A blog by the Brick Factory The Brick Factory

Will Twitter Kill @ThBlackSquirrel Or How Not to Blog

squirrel_in_suit_failMixed up in today’s extremely active Twitter stream,  you may have noticed  one topic that seemed out of place, namely that Trendsmap or @TrendsDC was showing a fairly popular dive bar called The Black Squirrel was suddenly a trending topic. Looking into the issue further,  I found that the traffic was being generated after someone discovered the following post on the restaurant’s blog: “Spare Us Your Cheap Laughs" which attempts to critique Stephen Colbert’s handling of the Chandra Levy murder trial.

While we do encourage our clients to create and maintain blogs for their  organizations as a way of reaching out to clientele and discussing topics of mutual interest, those topics should still be related to your organization’s mission and profile. Or if nothing else, always follow rule #1 and “do no harm,” and be especially wary of bringing up divisive topics like politics or religion tends. In short, leave the commentary to the commentators and keep your blog on topic. In this case, The Black Squirrel appears to be swimming far outside their assigned lane as many on Twitter are outraged over this line which has a particularly divisive opinion about undocumented workers. Commenting on the citizenship status of man convicted of murdering Leavy:

Spare Us Your Cheap Laughs - The Black Squirrel Bar_exerpt
While the author attempts to walk back this generalization about undocumented workers, the last line of the last paragraph does not help:


High Level Holiday Reading: Academics Take on Twitter

rsaweb1If your take Time magazine’s advice about putting away your smart phone to focus on friends and family but are still looking for a way to get your social media ‘fix’ we are proud to recommend these recent research reports that you can print out and read by the fire:

Twitter in Congress: Outreach vs. Transparency”
by Fen Chi and Nathan Yang of the University of Toronto. Based on the 2008 election results and the 11th Congress, it will be interesting to see if their conclusions hold for the 112th:

Democrats and Republicans benefit from Twitter in different ways. A bolder claim from our study says that Democrats care about transparency, while Republicans care about outreach…The main factors in the perceived benefit of Twitter adoption are peer effects, outreach and/or transparency..

Members of congress who belong to a large number of committees and/or are committee chairs are less likely to adopt Twitter… For both parties, the effect that their party leader’s strength has on Twitter adoption is negative; These estimates tell us two things: 1) Twitter may (also) be used to reach out to voters who support the rival party; and 2) reaching out to opposing voters matters more for Republicans than Democrats.

Parents and relatives mocking your Twitter habit? If so, show them this report about how Twitter may in fact be a more valuable investment advisor than their current stock broker:  Tweets and Trades- The Information Content of Stock Microblogs” by Timm Sprenger and Isabell Welpe:

Using methods from computational linguistics, we analyze roughly 250,000 stock related tweets, on a daily basis for the first 6 months of 2010. Our study compares the tweets’ sentiment, message volume, and level of agreement with the corresponding market features return, trading volume, volatility, and spread.

We find the bullishness of tweets to be associated with abnormal stock returns… An event study of buy and sell signals shows that microbloggers follow a contrarian strategy. Message volume can predict next-day trading volume. Next to the analysis of tweet and market features,our results offer an explanation for the efficient aggregation of information in microblogging forums. Users who provide above average investment advice are retweeted (i.e., quoted) more often, have more followers and are thus given a greater share of voice in microblogging forums. In sum, we find that stock microblogs contain valuable information that is not yet fully incorporated in current market indicators.

Finally if Uncle Bob starts giving you a hard time about how he has more Twitter followers, ask him if he agrees with Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient as presented in the seminal report  Measuring User Influence in Twitter: The Million Follower Fallacy which points out:  

“First, popular users who have high indegree are not necessarily influential in terms of spawning retweets or mentions. Second, most influential users can hold significant influence over a variety of topics. Third, influence is not gained spontaneously or accidentally, but through concerted effort such as limiting tweets to a single topic.”

Are you a #KFCScholar? KFC Doubles Down on Twitter Promo

In case you didn’t catch it, Kentucky Fried Chicken is offering a $20,000 scholarship to a high school senior to send a tweet with the hashtag #KFCScholar about how they exemplify the Col’s commitment to education, or something. From their release: KFC_Twitter

“KFC is asking college hopefuls to tweet why they exemplify Colonel Sanders’ commitment to education and enriching their communities, and why they are deserving of a college scholarship."

For those of us unable to apply, you can now follow the action on Slurp140! 

Do you think this latest marketing promotion will succeed? 

Will this promo / others like it be more successful than traditional TV advertising or product placement?

As of this writing at 2:15pm EST, we have tracked a total of 958 tweets by 785 users, which is a little lower than I would expect given that this promotion has been reported on by CNN and USA Today. For some background on KFC’s traditional marketing and product placement on NBC, check out this article by Willa Paskin on NYMAG.com (Note, I respectfully disagree with the analysis about NBC’s “Community,” the show is absolutely hilarious in the Arrested Development sense of things!)


