Hunger Games Movie Review | Adaptation From Book To Screen

25 Mar

hunger games movie posterI just watched The Hunger Games movie. Here is my rather long review:

To summarize, it was excellent. And I’m not the only one who thinks so because  The Hunger Games scores an 86% on RottenTomatoes.com.  Film critics might like it a little less than fans, but critics usually do (they are using a different metric than scoring on a scale of 1-10 on how much they enjoyed it).

The Hunger Games movie is not a cinematic masterpiece in the sense of being an industry-changing film, but if judged according to its intent, which is to bring the book to the screen, I give it at least four stars. Maybe even five. In my opinion, The Hunger Games is the most faithful adaptation of book to movie that I have ever seen.

Is it missing some things?  Certainly.  But for the most part, the things it is missing weren’t in the book either, or are unrealistic to expect in a book-to-film adaptation.

Below are specifics, if you care to know details.

Cinematography

Some critics felt the film lacked artistry, and maybe there were some missed opportunities, but there were a number of very good directing choices that I thought worked well, such as the way the rebellion in District 11 was filmed (really loved that).  I did find the shaky camera to be a bit hard to watch, especially in the opening scenes, but I think if I wasn’t in a theater (IMAX at that), it wouldn’t have bothered me. I stopped noticing it later.

The Plot

Every plot point, major and minor, made it into the film.  The movie certainly won’t confuse anyone who hasn’t read the books and (in my estimation) will entertain (and appropriately disturb) both fans and newcomers. Obviously, it wasn’t totally identical line by line, but all the pieces were there and the details that movies typically change were implemented exactly as described in the book, such as the dress Katniss wears to the Reaping and Prim forgetting to tuck in the back of her shirt. Even the hissing cat that Katniss hates (Buttercup) made it into the movie, though Movie Buttercup is black and white instead of mustard yellow (not important).

The only major departure was the additions of scenes taking place outside of the arena during the games, such as conversations between President Snow and the Game Maker, Seneca Crane.  These were not in the books since the books are restricted entirely to Katniss’ POV, but they are really fantastic additions. I also really, really liked the uprising in District 11, which happens in the books but is something that Katniss hears about afterward in summary.  Seeing it was really powerful.

So…if you didn’t like the way something happened in the movie (and I can think of a few things I might have written differently if it were my story) it probably happened that way in the book too, or close to it.

The Violence

As I mentioned in my last post on Four Things That Disappointed Me About The Hunger Games, I have seen reviews of the movie that felt that the violence was glossed over, but I felt it was exactly the same as the books.  You see people die, but not in grisly detail, and there’s blood, but it’s not horrifically disturbing. It is a YA-targeted.  With the way they filmed it, a movie like this can be shown in classrooms (14+).

Different Or Missing Elements

Some things in the book weren’t in the movie.  Here are a couple:

Madge — In the books, Katniss has one friend outside of Gale named Madge. She’s the mayor’s daughter and they eat lunch together at school. In the books,  Madge gives Katniss the Mockingjay pin.  In the movie, Madge is cut from the story and Katniss gets the pin at the Hub and gives it to Prim. This didn’t impact the story at all.  Actually, it helped it because it allowed for more scenes between Katniss and Prim.

Styling Prep TeamIn the book, there are three people on Katniss’s beauty prep team. They all have names and personalities.  They are frivilous people (though harmless) and allow us to see what ignorant, spoiled people the Capitol citizens are.  In the movie, there are people that help Katniss get to Beauty Base Zero, but that is it.  They have no speaking lines and there isn’t that party scene where the prep team eats and then take pills to induce vomiting so they can keep eating (which disgusts Katniss since her district is starving).

Cato’s Body Armor — In the book, Cato gets body armor from The Feast. This is to protect him from Katniss’ arrows, but it ends up working against him.  In the movie, I don’t THINK they show Cato as having armor, but I can’t remember.  At any rate, he dies faster in the movie.

There were probably other things, small things, but it was all pretty miniscule as I didn’t notice the absence enough to remember it when writing this summary.

The Setting

I LOVED what they did with the setting.  Panem was perfect, from the gaudy and lurid Capitol fashion to the somber gray of District 12.  The technology was really well done too. I couldn’t have asked more from the setting.  Even the Mutts were well-designed and believable, moreso even than in the books.

Actors and Characters

The casting is spot-on.

Jennifer Lawrence delivers a stunning performance as Katniss Everdeen.  She portrays “tough and guarded, but somewhat naive and vulnerable” wonderfully and her acting is believable.  Katniss is not a character who shows much of what she is thinking, especially to people she doesn’t trust, which is just about everybody, but you can read her character through Jennifer’s actions and mannerisms.  Of course, being a movie, we aren’t privileged to Katniss’ internal commentary, which is extensive in the books and really adds to her character and her relationship to other characters, but her story comes through. If anything, the lack of internals is a reason to read the books after you’ve seen the movie (for “more”).

Josh Hutcherson was a likable and believable Peeta Mellark.  I wasn’t certain about him at first, because the Reaping is such a solem affair, but as soon as he starts smiling, he projects Peeta’s charisma and charm.

Liam Hemsworth embodies Gale.  He is exactly what I imagined physically and emotionally.  His ease and understated flirtation with Katniss and devotion to her family, as well as his underlying anger at the Capitol and assurance of his strength and independence, come through in a few brief scenes.

Woody Harrelson was the perfect Haymitch.  I don’t think there was a single thing I wish he had done differently.

Donald Sutherland was an eerily disarming/icily malevolent President Snow.  He was great. I was thrilled to learn he would be playing the part.

Elizabeth Banks was a delightful Effie Trinket.  I didn’t care for Effie Trinket in the books (you aren’t really supposed to, though she is harmless) but Banks made me love her while staying true to her character.

Lenny Kravitz was a surprise casting to me, but he accurately projects Cinna’s inner calm.  He was in the movie less than Cinna is in the books and the instant bonding between him and Katniss feels a bit rushed, but I felt like their connection was like that in the books too.  Cinna is someone who just “gets” Katniss on first acquaintence and she feels this and accepts it, no explanation needed.  The only thing I wish they had added was the exchange between Katniss and Cinna when she learns he is new as a Hunger Games fashion designer. She tells him that must have gotten stuck with District 12 (a losing District), or something to that effect, and he replies “I asked for District 12″.  This was a character defining line for Cinna in the books and I would have liked to have seen it in the movie.

Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman was great.  The scripting was perfect too. He was the perfect talk show host – all about presentation and performance and schmoozing the audience with the “appearance” of amicability and sincerity in everything while delivering upbeat, callous commentary on an ugly situation.  The way they utilized his character to explain to the audience some of the things that Katniss thinks in the book was also exactly the right way to do it.

Wes Bentley played Seneca Crane, which is an expanded part in the movie, and I really liked the additional scenes with him, in which we get to see what happens from the POV of the Game controllers in the Capitol.  Also, people should dress up like him for Halloween.  His beard was priceless.

I quite liked Willow Shields as Prim too.  Her role in the movie is small and largely silent, but her screams and tears at the Reaping felt authentic and communicated the affection between the sisters, which is really about all you need. (Note: Prim’s character develops more as we get to know her better throughout three books, but she is barely in the first book and it was the same in the movie.)

