Category Archives: Measuring Social Media

Call to Bookmark, Become a Fan Intensifies for Game Apps

The push by marketers to be “bookmarked” has been going on since the Favorites tab first showed up in web browsers. A bookmark on Facebook is the Holy Grail for an app developer: sitting in the footer of every Facebook page is the only way to be consistently “above the fold” and in the view of a user. However, more social games are also encouraging users to become fans of an app, too. More on that below.

Recent changes and trends are making these channels more meaningful to developers:

  • The Facebook homepage newsfeed has defaulted from a real-timefeed (where users only typically see it if they get online within four to six hours after the item was posted) to an algorithmic feed that users may never see,
  • Notifications (which at least are continuously highlighted till you click on them) are going away in the very near future, and
  • A recent study of US women by Q Interactive showed that 85 percent of them use five or fewer games/apps regularly (you can make your own inferences that there are only six bookmark spots in the Facebook footer).

It would be interesting to understand the correlation between being bookmarked and visit frequency (which I think itself is highly correlated to propensity to pay). Lacking that data, we CAN take a look at how well developers are getting users to become a fan of their application. Some of the bigger developers have several games at a low 5% Fans/MAU rate, but there are some notable exceptions (like Pet Society) that hit 15%. See the full analysis in the full post on

Benchmarking Your Facebook Application: How Engaging is it?

Many sites, like Inside Social Games, rank the top games on Facebook based on the monthly active users, but daily active users is a much more instructive measurement if you want to understand how engaged users are with a specific Facebook application. For example, using data provided by Developer Analytics, Mind Jolt is the #2 game application when looking at Monthly Active Users (over 16.3 million) but the daily active users is just under 2.1 million, ranking it 10th overall.

By comparing the Monthly Active Users (showing the reach of a game) versus the Daily Active Users (showing the engagement), you can see which games are the stickiest and which ones have a real churn issue. For Mind Jolt in the example above, they have a 12.6% stickiness factor (2.1/16.3) meaning of the 16.3 million people who used the application, only about 13% use the application daily.

The average “Sticky Factor” for the top 25 applications on Facebook is 18%.

The Big Churners

So what applications attract users but can’t seem to retain them? Many of these are the past stars of Facebook, initially popular like Living Social (the Top Five lists) or Movies (quiz mania). A passing fad with little staying power:

Application Monthly Active Daily Active Sticky Factor
Movies 20,446,560 894,197 4.4%
Causes 23,401,221 1,067,921 4.6%
We’re Related 17,007,440 777,749 4.6%
Top Friends 12,383,916 580,073 4.7%
Living Social 23,013,301 1,763,091 7.7%

The Most Sticky

There is no surprise that some of the most useful applications (Facebook for Blackberry and Mobile is just outside the top five) are among the most sticky, but the top games (Farm Town and Farmville) also rank highly, suggesting good game play design is bring users back every day. Here’s the top five:

Application Monthly Active Daily Active Sticky Factor
Facebook for Blackberry 7,746,122 4,284,788 55.3%
Happy Farm 1,682,541 674,263 40.1%
Farm Town 14,902,946 5,159,788 34.6%
Farmville 17,036,997 5,322,426 31.2%
Restaurant City 8,733,452 2,605,067 29.8%

How are the Top Developers Doing?

Of the top multi-game providers Zynga and Playfish are way ahead the rest and have some winners and under-performers:

  • Zynga (16.3 mllion daily active users): Farmville 31.2%, Mafia Wars 25.4%, Vampire Wars 24.9%, YoVille 20.3%, Texas Hold’em 19.4%, Street Racing 16.4%
  • Playfish (8.0 million DAU): Crazy Planet 33.6%, Restaurant City 29.8%, Pet Society 26.1%, Word Challenge 8.6%, Biggest Brain 7.4%, Geo Challenge 7.2%,

Other key developers:

