Twitter audience segments

Two recent studies on Twitter usage reinforce the importance of looking at audience segments:

—    Only 22 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds (called “millennials” by some) use Twitter, according to this story in Online Media Daily.

—    “An average man is twice as likely to follow another man than a woman,” says this study done by a Harvard Business School student.   Also, “men have more followers than women.”

It would be interesting to study followers of news org. tweets.  Even getting the most basic demographics – age, sex – would help news orgs. figure out how to use Twitter more effectively.

If you can’t define it, you can’t measure it

Magna, a marketing/advertising forecasting company, has stopped forecasting social media spending because it believes “social media” doesn’t have a common meaning, Online Media Daily reports.

The story notes that Magna’s previous estimate of annual social media spending, in July 2008, was $1.474 billion, up about 37 percent from the previous year.  It’s forecasts like these that can help you determine how much to invest in social media, and how quickly you need to move. 

So it’s a shame that Magna’s given this up.  However, Magna’s action is very brave.   It made the decision to be truly useful rather than to just stick a number out there just because it did it before. 

Instead of producing a forecast, Magna published a Facebook note that lists ways companies can define social media for themselves.  Then it will be up to each company to determine how to measure its own results.  

I’ll be surveying news orgs. on this for my presentation on social media metrics for the Knight Digital Media Center in late July….I welcome any thoughts!  

Comparing unique visitors in political blog sites

David Kaplan of compared the number of unique visitors in April in political blog sites such as Huffington Post and The Drudge Report and found that “left-leaning” sites had 6.4 million; “right-leaning,” 4.8 million; and “neutral/non-partisan,” 1.3 million.

This is a fun comparison, but here are a few web-analytics-nerd thoughts for newsrooms who are competing for these audiences.

  • The left didn’t necessarily “win.” To really gauge the relative strength or engagement of the audiences, you should look at ratios like number of visits per UV, number of page views per visit, and bounce rate.
  • The left’s 6.4 million UVs is dominated by HuffPo’s 5.6 million.  The right’s 4.8 million was more distributed among The Drudge Report, Free Republic, World Net Daily and others.  I’d like to know how many UVs the sites shared – and how many went to only left sites, only right sites, and only neutral or nonpartisan sites.
  • Also, how many went to both left and right, or to all three?  How many who categorized themselves as left-leaning went to right sites?  Right-leaning to left, and so on?  (Note:  A lot of this data will send you into analysis paralysis, but there could be some actionable info here.)
  • In the minds of your audiences, is your site categorized as  conservative/right, liberal/left or neutral/nonpartisan?   Ideally, you should measure the differences in perception between news stories and editorials.
  • Are your pages coded and/or is your site set up to track all “political” content, whether it’s on the home page or the officially named “Politics” section?

Measures of news brand equity now need to include social media


A Deloitte survey about ethics in the workplace (nicely summarized by eMarketer) illustrates the need for news organizations to measure how their social media activities are affecting their brand.

The survey points out that 74 percent of employees think it’s easy to damage a company’s reputation on social media.  However, 53 percent feel their online profiles are none of their employers’ business, and 49 percent say that a company policy wouldn’t change their behavior.

News orgs’ attitudinal surveys should now try to assess whether a news org’s Facebook groups, Twitter tweets and the like – whether they are run by the news org or by a reporter who’s known in the community – have any impact on traditional brand equity measures such as “provides me with information I can’t easily get elsewhere,” “gives me the most complete understanding of issues and events,” “is more credible and trustworthy than most other news sources” and “is the number one source for news and information for [fill in topic].”

These surveys were traditionally done annually, but now should be done much more often.  They definitely should be done to benchmark and thus gauge the success or failure of any major social media project.

The Deloitte survey also raises the question about whether policies (e.g., Dow Jones’ Twitter conduct rules) that attempt to regulate employees’ social media activities have any effect.

Another question:  The Deloitte survey points out that 22 percent of business executives would like to use social media, but don’t know how.  Is this an opportunity for news orgs?