Dec 11

Kevrichard 2011 in Review

Note: This is more of a personal post and a bit of a departure from what I normally write here. This is a continuation of my year in review post of 2009 (alright I skipped a year…) and perhaps something that’s  important for me to do as just a personal exercise more than anything else.

So my life in 2011, looking at it as a whole I can’t really make a judgement on whether it was a good or bad year. It had some positive aspects and some negative aspects. I guess I can say that it’s been a year of growth and personal understanding more than anything else.Ending off from 2010 I came in from a point of uncertainty. I didn’t end the year off with a bam … maybe more so a little bit of a whimper so coming into 2011 I didn’t know where I was going. I think I’ve been fortunate enough that moving forward from that rough patch others saw particular talents and set me on a course for personal success (hat tip to those involved).

Moving forward with this shift in focus I would say that 2011 became more so about learning the business of social than just being elbows deep in data. While previously I was doing a lot of behind the scenes analytics work I started to see the whole picture. I dealt with client, client/project managers and whomever else was along the way in delivering the end project. While 2010 was very much the year of ‘the quant’ where I learned  quantitative analysis and technologies, 2011 was the year of ‘the business man’ for learning client needs and what it would take to properly deliver them.

This past year I think I also came out of my shell a bit and took some risks. Something I pat myself on the back for is signing up for a mixed martial arts gym. Going in I was anxious as hell. This was something I didn’t know the first thing about and I felt  out of my element. I had a bit of experience with Kick Boxing so striking I nervously did but being involved in the first few times of grappling classes (where the goal is taking down and pinning the other person) I felt like I was going to break myself. What was the result in the end? I stuck it out, had a lot of fun and continued going to classes. While I haven’t been going as much as I’d like to, my goal for 2012 (or early 2013) is to get my white level shorts demonstrating my seriousness to learning about the sport.

OK so this was a Halloween picture (and I never get bloody) but this is me in my MMA wraps. Picture credit: @vivve

Additionally I think I brought something out of myself that I had a feeling for but with the proper actions it  became much more evident. After hitting a few work projects “out of the park”  an opportunity came up where while I was considered a junior for, with the support of people I respected I dived into. Without going into massive detail, my task was to put together a presentation with my own discretion for direction in what became a one night marathon session. The end result was a bit rough in presentation style and content but overall came out solidly and became something I was proud of.  It demonstrated skills I didn’t normally get to exercise and showed an area for personal growth which I enjoyed but had not kept on my radar until recently.

Positivity unfortunately comes with negative aspects and at times this year I had some ‘bumpy’ parts. One of the things I look back on for this year that I didn’t follow through with as part of my goals from 2010  is the building and maintaining of relationships. Especially when things got less than ideal I did find myself  less likely to reach out to people or be as socially active as I normally have been. Note to friends: if you’re feeling like I haven’t been in contact with you in a long time feel free to ping me and call me out on it!

My attempt at Movember. While it was an awesome mustache, without superior campaign implementation (something I potentially could have done) I would have fund-raised a lot more for the cause.


When times in life got rough I also regretted that  I sometimes didn’t stick to my guns and instead became more  passive. Staying true to your values has always been something I’ve respected of people around me. I feel it says something about your strength of character and presents true leadership abilities. Anyone with some knowledge of political history knows that the truly memorable leaders were those who held what they valued close to their hearts (Trudeau is one of my idols). I really felt like I reverted back to old habits and let things pass over me with just a whimper rather than speak out about things. I definitely need to take note that this is not where I want to let things go to moving forward.

A year consists of 365 days so while my post is long it definitely didn’t cover everything, like how my weight ballooned a bit… *sigh* As I’m getting older I’m finding while things don’t immediately seem to match together, looking back at things as a whole events seem to somehow become pieced together and make more sense. This year I feel I got a bit deeper of an understanding of myself and knowledge of changes I hope to put in place in regards to what I do and how I operate. While some predict 2012 as the ‘end of the world’ my prediction is that 2012 is a year where things get serious and more so where we’re going to see people jump into action.