  • PopCap (1.3 million DAU) is the “grand-daddy” in the casual games space and their initial foray into Facebook with Bejeweled Blitz (a slightly above-average 21.6% stickiness rate) is just outside the Top Ten applications. Zuma is up next for them.
  • Metrogames (1.2 million DAU) has tried to bring arcade games in with middling success, in large part due to poor stickiness: Biotrnic 12.2%,, Waka-Waka 9.6%, Typing Maniac 5.9%
  • Playdom (0.9 million DAU), which is looking to repeat its success on MySpace to the Facebook platform is generally launching games with lower than average stickiness: Sorority Life 14.1%, Mobsters 11.7%, Poker Palace 11.2%

By using this simple factor, you can now benchmark your application versus others and work to optimize your retention. When it comes to social games, it may just come down to how fun the game is.

Breaking Down the Top 50 Magazines Use of Social Media

Last week I introduced a Benchmarking tool called the Going Digital, Getting Social Scorecard™ (GDGSS) as a way to measure how different brands were leveraging different social media tools and to try to uncover best practices. The initial study was looking at the top 50 US Magazines by circulation and looked at how successful these brands were in getting their paid subscription base to their website as well as measuring their engagement using social media platforms like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

While last week I presented the aggregate score leaders, this week I’ll break down each of the components, showing the leaders in each category.

Percent of Circulation to Website

I took data from Quantcast to identify the average monthly visitors for each site and divided that by the paid circulation for 2008 to come up with a very simple ration of monthly visitors to circulation. Not surprisingly the eight of the Top 10 at right are very news oriented with a continual feed of data: sports (ESPN, Sports Illustrated); financial markets (Money); Entertainment (People, EW) ; and general news (Newsweek, Time, US News & World Report).

ESPN and Money are actually outliers with over 6x their paid circulation coming to the website: for ESPN there relly isn’t a magazine site separate from the huge ESPN website and Money is actually CNN Money which puts its website more closely tied with the cable news network than with the print magazines on this list. Thus Entertainment Weekly and People are the true benchmarks in being able to drive traffic better than their peers, generating over three times their respective circulations to their websites.

Facebook Engagement

Over 80% of the top 50 US magazines by circulation have created a presence on Facebook (I could find no presence for Self, Money, In Style, FamilyFun, Parenting, Remedy, Field & Stream and Endless Vacation). To measure the top performers on Facebook, I looked at the number of Fans they have accumulated for the Fan Page, and rather than look at just how many status updates they posted, I looked at the engagement rate for those posts: the number of “Likes” and Comments their posts generated divided by the number of fans. This highlights publishers that are actually producing valuable and engaging content for their audience, versus those just regurgitating some bland posts from their magazine.

National Geographic and Playboy lead the group to a large extent based on the huge number of fans (Playboy leads all publishers with over 1.2 million fans, National Geographic is 2nd with just under 500,000 at the time of the study – July 14-21, 2009). Playboy made 18 posts over a week, generating nearly 21,000 consumer interactions with nearly 1,165 per post. National Geographic was more sparse in its posts (only three over the week) but generated 2.5x the response rate of Playboy (nearly 1,293 per post). Here’s a case where National Geographic could probably increase the frequency of posts and generate more customer interactions.

But big fan numbers are not the norm for these publications – only seven of the 42 titles with a Facebook presence have over 50,000 fans and the median is 4,099. Plus engagement rates are pretty mediocre, averaging only 0.36% of the fans either liking or commenting on the posts. Low engagement rates are a mix of timing (there is a lot to compete against and my previous study showed you make over half of your responses happen in the first 90 minutes after a post) and the content itself.

Some niche sites, like Birds and Blooms and VFW have paltry Facebook Fan numbers (both under 1000 fans) but their content speaks to these niches with the highest engagement rates of 2.11% and 0.88% respectively. Obviously this is no different from other media, where there is always the balance between generating fans (or page views in the example of online advertising) versus engagement rates (or click-thrus to continue the analogy).

Just like in online advertising where teams continually modify creative to maintain click-thru rates on ads, optimization for Facebook Fan Pages is equally important and requires monitoring engagement rates, identifying what kinds of content clicks with consumers, and then looking at what time of day tends to get the best response rates.

