1,200 tweets per second (and other interesting Twitter stats)

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Twitter button

Image by ntr23 via Flickr

Twitter is growing both in terms of users, the number of messages being created and the importance that people place on the service.

In a recent presentation from Raffi Krikorian, Twitter’s lead on Application Services, we got an insight into how Twitter is being used and some current statistics. The most interesting of these are below, and the full presentation is at the end of this post.

  • There are currently 110 million tweets per day from the 200 million registeered users.
  • The current rate of tweeting is 1,200 Tweets per second (tps), but these increase during dramatically important events. The Superbowl at one stage saw 4,064 tps with the second highest peak during the superbowl was during the half-time ads rather than the game itself.
  • Twitter generates 10TB a day. That’s ten times what the New York Stock Exchange produces.  It’s all generated from 140 character tweets which are individually 200 bytes per tweet. A phenomenal amount of text.
  • There are currently 200m registered users with a growth continuing at a higher pace than before.
  • Top three twitter-users by number of followers  - @ladygaga (8.3m), @justinbieber (8.1m), @barakobama (7.0m)
  • This Twitter density map (below) shows that Twitter is most popular in Western Europe, Japan, the USA and parts of South America. What might be surprising is that it appears to be especially popular in Indonesia, with some good activity in theMalaysia-Singapore area.  You’ll notice that it doesn’t seem too popular in Africa with a couple of exceptions on the West Coast and the city-centres of the Middle East (you can quite clearly see Cairo and what appear to be the Amman – Damascus – Tel Aviv trifecta).

Twitter by the Numbers (Columbia University)
View more presentations from Raffi Krikorian

How to be safe and social: ASA and CAP guidelines for social media

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Image courtesy of ETF trends

Yesterday I attended the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) How to be Safe and Social event.

Of particular interest was the presentation by Malcolm Phillips, the Code Policy Manager at the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP), on updating the digital remit of the CAP code and the new Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines for online advertising that come into effect from 1 March 2011.

Of primary importance to me, and to the way FreshNetworks functions as a social media agency, are the rules regarding the re-purposing of user generated content.

While the ASA and CAP understand that marketers and brands cannot be held responsible for content produced by independent consumers and third parties, it’s how that content is used that will be come under scrutiny. From the 1st March,  if brands decide to re-purpose user generated content in their marketing strategies, they become liable for the content from the time of use onwards - it falls within the same guidelines as any offline or brand-generated marketing content.

So what does this actually mean for brands and businesses using social media marketing?

  • Any user comments re-tweeted by a brand will require proof that the claims made are true. For example, re-tweeting a comment that your brand makes the best coats will require proof that the coats are the best.
  • Drinks companies will have to be very careful with any galleries they create on Facebook as advertising rules governing alcohol promotion state that no under 25s can be shown in the marketing material (CAP code point 18.6).
  • A brand is responsible for any messages it produces that are then re-tweeted by followers. If it goes viral, the ASA may well ask for the brand to clarify the purpose of the message and its content.
  • If any branded messages are re-tweeted with additional comments from the follower, the ASA will not hold the brand accountable for the additional user generated content.

The new rules also raise a number of additional questions that need clarification:

  • At what point does user generated content fall under the brand control?
  • How much additional information do you need to add to a tweet to ensure it isn’t misleading, and will a link to more information suffice?
  • At which point does PR become marketing and visa versa?

The ASA are not actively looking for breaches of these new regulations, however it only takes one complaint from a customer or competitor brand and they will consider making an investigation. This will not be retrospective and will only be applied to content produced on or after 1st March 2011.

All in all, the IAB How to be Safe and Social event has thrown up just as many questions as it has answered. 2011 is shaping up to be a very interesting year for online marketers, especially within Social Media, and there are bound to be a few real life examples that will set a precedent for what is and isn’t deemed acceptable.

15 essential articles for online community managers #CMAD

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On the platform, reading

Image by moriza via Flickr

To celebrate the second annual Community Manager Appreciation Day, we’ve brought together 15 essential articles for online community managers and social media managers. From why community managers should get involved with their online community before it is even launched, through how to manage and grow a community, to how to measure the impact you are having.

This collection of articles, resources and thinking should have something for everybody to learn from or to add to. We’d love your thoughts on these and also your own favourite community manager articles and resources.

