Friday, November 19, 2010

Delivering Insights That Matter Through Social Media

Outside of my brief one paragraph rant that correlated the process of leveraging and looking at multiple audience measurement technologies user attribution on an impression level to seeing a bunch of ManBearPigs, this would be my first proper post about my professional love in life…media.    So given the importance of social media to my current position (Shameless BuzzLogic Plug) I figured my first real post would be something about capitalizing on the user generated or consumer generated content to deliver packaged information and insights that can power media solutions.
 So lets start by defining "Social Media Measurement / Monitoring" for those who are not familiar with the notion of what this is.  So almighty wiki what is social media measurement defined as:

"Social media measurement refers to the tracking of various social media content such as blogs, wikis, micro-blogs, social networking sites, video/photo sharing websites, forums, message boards, and user-generated content in general as a way for marketers to determine the volume and sentiment around a brand or topic in social media"


The monitoring services are generally services that provide either a technology or people or hydrid based solutions to the regular monitoring of the results of a social media measurement program.

So as someone who has spent the last 12 years in the business of media and marketing services I was fortunate enough to be part of the generation that got to watch this disruptive new media measurement solution and service disrupt the market. 

The marketing community all of a sudden was given access to solutions that delivered on the value proposition "a way for marketers to determine the volume and sentiment around a brand or topic in social media."  The marketing community of course applauded these solutions as suddenly they were able to capture everything their consumers were saying online about their brand or topics that are relevant to consumer.    I think a fair summary of the marketing communities reaction was "OMG! I can measure what my consumers are saying :)"....YAY

Well then came reality.  The first social media measurement solution I sunk my teeth into was in 2007 during my tenure at OmnicomMediaGroup.    Previously I had also worked at BusinessObjects who had also endeavored through acquisition in some of the fundamental technologies used to analyze unstructured text...the basic technology required to play in the social media measurement space.   I disgress.

So of course being in a global position at a major agency holding company representing the analytics role I was one of the first people on line to get access to these tools.   The tools did what they said would and I was able to see all the posts (within the individual tool's universe) about my individual query about a brand or topic.

Unfortunately what became absolutely evident when I analyzed the results of these tools in my first few queries is that I can describe in one word the "conversation" that exists on the web about the topic or brand I was researching....


So to put it nicely after using any social media monitoring solution my reaction changed a bit...

"OMG! I can measure what my consumers are saying :/"....ACK

The problem that really needed to be focused on was not the aggregation of all of this consumer content but rather bringing order to the chaos for a brand so that they can react in a way that is not achieved by reading every post to determine whether it is relevant against the desired topic and more so something that represents an opportunity for a brand.   

So the need for the solutions were to help identify the right posts and help the brand make sense of it.

Tag Clouds, Influencers and Sentiment OH MY!

Technology companies came out of the woodwork offering varieties of solutions to help package the information and make sense of it.   

Good 'ol Valley.    Have VC will Build now BUY

At Omnicom I had the privilege of seeing most of the Social Media Monitoring companies come through my office to chat.  I also had the privilege or task of figuring how to implement these solutions in a way that pluses up the ability of the agency to gather insights and leverage those insights to build effective marketing and communication solutions.

So to be quite frank I had the fun task of putting all the social media measurement solutions' tires to the track and seeing how well it helped "us" as an agency develop thoughtful insights that power our solutions for our client roster.  JOY JOY   

During this process I learned exactly what it took use the tools to find the relevant "conversations" and turn the information I could extract from the tool into insights that survived the "agency" pedigree test.   I worked to setup social media solutions for a wide range of industry categories across 70+ global markets and using different agency planning processes (holding company joy).   

The one thing that this process did was show the need and value of a proper analyst who understood social and cultural anthropology well enough to understand how to find insights but also build search queries that really identify the exact right style of conversation.  If that wasn't enough the person had to understand how to use the individual social media monitoring tools as well as the fundamentals of the natural language processing which is a comp-sci and linguistics function!

Ok..ok..ok...No big whoop right....There have to be an OVER supply of strategic tea leaf reading, social and cultural anthropologists who also can whip up a killer boolean NLP queries that power a robust set of analytical products and applications.    NO SHWEAT!

BTW this would be the time that I say "Thank You" to Andrew Shapiro who is literally what I describe above and runs my social media strategy function at BuzzLogic and previously helped me develop and design the solution we brought to life at OmnicomMediaGroup.   Yay Andrew.   

So what I would like to transition this post to a call to action for myself to follow

Define potential approaches that leverages the available data within social media to power an insights factory that are important enough that brand strategists can turn those insights into engaging activations that drive results for the brand.   

This is my first true post that dives into Social Media Measurement and I will be continuing this thought process by detailing some of the ways one could begin to build the right mouse trap within social media measurement to power a truly robust insights factory that is scalable without armies of Andrew Shapiros being needed.

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