Business Performance Social Media

Twitter statistics: UK traffic increased 22-fold in a year

Robin Goad, Research Director of Hitwise UK revealed some interesting statistics regarding the growth of Twitter today.

Writing on his Hitwise blog, Goad reported UK traffic to the micro-blogging site has increased 22-fold in the last 12 months. That growth has meant that has leapt from the 969th most visited site (May ’08)  in the UK to 38th (May ’09). The most impressive aspect of that growth is the fact that 93% of it has come in the first five months of 2009 alone.

As Goad rightly pointed out, that number in all likelihood should be even higher if you factor in the vast number of third party applications such as Seesmic, Tweetdeck and Twitterific that people use to access Twitter remotely.

On the same day it was reported that the number of companies using Facebook’s automated advertising system has tripled over the last year.

According to the article on,

‘Brand owners are increasingly attempting to utilise the developing range of social media tools to connect with consumers, with Coca-Cola, Kraft and Starbucks among the most successful proponents of this strategy on Facebook thus far.

The website – which has 200 million users worldwide – is expected to generate ad revenues of over $300 million (€214m; £184m) in 2009, enhancing its position at the expense of rivals such as MySpace.’

Which leads me to think that if the guys at Twitter want to make any money they had better move quickly with a monetisation model to capitalise on the social network’s massive growth. Many would argue that they have already squandered an opportunity by observing this popularity tipping point rather than acting when the signs were there at the beginning of the year.

An ad supported service is a highly contenious issue that never fails to produce polar opposite opinions. But Twitter only needs to look towards MySpace to realise that sometimes your time in the sun can be finite and that perhaps now is the time to act.

Innovation Social Media

Google Profiles to take on in job market?

Depending on your Twitter Follow list, you may have already seen the buzz over changes to Google Profiles recently. Whilst the product has been around for a while (in relative obscurity), two recent announcements have fixed the spotlight firmly upon it.

First off was a relatively low key announcement a few weeks ago, revealing that you could personalize your Google Profile URL to include your name (nicely termed a vanity URL). Then followed an announcement that Profiles are to start appearing in the Google search listings.

Cue a whole bunch of savvy people flocking to Google to ensure they could secure their ideal vanity url before someone sharing their name (or a cybersquatter) grabbed it. The news from Danny Sullivan that Google Profiles pass PageRank might just have contributed to the rush.

Since then there has been a lot of speculation regarding Google’s intent with its Profiles. A popular theory is that it is the start of a manoeuvre to take on the social network giants, Facebook and LinkedIn. There are many arguments for and against such theories, but it would certainly be quite a feat to unseat either colossus when you consider their size and integration into their users’ lives.

Highly Targeted Advertising

The most interesting theory I have read came from Slate’s Farhad Manjoo. In posing the question ‘Why would Google want a social network?’ he suggests that the motive is “to get to know you better – and thus, to serve you more profitable ads”.

The theory being that Google already knows so much about you through your use of search, Gmail, YouTube and your exposure to it’s advertising network, that it can already paint a pretty good picture of who you are and serve you appropriate ads. However, once you start adding links to your social network pages and blogs to your Google Profile, it can start to view you in the context of your relationships.

To quote directly from Farhad’s article:

“And you might find yourself giving Google a lot of personal info, too. In setting up my profile, I handed Google the links to my pages at Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed. By analyzing those sites—not to mention everything that it already knows about my contacts through my activity at Gmail and Google Voice—the company could probably create a startlingly precise map of my friends and family. You can think of it as a shadow social network: All of a sudden, Google has the ability to traverse my entire social circle, and I didn’t even have to approve a single friend request.”

A Monster Mash?

So if Facebook, LinkedIn and advertising are the most likely (or newsworthy) applications for Google Profiles, what else could Google use them for?

Slightly less sexy, but entirely possible, would be a new recruitment service – GoogleJobs.

Now it’s probably worth pointing out that is just a possible application, I have no evidence to suggest this is in Google’s plans. Consider it an option.

If you take a moment to consider what a Google Profile actually is – a page listing your personal details, job title, company, and interests/achievements (via links to your blog, LinkedIn and other social network sites) – then it’s not far removed (from a data perspective) from the CV / resume that you upload to sites such as Monster, Careerbuilder or Jobsite.