Dec 11

What Facebook Should Do With Gowalla

With the rumour out that Facebook is looking to purchase location based social network Gowalla,  discussion is beginning about what the social network could use this new asset for. While Facebook’s location based services haven’t yet caught on, for myself and I’m sure many other data focused marketers the potential of having a successful location service which is tied in with Facebook has been the subject matter of maybe a few dreams!

The Potential For Location Based Data

In a recent update of its systems Facebook has improved the insights dashboard that fan page owners can use to analyse their efforts. Companies can now have a more in depth look at how and how much of their fan base and Facebook users in general interact with the brand generated messaging  being  put out. Adding data from a location based service could add an even deeper (and more meaningful) additional layer to these new features.

There is a large list of potential benifits to measurement and analysis that location based data could create (I’ve had some time to think about it) but in regards to Facebook and fan pages I can think of particularly two scenarios of how location based data could be used when thinking  about brands with retail locations:

Analysis As To What Drives Fans To Purchase: Businesses could potentially see the correlation between the traffic to their stores and the content they had posted during a particular time frame. In the case of for example a product announcement,  a company could potentially measure check ins to the company’s stores to see if there was an increase in visits and linking it back to the firms sales data they could determine if against past product launches there was an increase of decrease in sales.

Determining Where Your Fans Shop: For retail chains knowing the makeup of your customer base on a store by store level is another potential use. By taking a look at the demographic data of users who have checked in, the firm can see if a particular type of customer is more likely to shop at a certain location. From this data  the firm can also have a look if there any particular purchasing trends among this sub set. Looking at this data in a time series could additionally provide insight as to if particular promotions or products should be added or augmented to fit the particular grouping of customers.

In the next few weeks we’ll see if the rumours of Gowalla’s acquisition by Facebook are true or if a few news sources  have to maybe review who they get their info from ;) . None the less, for companies on Facebook and otherwise tapping into the databases of  location based services still hold a lot of potential for improving their results. As brands continue to look deeper into the data that’s available through social media and online sources cwe’ll have to see if these location based services will come into play.




Nov 11

Why I Sometimes Don’t ‘Like’ The Like

At times I have a bit of a love /hate relationship with the ‘like’ on Facebook posts and spread across the web.  I think we can all agree that it is an action, it’s a sign that someone’s awake or at least somewhat conscious of what they are clicking. What it isn’t? A sale of product or a sign that the user has just done about face and has professed their love  of your brand. Overall though there seems to be a sort of fixation on this simple engagement.

Like this if you like Puppies!

Asking users to like something does have its tactical uses. Those who are a bit educated about the ins and outs of the Facebook news feed know that a user engaging with a source’s content frequently equals a higher relevancy score to the content source. Throwing up a piece of content that is generally enjoyable and asking users to like it means that the relevancy score is  bumped up a few spots and fans are just a bit more likely to see your content. Does this mean you should flood your feed with “LIKE THIS!” content? Well if that’s the sort of depth you want your brand to have then go for it! What this won’t do is sell your product or improve a users thoughts on certain attributes of your product unfortunately.

Time to throw away the ‘like’?

Am I asking people to ignore the ‘like’ completely? Absolutely not! Should the like engagement be considered along with other factors? Yes!   Compare it to consumer response (what are people saying in the comments) , the propensity of users to like your key messaging compared to other content  and I could go on…. Measuring channel success  in my opinion means measuring how you are changing people’s perception of your brand and product. Are people more likely to talk positively about your brand and as a result  increasing sales because of WOM? Has your brand gone from being seen as stale to something that people have feelings for? And lastly at the end of it all have you been able to track increased dollars going into your firms bank account?  At the end of the day changing minds rather than encouraging clicks should be the end goal, not the afterthought.

