn’t really scratch the surface or have as much of an effect. Constant “megaphone” use can lead to your audience tuning out your tweets – it becomes white noise or what I liked to refer to as “the teacher” from Peanuts, “WahWah.”

Now lets take a look at a few politicians and political players using the concepts we’ve addressed in this series of blog posts: follower/friend ratio, influence, megaphone vs. telephone and engagement.

Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary (@pressSec). On Christmas Eve Day, Gibbs dedicated 30 minutes to answer the public’s questions via the White House Twitter account. In one tweet Gibb’s said,

“I like doing these a lot and hope we do them every day we brief – do you guys like these better than the video – let us know @rdweseman

Not only is the White House listening and responding to the public, but they are asking for feedback as well and continuing that successful community engagement. Over 100k users follow @presssec, yet @presssec follows just 220 other users.
Engagement: High
Influence: High
Style: Telephone
Follower / Friend Ratio: 454 Extremely High


Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA @massgovernor). A quick scan reveals an average of less than one tweet per day and a definitive lack of engagement. Governor Patrick is followed by 14k twitter users, and @massgovernor in turn follows nearly 12k twitter users, which does create a balance – but is it utilized properly?
Engagement: Low
Influence: Low
Style: Megaphone
Follower / Friend Ratio: 1.23 Even


Senator Bernie Sanders’, (I-VT @senatorsanders) fame recently sky-rocked during his 8+ hour filibuster that earned him the hashtag “#filibernie.” This is a fantastic example of the repercussive effect on Twitter created by activity on capital hill. In approximately 48 hours, @senatorsanders following went from ~6k to nearly 26k, despite virtually no change in the number of people that @senatorsanders was following. Senator Sanders now enjoys a powerful position on Twitter, having generated several Tweets that were retweeted in excess of 100 times.

The Senator could have increased his level of engagement, by utilizing his 8+ hour filibuster to read tweets and opinions in opposition to millionaire tax cuts off his Blackberry or iPad while at the podium. Can you imagine? – “#filibernieLIVE, use this hashtag to hear your tweet read during a Congressional Filibuster.” Now, this is actually not possible due to current Congressional decorum regulations, but supposedly there are plans in the works to begin allowing mobile devices on the House floor (still uncertainty about the Senate).
Engagement: Low
Influence: High
Style: Megaphone
Follower / Friend Ratio: 90.9 – Extremely High


Governor Jack Markell (D-DE @governormarkell) is another good example. The following tweet exemplifies the Governor’s approach – Note the “*F” at the end of tweet, which signals the staff who authored it:

“Please keep your ideas coming! What could we offer @GovGregoire as a wager for the #udel #bluehens game? #NetDE*F”

The “*F” helps separate the content from the politician, which serves to insulate Governor Markell from the potential liability with an element of “plausible deniability.” It also creates a level of transparency, in that followers are able to tell when the Governor is actually posting.
Engagement: High
Influence: Medium
Style: Telephone
Follower / Friend Ratio: 2.27 – Even


Claire McCaskill, (D-MO @clairemc) exemplifies excellent usage of the Twitter platform, mixing personal with professional. Consider this tweet, where the Senator shares a photo of her holding her grandsons:

“One major reason I am looking forward to Christmas. My grandsons.http://yfrog.com/h8yussj

Or this tweet, where the Senator provides a statement in protest of the Dream Act outcome in the Senate.

An emotional difficult vote. Why I voted for this version of the Dream Act. http://bit.ly/hCZNN2

She consistently responds to her (close to) 45k followers, yet actually does not follow even one Twitter account.
Engagement: High
Influence: Medium
Style: Telephone
Follower / Friend Ratio: Extremely High


Mayor Cory Booker (D – Newark, NJ – @CoryBooker) is a Twitter rock star! He utilizes Twitter the way he governs: with passion, enthusiasm and a hands on approach. He tweets upwards of 50 times a day, most of which are substantive and/or a response to a fellow tweeter/constituent.  He epitomizes the way politicians should be using Twitter as a tool for outreach and to spur discussion.

