FreshNetworks Blog: Top five posts in June

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Image by always13 via Flickr

As a social media agencyFreshNetworks aims to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities, marketing and customer engagement online. In case you missed them, find below our top five posts in June.

1. Social media monitoring review 2010 – download the final report

Over the first few months of 2010 we conducted an in-depth review of the leading social media monitoring tools in conjunction with our sister company, FreshMinds Research. We compared how Alterian, Brandwatch, Biz360, Neilsen Buzzmetrics, Radian6, Scoutlabs and Sysomos performed when monitoring conversations about global coffee brand Starbucks, analysing over 19,000 online conversations.

Many thousands of you have already read our posts about the review and downloaded the final whitepaper. If you haven’t yet, you can find a more detailed analysis of all these tools and more in our final report – Turning Conversations into Insights: a Comparison of Social Media Monitoring Tools.

2. Why a museum is the UK’s top brand on Twitter

The Famecount dataset is, like much data, not perfect but it does highlight some surprises that we can all learn from. The brand it has as the top Twitter brand in the UK is one such surprise. Rather than the big FMCG, fashion and media firms they include in their brands ranking, the top UK brand on Twitter for them is a museum, @Tate.

There are some structural reasons why the Tate will attract followers. Twitter is great for events and experiences and a museum has lots of these. But the success and popularity of the Tate is about much more than this. It’s thanks to the way they use Twitter. In this post we look at the three simple characteristics of the way the Tate uses Twitter that all brands can learn from, and that contribute to their success.

3. The most beautiful tweet ever written (as judged by @stephenfry)

In June, Stephen Fry declared the most beautiful Tweet ever written at the Hay Festival. The winning tweet, from Marc MacKenzie, is a concise but informative tweet and perhaps is a great example of how people are using this new medium. But what makes this tweet the most beautiful ever written?

The beauty in Twitter, and in the tweets people send, is that they convey emotion, opinion, information and expression in a relatively short period, and they, broadly speaking, do so in public. Unlike other conversational forms, Twitter, even when you direct a tweet at a specific person, has a broader audience and often an audience you don’t know. And of course you only have 14o characters with which to express yourself. Marc MacKenzie’s tweet is a good example of this new medium – the audience is unclear and the tweet manages to convey information, opinion, belief and also humour. All in 140 characters.

4. The top ten brands on Facebook

Starbucks is the most popular brand on Facebook when ranked by the number of people who ‘Like’ a brand (’Fans’ as they used to be called). Over 7.5 million people like the coffee chain on Facebook, almost 2 million more than like the second most popular brand, Coca-Cola.

This data comes from Famecount which ranks brands (and people) based on the number of people who follow, like or friend them in social networks. It shows that food and drink brands are in each of the top five places, with fashion brands making up most of the remaining places in the top ten. Consumers are interested in what these brands are doing, or at least want to flag their interest in the brand or product on their own Facebook profile.

5. The problem with automated sentiment analysis

As part of our review of social media monitoring tools we compared their automated sentiment analysis with the findings of a human analyst, looking at seven of the leading social media monitoring tools – Alterian, Brandwatch, Biz360, Neilsen Buzzmetrics, Radian6, Scoutlabs and Sysomos. And the outcome suggests that automated sentiment analysis cannot be trusted to accurately reflect and report on the sentiment of conversations online.

In our tests when comparing with a human analyst, the tools were typically about 30% accurate at deciding if a statement was positive or negative. In one case the accuracy was as low as 7% and the best tool was still only 48% accurate when compared to a human. For any brand looking to use social media monitoring to help them interact with and respond to positive or negative comments this is disastrous. More often than not, a positive comment will be classified as negative or vice-versa. In fact no tool managed to get all the positive statements correctly classified. And no tool got all the negative statements right either. Automated sentiment does not work, and for businesses relying on it can cause problems.

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Why a museum is the UK’s top brand on Twitter

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The logo of Tate, used in several similar vers...
Image via Wikipedia

Last week we looked a ranking of the top ten brands on Facebook globally, based on the number of people who ‘like’ them. There were no real surprises - Starbucks came top and the rest of the top ten was filled with well-known consumer and fashion brands. When considering brands on Twitter this story is sometimes different and it is not always the obvious brands that are most followed.

The same dataset, from Famecount, can be used to look at brands on Twitter and, unlike with Facebook, it throws up some unexpected findings. For example the most followed brand in the UK isn’t a consumer or fashion brand, an airline or a bank. It’s a museum: @Tate.

The top five brands on Twitter (UK)

Rank Brand Followers
1 Tate 106,881
2 Top Shop 69,411
3 ASOS 39,829
4 (Alexandr Orlov) 39,379
5 STA Travel 26,385

*Note: figures from Famecount and updated where relevant to be correct as of June 13 2010

Why is a museum the top UK brand on Twitter?

