Monthly Archives: February 2014

Bloglette: China’s Tweeters

In China the site for microblogging is Sina Weibo (新浪微博).  A study of retweeting on the Chinese site found that people were more likely to retweet information when the source of the communication exhibited the traits of trustworthiness, expertise and attractiveness.


Determinants of information retweeting in microblogging

Liu, ZhimingLiu, LuLi, HongInternet Research22. 4 (2012): 443-466.



Making Superbowl Ads Work for You


A recent article by Advertising Age reports on the usage of mobile during the Superbowl to drive site visits for products advertised during the game.  The article suggests that people used their mobile devices, phones and tablets to visit the websites of the brands advertised.

Here is the link to the article and my comment, which questions the method.

The article suggests that website visits to Superbowl advertiser sites, but is that the case?  The charts indicate that total website visits increased, not visits to specific advertisers.  Big difference. Could everyone have been on Twitter?

If Superbowl ads do drive direct site visits to those advertisers a company could easily calculate the ROI of a $4 million Superbowl ad (not counting production costs) and make a better decision on whether to make the big game purchase.  Of course, this only works for brands that can monetize site visits or estimate the value of a visitor.   This does not apply to some advertisers such as Pepsi or Doritos, since purchase is driven by in-store factors, but could be important to GM or GoDaddy.

So, is the Superbowl worth the expense for your brand?

A Sick Application


Last night when I was suffering from the stomach flu, I searched Google using the desperate and relatively long tail key word phrase “how to stop throwing up.”  Clearly I was in pretty bad shape, but somehow still thinking of my blog.  I remembered an article  I had read a while back that explained how the CDC, The Center for Disease Control in the US tracks social media for illness to determine outbreaks.  My memory was correct in that the CDC not only tracks flu outbreaks via social media they have even launched a contest to encourage citizens to predict the 2013-2014 flu season.  Here is the beginning of the press release from the CDC:

CDC Competition Encourages Use of Social Media to Predict Flu

November 25, 2013 — CDC has launched the “Predict the Influenza Season Challenge,” a competition designed to foster innovation in flu activity modeling and prediction. The registrant who most successfully predicts the timing, peak and intensity of the 2013-2014 flu season using social media data (e.g., Twitter, internet search data, web surveys) will receive an award of $75,000 and CDC recognition. Full details of the contest requirements – including eligibility rules, how to enter the contest, and scoring – are available via the official contest announcement at

Aside from the CDC there is an app called Sickweather that uses social media to track outbreaks of a variety of illnesses scanning Twitter and Facebook.  The result is an interactive map showing the areas around the country for infections and other health issues.  I thought this was interesting, but not particularly useful for me.  I was quite aware that the stomach flu was going around.  At least three kids in my child’s class had the flu and on Wednesday, my child got it.  It was passed to me in spite of extra hand washing.

Unfortunately even knowing that the illness was present did not make it possible for me to avoid getting ill. The sickweather app might provide some interesting information, but can’t make up for the realities of parenthood.  One area where it may be helpful is in cases of food poisoning.  Sickweather could track names of restaurants that made people sick.  However, publicly posting this information without clear evidence may have its own issues.

The amount of knowledge and potentially predictive behavior is fascinating, though my illness would not have shown up on Twitter or Facebook.  Google likely has the stronger data set given that it includes search information and also social media.

Here is to avoiding illness and keeping up the fluids…

Click here for: The article on Sickweather from the Star Tribune