Most recently, with the first snowstorm of the season hitting the east coast, Mayor Booker was responding via Twitter to constituent concerns regarding power and plowing – and in some cases showing up to shovel people out himself:

Sending team immediately back there 2 ensure hospital is clear RT @Babihead: still has yet to clean my street & I live across from hospital!

I will get someone to your mom’s street, tell her to stay put RT @sexylp40 my mom stuck on 9th ave and 12th that whole block wasn’t plowed

He is a model for all elected officials on how to utilize social media to govern and apply constituent services. With over 1 million followers he is legitimately a Twitter celebrity, but he only follows a little over 45k causing his balance to be tilted and a gap to exist. That being said, he does take the time to respond to several tweets a day, most from those he does not follow.
Engagement: Very High
Influence: High
Style: Telephone
Follower/Friend Ratio: 21.7 – Very High

In the above examples, we’ve seen that a politician’s follower / friend ratio is not necessarily correlated with their level of engagement, or their influence on Twitter. While some embrace a mix of personal and professional content, others hold Q&A sessions, and still others engage in the retweeting and “@ mentioning” that becomes the classic, authentic use of the platform.

In Senator Sanders’ case, we’ve also seen that influence can exist without the kind of engagement that is classically associated with Twitter. At the same time, the Senator’s ability to generate this level of influence without using Twitter in it’s intended capacity, strongly suggests an opportunity to dramatically increase that influence.

The following quote from an article at Mediabistro in November is a fitting way to close.

“Ideally, politicians should use Twitter to both engage their audience and to broadcast important political milestones.”

This was the last installment in a 3 Part Series on the Role of Politicians in the Twitterverse. Please take the time to read the first two segments if you have not been able to yet: “Follower to Friend Ration” and “Popularity vs. Influence.”

This series of posts on “A Politician’s Role in the Twitterverse” was a joint collaboration between Sandi Fox, Smart As A Fox Consulting (@smartasafox) and Sean Hurley, Hear Forward(@seanphurley).

LinkedInFacebookStumbleUponRedditDeliciousGoogle BuzzGoogle ReaderPrintFriendlyGoogle GmailEmailShare

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
-

Comments

A Politician’s Role in the Twitterverse: Popularity vs. Influence

Posted by Sandi on Dec 29, 2010 in Political Thoughts, Social Media

It all began with a tweet from a college friend – and so began our Twitter discussion on the role politicians should play within the greater Twitterverse, and how they may view their own roles as part of the greater community.

Politicians are just like other tweeters, are they not? They use Twitter to share and disseminate information, while also striving to stay current and absorb additional news. Twitter is also a new way to hear from district and national constituents on specific issues that are being discussed. The real issue is that every politician approaches their use of Twitter differently, some don’t even utilize it at all.

PART II – Popularity vs. Influence

The number of followers one has on Twitter is often seen as  a badge of honor, especially for an individual who isn’t  necessarily a celebrity to begin with. It means that people  find that particular user’s tweets interesting and worthy of  following and this increases the number of people they are  able to reach and therefore influence.  For TV & movie  celebrities or politicians, much of their Twitter popularity  isn’t as genuine. They often don’t need to go through a  “worthiness litmus test” and tend to generate a following based on their already large base of fans.

According the Economist’s blog, a study was recently done by Social Computing Lab at Hewlett-Packard that analyzed twenty-two million tweets and developed an algorithem to determine if popularity and influence on Twitter are related to one another. They found it it was fairly easy to measure popularity by observing the number of followers per user, while they determined that influence was reflected by the amount of tweets that had been shared or “retweeted.”  Only 1 out of every 138 messages on Twitter that contain a link are actually “retweeted,” which shows the limited amount of tweets that are shared and users which garner influence.

They found that the most influencial American politician on Twitter is not John McCain (who has 1.7 million followers), but actually Nancy Pelosi (with only 15,964). This is due to the fact that Pelosi’s tweets are “retweeted” more and therefore more influential on the greater Twitter community. Even so, HP’s Social Computing Lab found rather good news for the Republicans: 70 of the 100 most influential members of Congress on Twitter are from the GOP. This means the Democrats have a lot of catching up to do.