"Politics Get Social" – A Social Media Club DC Event

blog_smcdc_event1This past Wednesday, we attended another excellent event organized by the Social Media Club DC (SMCDC), about the state of social media use in elections. As a topic that The Bivings Report has touched upon many times in the past several months, we were excited to hear the perspectives of political operatives, academics and non-profit consultants as to the best practices and tactics of the 2010 midterm elections. Lobbyists, PR professionals, and social media entrepreneurs were all eager to analyze the impact and results that Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare had on voter turnout and results.

Professor Lauren Feldman of American University shared her analysis of  the polling data her team obtained during the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. The rally offered special badges on Foursquare just for checking in, and Feldman shared statistics about what parentages of people used social media to learn about the event and its details. For instance, of the 232,122 people who RSVP’d on Facebook, it appears that nearly everyone showed up. Also worth noting- while 31% of survey respondents at the rally reported directly volunteering for a political cause at some point in the past year, twice as many- 64% used social media as a form of political participation.

As for the role of location based tools and during the election,  while 12 million Facebook users clicked the “I Voted” button, only 56,000 Foursquare users got the voting badge.  Also for those of you wondering why custom Foursquare badges are few and far between, one attendee with insider knowledge claimed that Foursquare asks for $100,000 and 6-month timeframe to get a custom badge created. 

The event speakers included:Katie Harbath, Chief Digital Strategist at the National Republican Senatorial CommitteeLauren Feldman, a faculty member at American University in political science and Michael Mayernick, founder of social giving startup giv.to. A few interesting highlights from the panelists included:

  • For the 2010 election cycle- Only 5% of all expenditures went towards social media. However it is worth remembering that  in 2004 when most incumbent Senators last ran for re-election, social media barley existed.
  • Social Media as a platform for brining partisans together: Both Democrats and Republican agree that candidates should do their own tweeting and that campaigns need to devote more resources to online engagement. Both staffers and supporters prefer candidates who engage in conversation over staff managed accounts that do nothing but push press releases. Many of those we talked to in attendance mentioned they would not contribute to a candidate who does not do their own tweeting.
  • National campaign committees are seeing an increasing amount of mobile traffic, with the NRSC receiving an impressive 7% of website traffic from mobile phones. They also found that iPhone push notifications were more valuable then SMS text messages.

Moving forward, the Q&A session also brought up some interesting social media policy questions, such as whether or not it is appropriate for elected officials who leave office to keep their official titles in their Twitter handles and if official accounts such as @PressSec created by Robert Gibbs belong to him or the government. The consensus was that for accounts like @GovMikeHuckabee, keeping the “Gov” title is acceptable as a matter of protocol, but that @PressSec belongs to the office of the @WhiteHouse Press Secretary, not an individual person.

Get-Out-The-Visualizations! Social Media & Election Day

Besides Slurp140, here are a few of our favorite tools for following the election via social media that have recently come to our attention. Is there a website or tool you recommend?  Let us know!

 New York Times: The Election Will Be Tweeted (and Retweeted)

nyt_twitter_joemillerAlthough it is difficult to follow or discern the content of the incoming tweets, the side by side comparison feature is worth exploring. For instance, in the case of Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, the NYT graph indicates that at least in terms of volume, the buzz around Joe Miller is significantly higher. Also worth exploring is the NYT’s use of customized Google News searches to displays recent headlines about the candidates from the NYT, Washington Post, CNN, the AP, Politico, Fox News, NPR, ANC and CBS. (If your interested in more comprehensive social and traditional media monitoring, our Impact Watch service combines media monitoring with sentiment analysis that can be branded to your organization.)

Politics + Foursquare = GeoPollster

Location-Based Polling - GeoPollsterIn response to my 10/28 post on Foursquare’s I Voted badge, Adam Kraft of GeoPollster wrote in and informed me of GeoPollster, which allows you to cast your vote whenever you check in on Foursquare! After logging onto the GeoPollster site, you are asked to select your political party (Constitution, Democratic, Green, Libertarian or Republican) and add the GeoPollster account as a Foursquare friend.  Although so far, only 272 Fouraquare users have done so, I predict this app will soon be incredibly popular in Washington D.C. as a new front in ongoing completion between Democratic and Republican Hill staffers for domination of our local watering holes.

Facebook Ratings: Election2010

While we will soon know whether in-state Facebook fans are more valuable than out-of-state fans,  the blog All Facebook has created a nifty page that gives a quick overview of how the two primary national parties stack up on Facebook. Although it would be nice to see how all of the races stack up, we understand and appreciate how much a programming would be involved in tracking 435 House and 37 Senate campaigns.
Facebook Ratings - Election 2010Facebook Ratings - Election 2010- house and govs