Blinded me with Science Get site demographics and audience insights through Crowd Science polling

Posted by maggie.hunsucker July 17, 2009 at 11:06 am

Crowd Science logo

It’s hard to get a handle on who your audience is and what content they enjoy on your site or blog.   We know visitors only as IP addresses.  Engagement is measured in raw clicks and time spent on page – impersonal and often inaccurate markers for audience preferences.

A service called Crowd Science can help you get a more informed read on your visitors.   Crowd Science uses random mini-surveys to collect audience demographics and insights.  Based on the information you feed Crowd Science during the sign-up process (i.e. your blog’s category), the service will administer relevant and research-tested questions to site visitors.  Of course, you can add/edit questions to suit your needs and preview the “audience experience” before turning the surveys on.

The surveys are relatively innocuous (usually a small pop-up) and can be customized/branded to your liking.   They’re arbitrarily served to audience members and administered on site. You can view all data in real-time from your Crowd Science interface, but the service suggests having 50+ responses for a statistically significant analysis.  Crowd Science runs harmoniously with other analytics tools and ad platforms.  Like Google Analytics, you need only add a small script to the HTML of your page to activate the service.

Learning more about your audience and maximizing content engagement is reason enough to use Crowd Science (why not, the basic version is free).  You can also use this service to help monetize your site or blog.   Crowd Science gives you the ability to create a custom media kit and share it with advertisers and interested parties.  The audience data you’ve been collecting all along will make a stronger case for advertisers who want to target specific audience segments.

Crowd Science offers periodic webinars on best practices in online research polling and how to develop more targeted questions. The next one will be held July 20th on Getting higher CPM's with better demographic research

If you truly want to connect with your audience, don't extrapolate insights from web data (i.e. Google Analytics); get it straight from the horse's mouth. Regular blog readers often enjoy the opportunity to tell you how they feel and what type of content they dig.


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You say Potato Follow Twitterers based on their real authority with Twittorati

Posted by maggie.hunsucker July 9, 2009 at 9:23 am

Part of building your Twitter network is knowing who the movers and shakers are in your circle.

That’s where Twittorati comes in. It’s a new service from Technorati and not to be confused with AllTop’s TwittErati.

What’s the difference (other than a vowel)? Twitterati ranks popularity; Twittorati ranks authority. It does this by using parent site, Technorati’s, blog ranking system. So instead of Miley Cyrus or Ashton Kutcher taking the top spot (both have Twitter followers in the millions), Twittorati pulls the Twitter streams of the bloggers in its own Top 100 (Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Seth Godin, etc).

twittorati screenshot

On the Twittorati homepage, you can view these tweets in a real-time stream or by authority.  You can also filter the stream by specific blog or trending topic (either Technorati tags or Twitter hashtags).  For those who want a more intimate look at what their favorite bloggers are sharing, there’s a “Latest Photos” and “Top Links”  feature.  Given that Twitter has positioned itself as a breaking news source, the latter may prove to be useful as a tool for industry news and rumblings.

We really like where Twittorati is heading.  Sure, there are other Twitter ranking sites out there, but most quantify users and neglect to qualify their real authority.  If I’m seeking meaningful Twitter connections based on my industry or interests, the number of links someone has (the backbone of Technorati’s ranking system) could be more important than the number of followers they’ve amassed.

Twittorati is powered by Muck Rack, a site that streams the Twitter tweets of top journalists (ABC News, Associated Press, Business Week, etc).

When you consider how difficult it is to get a link back or shout out from the top blogs and how accessible Twitter has made industry leaders and celebrities, it's no wonder why this platform has taken off.


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  They're Gr-r-reat! Track and compare trending topics across sites and media with Trendrr

Posted by maggie.hunsucker July 1, 2009 at 11:06 am

Trendrr logo

Analytics drive most of our marketing decisions, but numbers without context can be misleading.   Can a surge in sales be attributed to a celebrity being seen with your product?  Is a well-timed viral promotion driving Twitter chatter?

Separate legitimate trends from the the noise with Trendrr.  This service tracks the saturation level of products, brands, music, politics – whatever you want really – across different sites and media.   You can set up a custom trend search or browse data graphs that others are tracking (which is kinda like a trend within a trend).

The free version lets you track 10 items and pick and choose the sites and media you want to focus on.   For example, you can choose specific search engines or blog networks, Twitter, Flickr, Craigslist, Amazon, and various video sites.  Really, the list goes on and on.   You can also create mashups, pitting one topic against the other.   Readwriteweb did a rather amusing comparison of Rick Astley album sales vs. Rick Roll plays on YouTube last year.   The internet prank actually helped the 80’s classic sell records.

Trendrr doesn’t provide the black and white stats you may be used to, but it is a great tool for gauging the popularity and social awareness of a topic.   You can track more data with the Pro version and have access to advanced reporting tools.  Prices range from $49 to $999/month for larger organizations and media agencies.