Nov 11

Can I Get Dirty With Your Data?

The initial steps of data analysis; Collecting data from various sources, ensuring the accuracy of the data and then putting it all into a legible format. Doing the grunt work of social media analytics (or really any data analysis) is not the most fun or glamorous part of the process but through my experience I’ve learned that having this level of intimacy with your data is an important  part of in ensuring the delivery of solid insight and analysis .

Getting In Close With The Numbers

Having to compile the different parts of your data puts you at a level of closeness with it that is not as easy to get otherwise. Entering in each source and dealing with all the tools you see almost instantly when there is a gap or significant change within your metrics because you see all the data points in front of you. Compare this with just getting summary data and you just get a snap shot of the entire picture of what is happening. Let’s just say this is like taking your data out for the day compared to having a quick phone call with them. One is much more effective in getting your desired result than the other.

Dressing up your data. Picture C/O Exey Panteleev


Having Your Way with The Data:

When all of the grunt work is done and your data set is put together and prettied up you tend to already have a sense of what you want to explore when you actually go and do your analysis. You’ll know where all the sweet spots are and try to determine why things happened the way they did. Experiencing all the parts of the data as a whole rather than in separation there’s a better understanding of the linkages and causes of change in the data. You are better able to see where something went up as a result of X or Y action. By having your hands in everything means you are able to get in there and push the right buttons to get the best end result.

Growing Old Together:               

In my work there have been some data sets that I’ve dealt with for a LONG time, sometimes since their inception going months back. Much like a long term relationship with a person you can get a read on when things are going as per usual or even great but you can also see when there is a significant drop off or unexpected event. In this sense your mental set is more finely tuned to see the trends and linkages within your data store. When your data set is mad at you, you know almost immediately to do something to fix it!

The 'sexy' end result. Picture C/O @BenLucier


Setting Yourself Up For The “Money Shot”

When all is said and done, the data is all in and you’re fully into writing the report, by knowing your data you are able to tell the right story and enter in the best summary metrics to share with your client. In the end, the job of an analyst is to see the data and make sense of it in the best way possible for your specific audience. Your “money shot” in all of this is when your client is sent off with the best insight and recommendations that they can take action on. When they are happy that they are seeing improvement in their operations or learning something useful that they can apply to their business this means increased results and profit for your organization. Essentially  something people will pay to see ;).

Oct 11

Why the iPhone 4S Was Not For The Early Adopters

Its now been a few hours after the much anticipated iPhone announcement.  The upcoming  iPhone 4S has been announced and the general sentiment I’m seeing from those with a vested  interest in Apple (ie: Investors) and those who are fans of the brand (early adopters,iPhone users) is of general disappointment. No there aren’t any huge innovations. No the iPhone hasn’t been completely redesigned. Without a shiny object they all can swoon over of course they are disappointed. For Apple at this moment  though that’s not  really important. This launch wasn’t a showing of Apple’s latest and greatest. Simply put this launch was designed  for everyone else!

Keeping Up With Competitors:

Apple is smart in realizing that the market is making a small shift. Previously phones with single core processors were good enough but soon that won’t be the case. With competitors like LG and Samsung bringing out phones with Dual core processors, consumers consumers will see two things when they buy a new phone over the next year: phones with 2 cores and phones with only 1.

As a tech company, Apple needs to have this upgrade because when they are being compared to other high spec’d phones they definitely don’t want to be seen as one of the firms in the second column with only one core. What could it mean for Apple if they did? This would be seen as a slow weakening of the brand. For a company that has built a brand on being innovative to be seen as falling behind is a big deal and in this sense the iPhone 4S ensures that Apple in the short term is able to keep up with ‘the Joneses’.

