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Introduction


In this article we will compare two methods of compiling a detailed analysis of a person’s digital ecosystem. As you’ll imagine, one is fast, accurate and detailed, the other is slow, laborious and haphazard.

What is a Personal Digital Ecosystem?

A digital ecosystem is everything that exists online about and around a person. So this includes the personal site, social media, profiles, articles about, articles by, podcast appearances, data sources, audience interactions with or about (social networks, forums, comments sections on the site and others…), videos and images of or about a person on any platform… The list is looooooong.

Problem

How to Easily Get an Overview of a Personal Digital Ecosystem?

Getting a good, solid insight into a person’s digital ecosystem might seem like a daunting task, and it is. Luckily, Google provides a helpful prioritised list for you through your Personal Brand SERP (what appears on Google when someone searches your name). However, that list also contains all the other people who share your name, so that helpful prioritised list is generally pretty messy and difficult to analyse by hand. Make a search on Google for your name – “Jason Barnard”, in this example – and look at the number of results just under the search bar… several hundred thousand, or several million. 

Because many people share your name, the majority of the results will not be about you. There is a VAST amount of content out there that bears your name, but most of it isn’t you. That observation probably just made the task of compiling a detailed report of a digital ecosystem manually significantly more daunting.

Note: a common name such as Peter Smith will make this even harder. If a famous person shares your name, that will also make the process of building an overview of the digital ecosystem more difficult and time-consuming since you will be “drowned”. 

Personal Brand SERPs can be pretty messy, especially for people with common names, especially for someone who has not kept on top of their digital ecosystem over the years (so most people, then!) 

If you know a little about Brand SERPs, you’ll know that each and every piece of content by or about you is a candidate to appear on your Personal Brand SERP… if not on page #1, then on subsequent pages. 

In that context, here’s a good rule of thumb for a person who is dominating their Personal Brand SERP. Generally speaking, that really only happens for three categories of people: famous stars, people who are incredibly active online, and people who actively work to dominate and optimise their Personal Brand SERP, like Jason Barnard does. 

A super-healthy multi-page Brand SERP breaks down like this: page #1 of your Brand SERP will provide you with the super-high level executive summary, results #1 through #50 (pages 1 to 5) provide the bare-bones overview (with several homonyms in the mix you need to ignore), and Results #1 to #200 (pages 1 to 20) give you a reasonably detailed view of your ecosystem (with dozens of homonyms in the mix you need to ignore).

This is the basis for how Kalicube Pro SaaS builds its detailed analysis of a person’s digital ecosystem. However Kalicube Pro goes much, much further by using multiple qualifiers, segmenting geo and industry, excluding many of the homonyms… then we compile the data, and our proprietary algorithms categorise, evaluate and prioritise for you with no fuss (see later). 

Comparison of the Automated and Manual Methods for Compiling, Tracking and Managing a Person’s Digital Ecosystem

There are two methods to go about compiling a detailed report for a person’s digital ecosystem: automatically and manually. And as the name suggests, the manual process can take a bit of time.

Challenge

Manually Compiling a Precise and Detailed Report on a Person’s Digital Ecosystem

A manual search was done to uncover Jason Barnard’s digital ecosystem to give a real-life, real-time example of the various issues, barriers and time manual work represents. That (very long and boring) process provides this case study with a realistic baseline/yardstick to compare with Kalicube Pro’s automated system. 

Time Lapse video (accelerated 100x) of the actual process of searching for and compiling everything.

The steps were as follows:

  1. Spreadsheet preparation.
  2. Google search for “Jason Barnard” and review all results.
  3. Google search for “Jason Barnard profiles” and review all results.
  4. Obtained a list of social media sites
  5. Created a list of sites that might have profiles
  6. Reviewed each of these pages
  7. Used inverted commas and searched for any combination of Jason Barnard that might produce results, e.g. “Jason Barnard”, “author” or “Jason Barnard”, “musician” (this proved ineffective)

The summary of this experiment is as follows.

  • Total search processing time: 12 hours
  • Google highly relevant results for Jason Barnard: 110
  • Total profiles found: 42

Advantages of the Manual Method

The only prominent advantage is that it’s 100% free. The only tools needed are a browser for the Google search and a spreadsheet for the compilation.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of disadvantages. Here are the top 10:

Top Ten Disadvantages of the Manual Method

  1. Tedious and boring work
    One might think that, given Google’s search algorithm, it would be easy to find profiles to compile a person’s digital ecosystem report. However, after an initial burst of success for the first half dozen, it quickly becomes tedious to scour all the search results pages for a particular entity.

    It is mind-numbing and frustrating to work through the nitty-gritty and perform specific searches for each social media platform or site where profiles might exist. It is also very difficult to keep track of everything. In addition, the search took a total of 12 hours and yielded only 42 profiles.
  1. Additional work in verifying whether the entity shown in the search result is actually the entity being searched for
    Unless you are working on someone with an incredibly unique name, you’ll find dozens (perhaps thousands) of people with the exact same name. 