You can create custom mashups with your own company data and graphs thanks to Trendrr's custom API. Of course, this option is only available to professional (paying) users.

Trendrr has a nice social component to the service, so you can share your graphs with others. By including tags, you can make you data more easily searchable and vice versa.


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Breaking out in hives Harness your brand buzz by creating a BzzScape brand community

Posted by maggie.hunsucker June 30, 2009 at 12:51 pm

BzzAgent logoSome marketers are hesitant to embrace brand communities as user generated content can be both powerful and unpredictable.

Still, if the buzz is good, you want to be participating in the conversation, not watching from the wings.

That’s the idea behind BzzScapes.   BzzScapes is a collection of member-generated brand communities, where people (BzzAgents) talk about products they like.  This can be blog posts, videos, coupons, etc.  Once a BzzScape is created, other members can contribute content, rate your content, or add comments. There are also BzzCampaigns,  where eligible BzzAgents weigh in on new products and influence how companies market them.

As a brand, there are several ways to participate on the site.   First, you can register your company with BzzScape.   There is a subscription service, but the payoff is direct access to BzzAgents and their insights.  You can run a BzzCampaign, hold a promotion through the site, or get intel on the performance of two competitors.   The other option (which we admit is somewhat dubious) is to create your very own brand BzzScape.   The idea being, you kickstart the conversation and let other BzzAgents participate.

bzzspace screenshot

BzzScapes operates as an influence community, rewarding members that contribute heavily with coupons, dibs on certain BzzCampaigns, and prominence within the site.  No money exchanges hands; BzzAgents are paid in honeycombs and ascend in bee ranking.  We enjoy a hard working pun, but we’ll let you discover the intricacies of the BzzScapes system (and what that means) on your own.  The gist is the more you contribute, the more good stuff you get.

There are lots of of active BzzScapes on the site and no shortage of big brand participation (including Ford and Proctor & Gamble).  Most of what we see is positive feedback.  Unfortunately, we are a lowly worker bee at the time of writing this article and cannot demo most of the site’s features (like BzzCampaigns) until we participate more.  This is by design, so casual ranters don’t abuse the forum.

There are a lot of extras with this site, so many we couldn't fit them all in the article. First, there is a BzzScapes bookmarklet, so you can grab brand content as you are surfing the web and publish directly to the site. There is also a FrogPond, which focuses on popular and buzz-worthy websites that the community likes.

BzzAgents has been around for awhile as an online research tool for companies. BzzScapes is just a new offering, giving more control to site particpants over what brands are discussed (no one wants to talk about dryer sheets if the new iPhone is really the hot topic). Other communities try to force conversations about their products. Perhaps BzzScapes is striking a happy medium, where users get to speak freely, and brands get to listen in closely.


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  What's on the tube? Track television trends by keyword with SnapStream TV Trends

Posted by maggie.hunsucker June 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm

We can rattle off a list of tools for monitoring industry trends and brand buzz (Google Alerts, Google Trends, Twitter’s Trending Tool, Social Mention, Trackur…), but that’s all online.  What about more traditional media territory like television?

SnapStream TV Trends is a free web service that tracks and analyzes national TV chatter.   It works by crawling the closed-captioning text of the programs it records through its parent service, SnapStream Servers.   Quick background:  SnapStream Servers is like an enterprise TiVo with a built-in search engine.  It records massive quantities of television programming, then sifts through the material for brand mentions.   It’s used by XM Radio, E!’s the Soup, and the U.S. Senate, among others.


Of course, we’re getting the light version with SnapStream TV Trends, which serves up the relative frequency of television mentions vs. hard data (similar to how Google Trends operates).  Still, it’s an excellent insights tool.  From the homepage, you can see what’s hot (ascending mentions) and what’s not (descending mentions) in TVland – or run a keyword search.   The service will graph and compare the historical performance of (up to) 5 terms (e.g. Facebook vs. Twitter).  Data points correspond with excerpts from various programs (e.g. Twitter is mentioned on Fox & Friends) and are displayed to the right of the graph.  You can also filter results by genre (comedy, news, current events, etc) as well as channel (NBC, CBS, ABC, etc).

It may surprise you to know that Twitter led Facebook in television mentions over the past few months.   The same search on Google Trends shows Facebook dominating the micro-blogging service in web traffic.  Granted, we’re comparing apples to oranges (and there are a number of factors that could affect that data), but the idea here is to get a well-rounded view of the trends and keywords that affect your business.  This means looking outside the online box.

You can easily add SnapStream TV Trends data to your website by grabbing the embed code found under each trending graph.

SnapStream is not a real-time service, but it's pretty close. The service updates results every half hour and only if a program has completed it's run (i.e. it doesn't include programs that are still on air).


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