Data is so hot right now

Infographics are hot right now - it sees like everyone is getting in on them. And why not? They're fun. These days though, I'm more interested in the data behind the infographics. Maybe it is just because I've been heads-down doing a ton of online research to inform creative ideas for clients, or maybe its just because I like data. I especially like the large data sets that are made easily accessible thanks to social media.

Here are a couple of my favorite pieces of data mining (and I think all of them could make for great infographics):

TorrentFreak predicts Inception will clean up at the Oscars

Per their blog post: "After crunching the numbers, taken from thousands of publicly available torrents, this awards race turned out to be an easy win for Inception. With a staggering 13,780,000 downloads Christopher Nolan’s movie was the clear winner." Note: based on previous years, these torrent-based predictions don't necessarily hold true.

Stumbling During the Super Bowl

StumbleUpon is easily my favourite social media site/tool/distraction, and it was really cool to see the way they analyzed the way people were using the site over the course of the Super Bowl.

Music Download Analysis Reveals Mood of Bahrain

I loved this post that BoingBoing made over the weekend about judging the national mood of countries based on the music that was being downloaded. How has this changed over time? What would it look like compared the current economy?

Comment Profanity By Lanuage

In this little study, someone compared the amount of swear words included in different types of computer code.

Have you seen any other cool bits of data mining and analysis like this?


When is the best time to post a Facebook Page status?

I’ve often wondered when the best time of day to post an official Facebook Page update was. To find out, I analyzed some of the top Canadian Facebook Pages and the posts they made during the month of November.

What did I do?

I took a look at official Facebook Pages for iTunes Canada, Starbucks Canada, Gatorade Canada, Smirnoff Canada, Bauer Hockey, Nike Training, Reebok Hockey, Best Buy and Doritos. This was a not-quite-random sample of some of the top Canadian Facebook Pages, as per this list published by Social Bakers.

I looked at every official update posted by the page during the month of November, and wrote down what time (Eastern Time) the post was made and how many Likes and Comments the post received. I then took an average of these responses per hour, and created the fun little graph below.

What didn’t I do?

I didn’t analyze the sentiment of the responses, nor did I compare the different types of posts made by the pages (photo, video, external link, etc). I also didn’t look at comments made by users on the wall and not as a response to an official update from the Page.

This study also didn’t take into account any other strategies these pages might have had. If the page was encouraging their users to upload photos, or engage with an application or contest in a separate tab, I didn’t measure that.

What did I find?

It appears that the best time to post a status update from an official page is either early in the work day (9-10am) or in the early evening. Though I don’t have any data on when people are checking Facebook the most, I suspect that they are checking when they wake up or get into work in the morning, and again when are leaving for the day or arriving home. While they might check during other times, these might be the best times for users to interact with their favourite brands.

However, the outlier post at 7:58am one day received 180 responses, far more than that brand’s average. It made me think that perhaps earlier posts like this have a way of breaking through the cluttered Facebook newsfeed.

At the end of the day, you should know your audience and what will resonate best with them. This includes both the types of posts (should they include photos or video? Should they be questions, or encourage action?) and the time of day to post them.

Analyzing and thinking about this data was time well spent, as I’m confident that looking so closely at what all these pages are doing, what has been working for them and what hasn’t been working will provide me with some insight into what I can do for my own clients. ( I’m also confident that this would have been way easier to do with a desk and dual monitors instead of small laptop screen and a notebook on a folding seat-back tray during a cross-country flight.)

Note: I’m not a trained statistician. There are probably all sorts of “standard deviation” and “relevant sample” size things I’m not taking into account here. If you’ve got a better way analyze or present this data I’m not stopping (you). -I purposely did not look at any Facebook pages that I am currently or have previously worked on. -As in the “What I didn’t do” section above, there are lots of factors I didn’t look at. These might have resulted in different conclusions.

What could I have done differently or better with this study? What do you think of the results?

I’ve certainly got some ideas for how this type research could be improved. If you’ve got some spare time on your hands (ahem, students going into break?) and want to help BlogCampaigning, shoot me an email: parker (at)


PS: Next up: an analysis of Facebook pages managed by PR agencies compared to those managed by ad agencies?

