Mavens, craft beer and a heap of these !?!?!?!?!

This week I’m going to base my post on some interesting research by Torgeir Aleti, Paul Harrington, Marc Cheong and Will Turner that looks at how the Australian brewing industry influence consumers on Twitter.

The research is fairly comprehensive and is structured around proving, or disproving a number of hypothesis based on a series of constructs;

• Indegree influence and retweet influence
• Message formulation and language
• Native platform behaviour
• Reciprocity and;
• Persistency

One of the key points that the authors make is that organisations on Social Media should be using maven-like behaviour to influence their audiences (Feick and Price 1987). In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 book The Tipping Point  Gladwell defines Mavens as “Those who influence through their ability to accumulate, interpret, and share information” and I certainly agree that mavens can stimulate and encourage engagement on Twitter especially with audiences seeking (and wanting to share) information.

What I found really interesting in the approach the authors took was the acknowledgement that the traditional influencers (opinion leaders and highly-connected individuals  etc.) may not actually be as influential when it came down to how small businesses interact on social media and that ordinary users could be just as influential, if not more so. This makes it even more important to create the right information that people are seeking and would be likely to want to share.

So the key to this it would appear, as is the case for most things in Social Media, is content. And as Bill Gates rightly proclaimed in 1996 “Content is King”. I’m sure there is a quote out there somewhere that will say “all roads lead to content”, if there isn’t, I’ll claim it now because pretty much everything on Social Media in some shape or form seems to come back to that.

That’s a very good question and well worth a retweet

Without going through Aleti’s paper in its entirety, there are a couple of areas relating to Social Media content that pricked my attention. The first was the hypothesis based around the frequent use of pictures and videos in tweets and the research on the use of question marks and exclamation marks being associated with higher levels of indegree and retweet influence.

The results showed that the hypothesis which was tested around more frequent use of pictures and videos being associated with higher levels of indegree and retweet influence was only partly supported by the research.

This is supported by my own research in to the use of images and video in tweets, where tweets containing images often achieve significantly higher levels of engagement than just text based tweets. Although saying that, there are always exceptions to the rule. With weather services we often have warnings that are heavily retweeted from text only tweets, but as a broad benchmark, in terms of engagement and specifically retweets; from the top 100 tweets we send out in any given week 90% will contain an image / animation or video.

Wow!! So many exclamation marks !!!!!

And finally, the hypothesis relating to the use of question marks and exclamation marks being associated with higher levels of indegree and retweet influence was not supported by the research, which does tend to make sense. Although it was interesting that exclamation marks could be viewed as shouting and were unlikely to be retweeted at the same frequency as tweets not containing them (I think that needs more research as I suspect it could change based on certain demographics, such as age / culture). Again, there are always exceptions to the rule and like most things relating to content, it comes back to context. Here is a tweet from Louis Tomlinson from One Direction to their fans containing exclamation marks which attracted over 400,000 retweets.

And on that note, that’s a pretty big number, but what does it actually mean? Well you will just have to wait until next week’s post on “Analytics and metrics, it’s all in the interpretation” which addresses that very question.


4 thoughts on “Mavens, craft beer and a heap of these !?!?!?!?!

  1. Great post, Keith.

    I was also particularly interested in the hypotheses relating to the usage of images and videos, and their affects on audience engagement.

    I certainly expected more positive engagement from Tweets containing images and videos given that the majority of Twitter users are on mobile devices, and often “out and about”. The term “a picture paints a thousand words” is certainly something for a brand to consider when Tweeting as a large percentage of their audience will be in situations where a non-text based Tweet will be more easily digestible.

    Looking forward to your next Post!

    1. Hi Tim, thanks :).

      It is certainly my experience that tweets with images will attract more attention, as you say a picture paints a thousands words and that’s very important on a medium that limits you to 140 Characters. A lot less if you include an image and a link.

  2. Thanks for your blog this week Keith, a very enjoyable read 🙂 I think that many consumers are not only numb to exclamation points, but very wary of them. I think that I avoid clicking through to online content with exclamation points because I associate it with cheap and tacky click-bait marketing, it feels dodgy and untrustworthy. As Patrick Armitage was saying in an article I read on Marketing Land, “…the exclamation point doesn’t actually say, “This is awesome!” It’s a warning sign that says: “Caution: We’re overselling the crap out of this!””

  3. Hi Kelly, glad you enjoyed it!!!!! haha.

    I’m still not sold on the exclamation mark issue, maybe for brands using it but influencers I suspect it could go the other way. I probably wouldn’t click through if Coke tweeted something using exclamation marks but I have a few high-profile people I follow that use them in their tweets and I take notice. I guess it depends on who is telling you something is worth seeing and what value you put on that? The Patrick Armitage point is a good one and I suppose that goes back to my point on the motivation for using them. If I suspect someone is using them to sell me something I switch off pretty quick too

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