October 13, 2010

Digital Profiles: A Blogchat Case Study

There are many ways to use Digital Profiles to understand user behavior. Let's take an example from a Social Media Sunday Night tradition called "Blogchat".

In this example, I summed activity across 155 users from a 2009 blogchat. Each user could contribute in one of five ways:
  1. Statement: The user makes a comment without referencing any other users. In other words, the user is creating original commentary, something that is pretty darn important, right?
  2. Response/Comment: The user is responding to somebody else, or is making a comment that the user wants a specific user to read.
  3. Mentions: The user is specifically mentioned by another user in a tweet.
  4. Re-Tweeter: The user re-tweets something said by another user.
  5. Re-Tweeted: The user makes a statement/response/comment that somebody else re-tweets.
We sum the number of times each twitter_id has activity in one of those five buckets. Now, we apply the Digital Profile methodology to 155 users.
  • Factor / Principal Components Analysis.
  • Choose Top Three Factors.
  • Find Median Value For Each Factor.
  • Score Each Customer As Being In Top/Bottom Half Of Each Factor.
  • 2*2*2 = 8 Digital Profiles.
Let's review each Digital Profile.

Digital Profile #1 = The Elite.
  • 17 Twitter Users.
  • 5.5 Original Statements.
  • 15.6 Responses / Comments.
  • 20.6 Mentions By Others.
  • 3.1 Times User Re-Tweeted Other Statements.
  • 6.8 Times User Was Re-Tweeted By Others.
Digital Profile #2 = Heavy Users
  • 8 Twitter Users.
  • 4.1 Original Statements.
  • 11.1 Responses / Comments.
  • 12.4 Mentions By Others.
  • 0.1 Times User Re-Tweeted Other Statements.
  • 3.1 Times User Was Re-Tweeted By Others.
Digital Profile #3 = Valuable Commenters
  • 7 Twitter Users.
  • 0.6 Original Statements.
  • 10.3 Responses / Comments.
  • 8.6 Mentions By Others.
  • 2.7 Times User Re-Tweeted Other Statements.
  • 3.4 Times User Was Re-Tweeted By Others.
Digital Profile #4 = Other Commenters
  • 34 Twitter Users.
  • 0.1 Original Statements.
  • 4.6 Responses / Comments.
  • 4.3 Mentions By Others.
  • 0.0 Times User Re-Tweeted Other Statements.
  • 0.6 Times User Was Re-Tweeted By Others.
Digital Profile #5 = The Audience
  • 53 Twitter Users.
  • 0.4 Original Statements.
  • 0.2 Responses / Comments.
  • 0.6 Mentions By Others.
  • 0.8 Times User Re-Tweeted Other Statements.
  • 0.4 Times User Was Re-Tweeted By Others.
Digital Profile #6 = The Ignored
  • 19 Twitter Users.
  • 1.6 Original Statements.
  • 0.6 Responses / Comments.
  • 0.6 Mentions By Others.
  • 0.0 Times User Re-Tweeted Other Statements.
  • 1.0 Times User Was Re-Tweeted By Others.
Digital Profile #7 = Spreading The Word
  • 13 Twitter Users.
  • 0.1 Original Statements.
  • 1.9 Responses / Comments.
  • 1.7 Mentions By Others.
  • 3.9 Times User Re-Tweeted Other Statements.
  • 0.9 Times User Was Re-Tweeted By Others.
Digital Profile #8 = Outsiders
  • 4 Twitter Users.
  • 0.0 Original Statements.
  • 0.2 Responses / Comments.
  • 1.3 Mentions By Others.
  • 0.0 Times User Re-Tweeted Other Statements.
  • 1.3 Times User Was Re-Tweeted By Others.
Ok, there are eight Digital Profiles. Each Digital Profile describes a specific type of user.

Of the 155 individuals, only 17 qualify as "The Elite". They create the most original content of any Digital Profile, in fact, 50% of all original content produced in this event came from just 17 of 155 users. This is an important fact ... almost none of the audience is producing original content, but this original content is going to get spread across the entire community, shaping the views of the other 138 users.

"Heavy Users" are different in one important way ... these folks do not "re-tweet" the content of other individuals. They create content, they respond to others, but they do not purposely share content created by others. This is in stark contrast to the majority of users.

"Valuable Commenters" are a very different but important user. These folks do not create original content, but they are quick to respond to the content created by other folks, and their responses are re-tweeted and shared by others. In other words, they modify and amplify original content in a valuable manner.

"Other Commenters" play an important role in sustaining the community. At 20% of the total audience, they respond to original content, but their feedback is not re-tweeted by others. This is an amazing group, as their content is largely unselfish, propping up the social status of The Elite and Heavy Users.

The largest group is "The Audience". These folks are undoubtedly paying attention to the rest of the conversation, but are generally not participating. The Audience represent a full 33% of the total audience. Their primary job is to re-tweet a comment from The Elite or from Heavy Users just one time, sampling something useful from the overall stream of information and then sharing it with their audience.

The next Digital Profile is "The Ignored". These folks create content, and their content is ignored by the remainder of the community! This is another 15% of the audience. To me, this is a fascinating profile, as they are one of only a handful of folks that create unique content ... but the content is not embraced by the community.

The next Digital Profile is "Spreading The Word". 13 users play the role of extensive re-tweeting. In fact, these 13 users (less than 10% of the community) represent almost a third of all re-tweets.

77% of the users in this analysis either commented on original content, re-tweeted content, or created original content that was ignored by almost all users. This is a key problem in social media, or maybe it is a key problem in life. 3/4th of the community provide support that directly benefits The Elite / Heavy Users.

The final Digital Profile is called "Outsiders" ... these four individuals represented user_ids that were not really part of the conversation, but were mentioned by folks participating in blogchat.


Digital Profiles can be applied to just about any dataset. In this case, we use Digital Profiles to ultimately learn that, in this example, a small number of social media elite create original content that is spread to a wide audience by the majority of this community.

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