Archive for Social Media

Authenticity Is a Two-Way Street

Eric Melin and Mike Brown have a couple good posts on Scott Monty’s visit to SMCKC last week, which was really a pleasure to be a part of. He deftly mixed in social media truisms (“business strategy, not social strategy”) with original and inspiring campaign executions.

But a couple things struck me beyond the straight social components of the presentation.

First, Scott was the consummate brand representative for Ford and served as an unusual example of the critical relationship between social media and authenticity.

Usually, “authenticity” in social media means that a brand lets its hair down and interacts with people as people. It means cutting the corporate brand-speak and actually engaging. As Scott himself pointed out, people want to be spoken to like human beings.

Neither Average Joe nor hipster guru

Still, you never got the feeling that Scott Monty was the average guy, just keeping it real with the customers. Nor did you feel like he was some hipster creative marketing guru. You felt like he was Ford—a precise blend of heritage, comfort, forward thinking, and approachability. But also that he was genuinely, authentically Scott Monty.

Companies always want to hire good people, but in a social world, hiring the kind of people you want to be is more important than ever.

Another thing that stood out is how Ford uses conventional market research tools in addition to digital metrics to measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns and understand how they work.

Surveys may be out of vogue in a world of sentiment ratings and Klout, but Ford measures trust, quality perception and favorability ratings to understand how social media can have an impact beyond the sliver of its customers who follow @FocusDoug on Twitter or Like him on Facebook.

If social media truly is intended to support broader business strategy, it’s important to take a holistic view of insights and analytics, and it’s great to see Ford really taking that to heart.

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The Role of the Researcher in Social Media Monitoring

Spiral16 put this poll on their blog recently:

Who do you think is best suited to handle social media monitoring for a company?

  • Social Media Software Provider
  • Public Relations Firm
  • Advertising/Digital Agency
  • Direct Company (MarCom or Other Department)
  • Social Media Consultant/New Media Agency

This is a pertinent question, not just for brands and brand managers trying to settle on a vendor, but for “integrated” agencies where the responsibilities in the Spiral16 poll may or may not be clearly assigned. Leaving aside the issue of disciplinary silos vs. multidisciplinary collaboration, there seems an obvious omission from the prompted answer set: a market research consulting company.

Clearly, I come at this with a certain bias. And I know certain natural characteristics of the market researcher—a cautious approach to new methods, a generally poor track record of marketing themselves—have helped to cede this ground to ad agencies, PR firms, and new media gurus.

But the skills of the researcher really dovetail nicely with social media monitoring (SMM) in several ways that are clearly missing from the conversation.

  1. SMM is a measurement tool. Customer satisfaction, attitude and usage studies, market tracking…all are regular tools in the researcher’s kit. The biggest difference with social media is that the researcher is not instrumental in generating the content. This difference has some implications for analysis, but the overall analytical framework is similar. And experience with large, ongoing datasets—as well as traditional methods of brand tracking—can only help make SMM more effective.
  2. SMM is a form of listening. Your direct marketer, your advertising creative, your PR pro—their job has traditionally been to deliver a message (and hope it translates to action on the part of the consumer). The researcher’s job is to listen to what people say (and hope it translates into action on the part of the brand).
  3. SMM requires a deep understanding of how to use quantitative and qualitative data. The amount of data covered by SMM services is unfathomable. Data sets are where the researcher operates. The business objective dictates research methodology, and the same is true for SMM, which can yield an absolute number of brand mentions per week, a single serious complaint about a product, or a detailed review by a heavy influencer—depending on the approach (and the SMM service). Market research has always involved these kinds of negotiations.
  4. SMM demands you know who is talking. Good research data always begins with knowing your universe and understanding your sample. The biggest flaw in new media studies (and sometimes monitoring services) is a lack of transparency about where the data come from. You may have 80% positive sentiment or have doubled your web chatter from last month. But 80% of what? And who is chatting?

There are a lot of smart people in social media, without research backgrounds, who are dealing with SMM the right way. And those in the research business, some late to the game, have their own learning curve. But overlooking the experience of research professionals stands to make the curve sharper for everyone.

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