Link Analysis

Increasing use of blogs and forums for comments and reviews of products has driven companies to analyze them carefully. Users increasingly inquire the Web and are influenced by opinions and suggestions of other users.

Moreover, companies should not only focus on the users’ network but also relationship between websites and on the importance of every forum within the “blogosphere”. In fact, just like for web-users, we can classify blogs in the following way:

- “opinion leader”, these blogs influence the network

- “follower”, a blog influenced by surrounding network

- well-connected into network

- withdrawn, completely independent from Web

- renowned on Social Networks or having a good Google PageRank

- unknown in the Web

W. Pareto, through 80/20 rule, affirms that analyzing 20% of most important sources, it is possible to know 80% of the phenomenon.

Link analysis applied to the blogosphere focuses on this theme: it studies connections among websites (of a specific area), analyzing visibility on search engine, social shares and presence of links to/from other websites.

The process evolves in 4 phases.

1) It is necessary to surf the Net, exploring blogs to create a wide sample. The example reported below is on 41 blogs about comments and reviews on motorcycle.

2) Every single blog is then analyzed to provide some useful indicators about site:

- Google PageRank

- Number of links to the site

- Number of domains that link to the site

- Number of shares/likes on Social Network

- List of all links that point to the site

3) All of the above information is useful to understand the importance of each website within the Net. An N x N matrix (41 x 41 in this example) is the created, which describes links between websites, indicating the number of hyperlink of every blog to the others. All these links are put in a matrix M x 2, to list all the M connections among all the nodes of the network.

4) Subsequently, through applications specific for link analysis, it is possible to re-create the blogosphere and personalize it for our own aims.

The Motorcycle blogosphere we analyzed had these features:

- Oriented graphic

- node’s size depending of number of links

- node’s color depending of number of shares/likes on Social Network

- arrows’ size depending of number of links between blogs

Below is the graph of the blogosphere regarding motorcycles.

Blogosfera

Obviously it’s possible to enlarge the image and analyze every nodes of the network, focusing on rows, node’s features and position in the network.

Moreover link analysis produces some interesting and useful indicators to understand network connections and dynamics:

- in-degree: number of ingoing arrows

- out-degree: number of outgoing arrows

- betweeness centrality: skill of connection among different nodes (bridge capacity)

- closeness centrality: skill of interaction with other vertices

- eigenvector centrality: indicator of centrality in the network

- pagerank: score of the node in the blogosphere

- clustering coefficient: indicator of the presence of connections among close nodes

- reciprocated vertex pair ratio: ratio between ingoing and outgoing connections

It’s possible to affirm that link analysis is an ex-ante studying of blogs and websites, to understand blog dynamics even better.

This analysis can be very useful because it permits to focusing attention only on relevant websites (“opinion leader”) and to ignoring unknown blogs.

Otherwise another solutions is to introduce weight to posts of any blogs, according on their importance in the network.

Social Media and Measurement: great blogs you should read

At Nextbit we have our list of must to follow blog to have always great and fresh insights about social media analytics and measurement. Here is the first part.

1 Dan Zarrella The Social Media Scientist. Dan Zarrella, HubSpot’s Social Media Scientist, provides in his blog great insights and great tools to understand social media world.

2 Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik provides useful articles about web analytics and measurement, with a lot of great tips.

3 Social Media Examiner. A guide to the Social Media Jungle. In this blog you can find always last news about social media to keep yourself updated.

4 Socialbakers.The recipe for Social Marketing Success. A source of great news and fantastic infographics.

Are there other blogs you think should be on the list? Please suggest them in the comments below, we’d be happy to add them to our list!