    Although Jason Barnard is not a particularly common name, the 300 or so homonyms vastly complicated the work since they all appear at some point when you search around the name “Jason Barnard”. A contractor in Tennessee, a footballer in South Africa, a hockey player in Canada, a professor in San Francisco, several digital marketers… the list goes on.
  1. Have to be knowledgeable about how to navigate through Google to get optimal results
    There are countless ways to refine a Google search. For example, by adding words, excluding or including specific sites in the search, adding inverted commas, using +/- symbols, spoofing the location, changing the language and many, many more tricks, the search results can be more refined. While this produces the expected results, it lengthens the time the process takes and makes the work even more tedious and boring.
  1. Limited search results for the entity
    Even though Google is currently the most popular search engine in the world, and has the largest coverage, the results it delivers are still limited both by its index and the capacity to double-guess how to get it to provide the less obvious elements of the person’s digital ecosystem. Below are two examples of profiles that were missed by the manual method of searching.

    First example: Jason’s Wordlift profile doesn’t show up in any of the search results. The only way to find it was to search for the keyphrase “Jason Barnard, Wordlift”, which, if you don’t know the entity you’re looking for well, may not come to mind when compiling the entity’s digital ecosystem.

The manual method missed this profile, we only found it using this targeted search (above) after seeing it in the results from Kalicube Pro SaaS.

Second example: his Pinterest profile, which again wasn’t found in the initial search for Jason Barnard. A targeted search for it was done afterwards and it was still a challenge to find it because there are many profiles for Jason Barnard on Pinterest and although “our” Jason Barnard has a profile, he isn’t very active so it was buried deep and was difficult to bring to the surface.

This screenshot illustrates clearly that there are many Jason Barnards, and manually finding every profile for the specific person you are looking for is an impossible task.

Spoiler Alert: Jason Barnard’s correct profile was on page two 🙂

However, it was easily found by Kalicube Pro yet again.

  1. Needed knowledge on different platforms that may contain profiles, articles, and data sources
    Since the general search for Jason Barnard’s profiles only yielded 35 results, the next step is to dig deeper and find a list of possible platforms that have profiles to see if Jason has one there. Not only does that mean additional work but to do this well requires a knowledge of the platforms and the ecosystem of the geo-location and industry of the person: knowledge that someone else doesn’t naturally possess (but Kalicube Pro does since it uses a system of Entity Equivalents to improve the quality of the results). 
  1. Different results for different geolocations
    An example of this is Jason Barnard’s Wikipedia Article which only appears on the search results once you’ve set your geolocation to France. It didn’t come up when the initial search was conducted since the initial geolocation was set to the United States.
Google result in the US
Google result in France
Wikipedia page was easily found by Kalicube Pro
  1. Process is repeated every week or month to find new profiles
    The work doesn’t end with finding all the profiles, articles by, articles about, podcast appearances, webinar appearances and data sources. The report on the person’s digital ecosystem should always be up to date and maintained over time, which is why the process is constantly repeated. Each update should be expected to take an additional 2 to 3 hours of work – identifying the new results among those already added is much more difficult than you might imagine.
  1. Failing to do this weekly means that you will miss new and trending articles by or about the entity
    Keeping up with newsworthy content about or by the person is a huge task. You can catch evergreen content even if you only repeat this process two or three times a year. But if you want to be sure to catch all the time-sensitive content, you’ll need to do this weekly. This in turn leads to you having to spend more time on something that should be easy.
  1. Prioritisation is guesswork and will be what you imagine to be important rather than what your audience sees as important
    Google does a very good job of evaluating what is important to different audiences. In the case of a Personal Brand SERP, it will present content according to its perception of the value of that content to the audience Googling the name. What seems important to you will be very different to Google’s evaluation. If you are focusing heavily on Twitter because it’s your favourite or because it’s the platform where the person has the most followers, Google might indicate that you have your priorities wrong.
  1. Maintaining a spreadsheet is messy and quickly gets confusing
    Unless you’re extremely well organised and meticulous, constantly copying and pasting results into the spreadsheet is prone to human error.

A final thought on this process from a job-satisfaction: the overriding feelings whilst spending 12 hours trying to build a detailed list of Jason Barnard’s digital ecosystem were: boredom, repetitive strain, loss of focus, restlessness and frustration. Frustration was an unexpected feeling, but in retrospect it is striking that, if you are to achieve good results (see the Wordlift and WIkipedia examples above),  you need to know in advance what you are looking for… which of course you don’t.

What if there’s a tool that can do all of the menial, manual work of searching, analysing and prioritising for you in a fraction of the time?

Solution

Automatically Compiling a Precise and Detailed Report on a Person’s Digital Ecosystem with Kalicube Pro SaaS

We then ran the same process with the Kalicube Pro SaaS platform.

Kalicube Pro automatically classifies all the results. The manual process consists of only one simple step: going through the results and checking each one of them. Kalicube Pro is about 80% accurate with the automatic classification, so this step can be skipped, but that is not something we advise.

Time Lapse video (accelerated 100x) of checking in Kalicube Pro.

