The Dread of Collecting Data

The thing I dread the third most is collecting data. Usually by manually logging it in some spreadsheet. It isn’t uncommon for me to log things in three to five different systems on a given day. The period when I’m experimenting on myself and have to track things is always such a chore and I am so relieved when an experiment ends.

The thing I dread the second most is having to analyze the data. I usually get into flow once I start, but these days, with windows of time to focus being limited, a file of raw data brings more dread than joy.

The thing I dread the most, however, is not having data when I make important decisions. Without data, not only will you be inaccurate more often, but you will not know how inaccurate you are. Data helps us be more accurate and also helps keep our gut in check my reminding us how often we aren’t correct. That is why I press through the things I dread second and third most.

Anatomy of a Facebook Business Page

Reposed from the Hearsay Social blog – See the original post here

One of the things I love about working at Hearsay Social is the freedom to explore new tools and methods of analysis. I recently spent some time digging into the open source data visualization program Gephi and decided to share some of the insights I came across.


Many marketers still measure the value of their social media pages by a count: either a count of fans or a count of engagements (likes, comments, etc.). Unfortunately, the insights provided by these measurements are nominal. If you want to know the true value of your fans or how your social media communities are contributing to real ROI and sales results, then these basic counts should be a start, not an end.

We have already learned that not all fans should be valued equally and that local fans can be worth as much as 40x that of corporate fans. There are additional ways to analyze a page – one of which is by viewing the composition of its fan graph as a network.

Below is an image representing Hearsay Social’s Facebook business page. The data used to create this visualization is all of the public posts, likes, and comments over a one-year period. Each point on the graph represents a fan and the edges (curved lines) between them represent shared interests as determined by common stories they interacted with.

It’s not just a pretty graph. After analyzing the image, here are a few important takeaways our data team has come up with:

  1. Your entire fan base is actually made up of many smaller groupings.
    At the time of this writing, our Facebook page has nearly 5,000 fans. You can see from the image above that those fans make up a number of smaller clusters – about 20 by my count. Each of these sub-groupings has a distinct personality, set of interests, and motivation for interacting with your page. Understanding more about your own Facebook page’s sub-groups will let you better segment and target your messaging to increase its effectiveness. This is a very common practice in email marketing but it has not yet seen widespread application in social media outside of some very basic geographical targeting.When thinking about your business, you can probably think of a few sub-groups of customers. Are each of those present on social media? Are some more prevalent than others?
  2. You have power fans and influencers — each with their own personality.
    Below is the same graph above, filtered by the most active fans of Hearsay Social. You can see that while there are a dozen or so power fans, they do not all share exactly the same interest. Much like the sub-groupings, each power fan has their own reason for interacting with your content. Many of these power fans are in fact strong representatives of a sub-group. Identifying these people can help you better understand how to effectively communicate with the sub-groups they share the most in common with.
    Have you identified your power fans? Do you know which sub-groups they represent?
  3. Clusters of fans that have interacted with the same content can help us infer social graph connections and use Facebook’s EdgeRank to our advantage.
    Below is a magnified image of a single sub-group. Digging deeper, I traced down the common interest that these fans share: a blog post about Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz visiting the Hearsay Social office.  Most of them aren’t common ‘likers’ of content which makes us suspect that their having seen the content – and thus liking – was in part caused by Facebook’s EdgeRank. (Facebook doesn’t show every post a page makes to all of its fans but tends to show it more to people who’s friends have interacted with that content.)


    I’m not certain that anyone in this sub-group are Facebook friends with each other, but I suspect a few might be. In this case, we only have a few data points for this particular sub-group; the more data we have, the more accurate our predictions will be. (By the way, if anyone listed below happens to be reading this, leave a comment below to let us know if my hypothesis is correct!)

In conclusion, thinking about your social media connections as merely a number greatly limits your ability to understand them. The more complex your analysis model, the better your understanding will be. Social media is all about connections and networks, so one of the best ways to analyze and learn about your fans is by viewing them as an interconnected network graph.

Do you notice anything else interesting in the images? I’d love to hear your observations.

Local Facebook fans beat corporate fans 40 to 1

We’ve been doing a lot of research at Hearsay Social about the value of local fans on social media. As part of this – we sponsored a study by Mainstay Salire who found that a local fan is worth 40 x a corporate fans in terms of engagement.

Reposted from the Hearsay Social Blog – see the original post here


Earlier today, independent research group Mainstay Salire released a white paper comparing the fans of corporate and local Facebook pages. According to Mainstay’s data, the typical Facebook post from a local Page reaches five times the percentage of fans as a corporate post, and eight times as many of the fans reached will engage with that post. (Engagement could mean anything from viewing a photo or watching a video to clicking a link, liking, commenting, or sharing.)

Combining those two factors—five times reach and eight times engagement—Mainstay concludes that a local fan is 40 times more valuable than a corporate fan on Facebook.

This new data confirms what has been reiterated time and again both by Facebook (as evident in this fMC conversation between Facebook VP David Fischer and Walmart CMO Stephen Quinn) as well as Hearsay Social, where making the enterprise successful on social at the local level has always been our top priority.

Our design team whipped up an infographic to visualize exactly how this plays out when you trace the path from a Page post to actual engagement on the user level:


What else can we learn about the benefit of local pages? Depending on your social media goals, there are benefits across the board, though it’s clear now that just accumulating as many fans as possible shouldn’t be the end goal.

1. Getting more link clicks

We know from our research that a large portions of posts on social media contain links. Most people post those links in hopes that someone will click them, but are people more likely to click links from bigger or smaller pages? As it turns out,smaller pages see higher clickthrough rates per fan. Not only do more fans see the link, but more of those that see the link are likely to click it.

2. Using more effective media types

Not all post types are equal. We looked at this before but it is even more obvious when comparing corporate and local pages. Looking at “People Talking About This” (PTAT), which is a count of everyone that has commented on, liked, or shared your post, we can see that certain types of posts get more traction. For local pages, photos are the most effective form of media, followed by status updates, videos, and, last of all, links. Interestingly, photos are the second most effective media type for corporate pages, trailing videos. My take is that large corporate pages videos get the most PTAT/Reach because corporate has a bigger budget and thus higher production value on the videos they produce and post to Facebook.

3. Avoiding negative feedback

Not everyone is aware of the negative feedback metrics on Facebook but they are very important. When your posts appear in someone’s News Feed, the user can choose to hide the story or to unsubscribe from your page’s posts completely. In either instance, you would lose the opportunity to reach that person with your content. Looking at the percentage of fans reached who submit negative feedback, we found that larger pages are more likely to elicit negative feedback. This could be caused by many factors, but it most likely comes down to lack of interesting, original content from corporate.

To conclude, we cannot say enough how important it is to make sure you update your Facebook timeline with unique, timely, and relevant content to the user. And, for large enterprises struggling to engage with individuals across social, the key lies in unlocking the power of local.

Feel free to share in the comments any trends you’ve noticed on your own social media pages! And be sure to download the Mainstay report, The Power of Going Local: Comparing the Impact of Corporate vs. Local Facebook Pages.