Amandla Stenberg (Rue) also fit her part. Rue is killed off fairly quickly after meeting Katniss (in terms of minutes on screen), but this was due to time constraint.  I guess Gary Ross could have spent more time watching them wander around together in the woods eating and getting to know each other, but I am glad he didn’t.  Rue’s purpose was to befriend Katniss, die, and trigger rebellion in her district, which they showed, and I am SO GLAD the time was spent there because it was really moving.  One minor quibble was that they didn’t show Rue’s skill of hopping from tree to tree, but probably this was unrealistic or unsafe to film.  They did capture her as quiet and swift and clever and sweet, and her death was sudden and tragic, which was enough.

Really everyone – Katniss’ mother, Cato (Alexander Ludwig), Foxface (Jackie Emerson), Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi), Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman), Marvel (Jack Quaid), Glimmer (Leven Rambin) etc. — were more or less like they were in the book (or close enough to make no difference…for what characterization they had).

As you can see there are a lot of characters for a 2 and a half hour movie.  Many of them are under-developed in the sense that you don’t really get to know them or connect with their role in the drama, especially in the arena, but you aren’t supposed to.  Most of the tributes die within the first few minutes of the games.  Katniss never even learns their names.  She doesn’t WANT to know them. Those that survive longer are only developed so far as they interact with Katniss, which is minimally. Katniss wants to survive. She is someone who avoids relationships even in the best of times, and to survive, she has to kill people, or watch them die, even the ones she likes.  The experience is supposed to be traumatic, somewhat frenzied, and there isn’t really time or desire for relationships, so I thought it worked.

The Theatre

I saw the Hunger Games movie in IMAX at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.  This was a great experience. The theatre has raised seats so that no one’s head blocked my view and the screen is simply enormous.  There were lines well before the opening of the doors and I think it is there for one week only.  Some pics:

Hunger Games IMAX Movie Ticket from Seattle's Pacific Science Center

Hunger Games IMAX Movie Ticket from Seattle's Pacific Science Center

Line Outside Pacific Science Center For Hunger Games IMAX at 11 am (showtime 12 pm)

Line Outside Pacific Science Center For Hunger Games IMAX at 11 am (showtime 12 pm)

IMAX Theatre screen at Seattle Pacific science center (PACCAR)

IMAX Theatre screen at Seattle Pacific Science Center. This is actually the screen...showing an image of the theatre

Side view of Pacific Science Center's IMAX theater

Side view of the IMAX theater

line outside Seattle Pacific Science Center For IMAX 2:45pm showing of Hunger Games

line outside Seattle Pacific Science Center For IMAX 2:45pm showing of Hunger Games (as we were leaving)

Four Things That Disappointed Me About The Hunger Games Books

24 Mar

The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins | Review Of Books This review isn’t about the movie.  It’s about the books.  I haven’t seen The Hunger Games movie yet, but I have tickets  for tomorrow at the Seattle Pacific Science Center and I just read a Hunger Games movie review by MSN critic Kat Murphy . She gave the film only two and a half stars.

I don’t find it surprising.  Movie critics tend to be…well…critical.  Murphy’s point was that the film is not that artistic, or violent, and because it moves so fast you don’t get to know the characters. The reason I don’t find this discouraging is because Murphy’s review of the movie reflects my thoughts about the books as well.

The books are not particularly artistic.  They are all page turners, but they are not lyrical.  This works, however, because stoic prose fits Katniss’ character.  Taking this into consideration, the movie seems to be a decent/faithful adaptation.  Maybe it doesn’t take any cinematic risks, or improve upon the story, but it should please its audience.

Why am I posting about this?  I already wrote a summary of The Hunger Games and analyzed its popularity. Has this blog become about The Hunger Games?  No. But I think this movie, and the sequels that are sure to follow,  are going to be “kind of a big deal” for the next couple of years and I want to get my thoughts out on the BOOKS before I see the movie, and before I read too many other people’s opinions, which may influence me… for better or worse.  So, as a former English teacher, aspiring author, YA entertainment fan, and professional analyst (for whatever that’s worth) here’s my opinion on The Hunger Games:

———————MILD SPOILERS ARE MILD———————

I loved The Hunger Games novels.  I couldn’t stop reading them, or thinking about them after I had finished them, and that to me is a good series.  I read all three books (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay) in about a week. I read the first one on a plane and it kept me absorbed for five hours straight.

I have to congratulate author Suzanne Collins for writing such a riveting story.  I think YA is a very difficult genre and these novels do what many YA novels fail to do: they don’t insult their audience.  Instead, they make them think, and they make them care, and they encourage them (teen readers) to think beyond themselves, not just to their friends and family, but politically and globally, even to their enemies. For that I say BRAVO.  With the movies, I believe Hunger Games will become even more popular, eclipsing even Twilight mania, but with a better message. I think it is a good thing (though we will probably all soon be sick of it).

That being said, the books aren’t perfect.

Here are four things that disappointed me about the series:

1.) All things  considered, The Hunger Games plays it pretty safe

The violence is extensive, especially in Mockingjay, but given that it’s YA, it’s not that descriptive. Maybe you didn’t notice when you were reading it, but you rarely actually see anyone get hurt.  Not in a visceral way.  A lot of the violence is summarized or left to your assumption.

Also, though the characters are put into some truly terrible and traumatic situations, there aren’t that many hard choices that Katniss makes (until the final third of Mockingjay at any rate).  This was surprising, as the story’s premise was essentially about having to make the hardest choice imaginable–killing other humans beings, innocent human beings, and for no reason other than that someone is making you for their entertainment.

But in The Hunger Games Katniss only ends up killing enemies–vicious, blood-thirsty killers intent on killing her. The Careers are convenient antagonists because they take out all the weaker, more sympathetic tributes, leaving only Peeta to keep us guessing on what is going to happen.  We don’t learn much about them or their reasons for being Careers so they are easy to hate and/or to sacrifice. Katniss only kills Careers.  And the only one she REALLY kills is Marvel.   Her actions do result in some other deaths (e.g. dropping Tracker Jackers on Glimmer and blowing up the camp supplies) and she shoots Cato, but the latter is more of a mercy kill.

I’m not saying this made for an unenjoyable story.  Or an untraumatic one. It just wasn’t as gritty as it could have been.

2.) I couldn’t make sense of the setting, especially the Capitol

Suzanne Collins is vague about Panem.  We know it exists in what used to be America, but we don’t know what happened to create it and I never could quite grasp the dimensions. I’ve seen a number of “fan maps” laying out the Districts throughout North America, but it seemed to me that the Districts were much too small (and the human population is said to be threatened) to cover the entirety of the United States.  District 12 read more like a town.   It seemed like Katniss could walk across it and there seemed to be only one major market. District 11 was much larger, but it couldn’t have been THAT large. And the Capitol was particularly confusing, especially in Mockingjay where it seemed like the civilians were living amongst a bunch of booby traps and rabid animals (those scenes read rather like an RPG video game–Monster Attack!  Actually, that’s another thing that disappointed me about the world. I disliked the Mutts.  They just seemed unrealistic to me.  I felt that characters who were killed by them deserved more meaningful deaths.)

I guess it doesn’t really matter.  I am not terrific at writing setting either, and the setting was not particularly important to the plot, but I do wish it had been a little bit more defined.  I am actually interested to see if the movie improves upon this because I really wanted to know more about what the Capitol was like and I didn’t feel that I got the chance to really understand it.

3.) Teenage love triangle drama

peeta mellark (Josh Hutcherson), katniss everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), gale hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth)Again, it’s YA. From a market perspective, Suzanne Collins did it right.  She created a story about teenagers and included elements that teenagers care about–fashion, frivolity, fitting in, falling in love, feeling confused, and so on.  But it was a bit much for me sometimes.  In the first book, I had only a passing interest in the love story.  If I was Katniss, love would be the last thing on my mind, and to the author’s credit, that was how Katniss felt too, but I could SEE the love triangle shaping up, and it was hard to take seriously given that Katniss was going to have to fight to the death.