The results of the experiment can be found below:

  • Overall process time: 1.5 hours
  • Important results for Jason Barnard: 165
  • Total profiles found: 61

Disadvantages of the Kalicube Pro SaaS Method

The only disadvantage is cost. But you can compare the quality and depth of the results and the time saved (hours of mind-numbingly boring searching and sorting 😉

Top Ten Advantages of the Kalicube Pro SaaS Method

  1. Finding and verifying results is 8 times faster
    You’re looking at 12 hours of time spent on manually compiling a digital ecosystem versus only 1.5 hours spent on automatically compiling it using Kalicube Pro. That’s 10.5 hours saved by using Kalicube Pro.
  1. Finds more results (generally 30% to 50% more)
    The total number of profiles and data sources found by the manual method is only 42 compared to the 61 that Kalicube Pro found. That’s 37% more.
  1. Updates automatically once a week
    Every Sunday, Kalicube Pro will search and find new results that will be ready to zip through in a few minutes on Monday morning. All you have to do is check the list of new results. You don’t have to spend an hour or three sifting through Google searches, excluding the results you already have to find new profiles or mentions, it’s that easy!
  1. Tracks the results over time
    Kalicube Pro updates each week and catches new results as they appear. This ensures that the user can keep track of any additions, removals, and intentional or unintentional changes on each page. Additionally, Kalicube Pro can provide the full list of results for the entity either overall or for a specific week or month.
  1. Reliable prioritisation
    Kalicube Pro ranks each result according to how important Google perceives them to be. That is incredibly powerful since it indicates clearly where the priorities should lie, for the person’s online presence, for the audience but also for Google.
  1. Finds sites, articles, mentions, videos, podcasts, news, social accounts, social posts
    Kalicube Pro is not limited to data sources and profiles: it also finds every significant mention of the person around the web. This is incredibly powerful for managing their online reputation, digital footprint, Personal Brand SERP and Knowledge Panel. Kalicube Pro will keep track of all of this automatically for you – all you need to do is a quick manual check once a week. Additionally, it also tracks your Personal Brand SERP daily, but that is a whole other use for the platform 🙂 
  1. Email notification for new finds
    You can also opt-in to be notified by email as soon as Kalicube Pro has found new significant mentions. This will save you time if you have multiple clients, or if there is relatively little activity about the person. You don’t have to log into the platform every week to check if there are new results since you will receive a notification every time something new comes up.
  1. Downloadable list
    You can download the list of results directly from the platform any time you want.
  1. Filtering and Sorting results
    Once you have made all the classifications, Kalicube Pro will organise the results for you based on the classification type. This is particularly useful if you want to analyse specific types of content or look for a particular result.  
  1. Build a corroboration list of the sources for your Schema Markup
    Last, and we believe most importantly, leveraging the sources (profiles, data sources, articles about…) Google is using to understand the person, Kalicube Pro will automatically generate the Schema.org markup you need to build, maintain and improve that person’s Knowledge Panel. 

In addition to the top 10 benefits, there are many more bonuses in store:

  • Build, track, and manage Knowledge Panels
  • Track, measure, and optimise Brand SERPs
  • Track significant mentions of the entity
  • Look into the digital footprint of peers and identify their best strategies
  • Get geo-specific industry insights 
  • Get an overview of what a digital ecosystem in the person’s industry *should* look like
Conclusion

Jason Barnard Built Kalicube Pro SaaS to Solve a Problem

Jason built this part of the Kalicube Pro SaaS platform after trying to manually build a client’s digital ecosystem two years ago. A colleague tried to collect every profile, review, article about, article by and data source they could find about the client and ended up with 40, but the client wrote back pointing out that they’d missed 4 more. 

“That made me realise, even when we make our best efforts manually and spend a day or more sifting through Google, we still don’t find them all, and when the client points out that we missed some, we look foolish and unprofessional.”

In this specific case (for Yoast), the automated system in Kalicube Pro found an additional 16 that neither we nor the client knew about: the initial 44 results increased to 60. And it only took 10 minutes to find, analyse and prioritise all 60 sources and then provide an impressive report to the client.

The Cost Justifies the Benefits

The only downside to using a platform to build a report on a person’s digital ecosystem is that you have to pay for it. But given the numerous benefits and bonuses the platform offers, it really should be a no-brainer. 

The aphorism “time is money” states that money is wasted (through missed opportunities, lost work, etc.) if you don’t use your time wisely. 

So if we calculate the time difference between the two methods (12 hours versus 1.5 hours), you can compile the analyses and reports for 8 digital ecosystems with Kalicube Pro in the time it takes to compile them manually.

What’s The Real Value of Kalicube Pro SaaS? 

Using Google to research a person is an art and a science and Kalicube Pro covers both. When using Google to dig out every important page to build the prioritise analysis and report on a digital ecosystem for a person, there is a vast amount to consider: location, device, personalisation, qualifier words, search modifiers, page type, result type, ambiguity, misunderstanding, historical results, prioritisation … the list is loooooong. 

This is where the Kalicube Pro platform comes in:

  1. It automates this tedious work
  2. It saves you time (a lot of time)
  3. It does a significantly better job

Contact us to discuss how Kalicube Pro SaaS can help you build a detailed, prioritised analysis and report of the person’s digital ecosystem.

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