Some politicians will use their Twitter accounts to tweet their daily schedules and feelings: “Happy to be here at . . .” or “Very POed at my colleagues who are not acting to pass the 9/11 Healthcare Bill. Our first-responders deserve better! #911actnow.” While it is great to show the public that you are working and involved in the community this alone isn’t going to necessarily have a real impact. A mix of good information, personal tweets, and community engagement is the ideal. A common mistake made by some politicians is to only post one style of tweet and not vary or include information that would likely be retweeted by followers. Take Congressman Ballentin’s (R-SC) latest post, one of 7 in the day: after 1,000 pieces of Lego ‘construction’, I tend to get a little cranky.”

While the Congressman posts frequently, most of his posts are personal in nature – that being said he does engage the community by responding to his Twitter followers. It doesn’t matter how loud or how often you shout, unless what it is you are putting out there is remembered and shared. Most importantly you need to understand your audience. So if a politician is only tweeting once a month, you want to make it count and ensure that you are posting information that is helpful, interesting, insightful or just funny. Ideally, a politician (or staffer) should be tweeting at least once or twice a day.

On a side note: The greater media is picking up stories from blogs and Twitter everyday. This year, a staffer was found to have accidentally tweeted “U love torturing me w this shit” on Senator Chris Dodd’s Twitter account – causing a 5 minute media firestorm. Around the same time, former Boston Mayoral candidate, Michael Flaherty was assailed by the Boston Herald for having followed “@BostonEscorts” and “@BostonSexClub.” As was mentioned in the first segment of this series, “it shouldn’t take too much time to simply see if the follower is interesting enough or worthy of following back.” This was a case of a politician simply “friending” or following back every person who followed him, or a really idiotic staffer following anything and everything that had “Boston” in its Twitter username.  Politicians are always in the watchful eye of the media, and in a 24/7 news cycle its important to double check anything and everything that is released under your name – even if its only 140 characters.

Next in the this series of posts is —  ”A Politician’s Role in the Twitterverse: Megaphone vs. Telephone”

This series of posts on “A Politician’s Role in the Twitterverse” was a joint collaboration between Sandi Fox, Smart As A Fox Consulting (@smartasafox) and Sean Hurley, Hear Forward (@seanphurley).

LinkedInFacebookStumbleUponRedditDeliciousGoogle BuzzGoogle ReaderPrintFriendlyGoogle GmailEmailShare

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
-

Comments

A Politician’s Role in the Twitterverse: Follower to Friend Ratio

Posted by Sandi on Dec 28, 2010 in Political Thoughts, Social Media

It all began with a tweet from a college friend:

“Should Politicians follow all of their own followers? What do you think? Should mutual following be a priority for politicians on #twitter?”

To which I responded simply – “No” and in my limited 140 characters explained that it isn’t beneficial for any person, let alone a politician to follow everyone due to the large number of “spam tweeters” and non-active users. And so began our Twitter discussion on the role politicians should play within the greater Twitterverse, and how they may view their own roles as part of the greater community.

Politicians are just like other tweeters, are they not? They use Twitter to share and disseminate information, while also striving to stay current and absorb additional news. Twitter is also a new way to hear from district and national constituents on specific issues that are being discussed. The real issue is that every politician approaches their use of Twitter differently, some don’t even utilize it at all.

To Follow and/or to Be Followed? – That is the Question

Let’s get back to the original debate, whether or not politicians should be following all of their own followers. My friend pointed to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who currently has 25,594 followers and is only following 275 tweeters. Sen. Sander’s Twitter fame recently skyrocked during his 10+ hour filibuster that earned him the hashtag “#filibernie.” This is a perfectexample of how a politician should be utilizing Twitter, but that hashtag probably wasn’t created by the Senator (who was obviously busy) or his staff. The wave of support and matching hashtag was more likely to have been organically grown by a political supporter on Twitter.

