From the way people behave inside social networks, you may infer a lot of information. Twitter is a beautiful tool, one that about 7 million people have adopted on a more or less regular basis. Some of you are asking yourselves why all this buzz over such a ridiculous stream of "what are you doing"s.
Twitter is Beautiful
It's worth taking a second look at observable behaviors and measurable information. It will guide your content marketing decisions. As I wrote in an earlier post, Twitter encourages and engages certain features of our nature that are essential to our social lives:
- the adaptive - we take a step based upon a rule, an idea, or a belief and then adjust based upon the outcome.
- the imitating - we are not isolated nomads, but, rather, individuals who regularly seek information from others, especially in circumstances of insecurity, ambiguity or danger.
- the cooperative - human beings are naturally not purely self-interested but, rather, "strong reciprocators."
People cannot be understood in isolation, and then summed together. Social reality emerges inherently from the collective patterns born of their interactions. It was because I was conducting this quick research project that I noticed the brilliant post by Stowe Boyd and the conversation that ensued.
Micropsychographics or Twitter Types
Boyd tried a little experiment on Twitter a few days ago. He tweeted the very same link using 4 different introductions -
- one that resembled a blog post title = informative
- one version as a question = conversational
- one as a strong/potentially controversial statement = appeal or relational
- one as a direct request = seeks an answer
He was looking into the micropsychographics or Twitter types and retweeting (we use RT as a short hand).
I liked his experiment - and knew it was such instantly - because I was also learning something similar, differently. I was using short form content, or micro blogging, to see what readers responded to and when. To do that, I started an account with Hootsuite.
This tool allows you to pre-schedule tweets at certain times and from several accounts. For example, now that I opened an account for my company for our customer conference, it's much easier to tweet from one place where I can see both accounts without having to sign in and out or open two browsers.
When you use the ow.ly URL shortener, you can track click-throughs on your links and monitor which messages perform best with your followers. Then you can visit the Stats tab to monitor total clicks for each Twitter profile. The click throughs are one piece of information. Which click-throughs is also important (content) as well as any RTs (retweets).
In order to keep my research consistent, I scheduled tweets every morning from 7AM to about 9AM. For 12 days, I scheduled 7 or 8 posts per day at very regular intervals. The most important part of this experiment was the content. I varied the source of content widely - choosing from my feed reader, as well as the feeds of others in my.Alltop.com.
I also included one of my posts each day - good as a reality check. During this time, I tried to tweet less than normal not to bury the posts in my stream. Let's see what happened when the posts went live.
As you can see from the chart above, from 94 posts a total of 4,434 click-throughs were generated. I won't give you the full list of posts here, you probably already read them on Twitter, if you follow me. They were all superb content, with a few differences - how the title was written.
By far the post that received the most click-throughs and RTs was This is How you Pitch a Blogger by Adam Singer.
The second most popular post was 3 Twitter Tools that Enhance Twitter Notification, a guest post by Corvida Raven at Louis Gray's blog. Visitors did not know that from the URL, as you can see below - so they had no information as to who posted the content, just the title. In this case I even modified it slightly to use the number 3, instead of "Three" of the original.
Adam Singer takes the third place with 45 Blog Post Ideas that Generate Buzz. You should probably take a look at what Adam does right. He gets my vote every day and I don't read too many blogs every day.
Fourth place goes to that post I wrote about the P&G social media experience, that with the very long title, As it's been noted by many who liked to it. How do you teach a large, process driven organization to be innovative, work organically and think socially?
Fifth place goes to KD Paine with What's the point of social media? You can probably already start to see a trend - much of what is up here is practical how to with a dash of question that is potentially controversial.
At number six is a Terrific Survey of Free Business Models Online. Two great components in this title - survey, thus promise of factual information, and free. You've guessed it, it's by Chris Anderson, who I had the pleasure of seeing recently at SxSWi and quote several times.
A list came in at number seven. Ryan Stephens provides a run down of the Top Gen Y Blogs Ballot for April '09. We've long observed how lists are very attractive to the online community. We're still intent in finding insights from the more data we have with new media as Jason Baer points out in this post, which I also scheduled and came in at number ten on March 25, with heavy competition.
Connie Bensen's post on Taking the Community Manager role to a New Level - Chief Community Officer came in at number eight. This one particularly was retweeted a lot. Global heroes, a special report on Entrepreneurship, The Economist took number nine and the value of content marketing by Bryan Eisenberg took the number ten spot.