  1. When does a community manager’s job begin?: Why it is critical that your community manager is involved in helping to plan and design the online community before it is launched.
  2. The Ten Commandments of managing online communities: An insightful presentation on how to manage online communities from Julius Solaris.
  3. The biggest mistakes an online community manager can make: From lack of engagement to a lack of discipline, we look at five of the biggest mistakes an online community manger can make.
  4. How word of mouth grows online communities: A case study on the role of word of mouth helped to grow an online community at a critical early stage.
  5. Five things to consider when engaging social media influencers: Influencers in social media can be a great help when growing your community and become advocates of your site. However engaging them can be difficult. Here are five things to consider when engaging them.
  6. How to react if somebody writes about your brand online: A simple guide to help you decide when, and how, you should respond if somebody comments on your brand online.
  7. Why you shouldn’t join every conversation about your brand online: When you should, and when you shouldn’t, join conversations about your brand online (and why you shouldn’t feel the need to respond to them all).
  8. Champions, active users and trolls: Defining the different types of users in an online community and exploring how they behave and how you should manage them.
  9. Moderation and safety: Why moderation is important, the four types of moderation you can choose from and how to decide which approach is right for you.
  10. Should anonymous comments be allowed in your online community: The pros and cons of allowing anonymous comments in your online community, and those times when it really is the best option.
  11. Comparing paid and organic search strategies for online communities: Which are more successful drivers of traffic? And which are more likely to drive engagement?
  12. Eight ways you can use your online community to get insight: Eight tools and activities you can use in your online community to get insight from your members.
  13. What online community managers can learn from gaming: How to use gaming techniques to help manage and grow your online community.
  14. Using experts to encourage real engagement with your community: How experts can add value to your online community if used sensibly, and in a way that meets the needs of your community members.
  15. Is time on site a useful measure of how successful your online community is?: The short answer is ‘no’. This article tells you why, and where time on site is a useful measure.

Preparing for significant regulation changes in social media

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My first session on the IAB Social Media Council had us debating the upcoming regulation changes which will see the ASA’s remit extended to cover marketing on websites from 1st March 2011.

So what? Well the Advertising Standards Authority is “the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media” but until now this did not include websites (and for websites also read social networks, blogs etc). This new regulation means that marketing communications on companies’ own websites and in other third party space under their control, such as Facebook and Twitter, will have to adhere to the “non-broadcast advertising rules” as set out in the CAP Code.

The aim is to drive companies to ensure marketing messages on their websites are legal, decent, honest and truthful. This should go without saying but think of how celebs are used in social media marketing – when they are speaking about a product are they doing so because they are paid? What about the blog you read extolling a product – was that review paid for? Currently this is unclear but the ASA aims to remove that uncertainty.

How? Well, the ASA does not set rules, just guidance so it is currently unclear exactly what will fall foul of the regulations.

On the Council we are looking to lead the way with self regulation and I am interested in your views of how this should be done?

  • Should sponsored tweets feature a hashtag such as #ad or #spon
  • What if a paid brand advocate happens to tweet about the brand, is this ‘paid’
  • What constitutes being paid? Is a blogger who is given product to review ‘paid’?

At FreshNetworks we have always advocated responsible social media practice and support the ASA’s work to clear up this grey area.

I will be updating you as new information comes out and would love your thoughts on this as they will help drive the self regulation response.

Social media is now mainstream and the growth is in real-time interactions

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Rio de Janeiro, 2001
Image via Wikipedia

The latest wave of the GlobalWebIndex report from Trendstream shows that use of social media among consumers has become mainstream. In the most active markets that they explored (Brazil and India) almost 90% of consumers are taking part in social media on at least a monthly basis. Even the least active markets they explored (Spain and the Netherlands) had more than 50% of consumers taking part in social media on a regular basis. This is the third wave of the report and is based on a panel of 51,000 users across 12 countries.

The clear message from the report is that social media is now mainstream across all of these markets, even those where consumers are least active in social media. It is also a reminder that in terms of proportion of consumers who are active in social media, the leading countries are not those that you might expect. The US comes 5th in the report and the UK 7th.

Across the board, the change in behaviour is not just uptake but also the rise of real-time social media. Micro-blogging (think Twitter), social network profiles and commenting are among the fastest growing activities and are all examples of people interacting with each other in real-time rather than contributing content that is primarily for people to find and use at a later date. They are providing real-time opinions and real-time information that others are then interacting with and using.

And whilst the growth of social media shows greatest penetration in markets like Brazil, India, it is in the UK, US and Canada that real-time interactions are strongest. This may be that Twitter and other similar tools have grown more quickly in English-speaking markets, but given the depth of involvement in markets such as Brazil, India, Russia and China it is to these markets that we should look for innovations through 2011 in the real-time social web.

You can read the latest GlobalWebIndex report below:

Welcome to Social Entertainment - Annual Report 2011
View more presentations from Tom Smith.