Twtrland Offers Useful Brand Planning and Monitoring

A representative from Twtrland, a social media analytics company, reached out to me and gave me a test drive of their services.

I’m an academic and not a brand with a huge budget for such PR service companies, so I appreciated the gesture. I took some notes for my classes, and thought I’d blog an overview of the service here.

Twtrland offers analytics for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. All can be connected for aggregated reporting, which can lead to integrated planning. There is a free version and a pro upgrade option, similar to other analytic services.

Brands can enter their brand handle as well as various versions of their brand name to get a variety of reports:

  • Audience analysis. Data is broken down in several categories–by celebrities, power users, casual, and novice; by age and gender; by top countries and cities. I especially like the breakdown of users’ skills, and the audience interests with percentages in descending order for a variety of subject areas.
  • Fan base. This section gives a quick tiled view of users avatars and profiles. You can sort by followers, recent interactions, or amplifications (retweets, etc). There is also a conversations tab to see in at-a-glance view who is talking to and engaging with your brand.
  • Monitor. In addition to key words and key people, this section allows you to enter the names of key competitors–organizations and individuals–to test your game and maybe show comparison analysis reports to bosses and clients. It’s the ‘share of discussion’ metric for social media.
  • Outreach. This tab allows you to find influencers so that you can strategize ways to engage them. This is also where your lists can be added to do analytics within your own prescribed groups of people.
There are a lot of social media platforms, and even more third-party services to help brands work and measure their efforts in this space. Twtrland is certainly one that could be considered as an option for social media specialists, as well as for public relations pros who have social media added to their long list of traditional responsibilities.

From the Journals: Ad Avoidance, User-Generated Content, Nonprofit Twitter Use

Continuing my periodic review of academic journal articles for public relations students and professionals who read my blog, I found three articles in recently published journals that I think will be of interest. Here are citations and key finding summaries:
Lovejoy, K; Waters, RD; Saxton, GD. “Engaging stakeholders through Twitter: How nonprofit organizations are getting more out of 140 characters or less.” Public Relations Review , 38 (2):313-318; JUN 1 2012
A review of 4655 tweets from 73 nonprofit organizations showed that the nation’s largest nonprofits are not using Twitter to fully engage stakeholders. Instead, they use social media mostly as a one-way communication channel.  Less than 20% of total tweets demonstrate conversations;  only 16% demonstrate indirect connections to specific users.
Baek, TH; Morimoto, M. “STAY AWAY FROM ME Examining the Determinants of Consumer Avoidance of Personalized Advertising” Journal Of Advertising , 41 (1):59-76; SPR 1 2012
People concerned about privacy or simply irritated by ads in personal media are more likely to avoid ads altogether. But, if they perceive the ads have been personalized to their needs and interest consumers are less likely to avoid ads. In other words, it’s not the channel of mobile or social media, but the ad content itself that makes a campaign successful or not.
Christodoulides, G; Jevons, C; Bonhomme, J. “Memo to Marketers: Quantitative Evidence for Change How User-Generated Content Really Affects Brands” Journal Of Advertising Research, 52 (1):53-64; MAR 1 2012
The findings indicate that when consumers perceive they are co-creating brand content, part of its community, and have a positive self-concept they are more likely to be involved in user-generated content (UGC.) This in turn positively affects consumer-based brand equity. They key is building deeper relationships between consumers and brands in the age of social media.

Media Use of Twitter

A PR manager in West Michigan emailed me this morning to ask my opinion about the recent study by the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism about how media organizations are using Twitter. Her question came from commentary about the study on the Gigaom blog.

My own opinion about this is long and nuanced. I have read the Pew report and others like it, as well as some that contradict it, albeit the latter are anecdotal or prescriptive in nature. Just yesterday I also read the latest Journalism & Communication Monographs (subscription required), published by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). This monograph (i.e. extra lengthy article) is based on participant observation in newsrooms and focus groups with news consumers. The theme of the article is that news is moving from product to process, and while there is variance in how newsrooms respond to this, it is still true that many reporters resist new social media aspects of their jobs as “more work.” I have some sympathy for this. When I was reporter (before even the Internet, much less social media), the news process involved some research and interviewing, writing and revision, and then sending a finished piece on deadline to the appropriate editor. Then you were done and on to the next assignment. Today, reporters are expected to actually pay attention to comments about their work, respond to those comments, write blog posts as well as articles, update articles they thought were done to keep the web site and app fresh, and so on. 

That may be why in general media organizations as well as individual reporters tend to use Twitter primarily to tweet headlines with link to main story. I also suspect the author of the Gigaom blog is right to assert that these tweets are primarily automated.  A recent view of my own Twitter news list shows a handful of media–local and national, mainstream and online–tend to basically tweet headlines.

I couldn’t find any examples at the moment, but I know a few reporters who have conversations with readers, solicit story ideas or information for story ideas, and respond to audience comments on Twitter and Facebook and in comment sections of web sites. The GRPressNews  tweet above is not bad in that it touts a “live chat” and not just an article–at least the ‘old’ media is using some new tools. 

