One of the interesting aspects of participating in a network is to understand your reach. The benefit of social media is that your reach extends past the people you touch directly, to unimagined nodes of the network. If you use Twitter, you may be familiar with the concept of message forwarding called re-tweeting. This often inserts RT or MT (mention) in front of your username to show that someone else is forwarding a message authored by you.
You can see these forwarded messages in your social media stream. It was a surprise to me when I realized that the message might actually have been forwarded or re-shared far more than my Twitter stream showed. It makes one wonder whether the algorithms that are used for social media influence measuring sites are also missing out.
Making a Ripple
Here’s an example of a message I shared recently.
It went out to my followers and was not retweeted by anyone. But it was picked up by one of the people who aggregates social media messages into an online newspaper at Paper.li. When that page is created, it generates a message that lets me know that the message has been included.
That is the only mention of the message. It’s not much reach, although being included in that page means a much greater amplification, since the page and the resulting Twitter message appear in a very influential social media stream.
Unearthing More Connections
I have found that Hootsuite will often return additional results beyond those shown in Twitter. Hootsuite allows you to follow your Twitter and other social media streams all in one place. . In many, but not all, cases, Twitter ignores forwarded messages that do not place the RT or MT in proximity to your username. You can add a stream in Hootsuite using your username (davidpwhelan) as the search keyword. This will retrieve any use of your name. You may also want to include your real name (David Whelan) because sometimes people will cite something to you without knowing that you have a social media account.
You can also find references by searching your username on sites like Topsy.com or SocialMention.com. They can unearth additional references to your username or topic to let you know whether your message is reaching further out into the network. Both search engines can be set up to e-mail you additional results or deliver them as an RSS feed. Here is what happened to a previous mention in the Competitive Intelligence Today page:
If the message you sent has a link in it and it’s shortened with Bitly, you can add a plus to the end to see if anyone has clicked on it. If you take http://bit.ly/epACFQ and append a plus sign (http://bit.ly/epACFQ+), you can get to the information page behind the scenes. This can help you see how many clicks are made, where they come from, and sometimes see messages that do not otherwise appear in your mention stream.
My personal interest is to see how far some ripples go. Businesses and people trying to see if social media is useful for their clients and audience may be able to get a better sense of their success during the relatively short time that a social media message is relevant.