By applying a similar thought process to Farhad’s advertising theory, the Google Profile content and its subsequent linked pages would enable Google to construct a far more comprehensive biographical essay of your professional life than you could probably attempt in writing your own CV / resume.

By compiling this data for each Google Profile user, Google would have the potential to create a CV / resume database of a volume to challenge those of global recruitment giants such as Adecco or Monster.

When you consider Google’s penchant for providing services for free (see Gmail, Google Analytics, Google Docs, etc.), developing this database and opening it up to the world’s recruiters would pose a significant threat to those operating in the online recruitment market.

It wouldn’t necessarily even need to be entirely free to recruiters. There are services provided by LinkedIn that could be replicated / modified for GoogleJobs – such as InMail, LinkedIn’s brokered communication channel that enables you to contact users directly with career opportunities. A Google variant would provide a payment model, whereby recruiters would pay for direct access to Google Profile users (not to mention all the on-page advertising opportunities throughout the process).

The Sticking Points

Obviously this is just an idea and not without its issues. Volume, for a start, is a significant hurdle. Prior to the recent announcements, Google Profiles had seen a rather underwhelming take up rate. That has likely jumped in the last couple of weeks but is without doubt still some way off LinkedIn’s 40 million global members.

However, if we’ve only learned one thing in the decade since Larry and Sergey first announced ‘We’ll call it Google”, it’s this – Google have a habit of building products that become very, very, very popular. When you consider all the moves they are making to join their disparate products up, it is inevitable that a common element throughout will be a Google account – the first part of the puzzle. If they can convert those to Google Profiles then you can tick off the volume issue.

The other issue is one of privacy. It’s unlikely that Google would legally be able to add every Google Profile owner into a jobseeker database without the appropriate permissions. Plain and simple, not everyone is looking for a job or wants to be contacted with unsolicited offers. The Google Profile sign up process would need to provide an opt-in process (an opt-out approach would like cause many legal hassles around the globe) to enable a user to express their preferences. This would likely mean a significant portion of the Google Profile user list would not be available to search. This takes you back to issue #1 – a need to increase the volume again (at least while you’re working on your conversion rates) – probably much to the relief of those currently operating in the recruitment industry.

As I said, just an idea. We’ll wait and see what happens next.

Social Media

10 Signs You’re Addicted To Twitter

“My name is @garyr0binson and I’m a Twitterholic”

Okay, maybe not, but you have to admit, it can get very addictive. Who hasn’t found themselves saying to someone “be with you in a minute, just need to check something first…”?

C’mon, @leeodden, @yoast, @the_gman or @scobleizer or @avinashkaushik might have just tweeted something I need to know right now.

Now obviously I’m not saying the following signs are all from my own symptoms, but let’s just say I would score pretty highly if we checked.

Let me know of any others you have experienced, so we can draw up an early warning checklist for those that can still be saved.

The Top 10 Signs

1. You have to close the browser on your Twitter page and turn off your apps as it becomes apparent you have done no work for three days

2. You install Twitterfon (or similar) on your phone, because two days over a weekend is a long time not to check what’s being said

3. You refresh your browser 30 minutes after last checking to see if your follower count has gone up

4. You feel disappointed if others don’t know what you’re talking about when you mention the tweet you wrote at 11.48 p.m. last night with the link to the great article you found

5. You wonder whether you should create an account for your 18 month old child as his (i.e. your) preferred username is still available

6. You start trying to build cool uses for Twitter in your business and become immune to the rolling eyes at the mention of the ‘T-word’

7. You attempt to convince Tech Support to give you full administrator rights to install Tweetdeck, as it’s “an essential part of my role, to understand emerging technologies”.