Nextbit participates in the SAS Forum Italy 2012 with the presentation “The value of data extracted from Social Media”

SAS Forum Italy is an important conference to learn about innovative ideas in the field of Business Intelligence and Business Analytics. This year the conference will be held on Tuesday April 17 at MiCo – Milano Congressi.
Nextbit, silver partner of SAS Institute, is a sponsor of the conference and participates actively with the presentation “The value of data extracted from Social Media”.
The presentation will be held by the Administrator of Nextbit Federico Pagani and Andrea Cerri, Digital Communication Group Manager BTicino.
The presentation will highlight two very important aspects of social media analysis: the first is the quantity and characteristics of data and information analyzed, the second aspect is that, unlike traditional marketing, in the world of Social Media is the customer who controls the conversation. Companies need to be actively involved in the analysis of these data.
The presentation will discuss the main techniques for analyzing social media and the types of information generated.

Social Media Analytics experts you should follow on twitter

At Nextbit we like to follow people on Twitter who provide valuable and usable information. We want to share with you our list of Social Media Metrics and Analytics guru you should follow on twitter, because we believe twitter has become a top source of instant information also on these topics. In our opinion keeping your twitter timeline updated with tweets from the big players is crucial, so here there is our list:

1 @mich8elwu Michael Wu Ph.D. Scientist: Gamification+Influence+Predictive Social Analytic+Cyber Anthropology+Social Network Analysis+Machine Learning+Community Dynamics.

2 @jimsterne Jim Sterne: Founder eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, Digital Analytics Association, author Social Media Metrics: How to Measure & Optimize Your Marketing Investment

3 @avinash Avinash Kaushik: Author, Web Analytics 2.0 & Web Analytics: An Hour A Day | Digital Marketing Evangelist, Google | Co-Founder, Market Motive

4 @danzarrella Dan Zarrella: HubSpot’s Social Media Scientist.

5 @jowyang Jeremiah Owyang: Industry Analyst at Altimeter Group.

6 @TomHCAnderson Tom H C Anderson: Anderson Analytics CEO, Next Gen Market Researcher, Text Analytics Champion

7 @lifeanalytics Themos Kalafatis: Data Scientist. Social Media Analytics, Machine Learning, Text Analytics, Data Mining.

8 @johnlovett: Change Agent for Web Analytics. Measurer of social media. Protector of privacy. Partner at Web Analytics Demystified.

9 @dharmesh Dharmesh Shah: Entrepreneur. Founder/CTO @HubSpot inbound marketing and startup blogger at OnStartups.com.

10 @vincos Vincenzo Cosenza: Social Media Strategist at BlogMeter Author of Social Media ROI

Is there anyone else you think should be on the list? Please suggest them in the comments below, we’d be happy to add them to our list!

Nextbit successfully participated in Lake Poli School

Nextbit successfully participated in Lake Poli School (Edition 2011-2012).

Lake Poli School is a project developed by Politecnico di Milano with the aim to provide an additional arena of interaction and confrontation between students, companies, teachers and researchers on issues which have emerged relevant in the last years.

 

Lake Poli School developed between October 2011 and March 2012. The main activities were:

  • development of a business case in which a selected group of international students worked with six companies, guided by Politecnico’s research fellows;
  • four seminars on ‘hot’ issues: Creativity and Innovation, Networks, Sustainability, Ethics and Social Responsibility
  • a final workshop to award the best business case

Nextbit participated with the CEO Federico Pagani. The group was composed by the Polimi group tutor Carmen Vaca and 6 team members: Alessio Contini (Science computing engineer), Ahmed Hamdi Mansi (Environmental engineer), Barira Hanif (Management engineer), Sonia Belluschi (Management engineer), Thien Kieu Quang (Science computing engineer) and Villum Hansson (Management engineer).

The purpose of the project was to build a model for the analysis of information gathered from popular social networks that enables companies to see the value of their Social Media activities. This project showed in which way it’s possible to extract business value from a Facebook application that can be seen as a sort of pilot to set the general pattern to follow. The focus of the empirical application was on a Facebook application for European students for finding jobs as data analyst in social media.

Nextbit’s CEO Federico Pagani was also asked to deliver  a speech on the topic “Enterpreneurship and data” during the final workshop of the project on the 5th of March 2012.

