Power of #Now: Connecting People in a Transparent World

Chris Moody, VP Data Strategy at Twitter, talked in Cannes about how human activity can be described and analysed as energy. Harnessing that energy can have very useful applications for marketers and brands.

How do we measure this energy?

The source is human activity and interactions on Twitter, which we can measure by the number of tweets sent at any given moment about any subject to determine the amount of human energy pointed towards the subject.

By plotting a subject’s energy levels over time, we can get a sense of how the energy is distributed. There are two interesting views when displaying the energy levels.

The lightning bolts

Lightning bolt graphic

Every once in a while a significant event causes a high surge in energy, they are mostly viral cases.  They are called the lightning bolts: these events can be predictable or unpredictable.

Think of big events like music festivals or music award ceremonies. Tweets about #flowfestival or #grammys can be quite scarce throughout the year, but then during the event the conversation explodes to life. From the energy graph you can see that around the event the conversation suddenly bursts to huge amounts of tweets per minute, and then simmers down to the regular levels. On the graph, it looks like a lightning bolt.

When the lightning bolt is predicable, we can prepare with our own contribution to the conversation. Many times, though, we lightning bolts strike out of the blue.

An event like #TheDress can catch everyone off guard. Suddenly the whole world is talking about something completely random. If a company has a competent and clever social media team, they can quickly produce a relevant message and ride the wave, giving of an impression of being cool, current and in the know.

The lightning bolts are exciting, memorable events. Harnessing the energy from these events to your brand’s interaction with the world is a good way to stand out. So what about the other type of energy?

The current

Current title graphic

The current is a more general type of energy flow. It is steadier and more predictable. The normalized curve of the current usually steadily rises and descends. The high point means daytime and the low point means night.

The conversation in the steadier energy flow stems from a more general topic, like #music. Over longer periods, the lightning bolts of more specific topics create large surges of energy, but the more general topic’s energy can be efficiently harnessed to support your brands messages.

On the graph you can see if the general level of discussion of a topic rises over the course of a year. For example, in summer #music might be more active than in winter thanks to large music festivals around the world. A great thing is, you can also effectively analyze the energy at an hour level to see what time of day is popular for that topic. You can evaluate if you want to post your message just before, during or just after the high point of the conversation, or perhaps even seize an opportunity at a low point when the topic is not so saturated with messages.

It is easy to get caught in the lightning bolts, and it is definitely important to prepare for and react during these events. However, do not forget that there is a general, steady energy that can also be harnessed to benefit your brand effectively.


Helsinki pride tweets per hour Monday-Monday

Here we see how #helsinkipride’s energy level was active in the week leading up to the parade on Saturday, the day when the energy level burst to its peak. The graph shows tweets per hour at each point. As comparison, during the preceding week the energy levels were practically inexistent.

Line graph for #throwback for a random week Monday to Sunday

Here is a random week's tweets per hour for #throwback. It has a quite steady energy level throughout the whole week, but we can see that on Thursday it climbs a bit higher than on other days, likely because of the “Throwback Thursday” theme. From this we can presume that Thursday would be most appropriate time to contribute to the #throwback conversation.

Make this work for you

How can your brand use this energy to its advantage? Tapping into the science of human activity can give you an edge in your audience's feeds. Get in touch with Dingle and let's get you set up with a content strategy and begin harnessing the power of #now.