By the third book, love comes to matter more.  It means something real and is more important. I ended up loving the ending, but prior to the last chapter, and really the last few pages, there were many moments where I felt “this doesn’t matter right now”.

4.) Katniss wasn’t the heroine I wanted.

Katniss is kickass, or has that potential, but she is a fairly passive character for most of the series.  On the upside, she is a well crafted character. When you read from her point of view, you get the feeling that she is a real person with flaws as well as good traits and she has a unique way of thinking.  I find her relatable and likable, but she doesn’t take charge of her destiny. Mostly, things happen to her.  And she reacts.

To be fair, though, I think this was deliberate by the author.  I wanted Katniss to be kickass.  I wanted her to stand up to oppression, to cruelty, to The System. I wanted her to be the Girl On Fire.  But she wasn’t.  Throughout all three books, Katniss is a pawn in a game between other powers. She accidentally trips a rebellion. She is threatened by her enemies and deceived by her friends.  And then she is thrust in the midst of a revolution with little choice as to her role.  She does what she can.  At first, she just wants to survive. Later, she wants to keep the people she loves from harm.  By the end, she just wants peace for the survivors and for the people in power to act sanely and leave her alone.

Saving Grace: What The Hunger Games Is Really About

By the time I got to the very end of the story, I understood what the author wanted and was doing.  From the premise, I had incorrectly assumed The Hunger Games was a story about a  heroine who takes a stand.

What Collins actually wrote is more like an anti-war novel.

Katniss’ story is rather realistic, and gripping, from this perspective.  What she faces is what young people actually face when they are conscripted or thrust into war or revolution or some other violent situation not of their own choosing.  Even if they are strong (and Katniss is a tough survivor), they still get hurt, and they suffer, and they lose people they love, and if they manage to make it through all of that, they are never the same and it is all they can do to pick up the pieces and find a way to keep living.

That is the story Suzanne Collins set out to write with The Hunger Games and that is ultimately why it has become one of my favorites.

Promotion Through Pinterest: Drive Traffic To Your Site Without Abusing Copyright

18 Mar

I just got Pinterest.

I’ve been hearing about it for awhile, but it took me this long to actually get around to getting invited and playing around with it. But now I have and I get it.  I totally totally get it.

Let me explain.

Pinterest isn’t just a hot thing in social media.  It isn’t just a pinboard to express yourself. It is a useful tool for promotion. And yes, I know that Pinterest asks users to avoid self-promotion, but I think there is a way for people to pin AND promote without turning the community into a can of spam, much the same way that there are good marketing practices for the use of Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media tool (be authentic, share valuable content, diversify, etc).

Why is Pinterest So Popular?

It’s VISUAL and SO EASY to use.  It is a natural fit for the internet because it capitalizes on things that are already popular–funny animals, kids and babies, unique or interesting crafts, art, decorating, and  recipes.  There are hundreds of user groups and internet forums and YouTube channels and email chains dedicated to these things.  Pinterest just makes it easy to share and store images you like, in a visually attractive way, with virtually no effort at all.

How Can Pinterest Help Your Business?

I don’t know why the SEO community isn’t freaking out more about Pinterest.  It’s basically hotlinking 2.0. Actually, I don’t even know if it’s hotlinking 2.0.  Pinterest is just hotlinking.

What does this mean?  It means that every time somebody Re-pins something that you have pinned from your own site, it LINKS to your site, because the image is actually HOSTED on your site. If you click through images put on Pinterest, you end up on the page where they are hosted.

I pinned images on my blog that I thought others might find useful and shareable. And you should too, especially if you own a small business that is graphical in any way, shape or form. Photographers, designers, artists, crafters, bakers, and chefs…PIN YOUR WORK! (concerned about copyright? see below)

Pinterest is great for other businesses too.  Does your company make attractive infographics? Pin them.  Publish an ebook?  Pin the cover so people can how that they like your book, with a description and a link to your website, reviews, reasons to read,  place to purchase, whatever you want.  You can even create really unique or inspiring images with the purpose of showcasing your stuff and driving traffic to your site. Pinterest is like an unlimited advertising board for absolutely everything.

But please keep it pretty.  Or useful.  Or funny. Don’ t just pin junk. Value is key here!

Also remember this: if the site where your images are hosted has limited bandwidth, you may experience problems from people hotlinking that may cost you.  But this is a good problem to have as it essentially means that your image advertising is working and your images are “going viral.”

Wait.  What About Copyright Infringement?

SO GLAD you asked.

Pinterest IS having difficulty around the issue of copyright infringement.  Technically, you aren’t allowed to use images created by others unless you pay for them or get permission.  Of course, people break this rule on the internet all the time because they don’t know about it, especially bloggers, but Pinterest’s business is built around the sharing of pictures that technically don’t belong to them…so copyright could impact them (and their users–i.e. YOU) the same way Napster got slammed for peddling music it didn’t own (thanks for the insight, Visible Technologies–ye providers of social monitoring software).

You don’t have to worry as long as you are only pinning images you have the rights to.  Since you shouldn’t be uploading images to your blog or website that you don’t have permission to use, this shouldn’t be an issue.  All of the pictures I pinned from my blog are either free (from Microsoft’s free image library.  Thanks, Microsoft!) or were pictures I made, photographed with my phone, or had commissioned.  And you know what?  PLEASE SHARE THEM.  Yes.  I want you to repin my work.  You have my blessing.

As for pinning images from other people’s sites (which is most of Pinterest)…be careful.  Right now, the onus is on you not to abuse copyright, but here is what I think should happen:

Artists, graphic designers, bakers, photographers, etc. should upload/make available versions of their images that are “cleared” for pinning to Pinterest. This could be done with a caption or a logo (Pinterest approved! Please make a universal one, Pinterest!) or watermark. If Pinterest was really ambitious, they could offer an “auto watermark” feature that essentially takes care of this for everybody. This is similar to what istockphoto does with thumbnails, to distinguish advertising of art from the actual art. That way everyone can admire and browse through pictures without being able to use the originals for anything else without purchasing them.  Net result?  Exposure for artists.

For this to work, Pinterest needs to make “Re-Pins” free from legal issues.  Pinterest would have to put the onus on uploaders and adders while those who just share can do so without penalty (like YouTube does with videos).  That way, I can keep my Social Media Infographics board (and other boards) intact without abusing anyone’s creative design.

If Pinterest DOESN’T find a way to make repinning okay, I predict a mass exodus from Pinterest (myself included) as people become informed of the risks. I’m willing to give it a little time, though, since the concern is new (please don’t sue me!).

Use Pinterest Without Abusing Copyrighht

Popularity of Hunger Games in Social Media | Seattle Fans Hungry For Hunger Games at Mall Tour 2012

12 Mar

How Popular Is the Hunger Games?

A quick search* in social media data shows that “Hunger Games” is increasing rapidly in popularity, largely in response to the movie. Hype has been high, especially as the actors of the film have been touring the country in preparation for the films premier.

Hunger Games Daily Social Media Conversation Volume Over Time
11/14: First Movie Trailer 
2/2: New Movie Trailer
3/9: Red Carpet Premier/Mall Tour
 
Hunger Games Mall Tour Comes To Seattle

Hundreds of Hunger Games fans gathered in the parking lot outside the Microsoft store in University Village on Saturday March 10, 2012.  The actors coming  to Seattle were the main stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, and Josh Hutcherson, who portray characters Katniss Everdeen, Gale Hawthorne, and Peeta Mellark. Seattle was the final stop of the Hunger Games Mall Tour, a promotion for the Hunger Games movie, which comes out in theatres on March 23rd.