Hubspot Review

As you can easily understand from our post Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs at Nextbit the ideas by the founders of the company HubSpot impressed us. We believe that the ideas in the book are advantageous and that the future of marketing is certainly ‘Inbound Marketing’ and the use of social media (SM). At the end also the news that Forbes included HubSpot in the list of the 20 most promising companies and the presence in HubSpot’s team of a Social Media guru as Dan Zarrella, the award-winning social media scientist at HubSpot and author of three books, gave us the idea that Hubspot is doing a great job.

After this research it was natural for us to try with trepidation the HubSpot software, the true heart of the company. We started a trial license of HubSpot software, called on the company website “HubSpot’s All-In-One Marketing Software”. Now we want to present our impressions, hoping to be of help and to get your feedback.

The goal of the software is a complete tool for managing the online marketing of a company. It allows to increase the number of visitors of the company’s online content (website, blog, SM), to improve the process of converting more visitors into leads (lead is any contacts that might be a customer and that expressed interest in the company) and to increase the number of customers.

Once installed HubSpot offers very interesting tutorial and a dashboard that guides you to discover the capabilities of the software and track the progress of the trial, that indicates when you have tested all the features available.

The system is composed of several tools grouped by topic in the following categories:

  • Content tools
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools
  • Comunication tools
  • Lead tools
  • Analytics

The “Content tools” allow you to manage your website and blog using the Content Management System (CMS). If you want to manage your website and blog by yourself HubSpot lets you use all other features of the software. Our trial did not use the CMS for the website but only for blog. However we developed a test version of our blog to try the software where we found tools easy to use and powerful. As always in these cases, the choice is between the complete freedom to directly manage online spaces and develop everything you want (with adequate resources of time and/or IT resources) and the ease of use of user-friendly but limiting tools. For instance we have not found possible to satisfy our need to manage the blog in two languages.

From the case studies in the website the results obtained with blogs managed with HubSpot are fantastic, both from a graphical and functional point of view. In our trial it wasn’t possible to achieve similar results, but this may be due to the limited amount of time spent or to the fact that to achieve those results more support from HubSpot is necessary.

We also found the “SEO tools” user friendly. They provide reports and advice on how to improve the performance of your content on search engines. A great tool is HubSpot Website Grader, that can be used for free to evaluate your personal web site in terms of SEO optimization. Definitely interesting are also automated advices that are shown when you write a blog on HubSpot in order to optimize the performance from a SEO point of view. This is a feature that we didn’t find in other similar software.

HubSpot also provides tools to straightforward communicate on SM and automate marketing operations. Really interesting is the functionality to “nurture” your leads by sending them personalized emails and send automated emails to your leads based on their online behavior, in an event driven framework.

We liked the most the features that allow you to analyze the traffic of your website, to understand which are the traffic sources. With these features you can optimally evaluate the impact of social media or of some important quotes on the number of contacts on the site. To consider carefully is also the possibility to compare with main competitors on the basis of appropriate metrics.

Reports and analysis of ROI (Return On Investment) allow to evaluate statistics and significant events in the transition from contacts to leads finally to customers. Certainly is to deepen the interface with CRM systems. HubSpot natively integrates with SugarCRM and Salesforce.com. To integrate with other CRMs HubSpot proposes a list of partners who can help to develop this connection.

The analytics only provide aggregated data and not atomic data. For instance the report of who visits your website only shows the list of companies with the number of connections from the company net, while for private users in our test we were able to obtain only the internet provider, without more precise information on the geographical origin of the contact. This report also generates a bit of confusion since there is no clear distinction between Internet providers and companies from which come direct contacts.

Analytics tools are good but nothing particularly new to those familiar with Google Analytics.

In conclusion for those who are serious about web marketing HubSpot is a fantastic tool, which contains almost every feature you could want for this task. In addition, developers are really active in releasing new and updated tools. Dharmesh Shah, one of the two founders, is still an active and passionate member of the developers, as you can imagine from his tweets.

