Monday, March 10, 2014

Free social analytics to measure your online influence

Those who are entering the communications industry today face the fact that social media expertise is a must in every job posting. For many of us life without Facebook or Twitter is hard to imagine and it is hard to find a person who couldn’t tweet or use Facebook. But employers look for more than just tweeting ability; they look for thought leaders and communications strategists. This is why it is important to sell yourself correctly. For this purpose a piece with your social media engagement analyses will add value to your PR portfolio.
If you are a student graduating from a communications program and looking for employment, probably you have no access to expensive social media analytics that give social media engagement overviews with just few clicks. However you can demonstrate your influence online and at the same time showcase your understanding of social media metrics using free tools and basic arithmetic functions.

There is a broad variety of social analytic tools out there and you can find a use for the free services many of them offer. My own research showed that combining and gives a significant flexibility in measuring your influence on Twitter.

For every Twitter conversation you can measure your participation following three easy steps.

Tweet reach

There is a number of approaches to calculate your tweet reach and unfortunately neither of them is 100% accurate. For a detailed overview of these methods visit

Here is an easy formula to estimate your tweet reach:

Total tweet reach = number of hashtags multiplied by number of followers the user had at the moment of tweeting  +  number of followers for each user who retweeted the original tweet.

Let’s look at each formula element separately.

Number of hashtags from a particular user can be quickly determined with Just go to advanced search and put in the hashtag you are tracking and your user name. The search results will produce your tweets that include the hashtag you requested. Note, you can adjust the time period for the tweets using a submenu on the right side after you fill in the search parameters.

The number of followers on a particular date can be pulled out using analytics on One of the services you can get from Hootsuite for free is a user overview report. It provides a graph called “follower growth” where you can see the number of your folloowers on each day over a selected time range. To pull out the data for the time period you want, make sure to select the time range for your users report at the top of the report page.

Following of the people who retweeted you can also be found via free Hootsuite services on your Hootsuite
home page at the retweets trend. The trend keeps track of all your tweets retweeted by other users. To get the information about the people who retweeted your post, click on the number of retweets under your original post and then click on each individual to find their following. For the tweet reach formula sum up the followers of those who retweeted you.

Top contributors

There is no single way to determine top contributors as identifying them can be based either on followers or on conversation engagement.

Measuring conversation engagement on Hootsuite is a paid service. But if you want to determine top contributors for the reach of your tweets, you can do it manually by using the Hootsuite retweets trend described above. All you have to do is to figure out users with the largest following who retweeted you.

Conversation influence

You can base the evaluation of how much you contributed to a trending conversation on identifying the percentage of your tweets from all posts on Twitter with the same hashtag. Analytic is a useful tool to go about the task. Using the advanced search find all your tweets with the hashtag. Then go to topsy analytics and find the total amount of the hashtag mentions. Use these two figures calculate what part of posts with the hashtag in question belongs to you.

To further demonstrate your influence in the conversation, you can find the number of responds to your tweets through Hootsuite trends and then calculate the ratio of the responses to your original tweets.

The figures and graphs received as the result of the described manipulations are great to put in the summary about your own social media engagement and to add impressiveness to your portfolio. However what you can do with free analytics, by no means, is limitted to these three steps. Play around with number and graphs and see where your creativity leads you.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ukraine sacrifices European association for selective justice

Parliamentary session on Nov.13. Batkivshina Party.
 UNIAN/Dmytro Larin
The neglect of Ukrainian government to its own sworn commitments is no longer something surprising for Ukrainian citizens. But these days it seems to lead the aspiration to join EU into a dead end and threatens to throw Ukraine back into the vicious cycle of relationships with Russia as if no lesson was learned from history. 

The infantile attitude among the representatives of the Ukrainian ruling Regions Party goes as far as choosing not to show up at the parliamentary sessions like it happened on Monday, Nov. 11, when only one member of Regions Party came to Verkhovna Rada, Ukrainian parliament. On the agenda is paving the way to signing a trade treaty with EU. The obstacle to join Europe is the imprisonment of a former prime minister Yuliya Timoshenko, a political opponent of the acting president Victor Yanukovich. 

Demonstration in support of Timoshenko in Kyiv
REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Mrs. Timoshenko was convicted to the seven-year sentence in October 2011 on abuse of power charges, a decision that was condemned by European leaders as political persecution. “The refusal to release and free Tymoshenko threatens to disrupt the signing of the agreement,” said Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on Polsat News on Oct 31. 

At present Ukrainian Parliament makes attempts to draw the bill to resolve the situation around ex-PM’s imprisonment, but no consensus was reached. 

