Launching Automattic’s Certified Products Program

“Now that social data is becoming business-critical, it must become enterprise-class.” – Susan Etlinger, “The Emerging Social Data Ecosystem”, 9/18/2013

At Gnip, our customers’ experience is that social data has been “business-critical” for a while. But Susan Etlinger’s point is worth reiterating. While businesses have spent the last few years trying to figure out the “what” and the “why” of social data, they are increasingly focusing on “where” their data comes from. And the most sophisticated businesses know that scraped data is fundamentally different from a rate-limited public API, which is different than a full firehose.

The WordPress platform now represents an amazing 19% of the web. Which means if you want to know what people are saying about your brand on the web, you have to consider content from WordPress. With today’s announcement, we are putting a stake in the ground and saying that if your WordPress content is coming from elsewhere it is not suitable for building an enterprise-class product.

mBlast and Networked Insights, the inaugural members of the Automattic Certified Products Program, have always been strong advocates of including high quality blogs and comments among the wide variety of sources they offer their clients. Likewise, at Gnip we’ve long championed the “social cocktail”: the idea that the social data universe extends well beyond Twitter and Facebook and that any company trying to understand what is being said about their brand and industry has to consider other sources of data in order to get the full story.

Long-form content offers not only rich and deep expression, but the half life of the conversations that take place on a platform like WordPress is substantially longer than the equivalent conversation on microblogs, where conversations often begin and end in a matter of minutes or hours.

Until Gnip and Automattic brought the firehose to the market in late 2011, the only solution for even attempting to capture these conversations was building elaborate and often expensive crawlers in order to capture data from specific URLs. But if you’re in the business of realtime discovery and analytics, your customers tend not to be impressed if your crawled solution returns a conversation hours or even days after it happened and you cannot guarantee that you’ve provided them with everything.

To learn more about how mBlast and Networked Insights are using the WordPress firehose to provide valuable insights to their customers, check out their blog posts here and here.

For more info about how you can get access to realtime WordPress data via Gnip or become a member of the Certified Products Program, email info@gnip.com.

Creating and Sharing Content on WordPress

An interview with Paul Maiorana, Vice President of Platform Services at Automattic, about creating and sharing content on WordPress. 

Paul Maiorana Big Boulder

There are a lot of names for the WordPress/Automattic group, so it’s important to distinguish who is who. WordPress, who just celebrated their 10 year anniversary in May is an open source platform, free to use and free to download. Automattic (named for its founder, Matt Mullenweg) is the organization providing services around WordPress and handling its infrastructure. Lastly, Jetpack is the plugin used to add features to a WordPress site, powered by the cloud infrastructure.

Paul Maiorana, Automattic’s VP of Platform Services dove into the WordPress.com VIP, a solution for large media organizations and enterprises. You can run WordPress anywhere in the world, and Automattic is the largest user of and contributor to the open source platform. They’ve built a significant amount of knowledge around scaling the product and now provide this knowledge to enterprises. Huge organizations like Turner Broadcasting, federal agencies and a wide spectrum of other groups are customers.

“Biggest Home of Users on the Web”

WordPress has a philosophy when building their open source software – the idea of the independent web. Paul says they like to think of WordPress as a digital hub and your home on the web. At the end of the day, they try to give you (the user) the tools to create and export content and put it where you want. The user will always own WordPress as much as the company does. “A place on the web you can call your own, where you own the data, you own the experience,” says Paul, is part of the DNA at WordPress. More than 18% of the top 10 million website are WordPress, and 70 million WordPress websites are hosted between WordPress.com and other sources.

Blogging and Enterprise

While WordPress’ roots have always been in blogging, they see themselves as more of a content management system. This perception has persisted because of reputation. But over the last couple years, they’ve expanded on this to bring tools to customize user sites and take advantage of it to be more than just a blog. More and more organizations are using WordPress as a CMS these days instead of just a blog. On an enterprise level, major websites like CBS are using WordPress for CMS. It’s a testament to how the tool has evolved over the recent years.

Product Roadmap

Paul says product decisions have an interesting in relationship with the open source portion of WordPress. At the end of the day, WordPress has little control over what happens on that side. Unlike other CMS platforms, WordPress updates three times a year. It is updated without breaks to make it seamless for people to use the best WordPress there is. Within Automattic, they’ve built a lot of enterprise solutions and open source solutions to help make WordPress better for everyone.

Mobile is also a huge focus of what they’re currently focusing on, and how they will continue to shape their roadmap. For now, it’s a big initiative in two ways: from a front-end user experience and from a dashboard admin experience. The past three releases have focused a default theme that is responsive, and they will continue to do so. For the admin experience, mobile is perfect for “of the moment” publishing. With apps for IOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows, more content publishers will have the ability to publish on the go efficiently. They’ve seen real world use cases too, with reporters catching stories first because they were able to use the mobile publishing.

WordPress and Social

Blogging is inherently social and it’s not an accident comments are an important part of the WordPress software. The conversation is an important part of publishing on the web.  Paul said WordPress spends a lot of time thinking about additional social features they can add (likes, re-blogging, following, subscribing to updates). Looking forward, they’re hoping to expose the idea of consuming content within WordPress. They’re experimenting with reader interface and giving users ability to subscribe to content they like from topics or specific blogs and then see it all in one place and interact with it socially.

Big Boulder is the world’s first social data conference. Follow along at #BigBoulder, on the blog under Big BoulderBig Boulder on Storify and on Gnip’s Facebook page.