8. You have at least one, possibly two, of the following URL shortening services listed in your favourites  – TinyURL,, MemURL or Snurl

9. You ponder the merits of each URL shortening service, including counting aloud the characters in test URLs to see how you can save an extra digit in your use of 140 characters

10. You can use the word ‘tweet’ in a sentence with non-Twitterers without any hesitation or embarrassment

And I’m sure there are many, many more. But at least it keeps us off Facebook, eh? You’re still doing that? Man, you’ve got it bad…

Social Media

Ryanair Cheap Flights and Cheap Service

Oh dear. I guess the folks over at Ryanair, the cheap flights specialist, haven’t been doing much reading on the power of self publishing and social media lately. It’s the only way you could really explain the two-feet-firmly-in-mouth approach to their public relations over the past week.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it appears that last week staff from Ryanair got in a little argument with a freelance developer, Jason Roe, over his personal blog comments about a bug he discovered in their booking process whilst looking for cheap flights. Ryanair staff seem to have taken exception to this and replied with comments such as:

“Jason! You’re an idiot and a liar!”

They then went on to rip into his professional abilities with comments that started with such pleasantries as:

“If you would work in your pathetic life on a such big project…”

“…keep working on yourself and don’t post b*ll*cks”

“If you would be a serious programmer…”

Ouch! News of this didn’t take long to spread, quickly becoming a buzz topic on Twitter, blogs and national media titles, such as the Times Online.

Cue activation of the Ryanair Crisis Communications Plan, yes?

No. What followed was this statement by Ryanair spokesman, Stephen McNamara:

“Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion.

“It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again.

“Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel”

Oh dear. In an age where it’s so important to carefully manage your brand reputation, you just went and called an army of self-publishers idiots and lunatics. Smart move, Ryanair.

Judging by the official statement issued by Ryanair, it doesn’t seem like they’re particularly bothered by it, easily dismissing and insulting their own customers.

Well, let’s see if they maintain that position, as the negative publicity continues to roll in. Not only has it reached the large audience national news titles, but the bloggers are incensed and it wouldn’t take much for bloggers to get their revenge using the very ‘idiotic’ tools Ryanair mocked.

Lesson to be learned here? Be very careful of who in your company is speaking on your behalf in the public sphere – ensuring they are on brand message and welcoming of feedback from your audience community. And most of all, don’t be such an idiot.

Innovation Social Media

Free Advanced Twitter Power Guide

In my quest to understand Twitter, I’ve discovered two things – 1) a great resource in the Marketing Over Coffee podcast by John Wall and Christopher Penn and 2) a revealing – and free – Twitter Power Guide by the aforementioned Mr Penn.

The podcast in itself is great listening and it’s given me something different to consider on my drive to work in the morning. If you haven’t heard it before then I’d recommend a listen. The two guys get together every business Wednesday at 5.30 a.m. in a coffee shop in Natick, just outside Boston and discuss all the latest digital marketing news and innovations.

The latest podcast features an overview of the Twitter Power Guide – which offers advanced tips to get the most out of Twitter. It’s not a guide of how to get started on Twitter but rather how you can get Twitter to work for you.

Take a look and don’t forget to listen too.

Social Media

What’s the point of Twitter?

That’s the question that started me down the route of this blog.

Prompted by a speaker’s comment at November’s IAB Engage 2008 Conference in London, I scribbled the following note down in my complementary pad…

What’s the point of Twitter?

I had no idea really. For me, it seemed like another social media fad. Something the Facebook generation were clamouring over. The thing that kept puzzling me though, was the number of references I was hearing in a business or professional context. How could it be of any use? Surely it was just something companies had latched onto – like blogging – to appear to be cutting edge?

It made me realise that sometimes you really can’t see the wood for the trees. You can be working so intently on your own stuff, that you forget to raise your head once in a while and have a look at what else is going on.

So that’s where this blog comes in – for me to work out what’s the point of… and to keep an eye on what’s happening over there.

And so the point of Twitter? Well, I don’t know just yet, I’m just getting started. I’ve taken the first step though – I’ve registered with Twitter and have chosen my first ‘people’ to follow – Avinash Kaushik, famed Analytics Evangelist and Econsultancy, providers of best practice online marketing and ecommerce information. Now I have to start using it.

My aim is to at least Twitter through January – a month should hopefully help me understand whether I should embrace or discard it.

Anyone with any ideas of how Twitter can be of use professionally, please feel free to comment. In the meantime, I feel a 140 character tweet coming on…