Almost Timely News, January 15, 2023: Warrior Nuns and Widened Horizons

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Almost Timely News: Warrior Nuns and Widened Horizons (2023-01-15)

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What’s On My Mind: On Warrior Nuns and Widened Horizons

This week, I’m going to share an interesting experience I’ve had. Last weekend, one of my friends, Siwa, reached out and asked if I’d take a look at some data that she and some of her friends were trying to process for a cause they cared about, trying to help build awareness and advocacy for a streaming network to pick up Season 3 of the TV series Warrior Nun, which was formerly produced by Netflix before it was canceled.

I do enjoy a good chart, even on a Saturday night, so I agreed and got introduced to a couple of her friends who happened to run, among other things, a Discord community in support of this cause. One thing led to another and I had joined their Discord server to see what was happening.

First, I asked some questions like, what’s the point of the campaign? What’s the goal? And critically, what data do you have? The campaign was working with mostly Twitter data, which told the story of a passionate community rallying around an entertainment franchise that in many ways represented them to some degree.

A brief aside about representation. It sounds all fuzzy and fluffy and new-age. But representation is a real, important, useful thing. When you see someone who looks like you, talks like you, or lives like you doing things you didn’t know you could, it’s inspiring. It’s important. When you see someone of your background in places of power, it gives you hope that you, your friends, and others like you can also achieve those great things. It’s nice to say “anyone can do X”, but it’s much more reassuring to see an example has been set, and a path defined that you can follow. For the fans of Warrior Nun, especially people who identify as female and non-straight, it is a franchise that’s powerful and emotionally moving to them.

So, what I found in joining this community was two things, two situations that are VERY common. First, they had some data but not other data. That’s fairly easily remedied if you have the right tools and access to data. But the second thing was far more important: bringing the data to life in meaningful and powerful ways.

Data for data’s sake is a waste of everyone’s time. It’s like stockpiling ingredients and never cooking anything. But when you put data to work, it’s as valuable as gold. Let’s look at a couple of examples. First, here’s a simple chart of how many tweets have been sent by the campaign, using Talkwalker’s excellent media monitoring software:

6 million+ tweets

That’s fairly impressive, right? After all, in this day and age in public social media, getting people to do ANYTHING besides argue with each other is an accomplishment. But what do you do with that information?

Inside each tweet, inside any social media post, is a treasure trove of information. It contains names, dates, content, topics, hashtags, times, and mentions of other people. When you deconstruct the data, there’s a lot to take action on. For example, the campaign wanted to branch out to reach people on other platforms, and with good reason. How would you go about doing that?

I wrote some code one night while laying in bed (as one does) to parse the Twitter bios of everyone using that hashtag and did some simple filtering. Which Twitter bios had mentions of TikTok, Twitch, Instagram, etc.? That information then gets handed off to the appropriate outreach team. Suddenly, data that was static, unmoving, is now in motion. Someone’s going to DO something with the data. Siwa, who’s a Twitch streamer, suddenly had a list of people to reach out to and connect with who also supported the movement. Now instead of just a chart or a table, we’ve converted data into action.

The movement also needed information, data on ways to prove the value of continuing the franchise, should another platform choose to invest in it. Social media data is fine, but we all know a hefty amount of it can be faked. Everyone and their cousin has gotten that bizarre Twitter reply from some account with a name like eggPlantMicroscope237811. 6 million Tweets in less than 30 days is cool, but what else could we find that would prove the value of the franchise to a potential acquirer, which is the stated intent of the campaign?

This is where data like search data comes in handy, something we work with a lot at Trust Insights. Search data is different than social media data. It’s more valuable in some ways because we search for things all the time we wouldn’t ask other people. Sometimes we wouldn’t even confess to some of our searches under duress. But search engines and SEO tools? They know that information. They understand that intent. So I decided to grab a basket of terms about the show, like the show name itself, Warrior Nun, along with intent-based terms like “watch Warrior Nun”, “stream Warrior Nun”, “Warrior Nun season 2”, etc.

If the goal was to prove to another platform that the audience was growing, was a worthwhile investment, then search volume could tell us that. After all, you could get a small but loud band of people to make a bunch of noise for a short period of time, but faking search data to the planet’s search engines is much, much harder. So I put the keyword list through our predictive analytics platform and forecast out a year and change ahead to see what the future might hold:

Warrior Nun search volume

That’s a lot of forecasted growth. The movement’s been on the rise for some time. Contrast that with a Netflix show that didn’t get cancelled, You:

You search volume

While this show objectively has more search volume, the chart is headed in the wrong direction. You don’t need to be a data scientist to figure out that investing in growth is probably the better idea. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on that first chart before I bet on the second chart, because there’s a fanbase that can grow substantially.

This data brings the movement to life in a credible way that a lot of noise on social media may not; some folks understand search better than social media, even though both are forms of communication. When you see two sets of signals together indicating growth and dedication, it’s worth paying attention to.

Finally, the movement needed help getting more granular data and visualizing it. They have catchphrases, little slogans, for each day of the campaign. The challenge is, social networks – Twitter in particular – are rather… parsimonious with their data. You can extract it if you can ask for small bits of it very frequently. But ad hoc data pulls can be very challenging – you hit query limits very, very quickly.