Getting the rest of Consumers On Board:

In selling phones Apple is also  unique against its competitors that it sells just one brand. For a company in Apples standing only to have one phone means that the market  it can target is very limited. Much like the release of the iPhone 3GS  sold along side the iPhone 3, the addition of the iPhone 4S opens up a new product line for Apple which allows them to sell to different segments (along the lines of the “Technology Adoption Lifecycle‘).

Looking at this cycle its easy to see that Apple’s early adopters are already very settled into the iPhone 4 product line (as well as into multi-year contracts) and aren’t very likely to buy anything just yet. What the iPhone 4 will do is grab tech consumers  who need a phone now and  are neutral to what phone they get as long as its  the latest technology. They will see that Dual Core is the latest and greatest and in their research Apple hopes that these consumers will go its way.

Moving back down to the iPhone 4 this is a phone for those who are more so  in the middle ground and would probably be considered the Early or Late Majority. In their eyes they know that the iPhone is a solid product but they are a bit more sensitive to price and not as sensitive to technical specs. They like that they can get the iPhone 4 at a cheaper price and are willing to give up that its only about a half generation off of what the latest model is.

Last but not least is the iPhone 3GS which is the bottom of the barrel phone. Not to be mistaken as a bad phone, this phone is now considered aging and is primely targeted at the Late Majority and Laggards who don’t care for the latest and greatest technology but are more so price sensitive and will see having an Apple Phone as an added bonus to a purchase they make more so out of necessity.

Early Adopters and Apple Fans Will Have Their Turn:

As disappointed Apple Fans and early adopters are that they don’t  have a new shiny product they can swoon over, I think its safe to assume that come early 2012 (if not sooner) Apple will have some  new product announcements to make. Of course its key that for Apple to stay relevant they need to be constantly innovating and giving customers an opportunity to invest in its brand. Looking outside of this though  something just as  important for Apple to grasp onto is an expanded market share. By expanding its product reach along all lines of technology consumers  they ensure that a larger audience has its hands on their products and supply them with the incremental cash flow they need over the longer term.

Sep 11

Is Sharing the New ‘Like’ on Facebook?

Getting users to ‘like’ their content has been a strategy of many Facebook fan page owners in recent weeks because it quickly amasses simple engagements and creates awareness of the page. But with users given better ability to curate the content on their news feed and profiles, being able to focus more so on app and ‘life period’ content, this mode of user engagement may not be as useful moving forward.

Engagement above the fold:

With the new OpenGraph optimized news feed, a separation has been made between content more useful to the user which is the first thing they see along with everything else further down the page. As this feature allows us to grab just quick information on the go we are less likely to scroll down the page and view everything else. This includes that post to ‘like’ carrots from the food fan page you liked a few weeks ago!

Can you ‘share’ this?

Without the full changes to Facebook completely implemented it’s hard to make an exact prediction to how corporate content will operate (sponsored posts anyone?) but with demos from the recent F8 and some functionality already in place some predictions can be made.

Prediction ONE: Posts of major announcements and big campaigns will reach higher on the news feed. Why? Much like with Twitter, people want to be the first ones to share breaking news and content with their friends. As a result this may lead to multiple content shares (increasing volume relevancy) and friend discussion on the topic ultimately driving this content higher up the news feed.

Prediction TWO:  Branded apps will become a stronger way to engage with fans. Why?  The creation of brand relevant apps where users can either create content or where users are encouraged  to return to on a regular basis is something that will either build the opportunity for a news feed impression (ex: creating a Spotify playlist) or because of usability reasons will create constant brand exposures as a result of using the app. With the new Timeline taking more of focus on life activities instead of user engagements apps are a way for users to become more active with a brand and integrate it into their online ’life file’.

Is it Time to Rethink Brands on Facebook?

All in all Facebook made some big changes to how the site will operate. Without looking into the future too much I think it’s going to be interesting to see  how brands will need to adapt to continue to stay relevant online with consumers. I don’t think it’s going to be as simple anymore as just putting out rounds and rounds of content for users to ‘like’ and comment on. I feel brands will need to create deeper relevance to continue to drive their messaging to consumers.