I just finished reading The Hunger Games series about two weeks ago, so when I heard that the cast was coming to University Village, I decided to go down and take some pictures.  Fans could show up as early as 7:00am. The first 100 people in line would have a chance to meet the actors from the film.  But at 3:30 there was to be a public Q&A in the parking lot.  I went for the Q&A, arriving around 3:00pm.

When I got there, the place was already packed.  I parked off site and hoofed it to the Microsoft store, where I could already hear a crowd of hundreds, mostly teens, cheering wildly from several blocks away.   When the cast of the Hunger Games movie actually arrived, Seattle fans screamed so loudly and for so long that they couldn’t begin the Q&A for several minutes. At one point, Josh Hutcherson remarked that Seattle fans were the loudest of any stop on the tour.

The Q&A lasted about 15-20 minutes.  Liam, Jennifer, and Josh seemed fairly comfortable in front of the crowd and answered questions casually.  The questions were pre-selected and read aloud.  Some were about the Hunger Games story and insight into playing the roles of the characters. Others were about the actors–their experiences, feelings and ambitions. The crowd was screaming throughout so it was sometimes difficult to hear, and I was standing far enough back that it is difficult to make out the individual speakers. Josh, who plays Peeta, was a clear fan favorite and talked the most of the three, followed by Jennifer. Toward the end of the Q&A, Jennifer remarked that the crowd seemed more interested in screaming than continuing the Q&A.  The cast made their exit soon after, to the disappointment of a very excited fan base.

Highlights?

    • Haymitch is Liam’s favorite character
    • Jennifer empathizes with Katniss’s tough decision between Peeta and Gale (because they’re both hot).
    • Josh thinks Katniss should choose Gale/Liam has attractive eyes
    • Josh really connects with Peeta’s beliefs and values
    • Liam doesn’t have a prom date, but he can’t go to any proms in Issaquah because of his schedule
    • Jennifer doesn’t get asked to proms as much as Josh, but she did get asked by this crowd
    • Jennifer can really shoot a bow and arrow
    • Josh can’t go to prom with Carly in Sammamish
    • Josh wasn’t a big fan of having blonde hair, but respects that that is Peeta.  He had to have it bleached because dyes didn’t work
    • Liam would build houses if he wasn’t acting (I think this was Liam)
    • Jennifer had no idea how to answer the question of what she would do if she wasn’t acting. When she was a kid, she used to pretend to be a travel agent
    • Josh likes playing basketball and soccer (and crochet?). He also likes wildlife/life sciences but wasn’t interested in going to college that long because “it’s a lot of work.”
    • Josh almost did some rapping, but insisted those days are behind him
    • Josh and Liam were going to make their own dubstep at one point; they bought equipment at Guitar Center but only used it three times.
    • Josh’s fads (slingshots, bb guns) have gotten the group in trouble in hotels

So What Is The Hunger Games? [no spoilers]

The Hunger Games is the first book in a three book series by Suzanne Collins. The story is set in a future dystopia called Panem, located somewhere in what was once North America. Panem is a nation consisting of a pampered and privileged Capitol city and thirteen subservient districts. 74 years ago, District 13 was firebombed into oblivion for rebellion. Since then the Capitol has demanded annual tribute in the form of one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each of the remaining 12 districts. These tributes compete to the death in a televised competition called The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games are essentially a combination of Ancient Rome (Gladiator games in the Colosseum) and the dark future of America’s reality television.  It is similar in some respects to Survivor, one of the first reality TV shows, in that the contestants don’t know about the arena where they will have to survive, can form alliances to further their chances, and the more despicable people become the champions more often than not.  In the Hunger Games, all the contestants die except for one victor.  The Hunger Games are so compelling that the civilization of Panem has come to revolve around it, with interviews and parades of the contestants beforehand and the sole survivor of each Hunger Games afterward becoming a celebrity.  The reason it is called The Hunger Games is because the victor’s district is gifted with food and other supplies as a reward.

The story is written from the point of view of 16 year old Katniss Everdeen, a citizen of District 12, a coal mining town that is more or less always on the brink of starvation.  Katniss volunteers to enter The Hunger Games in place of her younger sister Prim, 12, who was chosen by lottery.  Katniss is a hunter of game who makes a living in the woods outside her district.  She learned to shoot a bow and arrow from her father, who died tragically in a mining accident, and is the primary provider for her family.  She spends most her days in the woods with her best friend and hunting partner Gale Hawthorne, who promises to take care of Katniss’s family should she never return from The Hunger Games.  Katniss actually stands a chance of surviving, the first tribute from District 12 to possibly pull a victory in many years, but she is naturally distressed by the reality of having to kill the other tributes to win, before they can kill her, all for the amusement of the Capitol. And then she is dumbstruck when the other contestant from District 12 turns out to be Peeta, a kind boy who saved her life, and that of her family, when she was a starving child by giving her bread.

Why Is It So Popular?

The success of the Hunger Games is similar to that of Harry Potter and Twilight in the sense that the books appeal most to young adults, but have a large fandom of both older and younger readers. The books feature young adult characters, take place in an urban fantasy setting (the world in Hunger Games is not magical, but some of the technology is fantastic) and invoke the oh-so-successful formula of a “potential” romantic triangle in which one girl faces a choice between two boys.

Many fans of the series (though not all; some are vocally not invested in the romance) are heavily involved in whether Katniss loves Peeta or Gale, or should choose Peeta or Gale, or would be better off with Peeta or Gale, which, as events evolve, are very clearly different questions with very different answers at varying points in the series.  There is also the question of which boy the fans love and/or would choose if they were Katniss, which drives much of the engagement online and much of the screaming in real life.  Anticipation for the movie, with real life actors playing the characters, spurs excitement further, as “Josh or Liam?” adds another dimension to the question.

However, unlike Twilight, this series is not, at its core, a romance. Nor is it a particularly victorious or heroic tale.  The characters are broken in many ways by what they endure and the story has a poignant message that emerges as the plot, and the stakes, become more complicated, which has resulted in The Hunger Games being endorsed as material for classroom study and recommended on school reading lists.  The conflicts in the series, emotional as well as physical, evoke conversation about the privileged vs. the oppressed, the consequences of broadcasting “reality” as entertainment, the sanity of war, peace, and revolution, the role of propaganda, the corruption of power, the gray area of morals and ethics in situations where human life is fragile and threatened, and the meaning of love, hope, sacrifice, and survival.

Should You Read It?

I loved it, but I supposed it depends on what you like to read.  If you like Twilight or Harry Potter you will probably like this.  However, the latter books may disappoint some people. Most seem to agree that the first book is the most interesting of the three.  The last book, Mockingjay, gets a little tough to take for reasons I can’t explain without spoiling it.  Still, I really liked all three books, and the story on the whole, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a page turner with gritty, thought-provoking material.

The Hunger Games is a story better enjoyed if you don’t know what is going to happen so I am glad I finished the series before the movies came out.  That being said, I will be interested in seeing the movies.  I am curious if the script will stick to the same plot as the book, what they will change, and how they will tell the story. Since the premise of The Hunger Games is that of a reality TV show gone very very wrong, it should (theoretically) translate very easily to the silver screen, but could be spoiled by poor scripting, bad acting, and any number of other things. However, they seem to be taking great care to be faithful to the story and the casting for the characters seems pretty spot on. Here’s hoping the movie is really great!