Arsenyi Yatsenyuk , the leader of Batkivshina Party sees the behavior of pro-president party as a part of a plan to undermine the association with Europe. “Mr. Yanukovich wasn’t going to sign the agreement with EU at the very beginning,” he said on Tuesday, Nov. 12. 

The summit at which the treaty might be signed will take place in Lithuania on Nov. 28-29. For Ukraine the treaty means cooperation and extensive trade with the 28-members block and marks the shift from Russia towards Western Europe. It will open a graduate progression to European living standards, an orientation Ukraine adopted nine years ago. 

At the same time the treaty leads to a trade break-up with Russia who has already slowed down import from Ukraine as a disapproval of the agreement with EU, and promises to raise prices for Ukraine on Russian gas. 

Though in September at UN General Assembly in New York Mr. Yanukovich claimed Ukraine’s European aspirations were the main pillar of the country’s development, the rumors about his undisclosed negotiations with Russia circulated over the beginning of the week. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, acting prime minister Mykola Azarov stated that together with the president they are trying all possible means to regain trade and economic relationships with Russia. 

Earlier this fall the leader of opposition, a former heavy-weight boxing champion, Vitalyi Klitchko urged Ukrainian president to resign in case the association agreement with EU is failed. 

Serhiy Vlasenko, a legal defender of Mrs. Timoshenko predicts new repressions against the opposition after signing of the agreement is failed. 

The comments in social media are torn between calling for revolutionary actions in case the treaty is failed and insulting Mrs. Timoshenko.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lanni Marchant Breaks the National Record

TORONTO, Ontario – On Sunday of Oct. 20, 2013 Torontonians saw Lanni Marchant, 29, setting a new national women marathon record of two hours, 27 minutes and 59.6 seconds.

The previous 28-year-old mark of 2:28:36 belongs to Sylvia Ruegger and was beaten by Marchant during Scotiabank WaterfrontMarathon.

Marchant, an Ontario born, took the third place in the marathon finishing right after Kenyan racer Flomena Cheyech (2:25:13) and Ethiopia’s Sechale Adugna (2:26:43).

Marchant’s time is good to go for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. So when the window opens she plans to qualify for it. “Hopefully my body will keep cooperating with me and I can get into the Canadian team,” she said in the interview three days after the race.

Her calves cramping was a concern for the race. Even during the last metres Marchant worried something could go wrong. The memory of the German marathon is still too fresh:  two months earlier because her leg cramped up, she could barely walk when approaching the finish. “Until you cross that line nothing is guaranteed,” she says.

“When I planned to do the race I didn’t expect it to go the way it did,” Marchant confesses. She knew she was going fast, but only when she saw 40 k marker, Marchant realized it was going to be a good result. “Keep going, cross that finish line, then it’s mine,” she was telling herself over the last two kilometers.

Marchant’s plan after the marathon was to hop back into her normal life in Chattanooga, Tenn., U.S.A., where she currently lives and works. But the Fortuna decided differently affecting her personal life with her appearance on the front pages and the outpouring support in social media. “I’m still in awe of all the attention I get, but I don’t feel I’m so special. I understand it’s a huge record and I’m more than grateful to be given the talent and the opportunity to break it,” – she says.

After a celebration week with indulging into extra cookies and extra beers Marchant will go back to her routine which is balancing between her job as an attorney and training. She keeps her training schedule consistent, between 140 and 170 kilometres per week adding swimming and biking once a week. Her workout routing also includes strength training, a huge point for distance athletes that, she believes, can be overlooked. In winter she takes a month off to train in Kenya.

The secret to such an amazing time management, Marchant says, is in knowing what is important and knowing what sacrifices to make. With such a tight schedule she has “to take advantage of every single moment.”

“Luckily I run into people who know what’s important too, so I don’t feel any pressure to go outside of my comfort zone too much. I can train, I can work, I can go for my beer when I want to. But I know everything is in moderation. It’s about balance, about making sure the things that are important to you are the things that you enjoy.”

Enjoying what you do is the advice Marchant gives to those who plan to take up running seriously. She suggests finding the way to make it fun and be OKwith giving yourself a break sometimes. “Running is something that is supposed to cheer your life,” she says and warns against sacrificing who you are, your dreams and aspirations in other aspects of life.

