INBOX INSIGHTS, February 1, 2023: Business Continuity Planning, Twitter Algorithm

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Business Continuity Planning

Do you have a business continuity plan? If you work at a larger organization, chances are you do. If you work at an organization that handles sensitive data, chances are you do.

Every other day there have been announcements of massive layoffs. Layoffs in the tens of thousands. I have to imagine there are tasks that will fall through the cracks and ultimately not get done at all.

One of the biggest liabilities a company can have is a person. They will have specialized skills, institutional knowledge, and relationships that all live, and leave, with each person.

What if you don’t work at a large company, are undergoing massive layoffs, or handle sensitive data? Do you still need a business continuity plan?

The answer is a resounding “yes!”

Now, you likely don’t need a plan that is as detailed or as in-depth as a larger company, but you should be prepared for “what if?”.

Let’s start at the top. A business continuity plan covers the basics around what happens if a disaster (think large scale power outage) strikes, a system goes down, or a principle resource leaves suddenly. The key elements are readiness, recovery, and contingency.

We just went through a very silly, but also useful exercise with me, Chris, and John. We played out the scenario where each of us goes missing and then asked the other team members what they would do next. After a heavy debate on which bounty hunter we’d want to find us (Liam across the board), we outlined the basic steps we would take to keep the business running.

It occurred to me that this is a good excuse to talk about the 5P Framework. As a refresher, the 5Ps are Purpose, People, Process, Platform, and Performance.

If you’re a smaller business or even a solo shop, the idea of creating a business continuity plan might feel daunting. This is where the 5Ps can keep things simple. This is what ours looks like, generally.

Katie

  • Purpose: Katie goes missing, and the business needs to keep running
  • People: Chris will take point on basic operations and our advisor for communications
  • Process: Chris will reach out to accounting and our advisor. The advisor will reach out to the clients to let them know that any interruptions in service will be brief while there is a change in management
  • Platform: Using a pre-written list of the most used systems, Chris gains access to Katie’s systems
  • Performance: Trust Insights doesn’t lose clients, and invoices go out on time

Chris

  • Purpose: Chris goes missing, and the business needs to keep running
  • People: Katie will take point on communications and a contractor for client work
  • Process: Katie will bring on a contractor to get up to speed on Chris’ code that powers the client deliverables. Katie will communicate to the clients to let them know that any interruptions in service will be brief while there is a change in resources.
  • Platform: Using a pre-written list of the most used systems, the contractor will gain access to Chris’ code and systems
  • Performance: Trust Insights doesn’t lose clients, and deliverables go out on time

John

  • Purpose: John goes missing, and he wants to stay missing. We respect his wishes.

You get the idea. This is obviously a very quick and dirty version of our plan but while walking through this exercise, we realized that we did not have adequate backups of our code. We were able to remedy this situation and now have a process in place to keep backups of the code in a place where the proper resource can access it.

You don’t need to have an elaborate business continuity plan but you should have a general idea of your systems and what key team members do. You may not be able to document every single thing that someone does but you should have a basic idea of the systems they use and how to access them. This will ensure that if the unthinkable happens you can at least keep the business running while Liam Neeson deploys his set of very particular skills to find you.

What does your business continuity plan look like?

Reply to this email or come tell me about it in our Free Slack Group, Analytics for Marketers.

– Katie Robbert, CEO

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Data Diaries: Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s talk about how we would answer an interesting question from one of our audience members. Julia asks, “I’ve been posting regularly on Twitter and getting great engagement, but in the last couple of weeks, everything has flopped. Do you know what changed with Twitter that might have caused that?”

Here’s the thing about algorithms, and something we’re going to discuss in depth on the livestream this week. Because of the nature of artificial intelligence, it’s often difficult even for maintainers of AI to know what’s happening inside the black box of a model at Google, Twitter, etc.

So how would we answer Julia’s question? There are a couple of different ways to approach this. First, did a global change of some kind happen? By sampling a number of accounts, we could look for changes across the timeline. First, let’s look at the biggest possible picture. Using Talkwalker’s media monitoring software, has there been a substantial change in volume? We examine usage of the word “the” across Twitter in the last 90 days:

Usage of the

We see that due to the holidays, there was indeed a dip but that revived after the holidays were over. Thus, we can rule out any massive population change as the cause of Julia’s woes.

Next, let’s take a basket of a few accounts to see if anything dramatic has changed in the last few weeks, especially on a key measure like retweets, a way to judge sharing of content:

Retweet volume

What we see is that for 3 of the 5 accounts in this sample, yes – engagement has slipped in the last few months and especially last 30 days. 2 of the 5 have experienced retweet growth.

Finally, let’s check locally. How did Julia’s account in specific do?

Local retweet volume

Julia’s line is the green line, and we see a definite, sustained decline in her engagement. Is it the Twitter algorithm at large? No. If it were, we would see a consistent number of declines across a bunch of different accounts as the algorithm found new ways to do things.

That said, there are a number of accounts in this particular peer group that seem affected, more so than in the previous group. And that gets into the specific type of algorithm that Twitter uses, an algorithm called a temporal graph network. It is indeed possible for just a small subset of users to be affected by “local” algorithm changes; graph networks can naturally have clusters of users in them and recommendation engines can send different data into each cluster.

So what? What would you do with this information? If the temporal graph network isn’t showing your content to people you think it should, chances are it’s because those people haven’t engaged with your content as much as the algorithm would expect, and thus you are being shown less. To counteract this, be sure to use built-in attention-getting mechanisms like tagging people, mentioning them, or even coordinating with them outside of Twitter to have users act together. In one Discord server I’m in, there’s a channel called “Signal Boost” where a few key social media posts are shared, and users all know to go click over to those posts and engage with them.

To do this, of course, you need a community behind you, which is why communities (especially private social media communities) are essential to your long term public social media success. Once you have that, nothing can stand in your way of success in social media.

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