Pictures from the Seattle U-village stop for The Hunger Games Mall Tour

Seattle Hunger Games Mall Tour

Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson

Josh Hutcherson Laughing at Seattle Hunger Games Mall Tour

Josh Hutcherson Laughing | Hunger Games Mall Tour

Microsoft didn't want hunger games fans in the store

Sign on Microsoft Store Window

Lulu Lemon Declares Itself District 12 For the Day | Seattle Hunger Game Mall Tour

Sign at LuLu Lemon

Seattle Hunger Games Mall Tour Poster Version 1

Everyone wanted these posters

Seattle Hunger Games Mall Tour Poster Version 2

Another version of the poster

Real Or Not Real? | Hunger Games Seattle Mall Tour

Fan Poster For Josh Hutcherson (Peeta)

Seattle Hunger Games Mall Tour Fan Poster | Katniss Prom 2012

Fan Poster to Katniss | Prom 2012?


*The data used to make this graph is a representative sample of the total conversation. The search term used was “hunger games” and does not encaptulate all possible conversations related to The Hunger Games.

Forbes – Employers / Teachers Asking Applicants To Fork Over Social Media Passwords

10 Mar

Earlier this week, Forbes staff writer Kashmir Hill wrote a piece titled: Hey Teacher (And Employer), Leave Those Facebook Passwords Alone.

It’s about school administrators and employers demanding Facebook passwords from students/applicants in order to screen private conversations to see if they are involved in any risky activity…such as illegal activity, gang-related activity, and for schools, apparently, sexual activity.

All I can say is…what?

There are so many things here that I just don’t understand.  Are criminals dumb enough to post about illegal activity on Facebook?  Do schools really have any authority in whether or not minors are talking about sex?  Is it just because it’s “posted” that they think they have some right to it?

Here’s a quote from privacy attorney Behnam Dayanim (who might make a killing off this Forbes article…and links to his site like this one…you’re welcome, Dayanim):

“Legally, the employer has a strong position. You can say no, but there’s no element of duress there. If you don’t get the job, you’re no worse off than you were before,” says Dayanim. “That said, as a policy matter for the employers, I think it’s a bad idea.”

True enough.  Let’s be honest.  If I went to an interview and an employer asked for my Facebook password in order to “check me out” to make sure I was a good fit/low risk,  I wouldn’t want that job.  It would be the equivalent of an employer asking to come to my house and go through my closet to make sure I have the proper work attire.  Or go through my mail. Or vet my friends and family.  Maybe there are jobs where that is normal, but frankly, I don’t want them.

I think that vetting applicants to such a degree makes sense if, say, you are hiring them to be international spies.  Maybe. I mean, I’m just saying that there may be some extenuating circumstances. Law enforcement can demand passwords, obviously, if a crime is being investigated.  Or, to the point at the end of the article about college football players being required to friend their coaches (with their full aggreement in advance of being given their free tuition), that does makes some sense in the same way that giving a personal trainer access to your refrigerator can make sense. The coach is there to make sure you don’t screw up.  But for the majority of cases? No.

Dayanim, as an attorney, wanted some law on the subject to protect the rest of us.

“Congress should clarify that this is not permissible and protect companies from liability for what their employees say and do privately on this medium”

Sort of agree. I mean, yes, clarification around whether or not my Facebook profile is my property in a Search and Seizure kind of way would make  it easier to defend privacy violation claims in a courtroom (it would certainly benefit lawyers like Dayanim).  But it IS a bit  more complicated.

I am not a lawyer, but I can see how this could get sticky. Let’s assume that there was a law that made individuals entirely responsible for their profiles and protected companies from their employees’ behavior in social networks.  What about people who use social networking for business?  Are they not subject to any behavioral standards even if their conversations online are directly resulting in business for the company?  What about when someone’s profile gets hacked?  Is that individual entirely responsible for the content then?  A written bill would have to consider all the angles.  I’m not saying it would be impossible to write, but I would be wary of the result, and especially that it would really be in the best interest of “the people.”

Besides which, the fact is that social profiles aren’t in the control of an individual.  Not really.  I mean, it may be in our name and we can set passwords and restrictions on who is viewing our posts, but the data is physically not ours.  We surrender it when we sign up. It is now “out there”…living on some server.  It belongs to Facebook, or Google, etc. and those controlling entities can change privacy settings anytime they want.  So if Congress were to enact privacy laws on personal profiles, it would put a heap of responsibility on Facebook/Google to ensure security.  They are under plenty of heat for that already, and rather flailing IMO.  A law such as Dayanim suggests would inhibit development.  It might even make social media cost prohibitive in its entirety.  You can be sure that any company with a stake in social media will fight that. And so will their users who manage to maintain an unobjectionable presence on social sites.

The world is changing.  Just see Google’s new privacy laws.  We are becoming more connected, less private, and way less censored.  On Facebook, and other social networks, yes, there’s a great deal “too much information” shared about daily thoughts and activities–the emotional outburst, the political rant, the immature argument, the messy break up, etc. and so on.  But in my opinion, most of what people post doesn’t make them unhirable. Companies need to move forward with the time. Things are simply more expressive now!  Besides which, these kinds of conversations happen in the office too, around the water cooler (and if they don’t then your office is probably an oppressive place to work.)  My point? Don’t have a policy to not hire someone because they engage in human conversations.  You should be able to assess a culture fit in other ways, if that is what you are concerned about. If an individual’s online behavior is so bad they would make a bad employee, they probably showcase that behavior “in real life” too.  You should pick up on it without having to hack personal accounts.

In the end, the old rules still apply:

  • Employees shouldn’t post anything wildly inappropriate that could potentially get them fired or not hired.
  • Employers, follow the Golden Rule when it comes to how you judge and treat your staff.

Just my 2 cents.

Analyzing New Facebook Insights – Display and Exported Data

30 Jan

Last week, I gave a presentation on New Facebook Insights for Banyan Branch, a social media agency in Seattle.  This blog post will be cross-posted to the blog at Banyan and the PowerPoint may end up on SlideShare, but here is my blog post version:

Where are New Facebook Insights?

You must be an admin of a Facebook page to have access to Facebook Insights. New Facebook Insights are located on the left of the page. Old Facebook Insights are on the right.

Where Are New and Old Facebook Insights?

Where Are New and Old Facebook Insights?

Some Dates & Numbers You Might Want To Know:

  • Data for Old Facebook Insights stopped collecting December 15, 2011
  • Old Facebook Insights are scheduled to be deleted February 15, 2012
  • New Page Insights were Introduced October 6, 2011
  • New Facebook Insights only go back as far as July 19, 2011
  • In either the display or exported data, you can only get up to 500 posts
  • You can only export up to 89 days worth of data
  • You must have 30+ data points to qualify for insights
  • There is a few days lag on displayed data in New Insights
  • Exported data for Insights is available Daily, Weekly, and 28 day cycles
  • Really high success might break insights data being displayed

Two Important Things Here:

  1. If you want access to your Facebook data prior to July 19th, you must export it before February 15th…and make sure you don’t exceed 500 posts or 89 days per export.
  2. If you are starting a new Facebook page, your Insights aren’t going to show until you have 30 of something (likes, fans, etc.).

Old Facebook Insights

Old Facebook Insights showed information related to Active Users (views, visitors, new likes, etc.) and their Interactions (likes, comments, etc.).

To analyze Old Insights, you would look at the peaks and valleys to see what your Active Users found engaging and when (or when they weren’t active and why).  Or you could look at your individual post data to see what specifically they liked and the impression each post made (useful for campaigns, contests, polls, etc.)