Racing in the Waterfront Marathon Marchant “enjoyed every moment of it,” and set her personal and Canadian best. Keep it up, Lanni! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Once upon a time half-a-globe-away from home somewhere in the middle of exercising my usual bookworm habit and projecting the author’s experience on my adventures ego I stumbled upon Liz Gilbert’s speculation on happiness. “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it,” she said in her bestseller “Eat Pray Love.”

The idea stung bitterly. I have “traveled around the world looking for it.” But was I happy? No.

I quickly rushed through the happiness factors checklist created by M. Seligman, a founder of positive psychology.

Supportive family – checked, friends – the best one could ever have, romantic relationships – sort of, a satisfying career perspective… Emmm…

So a crucial element of “happy and fulfilling life” was lacking.  My mind started racing.  There were those tiny pieces of personal victories and achievements? But how do I match them into one whole vibrant picture? Mentally I started creating another checklist to evaluate my skills.

To begin with, I had obviously developed a taste for writing. I was head over heels in love with word combinations and sentence structures.

Next, I decided, I knew how to express my thoughts and deliver the information to a listener. Time spent teaching contributed to presentation skills and the ability to speak up.

I also remembered my recklessness when during the university years I took on a responsibility of managing rock events not knowing much about event management but desperately passionate about music. Since it worked out well I could say I was a quick learner.

The hopefully critical self-assessment rang the bell. The answer was clear: my favourite course in the university psychology program, psychology of PR and advertising! Bang!

Skills packed up, fears left at home, and here I am, again half-across the globe from home, in the coolest postgrad program in the oldest college of Toronto. It hasn’t been a month yet, but I feel like my whole personality is reshaping. I’ve taken a new approach with looking at the news and feel like a social media addict is growing in me. Now every FB post is an experimental material in terms of responses it gets.

The thrill of entering a PR profession is in its continuous evolving. The media has reshaped dramatically in the recent years which made it simultaneously easier and harder for a PR professional to do the job. In our “speak-up” era, when everyone can voice an opinion, engaging general public into a dialogue became possible as never before. But on the other hand, being heard in the chaotic choir of different voices takes skills and wit.

Growing social corporate responsibility and increasing awareness of global issues makes it even more interesting. Now when companies actually make an effort to build relationships with their clients the demand of PR specialists has steeply grown. And that’s good news for us, establishing professionals.

The biggest personal challenge though is trying the new cultural context. Some boldness to the point of recklessness is required to enter a profession heavily dependent on culture when being new to the country. But what's the fun in staying in a comfort zone?

Once in a while I turn my thoughts back to the comfort of home. But then as an inner response I hear in my head loud and clear Steve Job’s: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Don’t settle.”

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gunfire and Scars

You heart is not open,                                               Don’t say it’s over
So I must go.                                                              ‘Cause that would send me under.
(“The Power of Goodbye”, Madonna)                      (“Under”, Alex Hepburn)

Cold damp air rang with the echo of her steps as she trod along a long dimly lit hallway. Her high heels marked each passing moment with a loud “click” whereas her thought rushed back in time.

This bleak windowless corridor with multiple doors on each side opened a gateway to another alike but brighter and more cheerful hallway separated from “here and now” by more than a year and by approximately       2, 270 miles. Muffled by the carpeted floor her footsteps didn't disturb the silence there.

When she walked down that corridor joy and anxiety would fill her chest. She could never quite explain that nervousness that would grasp her before she would push the door open. Maybe subconsciously she anticipated changes and feared that every time might be the last time.

A steadying deep breath and she would make her entrance into the room. Emotions would immediately switch to the peaceful side, the effect he always had on her. A tide of warmth and care would surge over her whole being. Every cell of her body would respond as he would lock his arms around her. And then she would slip into that special state of mind: the awareness of his presence.

She pulled the key out of her pocket and pushed it into the keyhole waking back to reality. He wasn't here or maybe it was she who wasn't there. Her desire to see him again caused a dull throbbing pain in her chest. After being countries away for all these months she still longed for him. Getting over him was impossible neither during the periods when he was seemingly oblivious of her, nor when he would suddenly break into her reality with his text messages stating he missed her. She was constantly swinging between the desire to forget him and a determination to fight tooth and nail for being with this man, the man she felt was so right for her.

But today was different. As she got into her room she hurried to switch on her laptop and scrolled down her Twitter feed. The news she feared the most appeared frequently on the page. His earlier text message brought a relief: he wasn't hurt; he wasn't even there when it happened. But some dark inexplicable motives pushed her to investigate what the scenario might have been.