Jul 11

Can We Use Measurement For Self Improvement?

Recently I read The Measured Life which took a look at group of people who call themselves “The Quantified Self” who track and measure many of the different actions in their daily lives. Reading this article  fit well with some initial thoughts I had about  what could potentially be done in self-measurement and reminded me of my recent (failed) attempt at a  personal measurement dashboard. Measuring what we do and our personal growth isn’t something that has been fully explored yet but is something that potentially could play a stronger role in our lives in the years to come.

Data Everywhere!

In our lives we create a lot of collectable data. Thinking about our external data sources there are data trails such as your banking records, what you purchase, how much you travel as well as usage data from a variety of electronics and apps you use daily. Additionally for yourself personally there are  things such as how you sleep, your mood , general health and physical activity levels that can all be measured in one way or another. Could bringing all this data together potentially give us a much deeper view into how we live our lives and give us a way to better optimize it?

Why Could This Data Be Useful?

The big advantage of any financial tracking application (example: Mint) is that you see where your money goes which  makes you much better equipped to spend your money more wisely. Additionally  knowing your purchase or usage habits lets you know what you should buy or replace on a more effective basis.


Could we all eventually have our own personal dashboard? Picture c/o Bill Rice

Use cases for measuring our lives could be things such as receiving an auto reminder when your car  or other devices should be serviced or seeing how often you purchase a particular item so you know the next time you should pick it up. In terms of tracking your life data it could potentially  be used in improving your health, gauging your personal satisfaction as well as let you weigh out potential decisions and opportunities.

But What About Fate?

Taking an opposing stance it could also be argued that knowing everything about ourselves could remove the serendipitous or by chance occurrences in life and limit us to our own predetermined paths. Could we be taking out some of the exciting aspects of life by putting a number towards our achievements and actions? I think this type of issue would come down to whether a person lets their life measures rule them or if they simply use  them as a resource to make generally better decisions.

What’s Coming Next?

If I had a crystal ball I would say that opportunities for personal measurement are going to pop up more frequently in the coming years. With the popularity of tools such as Klout  ,web applications like motivational app  Epic Win  as well as real life activity tracking tools like Nike + I think there is a strong desire for people to be able to quantify their actions so they can make a better judgments of their accomplishments as well as compare themselves against others.  With some creativity and good use of technology I think we could have some interesting applications to use in the years ahead.


What are your thoughts? Should we be measuring ourselves? How do you measure yourself already?




Jun 11

AMD moves beyond speed with new APU processors:

Computer processing speeds are becoming a less important factor in computing. With our increasing dependency on web based applications and the introduction of multi-core processing, having more speed is nice but on average probably isn’t fully utilized by consumers. Yesterday I attended the Canadian launch event for AMD’s new Fusion APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) chip which directly acknowledges this trend by instead taking stab at a better graphics experience with an integrated graphics core.

Previously if you wanted solid graphics for your computer or laptop you would need to ante up some additional money for a dedicated or what’s also known as a discrete graphics card. While current processors often contain integrated graphics it would share memory resources with the processor making it much less effective. Through AMD’s APU which has an integrated processor and dedicated graphics chip all in one this situation is changed. Requiring less components and having a smaller profile allows for the creation of a (potentially) more effective machine.

Getting a view of what this technology is already capable of through AMD’s APU line I feel there is room for additional potential, the potential of things getting even smaller. Currently netbooks and tablets are underserviced when it comes to graphics capability and end up doing just basic tasks. With the opportunity of putting in a smaller APU chip, these devices can have further capabilities. While at the launch I was able to see netbooks and tablets with this new integrated chip (being able to game on a netbook rawk!), going furtherI can definitely see the potential for even smaller devices. My thinking was, what if this chip could be  adapted for today’s smartphones and visual display devices? How much better could our graphical experiences be?