You may notice that many of the posts that rose to the top are written by known bloggers. Remember that you didn't have that information when you clicked on the link, as you can see above. Could it be that they break through because they are experienced at writing copy for the Web? You decide.
If you're wondering what happened on March 25, that was the day I shared Corvida's post on 3 Twitter tools that enhance notification. It was made for this audience, clearly. But, I shared other posts about Twitter.
Twitter 250 characters super tweet from SEO consultants, which got only 60 clicks compared to 151 Corvida's got, and a question/request for help Twitter conference, does anyone known anything about this? with 53 click-throughs on the same day. A couple of people also replied to the question.
The other peak was How to Pitch a Blogger on March 31 with 191 clicks that day, followed by What's the pont of Social Media? with 113. My Why Blog + 25 Tips to Make it Work- free eBook was shared on that day and it came in third with 76 clicks. Fair enough?
As we noted above, content that is educational, practical, and potentially substantial - 45 post ideas, survey of business models, for example - looks very attractive. Would you like to know what got really low scores? The links I shared giving credit to the writer. Take a look:
And we're talking well known bloggers, too. This was on March, 24, a Tuesday. That's usually a pretty good day on traffic in most blogs - we got over the Monday hump and look forward to Wednesday.
Now for a bit of perspective from Adrian Chan, who left a most useful comment on Boyd's post. A quick summary of his insights, which will help us infer even more information. Excerpts from his comment with slight edits:
Psychology and conversation style are totally evident in how people tweet, and update their status.
The appeal (for a retweet) suggests a response that is an action, so is conversational in form but not in content. It works as a distributive act in twitter, and at the same time suggests relationship possibilities (in that it is a request for a favor, of sorts).
The question doesn't suggest relationship possibilities, but only asks for passing conversation partner around the question in particular. A follow might more likely follow uptake of the retweet appeal (thanks for retweeting, i'll follow you for that!).
Social actions in twitter can generate relationships because they solicit reciprocity, and reciprocity is the first move in relationships among strangers. The action system can be developed through conversation (talk) or through actions (retweets and follows, plus @name citations).
If you haven't read Robert Cialdini, you should. It will help you understand much of this comment and a lot of the observable behaviors in any social network, which functions as an accelerator of our innate abilities.
The psychology, still according to Chan, can be broken down into types:
- Self-oriented - may respond to to the informative/declarative version, because it doesn't solicit conversation, and because it's not a relational appeal. It is a self-reflexive statement "I believe this" or "I think this." (take it or leave it...)
- Other-oriented - or conversational type may respond to the question, insofar as it is not a declaration of "how I feel" but a question "how do you feel?" (or think, about this).
- Relationship-oriented - may respond to the appeal, because it is appealing for a social/relational response. The uptake of the appeal is an relational act and may be rewarded with a follow -- it at least surfaces the twitterer who has taken up the appeal. So it suggests, in psychological terms, acknowledgment/validation. And it works without the retweeter having to say anything. So in this sense a relational type of person can foster, develop, sustain relationships without speaking but through acts alone.
(note that a retweet suggests agreement, the question suggests understanding). I responded to the appeal version of Boyd's experiment. You probably already knew I was relationship-oriented in my personality, with a statement like connecting ideas and people.
You will be able to see the time and dates of the tweets in the image above.
Chan concludes (emphasis mine):
In an open social field like twitter, the
social is self organizing, and through the competencies and psychology
of each user -- what suits a twitter and is for him/her a positive or
"good" reflection on him/her (since it's all public).
Marketers often fail to see that an engagement model has to start with intrinsic motives and self-perceptions of the twitterer -- not with their own brand perceptions (self perception of the brand). Engagement has to start with the user in all social media.
I've been asking pr/marketing folks about the possibility of serial, multi-modal campaigns in which messaging matches user psychology. It's possible but not well-understood...
I'm there, I get it. Now who gets a marketer that understands all of this and applies it to their work?
One last word. Yesterday, the most clicks went to my post for the first time in 12 days. The title was Who's the Fool? It got three RTs and 48 clicks, distancing the second in the line up Top Web Analytics Questions, Twitter Edition by Avinash Kaushik. It was April 1. Context matters - in marketing, as in life.
© 2006-2009 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.