We have been discussing recently why people follow brands on Twitter. With Twitter there is not necessarily a need for people to follow the brand in order to interact with it. You typically follow the brand if you are interested in their tweets and message being part of your feed. If you want to know what is happening, what they say and what they think. The data above shows that people are more interested in following a museum than they are fashion retailers, a financial services firm or a travel agency. But why?

There are some structural reasons why the Tate will attract followers. Twitter is great for events and experiences and a museum has lots of these. So if they are using Twitter well any museum should attract people interested in the events that are going on there. People also want to be updated about what’s on and when it’s on and Twitter is a great way for museums to do this.

However the success and popularity of the Tate is about much more than this. It’s thanks to the way they use Twitter. There are three simple characteristics of the way the Tate uses Twitter that all brands can learn from, and that contribute to their success:

  1. Informing - Twitter is great for information. Simple and straightforward information and the Tate is great for that. It uses Twitter to provide a one-stop-shop to find out what’s on, when and where at the Tate. Telling people about what is coming up and what is currently on. (See this typical informing Tweet)
  2. Responding - The Tate uses Twitter to respond to people who have been to their galleries. They ask people what they thought of their experience and respond to the feedback that they give. They also go out of their way to help people who have queries or problems and the manner in which they do this shows clearly that there are real people updating Twitter and interacting with people on it. (See how they have helped @gorgeousuk)
  3. Having fun - The Tate has a clear personality on Twitter and has fun that is relevant to the museum, its galleries and the interests of its followers. From fun photos inside the galleries to fun tweets they show that they are real people and that they really connect with their followers. I particularly like when they compare the weather on a day to pieces in their collection. (See this Tweet comparing this weekend’s weather to a John Samuel Raven study)

There is nothing particularly revolutionary about how the Tate is using Twitter, but that is the beauty of it. They have identified their target market and are using Twitter to inform, engage and entertain them. And they are doing it rather well.

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Social media diary 27/2/2009 - UK National Museums

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Nine museums in the UK launch Creative Spaces

This week in the UK saw the beta launch of Creative Spaces. An online community and federated search project across nine National Museums, part of the National Museums Online Learning Project (NMOLP) and involving the Tate, V&A, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, Imperial War Museum, Royal Armouries, Wallace Collection and Sir John Soanes’ Museum. The core idea is to provide a way for people to find, discuss and be inspired by the collections of all these museums.

Creative Spaces Promo from Creative Spaces on Vimeo.

The project really has two components:

  1. A federated search, allowing users to search and explore the collections across all nine museums in one place, online.
  2. An online community, allowing people to create notebooks (their own collections combining objects from the museums with their own content), create and join groups and review and add comments to objects that they like (or otherwise, of course).

It’s been an ambitious project, running for a number of years and the outcomes are exciting. The ability to search across and explore the collections is of huge value. But the social elements of the site allow individuals to essentially curate their own experience. Bringing objects from the different museums together with their own content, annotating them and making their own notebook - an exhibition for others to view and comment on.

So what can we learn from this?

This is a great example of using social media and online communities in a museums context. But it is also a great example of When thinking about how to use social media and online communities, it is important for brands and organisations to explore what it is they can uniquely offer. What do they have that they can share with people, and why would people come to a site that they were running to interact.

With Creative Spaces, I think these nine museums have got it right. They have not just launched an online community, asking people to talk about art - there are many places you can do that. What these organisations can offer that is different is access to their catalogues, and by coming together to make Creative Spaces they are offering something even more unique - the ability to search the collective catalogues of some of the leading museums in the UK. They have something unique and of value that they can offer to people with this search, and also with the online community they have built to support this.

One problem with some online communities is that they focus too much on forums and verbal communication. Other media can sometimes be a more effective way of communicating: video can be a great way to engage some people, others want to express themselves with images or objects. In a museums context this becomes even more important. I may not want to discuss my reaction to an object, but I might want to upload an image of my own as a reaction to it. Creative Spaces lets you do this, and indeed let’s you curate your own collection (they call it a notebook) with objects from the collections alongside your own content or content you’ve got from elsewhere. This is clever, allowing people to react and respond in whatever medium is most appropriate to them.

Creative Spaces is a great idea, it brings social media to a museums context and creates a social experience online that centres on the unique content these museums have - their own collections. It’s easy to set up a site and expect people to come and engage there, but this rarely happens. You need to build a site that meets a need and offers something new, leveraging your own position to give a real reason for people to come and engage on your site rather than elsewhere.

If you decide to join up, feel free to add me as a contact: Matt Rhodes.

(In interest of open disclosure, I should say that FreshNetworks has done some strategy work with the NMOLP to help them launch and grow Creative Spaces. But it would always have been a great example of social media!)

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