Big Boulder: Blogs, Comments, Forums and Rich Social Data Gestures

A panel discussion on forums, comments and blogs and other rich social data gestures with Ro Gupta from Disqus, Mark O’Sullivan from Vanilla, Mike Preuss from FormSpring and Martin Remy from Automattic, and moderated by Nicole Glaros from TechStars.

Social Gestures Panel at Big Boulder

The definition of community can vary widely across platforms, but is there a real definition of community? At Disqus, they like to think of communities as a continuum. First come comments then conversations on twitter, blogs, and other platforms. Once the conversation is developed, it gives way to a community. Communities are about recognition and repetition, and forums allow for these communities to develop. Commenting systems are a jumping point for communities. Mark O’Sullivan of Vanilla coined them “community training wheels” because they are a good starting point for community forums. They enforce familiarity and often lead to offline communities as well. Mike Preuss explained what draws people into communities: FOMO. As social beings, the “fear of missing out” or FOMO drives communities. When 45% of daily users on FormSpring are creating content and engaging others, users feel the need to contribute to the conversation. About 74% of visitors to Disqus will return everyday or every other day. “When you think you’re missing out on something,” Mike says, that defines a community.

Developing a community is a huge task, but the bigger task is engaging users. At Vanilla, they have a full range of social gestures because not everyone will be able to contribute to every topic. But by using “light weight” gestures such as “likes” or “smiles” in the case of FormSpring, content creators can receive feedback and give readers some way to signal back. It also helps to identify good and bad content, influencers and contributors in the community and drive moderation from these. There’s a tremendous push toward allowing anyone the chance to become a content creator. A recent and fascinating case of this is Pinterest; “pinning” photos is creating content and allows users to express who they are.

At Disqus, they focus on reaction tools, according to Ro Gupta. Ro says they want to be able to reengage after the fact, and this includes cross-pollinating on other platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Engagement can be measured by “daily active users.”  The 90:9:1 rule is something that Disqus deems true for their platform. 90% of users are passive clickers, 9% help curate content, and 1% create the most content and drive discussions. However, there is a middle ground because of lightweight gestures that encourage users to engage on a smaller scale. According to Ro, about 35% of users contribute solid participation in the form of  lightweight gestures. In the case of Vanilla, Mark said some users were hesitant to allow lightweight contributions, but over time, users found it encouraged new content and lowered barriers to engagement.

Lightweight interactions are relatively new, but do they really affect product roadmaps? The answer is always yes. Martin of Automattic says WordPress isn’t adding social for the sake of “adding social,” but rather because the feedback from lightweight interactions is motivation for content creators. WordPress is adding more tools to enable this as well. As Mike of FormSpring explains, “we want to reward good user behavior,” by releasing new features for users. Lightweight actions help them sort what’s actually relevant to communities, so FormSpring came out with a feature to sort by most popular and by language.

When it comes to platforms, each company agreed that it is extremely important to carry content across platforms. As Martin said, it’s important for people to publicize their content outside of their blogs. Users want to share on tumble, twitter, and elsewhere. Tumblr actually doubled engagement within WordPress. “Viralizing the content,” Ro of Disqus says, draws in more users. 50% of Disqus’ users connect with another social platform and 10-12% of comments are shared on Twitter. And while you’re always competing for eyeballs online, no single platform can own a conversation about something. When a user is particularly interested in a topic, it will naturally cross platforms. Facebook has even helped discussions grow through “Facebook comments”. They tend to increase the pie for everyone and open the eyes of new users.

One of the biggest concerns of content creators is engagement versus reach: which is more important? Both matter to different creators, and but it’s important to consider who is asking. For example, a blog like TechCrunch has more influence and reach than a personal blog, but both reach and engagement are valuable within different communities.

Big Boulder is the world’s first social data conference. Follow along at #BigBoulder, on the blog under Big BoulderBig Boulder on Storify and on Gnip’s Facebook page.

Gnip and Automattic Make Whole New Universe of Data Available

“This new data from Automattic is a big addition and a testament to Gnip’s commitment to drive the social data economy forward. This is an important source to add to the social data mix, one that we know our customers will take full advantage of.”

- Rob Begg, VP Marketing of Radian6

As social media data becomes more and more important across a range of businesses, our customers are asking for access to more data sources to give them a more complete picture of the social media conversations that are relevant to their businesses.

Today, we’re excited to announce a major addition to our coverage of the conversations taking place on blogs around the world. We’re expanding our relationship with Automattic to make a whole new universe of blog and comment data available to the market for the first time anywhere.

For those who don’t know, Automattic is a network of web services including WordPress.com, VIP hosting and support, Polldaddy, IntenseDebate, and Jetpack. We’ve been delivering data from WordPress.com and IntenseDebate for about a year and a half and found that while our customers loved their data, they always wanted more.

As of today, we are now offering the full firehose of blog posts and comments from Jetpack-powered WordPress.org sites, as well as engagement streams of “likes” from WordPress.com and IntenseDebate. The new data from WordPress.org greatly increases the coverage available to those who are looking to do deep analysis of blog posts and comments. The new engagement streams enable companies to pull in reaction data to quickly understand sentiment, relevance and resonance. With this they can gauge the intensity of opinion around fast moving blog and comment conversations, helping prioritize critical response.

Being full firehoses, all of the streams from Automattic ensure 100% coverage in realtime giving customers the peace of mind that they can keep up the entire discussion on fast moving threads.

The scope of coverage offered by Automattic is pretty incredible.  Check out some of these stats:

We’re thrilled to be able to offer these new data streams to our customers and can’t wait to see the amazing things they’ll be able to do with them.

Updated: Coverage in GigaOM – Gnip and WordPress deepen ties, expand data partnership