Mad monkey and why you need to monitor key terms, not just hashtags

It’s getting so that you can’t bring a monkey anywhere without getting him quarantined.

The latest chapter in Justin Bieber is that his monkey was quarantined in Germany. But it lets us take a good look at the numbers behind how a story spreads and why you need to monitor terms and not just hashtags and handles in a social media story.

Because in the case of Bieber and his monkey, the number of mainstream outlets that picked up the story was far greater than the number of searchable/findable Twitter terms.

We put two keyword values into our search engine around 11 a.m. U.S. Central time this morning: 1) “Justin Bieber” and monkey; 2) “@justinbieber” and monkey . By 4:30 p.m., the first set had 280 results, the second set had 78.

Here’s the breakdown of where the keyword couplet of “Justin Bieber/Monkey” appeared:

One-third of the total pick ups on the couplet came from TV. Second was  Twitter, with 17 percent. Of interest here, more than 90 percent of that group did not have an overlap with Bieber’s Twitter handle. Far more people tweeted about him using his name than addressed him using the handle. An interesting note: Those who tweeted using his @ handle were relatively low wattage Tweeters, averaging less than 500 followers each.

The total direct circulation/audience of the outlets using “Justin Bieber” and “monkey” during a 5 1/2 hour sample period was about 22 million. The total reach of those tweeting the handle was no more than 6,000.

The lesson to be learned here is that you can’t depend on hashtag and handle searches. If this were a situation that were more sinister than a kid and his quarantined monkey, the real damage would have been done not on Twitter, but in the mainstream, big-bullhorn media.