Fortunately, I’ve dealt with Twitter’s painful limits even before the change in management. So I set up a batch process on my spare laptop to query the API every five minutes, extracting the data one tiny piece at a time, and then wrote a piece of code to sew all the data back together. The result?

Twitter by hour

Instead of being stuck with day level data, we had hour level data visualized really nicely. Each phrase and how quickly it decayed over time; some content stuck around longer than other content did. What does this data show? A highly engaged, highly-motivated, and highly-focused fan base. If you’re a marketer trying to grow your streaming service’s appeal, do you want passive or active customers?

As a marketer, I want active customers. I want customers who are evangelists, because in this day and age of private social media communities where my software can’t see or monitor conversations, I need customers speaking on my behalf. I need customers who are ambassadors, bringing my brand into places where I, as a marketer, am probably not wanted. Seeing an audience as engaged and as focused on spreading messages as the Warrior Nun community is? That’s inspirational as a marketer because that’s an army that will help me grow my streaming platform. They’re a force multiplier – every dollar I spend on marketing could be multiplied to the same effect as a hundred dollars of spend.

I’d imagine my participation in this campaign raises several questions. First, what’s in it for me? After all, it’s not like this is paying work (which is why I was doing it at night, so as not to take time away from Trust Insights’ paying clients). Partly because a close friend asked for help, and to the best of my ability I try to help my friends. But above and beyond that (though that’s a good enough reason), there’s something about movements and causes that makes it worth my time – and possibly yours.

In the course of our work as marketers, our regular work, we end up – by design – doing a lot of the same things. That’s a good thing – recall last week’s issue about best practices and recipes. You want to be following the recipes, standard operating procedures, etc. You want to create reproducible results as much as possible. But one of the criticisms of best practices that’s valid is that they don’t lend themselves to innovation. That’s true.

And that’s where doing something like volunteering for a campaign or a movement comes into play. Donating my efforts is risk-free to me. I can break stuff. I can write code that’s on shaky ground. I can try new things. I can work with data I don’t usually work with, or use data and tools I do work with in new, different ways, in a different industry, to different kinds of stakeholders than I normally work with.

For example, during this campaign, I ran into a few different bugs with Twitter’s API, and some of the coding solutions I had to come up with were novel, techniques I’ve never used before. Now that I know them, I have them in my toolkit for when similar situations occur in the future, possibly for paying clients.

I had to level up my skills with ggplot in the R programming language to make visualizations that were more on-brand with the rest of the campaign, going from stock business print-ready white charts to dark mode charts optimized for online consumption. That was a whole new avenue to explore and again, one that I’ve now got for when I need to create content like that.

But more than anything, the passion and energy of the Warrior Nun fandom brilliantly illustrates that organic social media can still work, and that’s been the most eye opening lesson for me in all this. When we post business content, it gets what? A few likes? Maybe a dozen retweets? A hundred on a great day? When you have a highly engaged, energized, focused community, you see the power of people really working together. I put up two tweets with some of these visualizations and they earned more visibility and engagement in 6 hours than literally my entire Twitter account for three years. THREE YEARS.

We often hear platitudes from social media marketing folks that organic social still works, but I’ll be honest. I’d given up on it. I’ve never seen firsthand, never been a part of something firsthand where it did work, where it fulfilled the dreams that the marketing gurus have been promising for years now. Until a community of people decided they needed to get the message out and turned the dials to 11, overwhelming AI and algorithms in every direction. And social media works when you have a movement behind it, when a community decides it is going to be heard no matter what. It’s been inspirational, to say the least.

Finally, what’s one of the most fun and interesting things when you change jobs? That’s right. You get to meet a whole new bunch of people, learn from them, see things in a different light. But over time, as you get settled in, that wears off – as it should. You have, as mentioned, new standard operating procedures to follow, and your innovation, your knowledge gaining starts to slow down. When you join a movement like this? It’s all the benefits of changing jobs with none of the pain (or the pay). You meet new people from all walks of life, you make connections you’d never make in a regular job, and you get tons of new ideas to work with.

I hope this tour of my time in a movement inspires you to do something similar in your own career. It doesn’t have to be this movement – it can literally be anything where you can step outside the ordinary. You may find it incredibly rewarding, as I have.

Oh, and if any of my readers happen to work for a streaming service and would like copies of this data, feel free to hit reply. I know a community that might be very interested in hearing from you.

Got a Question? Hit Reply

I do actually read the replies.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

Besides the newly-refreshed Google Analytics 4 course I’m relentlessly promoting (sorry not sorry), I would recommend the piece on Adobe Podcast if you’re doing ANY work with audio or video. You will be AMAZED.

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These are just a few of the classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.



Get Back to Work

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Free Book! Almost Timely 2022 Essays

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What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

Social Media Marketing

Media and Content

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

Advertisement: Google Analytics 4 for Marketers (UPDATED)

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If you already signed up for this course in the past, Chapter 8 on Google Analytics 4 configuration was JUST refreshed, so be sure to sign back in and take Chapter 8 again!

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Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

All Things IBM

Dealer’s Choice : Random Stuff

Advertisement: Ukraine 🇺🇦 Humanitarian Fund

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👉 Donate today to the Ukraine Humanitarian Relief Fund »

How to Stay in Touch

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Events I’ll Be At

Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:

  • Martechopia, London, March 2023
  • B2B Ignite, Chicago, May 2023

Events marked with a physical location may become virtual if conditions and safety warrant it.

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Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn

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