Analyze Peaks and Valleys in Facebook Insights

Analyze Peaks and Valleys in Facebook Insights

What Has Changed With New Facebook Insights?

With New Facebook Insights, the old metrics are no longer displayed…at all. You can still get them if you export your data, but Facebook has had a makeover. They allow you to do more with your data and they are encouraging you to change how you do your reporting.

The New Facebook Metrics:

  • Total Likes: The number of people who have “liked” your page. The percentage increase up or down defaults to the past 7 days of displayed data; you can view the date period by hovering over the percentage number and you can change the date range, which will change the number.
  • Friends of Fans: Shows the potential reach of your page’s content via the friends of people who have “liked” your page. This will fluctuate and is most useful for ads that friends of your friends will be exposed to.
  • People Talking About This: The number of unique people who have created a “story” regarding your page, which means any type of interaction within the date range such as a comment, share, like, tag, response to an event or question, etc.
  • Weekly Total Reach: The total number of people who have seen content regarding your page, including ads or sponsored stories pointing to your page over 7 days.

These metrics are available on the overview page for “Insights”

New Facebook Insights Shows Weekly Change For 7 Days

Please note that  “Total likes” and “Friends of Fans” are Lifetime metrics, meaning they are an aggregate of the total sum since the beginning of your page’s existence.  However, Weekly Total Reach and Talking About This are weekly sums (7 days) going back from the last day of displayed data (which isn’t always today due to a lag).

Also note also the percentage increase (in green with a green arrow in this example) next to each of the four metrics.  This number is for the last 7 days for all four metrics.  If your numbers went down, this metric will be red and the arrow will point downward.

Finally, note that the area graphic showing Reach and Talking About This over time is showing weekly data.  If you hover over one of those dots, you are looking at 7 days worth of data.

Beneath the area graphic, you can look at a list of your individual posts (just one post is shown below) and determine how effective each post was against other posts or sort by category to determine which posts are the top performing.

Post Data For New Facebook Insights

Post Data For New Facebook Insights

  • Reach is the number of unique users who saw your post.
  • Engaged Users is the number of unique people who have clicked on your post.
  • Talking About This is the number of people who have Liked, commented on, shared, or responded to a post, question, or event.
  • Virality is the “Talking About This” number divided by the “Reach” number.

New Facebook Insights Post TypeYou can also filter by Post Type.  Each post will have an icon next to it that will help you to identify which type of post it is.  Sorting by types of posts can help give insight into what is working best for your page.

 

 

 

 

More Details on New Facebook Insights

New Facebook Insights TabsSo far we have just looked at what is available on the overview for “Insights”.  There are also three sub tabs on Likes, Reach, and Talking About This.

 

  • The “Likes” tab displays the information in the old Facebook insights reports: how many people have liked your page, how many people have unliked your page, etc.
  • The “Reach” tab shows you information about who saw any content about your Page. This will include both fans and nonfans.
  • The “Talking About This” tab shows you who has created a story about your Page.

For each, you get information on demographics, such as gender, a bar chart for age groups, top countries, and top cities.  You also get source information for where your traffic is coming from.

Skip to the Point. So What?

Okay…so how does this help you?

I would say there are three major takeaways for New Facebook Insights:

  1. You Will Have To Adapt From Old Facebook Insights to New Facebook Insights

Impressions, Active Users, and Shares have been replaced.  We now have Weekly Total Reach, Engaged Users/Views/Visitors and Talking About This.  You can still get the Old Facebook Insights metrics from exporting the post data, but I don’t think Facebook is going to switch back, so you might as well hop on board with the new insights metrics.

This is an adjustment, but in the long run it’s a benefit because you can see not just who is a fan of your page, but potentially how many people you could be reaching through those who are engaging with you.

  1. Use New Insights To Improve Engagement and Influence

You can analyze peaks and valleys in your new metrics just like the old ones to determine not just when people are most engaged with your page (or when they stop being engaged), but also how many people they are reaching with your content.

You can look at your individual posts and filter by Talking About This or Virality to see which posts resonated the most with your audience. Once you figure it out, post more of what is working! This will help you build a page that attracts more likes, retains more fans, and grows your community.

  1. Determine How Your Facebook Is Doing Against Competitors

Guess what? “Fans” and “Talking About This” (weekly) are public metrics. They are located on the left of every Facebook page.  What this means is that you can now compare your Facebook page to other Facebook pages. Just divide “Talking About This” by “Total Fans”.

Prior to “Talking About This” all you could do was look at the fans that other pages have, but this isn’t always a helpful metric.  Some products or companies are going to have millions of fans even if their Facebook doesn’t engage their community at all.  “Talking About This” helps you see how engaged fans are with a Facebook page, not just a product. Since health is expressed as a percentage, you won’t be trying to compare total likes for wildly different products or companies.

According to Social Media Examiner, healthy Facebook pages have a score of between 1-5%.

 “The People Talking About This statistic is the one to watch. Watch your competitors’ numbers to monitor what is working for them. For an accurate picture, take the People Talking About This number and divide it by the total number of fans. Healthy pages have percentages between 1% and 5% (or more for great interaction).”  -www.socialmediaexaminer.com

Exported Data for New Facebook Insights:

Still not satisfied?  Don’t worry. Facebook has provided LOTS more with the Export function for New Facebook Insights.  If you are a brave enough, you can export your data.  You can export it at the Overview or for the individual tabs for Likes, Reach, or Talking About This.  I’ll even show you what this data looks like for the Overview.

First, you’ll come to a screen that looks like this:

Export Data For Facebook Insights

Note that you can choose either Post or Page data.  Note that you can also set the date range but that you can’t pull more than 500 posts or posts prior to July 19th.

Post Level Data For Facebook Insights

Post level data is simpler. If you export Post Data into Excel, you will get five tabs…and lots of columns. I wrote them all out in the table below as a reference guide.

Tab Name Description Data Available By Column
Key Metrics Description, Post ID, Message , Posted date, Lifetime Post Total Reach, Lifetime Post Organic Reach, Lifetime Post Paid Reach, Lifetime Post Viral Reach, Lifetime Post Total Impressions, Lifetime Post Organic Impressions, Lifetime Post Paid Impressions, Lifetime Post Viral Impressions, Lifetime Engaged Users, Lifetime Talking About This (Post), Lifetime Post Stories, Lifetime Post Consumers, Lifetime Post Consumptions
Lifetime Talking About This The number of unique people who created a story about your Page post, by action type. (Unique Users) Description, Post ID, Message, Posted, like, comment, share
Lifetime Post Stories By Action The number of stories created about your Page post, by action type. (Total Count) Description, Post ID, Message, Posted, like, comment, share
Lifetime Post Consumers By Type The number of people who clicked anywhere in your post, by type. Clicks generating stories are included in “Other Clicks.” (Unique Users) Description, Post ID, Message, Posted, other clicks, link clicks, video play,  photo view
Lifetime Post Consumptions By… The number of clicks anywhere in your post, by type. Clicks generating stories are included in “Other Clicks.” (Total Count) Description, Post ID, Message, Posted (date), other clicks, link clicks, video play, photo view

Page Level Data For Facebook Insights

Page level data will frighten you.  Here’s what you get with Page level data exported for New Facebook Insights (assuming I didn’t blink and miss one…which is possible):