The software is great but definitely expensive. It starts from around $ 3000 per year for the basic package but the price increases with the number of contacts (a contact is a person in your marketing community who you’ve identified and deliver targeted marketing to). In the Internet there are many complaints about the cost of the software. For small companies and agencies the investment is to be evaluated carefully.

We looked for competitors to HubSpot, and found some interesting at lower prices, for example Raven and Rhino SEO. From a quick analysis of the functionality provided (without testing) they don’t seem complete like HubSpot, but they have similar useful features.

It seems possible to obtain elsewhere and with different tools the same benefits from HubSpot software, but as the single point of management of internet marketing and as a source of methodology and training HubSpot is absolute market leader.

At Nextbit we read books and records of training provided by HubSpot, worked hard during the trial, evaluated and read other reviews about the software. If you need any independent information about HubSpot we welcome you to contact us.

Please leave questions and comments. We value your opinion.

Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs

The book “Inbound Marketing” by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah provides a clear strategic vision about a new way of marketing. According to the authors the revolution in the way of communication driven by social media, necessarily means a revolution in the way of marketing; it’s no longer time to disturb customers with advertising through traditional channels such as traditional media and e-mail marketing (outbound marketing), but you must work to let customers “find” your message when they need it.

For this purpose it is necessary that the website of a company is not only a digital  brochure, as happens too often, but an interactive “hub” where people and companies will be compelled to find you and can find the information they need. And to let customers find you is necessary to exploit tools such as google (giving attention to Search Engine Optimization), social media and if possible a company blog that is able to attract the trust of readers.

At Nextbit we follow the advice of the book and we start to see very good results.

So to quote the words of Guy Kawasaki: “If you have more Money than brains, you should focus on Outbound Marketing. If you have more Brains than money, you should focus on Inbound Marketing by reading this book”. We could not agree more with Guy. Also because the book offers practical ideas very interesting and the two authors, via the company software Hubspot that they founded, also offer the technological tools to implement the strategy proposed in the book.

We have carried out a test of the HubSpot software and in the next post will publish our opinions.

Please leave questions and comments. We value your opinion.

Inbound-Marketing

Social CRM: “Start your engines!”

The success of social media has changed the way people communicate and also the way they look for information about products and finally make purchases. The customer trusts less advertising campaigns and information coming directly from the seller, while in support of buying decisions are increasingly used other consumers opinions contained in blogs or social media.

The companies, some excited other frightened by the new trend, have begun to respond to this change.They are trying to change the way they relate with clients,entering the world of social media with ad hoc profiles and fan pages.

In addition, forward-thinking companies have begun to integrate their CRM data with a huge amount of data from online conversations and actions of customers and prospects, in order to create a real Social Business Intelligence.

social crm

Social CRM, unlike traditional CRM, is focused on customer engagement, and the acknowledgement that the customer controls the conversation. No company can ignore what is happening in blogs and social media, just think to case of Dell, and the enormous economic and reputational damage caused by the opening of the Dell-Hell blog by a customer “unhappy” with the customer care.

A strategic use of social media is instead able to allow companies to engage customers and gain a better picture of customer attitudes towards the brand, products and services offered. Social media can also be used to acquire information about potential customers and to understand better their needs, increasing the speed of communication and improving the level of confidence. Finally, it is very important to recognize and manage those within the community of customers that are able to influence others (top influencers).

There is no doubt that Social CRM is here to stay and above all is becoming increasingly important in marketing and CRM. But it is also true that the initial cost of the main solutions of Social CRM is a major cost, especially considering the difficulty in quantifying the ROI of these investments and the particular moment of crisis we are experiencing.That’s why it’s essential to have a clear strategy to implement before doing expensive acquisitions of software, by defining a roadmap with clear objectives and milestones.

In the next posts we will deepen the concept of Social CRM and explain what Nextbit means by socialization of business processes.