But they could do more, which is what we in PR call ‘engagement.’ I think that is starting to happen, and will happen more. But change takes time, and this change is a big one. It is a paradigm shift where, in business and economic terms, every aspect of the journalistic process is changing: the “production” process in which news starts on a blog or tweet and not always initiated by a journalist or news release, the move from news as “product” to “process” or even service that is ongoing versus single transaction, the “supply chain” of contributors to a story including comments, the “distribution channels” which are not just trucks and antennae but sharing sites, re-tweets, aggregators and readers and so forth.

The changes we’re seeing in media, the migration to online, in everything from the New York Times to the Detroit News to the Grand Rapids Press, may accelerate not just where but how news is produced. And that will require a cultural change inside newsrooms. The subject of news routines is well explained in the 1997 book “Social Meanings of News” by Dan Berkowitz. A sequel came out last year, “Cultural Meanings of News,” which may already need an update.

Everyone, not just reporters, have to get used to this idea, and the related concept that communication is not one-way, not even two-way, but multi-staged group conversation. I was thinking just recently about all the “extra work” I do just as a news consumer to organize, aggregate, curate and share content. It used to be you read one or two newspapers, listened to the radio in your car, watched a little TV news at home at night and that was it. But with all the freedom and choice afforded “news consumers” comes the responsibility as well.


Public relations professionals also have a ways to go. The trades are full of stories and studies showing how many people only tweet headlines to news releases, or link back to product pages. Other studies show how few corporations or nonprofits have blogs, Twitter and Facebook pages and other active social media sites. The learning curve is there for all of us.


But given what I mentioned above, the resounding mantra is that “every organization is a media organization.” That means everyone has content that they are putting out there on all the hot channels and platforms, including Twitter. But, if everyone indeed is doing that, that means to get audience share you have to do more, and that means engagement not mere distribution. That means having conversations, not making proclamations. The media and everyone else needs to re-read the ‘Cluetrain Manifesto.’

What interests me most is the ‘old’ (1962) Jurgen Habermas notion of the public sphere and how social media is making the concept more relevant and popular again. The news media has less control and is more of a participant in the public discussion of issues  of our day. In fact, there are several new organizations set up on this topic, including t
he Public Sphere Guide and the Public Sphere Project. You can engage with them on Twitter or play their Facebook games 🙂


Twitter Papers — Multiple Applications


I’ve recently started using a free service called paper.li that allows users to create “newspapers” by aggregating content from Twitter. Papers can be created for any user, list, or #tag.

Here’s an example of my paper, the Penning Ink Daily.
I set it up to take content from my users. I follow a lot of nationally known PR gurus, West Michigan PR pros, PR professors from around the country I’ve met at conferences and through social media, and a wide variety of news organizations. So my daily is useful as an aggregator of my Twitter content, in newspaper format. But, it is an aggregator–i.e. using a formula that grabs what appears to be the most interesting and relevant of the tweets that had links to text, photos, or video. So, I am surprised sometimes at the content of my own paper.
But, it certainly has its uses. I can scan quickly the days “top stories” with links to key hashtags, such as #pr, which opens up another whole range of stories tagged as such. If I don’t have time to be on Twitter frequently on a given day, this is a great way to review things quickly, and in an online paper format.
I also have the ability to promote it, which I do in the hopes that students and colleagues might find it an interesting read. Although, in time, everyone may have their own paper and only the ones who have taken the time to curate the right people to follow or targeted lists or hashtags will have many users besides themselves.
To that end, here are some good uses of paper.li that I have seen or thought of that go beyond a personal aggregator:
  • Education–Dawn Gilpin, a PR professor in Arizona, built a Twitter list of her students and has them post with links. Her daily paper is a project for her ‘JMC 310’ class;
  • Conferences–make a paper.li daily of the official hastag of a professional conference. It automates the “if you missed the conference” web site and crowd sources blogs and other commentary and recap of the best sessions;
  • Businesses–make a list of key employees, managers, vendors, industry thought leaders and be the focal point of commentary on your industry on Twitter (note: not all about you);
  • PR Firms–make a list of clients, media you work with regularly, a hashtag of issues you are working on, or a list of key industry trades etc. PR Firms are increasingly becoming “publishers”; this is another way to do it;;
  • Newspapers–duh. Yes, newspapers and other “mainstream” media have web sites, apps, and reporters on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. But here is another way to aggregate content and serve readers and potential readers in another channel and method.
When TIME magazine was started in 1923, founders Britton Hadden and Henry Luce said in their prospectus that people were overwhelmed with information and there was a need for a weekly summary of news content, a news magazine. At the time people were “overwhelmed” with newspapers, tabloids, magazines, and a new technology called “radio.”
Today, the case that people are overwhelmed is even more obvious. Paper.li is just another way to handle the flood of info. Only this time, it will not only be journalists who can do so.