  • Key Metrics (with 66+ columns!…I’ll show you the columns in a second)
  • Daily Like Sources
  • Daily Viral Reach By Story Type
  • Weekly Viral Reach By Story Type
  • 28 Days Viral Reach By Story Type
  • Daily Viral Impressions by Story Type
  • Weekly Viral Impressions by Story Type
  • 28 Days Viral Impressions by Story Type
  • Daily Total frequency distrib…
  • Weekly Total frequency distrib…
  • 28 Days Total frequency distrib…
  • Daily Posts frequency distrib…
  • Weekly Posts frequency distrib…
  • 28 Days Posts frequency distrib…
  • Daily Viral frequency  distrib…
  • Weekly Viral frequency  distrib…
  • 28 Days Viral frequency  distrib
  • Daily Talking About This by…
  • Weekly Talking About This by…
  • 28 Days Talking About This by…
  • Daily Stories By…
  • Weekly Stories By…
  • 28 Days Page Stories By…
  • Daily Consumers by cons…
  • Weekly Consumers by cons…
  • 28 Days Page Consumers by cons…
  • Daily Consumptions by type…
  • Weekly Consumptions by type…
  • 28 Days Page Consumptions by type…
  • Lifetime Gender and Age
  • Lifetime Countries
  • Lifetime Cities
  • Lifetime Language
  • Weekly Reach Demographics
  • Weekly Reach By Country
  • Weekly Reach by City
  • Daily People Talking About Age and Gender
  • Weekly People Talking About Age and Gender
  • 28 Days People Talking About Age and Gender
  • Daily People Talking About Country
  • Weekly People Talking About Country
  • 28 Days People Talking About Country
  • Daily Language
  • Weekly Language
  • 28 Days Language
  • Daily Logged in Tab Views
  • Daily External Referrers

Wow that’s a lot of data!  And it’s only just the beginning.  The Tab for “Key Metrics” has over 66 columns.  Here’s what they are:

Tab #1 Columns with data… (66+)
Key Metrics Daily People Talking About This, Weekly People Talking About This, 28 Days People Talking About This, Daily Page Stories, Weekly Page Stories, 28 Days Page Stories, Lifetime Total Likes, Daily New Likes, Daily Unlikes, Daily Friends of Fans, Daily Page Engaged Users, Weekly Page Engaged Users, 28 Days Page Engaged Users, Daily Total Reach, Weekly Total Reach, 28 Days Total Reach, Daily Organic Reach, Weekly Organic Reach, 28 Days Organic Reach, Daily Paid Reach, Weekly Paid Reach, 28 Days Paid Reach, Daily Viral Reach, Weekly Viral Reach, 28 Days Viral Reach, Daily Total Impressions, Weekly Total Impressions, 28 Days Total Impressions, Daily Organic impressions, Weekly Organic impressions, 28 Days Organic impressions, Daily Paid Impressions, Weekly Paid Impressions, 28 Days Paid Impressions, Daily Viral impressions, Weekly Viral impressions, 28 Days Viral impressions, Daily Reach of page posts, Weekly Reach of page posts, 28 Days Reach of page posts, Daily Organic Reach of Page posts, Weekly Organic Reach of Page posts, 28 Days Organic Reach of Page posts, Daily Paid Reach of Page posts, Weekly Paid Reach of Page posts, 28 Days Paid Reach of Page posts, Daily Viral Reach of page posts, Weekly Viral Reach of page posts, 28 Days Viral Reach of page posts, Daily Total Impressions of your posts, Weekly Total Impressions of your posts, 28 Days Total Impressions of your posts, Daily Organic impressions of your posts, Weekly Organic impressions of your posts, 28 Days Organic impressions of your posts, Daily Paid impressions of your posts, Weekly Paid impressions of your posts, 28 Days Paid impressions of your posts, Daily Viral impressions of your posts, Weekly Viral impressions of your posts, 28 Days Viral impressions of your posts, Daily Total Consumers, Weekly Total Consumers, 28 Days Total Consumers, Daily Page consumptions, Weekly Page consumptions, 28 Days Page consumptions

If you organize it…

Exported New Facebook Insights Key Metrics

Still with me?  Remember there are a bunch of other tabs.  Here are the definitions and all the metrics you get with each in the columns.

More Tabs Description Columns
Daily Like Sources The number of people who liked your Page, broken down by the most common places where people can like your Page. (Unique Users) Description, Date, page profile, hovercard, mobile, like story. page suggestion, api, timeline, recommended pages, search
Viral Reach By Story Type (Tab each for Daily/Weekly/28 Days) Total number of people who saw a story about your Page by story type. (Unique Users) Description, Date, fan, mention, user post, page post
Viral Impressions by Story (Tab each for Daily/Weekly/28 Days) Total impressions of stories published by a friend about your Page by story type. (Total Count) Description, Date, fan, mention, user post, page post
Daily /Weekly/ 28 Days Total frequency distrib The number of people your Page reached broken down by how many times people saw any content about your Page. (Unique Users) Description, Date, 6-10, 1, 11-20, 21+, 2, 3, 4, 5
Daily/Weekly/28 Days Posts frequency distrib The number of people who saw your Page posts, broken down by how many times people saw your posts. (Unique Users) Description, Date, 21+, 6-10, 11-20, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Daily/Weekly/28 Days Viral frequency  distrib The number of people your Page reached from a story published by a friend, broken down by how many times people saw stories about your Page. (Unique Users) Description Date 1 2 3 6-10 4 21+ 5 11-20
Daily/Weekly/28 Days Talking About This by Story Type The number of people talking about your Page, by story type. (Unique Users) Description, Date, page, post, fan, mention, user post
More Tabs Description Columns
Daily/Weekly/28 Days Page Stories By The number of stories about your Page by story type. (Total Count) Description Date page post fan user post mention
Daily/Weekly/28 Days Page Consumers by cons The number of people who clicked on any of your content, by type. Clicks generating stories are included in “Other Clicks.” Stories generated without clicks on page content (e.g., liking the page in Timeline) are not included. (Unique Users) Description Date other clicks link clicks video play photo view
Daily/Weekly/28 Days Page Consumptions by type The number of clicks on any of your content, by type. Clicks generating stories are included in “Other Clicks.” Stories generated without clicks on page content (e.g., liking the page in Timeline) are not included. (Total Count) Description Date other clicks link clicks photo view video play
Lifetime Gender and Age Lifetime Aggregated demographic data about the people who like your Page based on the age and gender information they provide in their user profiles. (Total Count) Date F.35-44 F.25-34 F.45-54 F.55+ F.18-24 M.35-44 M.55+ M.25-34 M.45-54 M.18-24 U.UNKNOWN F.13-17 M.13-17 U.35-44 U.25-34 U.45-54 U.55+ U.18-24
Lifetime Countries Lifetime Aggregated Facebook location data, sorted by country, about the people who like your Page. (Total Count) Description Date : Top Countries
Lifetime Cities  Aggregated Facebook location data, sorted by city, about the people who like your Page. (Total Count) Description Date : Top Cities
Lifetime Language Aggregated language data about the people who like your Page based on the default language setting selected when accessing Facebook. (Total Count) Description Date: Top Languages
More Tabs Description Columns
Weekly Reach Demographics Weekly Total Page Reach by age and gender. (Unique Users) Description Date F.45-54 F.35-44 F.25-34 F.55-64 F.18-24 M.45-54 M.35-44 M.25-34 M.18-24 F.65+ M.55-64 M.65+ F.13-17 U.35-44 M.13-17 U.25-34 U.45-54 U.55-64 U.18-24 U.65+
Weekly Reach By Country Weekly Total Page Reach by user country. (Unique Users) Description Date varies but shows as US etc.
Weekly Reach by City Weekly Total Page Reach by user city. (Unique Users) Description Date, varies but shows as city and state initials
More Tabs Description Columns
Weekly Reach By Language Total Page Reach by user selected language. (Unique Users) Description Date, varies but shows as en_US
Daily /Weekly/28 Days People Talking About Age and Gender The number of People Talking About the Page by user age and gender (Unique Users) Description Date F.35-44 F.25-34 F.45-54 F.55-64 F.18-24 M.35-44 M.25-34 M.45-54 F.65+ M.65+ U.25-34 U.35-44 F.13-17 U.65+ M.55-64 M.18-24 U.45-54
Daily /Weekly/28 Days People Talking About Country The number of People Talking About the Page by user country (Unique Users) Description Date, varies but shows as US etc.
Daily /Weekly/ 28 Days  People Talking About Language The number of People Talking About the Page by user language. (Unique Users) Description Date, varies but shows as en_US etc
Daily Logged in Tab Views Daily Tabs on your Page that were viewed when logged-in users visited your Page. (Unique Users) Varies by what tabs you have
Daily External Referrers: Daily Top referring external domains sending traffic to your Page. (Total Count) Varies by your referrals

That concludes all I was able to look at for Exported Data.