Blog Campaigning thesis: Extras

Before publishing my thesis on the blog, I emailed it to some of the people that I am quoting, giving them the opportunity to make comments about their appearance in the paper. One of the people that kindly responded to my email was Jon Henke of the QandO blog. In addition to pointing out that I spelled his name and blog incorrectly (both of which I am very, very sorry about…hope you will accept my apologies, Jon) Henke (who recently joined the highly qualified and experienced online team of presidential hopeful, Fred Thompson) kindly pointed me in the direction of a very interesting post on where he was interviewed by Matt Lewis about his role as Netroots Coordinator for the George Allen Senate campaign in 2006. Unfortunately I had just submitted my thesis to my University when I received the email from Henke.

It’s really a shame I didn’t see this post earlier. Had I known about it before, I would definitely have included it. Henke has a lot of interesting stuff to say in the interview: not only about his experiences doing ‘online damage control’ for Allan after his famous ‘macaca’ fuck-up, but also about the topic of online campaigning in general. In fact, I dare say that this is one of the most comprehensive analyses discussing the impact of blogs on the 2006 senate race that I have read so far (considering the fact that is just a short interview). It presents some very interesting reflections about why online campaign strategies are important to have in place from the start of the campaign and how blogs can provide crucial support to the candidates. But most importantly, it captures some of the aspects and perspectives that the academic research I have read so far failed to capture.

Now, I could go on complaining about the fact that I did not discover Henke’s piece during my research or, instead, I could start explaining why I published the thesis on the blog, why I love the idea of using a blog as a research tool, and why I am so enthusiastic about the fact that Henke provided me with the additional information that he did.

I’ll do the latter. And I’ll try to make it short!

Why publishing material in a blog?

Simply because a blog allows people to comment on the material we publish and therefore allows us to create a dynamic research process where readers can constantly criticise the material that is being produced or add new material not yet discussed. The criticism and new material can help us develop new perspectives that can help the research progress and take new directions. A dynamic process like this will most likely evolve faster and bring us to a more comprehensive and broader understanding of the topic being studied than will the slow stream of academic papers that are being produced. The field of social media is changing so rapidly that by the time an academic paper is published, it is likely several new technological inventions will have developed - developments that probably change the playing field that political communicators are operating within every now and them (YouTube, Facebook… – need I say more).

So, what I intend to do is to use the feedback I receive, like the link Henke provided me with, to constantly develop my paper and hopefully publish a new and better piece on the blog in a while (depends on the feedback we receive). I’ll start adding the links and comments that the thesis is receiving to this post.

So here’s the start of the new version:

Blog Campaigning: Extras

Link provided by Jon Henke:

George Allen's Blogger Talks: Jon Henke talks to Matt Lewis about his role as Netroots Coordinator for the George Allen Senate campaign in 2006, reflects about why online campaign strategies are important to have in place from the start of the campaign and how blogs can provide crucial support to the candidates, and discusses how we can measure the e-campaign success.

Lowell Feld about the Webb campaign's handling of the macaca incident:

Espen: […] With regard to the "macaca" incident, I don't fully agree with the assertion that the campaign sold the story to the Washington Post before it told the bloggers. At least, it wasn't that neat and clean in reality. If you go back and look at how the story first broke, on the Not Larry Sabato blog, you'll see that it leaked on August 13 (Sunday), a day before the story was published in the Washington Post. You'll also notice that there was a huge frenzy over at Not Larry Sabato. Would the Washington Post have jumped on the story if there had NOT been a blog-induced frenzy already in progress, plus a YouTube video? I don't know for sure, but my guess is that it would have been less likely and less effective…

...for more check out this link: Blog Campaigning Thesis - More Extras: Who Really broke the ‘macaca’ story

Blogs are social and cultural objects

Internet analyst Guy Cranswick argues that as the thesis mainly focuses on the US, it should explicitly say so as blogs and blogging are social and cultural objects. “It does not make sense to me to treat this topic in universal terms, it is exclusively socially specific and accordingly should be analysed thus”, Cranswick told me in a mail. I agree, and I could probably have dedicated an entire chapter to this issue – at least a long paragraph in the introduction chapter.

- Espen