That being said, my friend still believes it to be inexcusable for an elected official to only be following 275 groups/individuals on Twitter. Before the Senator’s #filibernie fame he had 6,000 followers, which is still a fairly sizeible gap in comparison to the number of tweeters he follows. Given that a Senator has staffers dedicated to specific policy and constituent needs, the task of tweeting and social media is usually one left by default to an intern or entry-level staffer. This is a positive in that the staffer/intern is usually of Gen Y or a Millennial and more versed in social media, but at the same time it means limited time and resources are dedicated.

Besides tweeting between 1 and 5 times a day, I’m sure the Senator’s staff was unprepared for the avalanche of followers and simply chose to ignore/delete emails instead of looking at who was following. Nor did they check to see how many people used the #filibernie hashtag. This is entirely understandable, but on a regular day it shouldn’t take too much time to simply see if the follower is interesting enough or worthy of following back. Maybe even have that intern create a Twitter list to organize VT constituents, political advocates or organizations the Senator follows – the photocopying can wait.

Social media analytics platforms created a simple ratio to speak to the relationship between followers & those who are followed. Many look to the number of people that are following a given Twitter user as an indicator of that user’s authority. In turn, the number of Twitter users that a particular user is following (That user’s “friends” in classic Twitter lingo) provides context for the follower/friend ration.

Governor Markell of Delaware has a following of 1,790 Twitter users. He in turn is following 789 Twitter users, (also expressed as “has friended 789 Twitter users”). 1,798 / 789 = 2.27. This is Governor Markell’s “follower/friend” ratio.

  • A ratio of less than 1.0 indicates that you are seeking knowledge (and Twitter Friends), but not getting much Twitter Love in return.
  • A ratio of around 1.0 means you are respected among your peers. Many people think that a ratio of around 1.0 is the best – you’re listening and being listened to.
  • A ratio of 2.0 or above shows that you are a popular person and people want to hear what you have to say. You might be a thought leader in your community.
  • A TFF Ratio 10 or higher indicates that you’re either a Rock Star in your field or you are an elitist and you cannot be bothered by Twitter’s mindless chatter. You like to hear yourself talk. Luckily others like to hear you talk, too.

A higher ratio number provides indication of a larger gap. The goal should be to maintain a low ratio/gap, above 1 and below 2. In order to bridge the gap and achieve a lower ratio the user needs to create a balance.

In contrast to Governor Markell, Governor Patrick of Massachusetts has 14,446 followers, and is following 11,672 Twitter users for a follower/friend ratio of 1.23. This demonstrates that Governor Patrick follows on Twitter far more aggressively than Governor Markell, which is likely why Governor Patrick has a comparatively larger following. Thus, while Governor Patrick has a much larger following, it appears as if social media tactics, as opposed to pure content or “celeb power” explain at least some of that difference. The time-tested means of building a Twitter following is to follow other users. Inevitably, a certain percentage of the people you follow will in-turn follow you back.

When a politician responds in-kind to follow a Twitter user it can have an extremely positive effect on his/her image in that user’s eyes. People are often elated to find that a political icon has taken the time to follow them. An inbox message from Twitter that says “Barack Obama” is following you on Twitter can do wonders for a person/organization’s ego. Extra points go to politicians that utilize direct messaging (dm) to converse with followers. By following in return, it’s a balance of authority that demonstrates the value of connecting with people on the ground level.

Next in the this series of posts is — ” A Politician’s Role in the Twitterverse: Popularity vs. Influence”

This series of posts on a “Politican’s Role in the Twitterverse” was a joint collaboration between Sandi Fox, Smart As A Fox Consulting (@smartasafox) and Sean Hurley, Hear Forward (@seanphurley).

LinkedInFacebookStumbleUponRedditDeliciousGoogle BuzzGoogle ReaderPrintFriendlyGoogle GmailEmailShare

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Copyright © 2014 Smart As A Fox All rights reserved. Theme by Laptop Geek.