Final Thoughts: What I Wish I Knew About Facebook Insights

New Facebook Insights doesn’t show what is being said about your page on your fans’ walls, but Facebook has built in an API that can be used to gather this information. News on the subject listed Context Optional, Wildfire, and Webtrends as partners, but I suspect social media analytic tools will be able to fill this need as well.

I wasn’t able to determine if people deleting stories on their wall will make “Talking About This” and related metrics go down. Same with people changing their privatization for what they share with whom.  Does it affect the reach number if I limited a post to just certain friends? Retroactively?  I’m not sure, but I will let you know if I find out.

Additional Resources

Lots of bloggers, journalists and others have written about New Facebook Insights besides me.  I scouted around and these were the best that I found.  By “best” I mean the most comprehensive or easiest to understand or most accurate or in some way gave me something more than just definitions of the new Facebook Insights metrics (which you can get from Facebook—see resource number one).

My Favorite New Facebook Insights Resources:

Was this information helpful to you?  Please leave me a note!

What Does Social Media Conversation Look Like? What Can You Learn From It?

16 Jan
Social Media Conversation

Social Media Conversation

How much of the online conversation about my brand is about products? How much is about the stores? Which products and which stores?  Are people motivated more by price or convenience?  How else do they make decisions?  What impact does  news have on the conversation?  Which is most interesting to consumers? Lawsuits? Politics?  Product recalls?

And so on.

These are the questions marketers often want social media analysis to answer. The value of social media monitoring is often compared to focus group research.  Only instead of prepackaged questions, you get unbound responses in which people will spill what they really think.

Marketers often want the answers in percentages.  X% of the conversation is about products. X% is about stores. X% is news. If you add up all the categories it will total 100%.  …right?

Gosh, I wish it was that easy.

You can certainly use social media to gain insights into these types of questions, but the fact that social media conversation isn’t prepackaged to provide specific answers to specific questions is a double-edged sword.  On one hand, yes, you get unbounded conversation.  People are free to talk about whatever they want to talk about and you can benefit from that by listening and learning and engaging with that conversation.  On the other hand, people are free to talk about whatever they want to talk about, and often what they want to talk about doesn’t align directly with your marketing goals or questions.

People might not mention your products at all.  Or your stores, or define which products or which stores if they do.  Often, a post will touch on several topics at once, so that adding all comments together is never going to equal 100%. Much of the time, the people talking aren’t your customers.  And so on.

If you are a retail marketer, you might be used to dealing with analytics that derive from hard numbers.  Number of products sold, amount of inventory available, price of product at time of sale, comparative numbers from last year, etc.  Your margins are probably well-understood.  They are likely razor thin.

Social media is different. We aren’t looking at numbers that are recorded and segmented for each and every transaction.  We are looking at conversation.  And conversation is a moving target.  People talk about things differently.  Sometimes they talk around things.   The vernacular changes.  And so does the manner of collection and ways in which you can segment the conversation. Conversation is ever-growing and evolving and shape-shifting.

Is the information usable?  Absolutely.  But it’s different than other kinds of market research.

You can learn amazing things.  You might learn that people are using your products for something other than their intended use.  You might discover a demographic or community that is surprisingly enthusiastic about your brand.  You might identify a pain point or controversy that your marketing department had no idea existed…or didn’t realize was as vocal a conversation as it appears in online discussion.

However, you are unlikely to be able to put all of the conversation collected into neat little boxes.  Ever.  And there is probably a great deal of content that isn’t going to fit into any box at all…at least not a traditional box.

My suggestion?  Don’t focus on the totals.  Too many people worry too much about “getting it all”. Getting all of the conversation, or segmenting all of the conversation, is not as important as getting enough conversation.  Yes, you will get numbers.  But like with other kinds of market research, you don’t need a survey from the entire populace, or an interview with every customer, to identify an insight. What you need is “enough” information to draw a conclusion.  Maybe you only saw a handful of people talking about your product having a defect.  But if that handful is the only conversation you are coming across…other than news…it might be significant.

I usually advise companies who know little about the social media conversation for their brand to do a landscape assessment.  Invest in some general research.  Rather than a small report that shows a piece of the puzzle, do a larger report that attempt to show the whole thing…shallowly, perhaps, but gives you an idea of the scope.  Don’t worry about detailed answers to your specific questions.  Just try to get a handle on what is there. Once you have a map, keep listening.  Over time, you will be able to identify what is a trend versus what isn’t. Be prepared to learn some things you didn’t expect and do some deep dive reporting to understand it better.

As you get more familiar with your data, a greater picture will emerge.  And then you will be ready to have some fun.

Make Social Media Martini

It's A Social Media Martini!

Social Media Sundae: A Brand New Blog About…Social Media

6 Jan

Social Media Sundae = Yum

I started Social Media Sundae because I wanted a place to publish my ever-growing fount of social media knowledge. Why Sundae?  (What do you mean? Because it’s delicious.) I looked at a lot of possibilities, but this one appealed the most. It is targeted and memorable (alliterative even) and conveys the style of insights you will find here–fun and flavorful. 

At this time, I don’t really aim at having a “successful” blog in the sense of making it a monetized business.  I am a writer first and foremost.  We writers are notoriously known (unfortunately) for shelling out our talent for pennies…or for nothing…because we love to write.  Right now, I am blogging because I have something to say. It will also enable me to put into practice some what I know about blogging, optimizing content, promoting content via social channels, and related efforts, but that is not the primary focus.

The focus isn’t success. It’s sharing.

As a social media analyst, I spend 40 hours a week digging through social media conversation. I look at trends and themes, explore the cultures of various internet communities, and generally play in a large and ever-growing sandbox of What People Are Talking About.

Professionally, this knowledge is used to inform brands about conversation topics of interest to a business or campaign effort.  But there is a ton of information I discover in the process, or happily through my own explorations, that I don’t get to report to anybody.  And I want to.  Because the things that people talk about in internet communities, fan groups, social media networks and other channels are simply AMAZING.

I will also use this blog to write about where I see the social media industry going as well as what kinds of tools, tips, and tricks I find to be the most valuable in dissecting social media conversation.  My sense as an analyst is that a lot of people are interested but don’t really know where to begin or what to expect.  How do you convey to leadership that this is important or that you are doing a good job? What are the standards? What is the process? People who have my job on the brand side are often at a loss. I really enjoy answering questions and being helpful, so if you discover this blog and think “what the heck? maybe she can help!”  shoot me an email at socialmediasundae@gmail.com.

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