MySpace Reach

In complete contrast to Facebook, only eight of the top 50 US magazines by circulations have created a presence on MySpace, and those that have (see right) are generally younger-facing brands.

MySpace may be misunderstood and difficult for marketers to manage: people denigrate the audience, the interface is overwhelming and chaotic, the search function is difficult (try finding Rolling Stone) and there are a lot of faux brand sites that can mislead users (search for People Magazine).

That said, there is a large audience on MySpace that shouldn’t be overlooked and a couple brands like Maxim, Rolling Stone, Cosmo and Seventeen have shown they can create compelling sites.

Unlike Facebook, it’s hard to really measure engagement, so I used number of Friends as a basis for ranking the sites, where Maxim has 92,499. Rolling Stone is a natural on the music-laden MySpace platform with over 42,000 fans, but Seventeen Magazine has nearly 55,000 fans. Self and Martha Stewart Living get points for at least getting a presence on MySpace, but both have fewer than 100 friends.

Maxim and Playboy could learn a thing from each other (Maxim only has 3,811 fans on Facebook, Playboy has no presence on MySpace that I could find), while the presences of Cosmo and Seventeen seem to suggest that entertainment-focused mags (like People, US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly) could better tap into this audience.

Twitter Reach

More of the top 50 magazines by circulation have a Twitter account than a Facebook presence (only these six don’t have a Twitter account that I could find: US News & World Report, FamilyFun, Woman’s Day, Remedy, Field & Stream and Endless Vacation).

To benchmark the Twitter engagement, I looked at Followers (although I tempered it by docking brands with huge Following rates, especially those with those on a 1:1 ratio) and the relative number of Tweets in a 7 day period. Again, these are admittedly poor tools in looking at engagement as ideally you’d look at click through rates (see some benchmarking I did for Zappos Tweets) or responses, but neither of these are easily identified or public. Much like Facebook, you’d want to measure and hone your content strategy to improve engagement, but for this we’re looking really at reach (how many followers you broadcast to) instead of Engagement.

At the time of this study, Time Magazine had over 1.12 million followers, Martha Stewart was next with 1.10 million. Only four other magazines have over 100,000 Twitter followers: People (966,000), InStyle (732,000), Entertainment Weekly (632,000) and Newsweek (435,000). The median number of followers for the Top 50 that had a Twitter account was 8,862 followers.

With regard to Tweet frequency, the average was about 7 tweets per day, the median was just under 5. The most prolific Tweeter was Money with 35 a day covering every blip in the financial markets. Glamour was next, with their five editors across different subjects tweeting nearly 25 times a day. And in third was Sports Illustrated, with just over 20 tweets a day.

A Start, But More to Do

I think the Going Digital, Getting Social Scorecard™ is a very rudimentary start at getting some benchmarks for marketers to compare themselves versus the competition in different industries, but there are a lot of issues that marketers and social media platforms need to address:

  • Better engagement benchmarks: As I mentioned in their respective sections above, publicly available information that helps you measure engagement from both Twitter and MySpace is hard to get. While Fan Page owners have access to aggregated engagement stats, breaking down individual posts by type classification, time and responses is an extremely manual process. For companies to really turn to these tools, social media companies need to build better ROI and analysis tools (Facebook and Omniture has started some of this, but I’m not certain if engagement factors – Likes and Comments – are aggregated).
  • The social media numbers here are incredibly small: Each of these publications have over 1.4 million paid subscribers, yet we are talking about an average 4,100 Facebook Fans and 8,800 Twitter followers. For success and scale in social media, it really is about having a brand niche and developing a content strategy that engages that audience (see my Between the Tweets analysis of Whole Foods). Magazine, which are essentially very niche content strategies, are uniquely positioned to leverage that niche socially, but…
  • Ultimately it’s your strategy, your success metrics: At the end of the day, the number of followers or fans your brand has doesn’t really make a difference. The focus has to be on defining your strategy in using these tools, defining metrics for success, and continually optimizing the channel.