With computing the way it is currently you can only get so far by focusing on creating simply a faster chip. While in the past I may have overlooked AMD, I definitely feel that it’s great that they are thinking beyond focusing on chip speed and are considering instead how they can make the experience better. A big sales push for this line of APU chips will be occurring this summer and into the fall. We’ll have to see how this new product performs against its rivals.


As always feel free to contact me at either @kevrichard on twitter or kevin@kevrichard.com


Jun 11

Writing Great Analysis (in 100 Words!)

This post was a bit of an interesting challenge. If you frequent my blog you know that I tend to be a bit long winded when creating posts. Its something I’m used to and enjoy. Well in providing social media analysis, writing long essays does not flow very well. One of my manager’s  came up with the challenge of writing a post about writing social media analysis in exactly 100 words in a good exercise to test myself. Well you’ll find below that the challenge has been completed:


What Makes Great Analysis?

Clear and succinct communications are needed for strong analysis. Start with a brief introduction:

“Requesting user action generated significantly higher engagement”

Place key data up front:

“Asking users to click “like” for support generated an XX% increase against the campaign average”

Provide additional insight:

“ In total, the EPM for the period was XX against the current period average of XX.”

When providing recommendations, link suggested actions to outcomes.

“By directing fans to act on posted content they will be more likely to engage with subject matter”

What makes great analysis? Easily read and actionable information.


When writing this I found that I had to strip out a lot through multiple drafts. While I’m used to writing under a restricted word count writing in 100 words I found to be really tight.

Let me know in the comments what you think of challenge! I’m curious what people feel about its effectiveness and whether this sort of writing is useful in all cases. If you like you can also get in contact with me at@kevrichard or kevin@kevrichard.com

May 11

Facebook May Own Your Social Graph But Google Is Going For Your Wallet!

Announced today in a joint press conference with Citi, Mastercard, First Data and Sprint was the launch of Google Wallet a Near Field communication (NFC) payment  system which is about to be  test launched in New York City and San Francisco. This mobile application and hardware will allow consumers to use their mobile phones as a payment device (tapping it on a PIN reader) as well as potentially use it to hold their loyalty cards and product coupons which they can immediately redeem in store.

Its all about the data…

Why would Google want to get into the mobile payment industry? Think about the purchases you make on a daily basis and what they say about you. By compiling a list of a person’s purchases you can tell their geography (where they live and hang out), approximate their demographic and financial data and get a deeper look at their spending habits (what stores do they frequent, what sort of products do they buy etc). Like any other initiative that Google does they will be using your data to target advertisements in the form of offers and loyalty programs.

Further implications:

Without knowing the governance of this type of consumer data (and not knowing Google’s future plans) through the help of Google, companies could potentially have a wealth of data at their fingertips as a result of this initiative. First through the use of loyalty programs companies can link offline user accounts to their online accounts and compare their purchases. This could help them see the recency and frequency of purchases ( good ol’ RFM) but also see how consumer behaviour differs between the two outlets. By having this data they can make a wide variety of changes to what consumers experience either in store or online.

Again if privacy regulations allow it, companies can also get a better view of their customers and the general public on a more macro view. Having access to this wealth of purchase data companies can see what segments of customers are purchasing their products, what other products they are likely to buy and in some instances get a better sense of the purchase cycle. In terms of a supply chain view companies could also see at what times in the year consumers are more likely to purchase products and as a result they could work harder to move customers into their stores at these peak times.

Looking at this from a marketing and CRM point of view this development from Google has a lot of potential for companies to better reach customers and optimize efforts. On the consumer side of things it could get a little scary. Essentially through the use of this app  you could potentially be  giving away all of your purchase data for Google to sell to companies.In the past this hasn’t gone that well in the realm of public opinion ( remember Facebook beacon?). With more companies looking to move into the mobile advertising and payment field this will definitely be a development to watch for as to whether it works for the better or worse.