The information was horrifying. There was gunfire at his work place. An armed man shot 12 people dead, among them were civilians and contractors.  The murderer made his way through the guarded entrance and randomly aimed at employees unaware of his heinous intentions. In chaos and panic that followed people tried to escape the premises. Some of them never made it to the exit. Though the killer was shot as the police tried to take control over the situation, she didn't think his death made it up for his crime. How could he do it? How could he shoot down real people who had friends and families? The police reported his motives unclear which made her wander if the murderer knew he would take his reasons to the grave.

Suddenly she was seized by gratefulness to the chance that kept him away from the Naval Headquarters that morning. Tears streamed down her face. All the wrong things in their tantalizing “relationships” didn't matter any more. She discarded how their recent conversations made it seem she might never see him again.

She just wanted him safe. And then there was this necessity to wrap her arms around him, to run her fingers on his face, press her cheek against his chest to make sure of his physical existence. Every mile between them felt like a scar in her soul…

Monday, September 2, 2013

Turning into Hermione Granger or Becoming an International Student in Canada

Take me down to the Paradise City
Where the grass is green
Where the girls are pretty…
Take me home
(“Paradise City” by Guns’n’Roses)

Landing the dream destination has demanded investing a soul into achieving.  I still experience troubles believing that I am here in Toronto, Canada even though I now have the undeniable proofs: Canadian phone number, Canadian bank account and the most valuable my Centennial student ID.

After setting a goal of requalifying and entering the ranks of highly demanded professionals a long path of bringing the idea to life followed.

I opted for a postgrad program “Corporate Communications and PR” in Centennial College (Toronto, Canada)  to cause this major life turn.  A six-month-process leading to my physical presence here comprised three major stages: 

1) Passing a test of English IELTS;
2) Getting accepted by the college;
3) Obtaining a study permit and arranging the arrival.

While the first two steps were more theoretical, mostly involving brain, books and a computer, the last phase resulted in losing pounds. The first two turned attainable with tight schedules and proper time management and came down to compiling the previous achievement together and refining already formed skills. The third prompted me to appreciate once again the professionalism and support of people I am blessed to have in life.

Obtaining visa required preparation of a thick documentation pile. Running around the city during the heatwave in the chase after paperwork  considerably contributed into fat burning . But the expertise of BELL DNK  and its CEO Oksana Almanova in particular deserves special gratitude for the guidance. BELL DNK, an international education agency, had already proven efficient in the earlier steps providing comprehensive information about various schools and programs around the world as well as setting effective communication with the college.

And after having all the formal paperwork sorted out and purchasing my ticket the focus fell on the arrival into the country I had never been to. Much to my surprise it appeared easier than any of my previous traveling experiences. Afterwards I couldn't get rid of the feeling I knew Toronto prior to my landing in here. Through the network of friends finding a place in Toronto was made a manageable task. And the fact that I was met in the airport and brought into my new home, saving me from the search for my way in the middle of the night, escalated my spirits 150%.

The succeeding three days of intensive meeting the staff and student advisors followed to reinforce my confidence in the right choice.

It started with gaping at solid presentation skills of the School’s Dean Nate Horowitz whose speech assured me he knows his area well. This is the kind of people I want to learn from.

Next, meeting the teachers was utterly heart-warming as they confirmed the idea I formed about them earlier relying on the Web sources:  respectable PR practitioners with a profound theoretical basis.

And last but not least, Program Coordinator Barry Waite’s clear emphasis on the fostering hands-on-profession skills, creating professional environment right from the first days has switched me into the mode of upper readiness.

School starts tomorrow and as Hermione Granger would have done it, I’m about to rush up the newly opened avenues with the renewed confidence coming from having my nose stuck  in the textbooks and online resources before the course starts.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rain water

Now it is raining all the time here. Grey damp air clings to the trees and houses day after day. Greyness somehow makes the world seem confined. Everything shrinks and loses colours.

I step outside to find out how chilly and unwelcoming it is. Wet wind makes me shudder. Raindrops reach my face and linger on my skin. They roll down as if they were tears running out of my eyes. Eventually they touch my lips and give the idea of rain water taste. Unsalty. Unlike tears. Raindrops just can pretend to be tears. It is as if I was crying for you, but with raindrops instead of real tears.

Fake tears are all what is left. I won't cry. I have found my comfort and steadiness in the constant motion. I hold my feet tight on the ground and my grip over my destiny. Even nasty ever-lasting rain is powerless to bring down the determination.

Despite the long-desired balance I realize how much I miss you. I discover this fact standing beneath the grey sky falling down. I miss you, but I don't need you. I repeat “I-don’t-need-you” enchantment countless times, hoping it will eventually sound like truth.