The ups and downs of a Marks & Spencer Community Manager’s life

I’ve spent my free time this weekend fiddling around with perl and Gephi to see whether I can eke any additional meaning or insight out of the Facebook data that we collect.

The chart shown above (you can download it from here) is a visualisation of all interactions between members of the public on Marks & Spencer’s Facebook Page. Each node represents a member of the public, and the lines between them represent comments on each others’ posts. I’m being a bit careful about my language here: they’re not necessarily followers (or fans) of the M&S Page, it’s just as likely in most cases that they are Facebook friends of the original poster (or O.P.)

To identify potential areas of interest, I’ve mapped both size and colour to the number of incoming commentators (indegree is the useful technical term here.) So an O.P. who’s represented by a large orange or red dot has attracted comments from lots of other people. The thickness of the lines is proportional to the number of comments made by an individual commentator — so if there’s been a bit of back-and-forth, the line will be thicker.

I’ve identified four stories of interest in this way; two negative, and two positive.

  • 7 May 2012: (big red blob at six o’clock) Granddaughter complains that her grandmother has been unfairly victimised for forgetting to pay for a rose bush. Boycott threats. The works.

  • 22 August 2012: User complaint about (lack of) school uniforms heats up.

  • 28 August 2012: (pale orange blob at half past two) Mother petitions M&S to feature her learning disabilities son in a Back-to-School or Christmas campaign. The company quickly meets the challenge and he’s included in the M&S magazine.

  • 10 September 2012: (orange blob at twelve o’clock) M&S helps child replace missing teddy bear. Heartwarming stuff.

I’d say that the M&S community managers are earning their keep.

I’m surprised at the moment how much interplay there is between members of the public. As I say, I don’t know (and I think it’s hard to tell) how many of them are actually fans of the Page, and how many (as in the uniforms debate above) are simply friends of the O.P.