Nearly two years ago, I published our first report on Social Intelligence; it included this headline: “The Time To Start Listening Is Yesterday.” In the report, I pushed for the importance of social listening, but I made a call that there’s more to social media than monitoring conversations for brand mentions. But now, as we near the end of 2011, we’ve found that while most companies do in fact listen, few have Social Intelligence strategies and most don’t yet gain true actionable business insights from the data they collect. So even though listening is still very important for brands, it’s time Customer Intelligence teams start using social data.
That’s why I’m eager to announce our latest research on social media data, “The Road Map To Integrating Social And Customer Data” (client link). This report focuses on the role social media data plays for CI professionals. And as the title hints, the role is “integrated with customer data.”
This research was born out of the idea that too many companies have siloed data practices, keeping marketing and business data on one side of the organization and social media data on another. But as I often say – if you only listen to social media, you only learn about social media. To get the most out of social media data, you must integrate it with other data.
For CI teams, integrating social and business data gives you deeper customer insights, the ability to inform targeted marketing, and a more complete view of marketing measurement. But because integrating social data is easier said than done, we’ve put together a road map on how to do it (hence the “Road Map” part to the report’s title) – here’s a quick peek:
No topic has straddled the chasm of hype versus ROI as social media. The last few years have been a never-ending array of stories around successes using social media as well as pundits questing the validity and value of the social area. The financial services industry is increasingly playing a role in the social space, and the last two years have also provided clarity to the value of the social channel.
Like other industries, the majority of the efforts in the social space in financial services space were initially focused on the marketing area. The last two years have resulted at least four areas that show promise for social outside of pure marketing including:
Product development and innovation. Who better to ask about new product development or product enhancements than existing customers who own and use the product? Firms such as Chase tap social communities to drive product innovation that starts with the customer are using social very effectively
Community support. While financial decisions may be a personal activity, the path to these decisions is often steeped in social with segments like investors or small business looking to one another for peer comparisons and best practice sharing. American Express, TradeKing, and most recently E*Trade are using closed communities to drive service utilization and segment engagement by getting customer to interact with each other in the social space.
I've noticed a disturbing trend in one of the markets I study. Thirty percent of marketers say their top social media goal is creating brand impact, but only 10% tell us they measure brand impact — a gap of 20 percentage points. But then while just 4% say sentiment or engagement are their top goals, a whopping 26% measure these numbers —leaving us with an almost identical gap of 22 percentage points, but in the other direction. It’s clear what's happening here: Marketers are using sentiment and engagement numbers as a proxy for brand impact surveys.
Deep down I love the idea of measurement proxies. A properly constructed and proven proxy could be a cheap, quick, and effective stand-in for direct measurement of things that are quite frankly hard to measure — like brand impact.
But there’s a big problem here: I've been looking pretty hard for good measurement proxies for a while now, and I’ve found very few that could be described as "properly constructed and proven." And I'm pretty sure none of the marketers in our survey have proven their proxies — because if they'd tried, they'd have almost certainly failed.
Over the past several months, I’ve been hearing a lot of clients say they’re ready for the next step in social media. Many marketers —probably most of you reading this post — have already established your initial social footprints and are ready to move on to the next phase of social media maturity. But as my colleague Sean Corcoran’s social maturity curve shows, the further along you move, the more people you need to involve to keep your social trains running — and that introduces more risk.
One of the most important ways marketers are avoiding problems as more colleagues start participating in social programs is to spearhead training programs in their companies. My latest research explores the spectrum of these training programs, which ranges from casual all the way through formal certification.
You can see from this chart that training programs are developed across four dimensions: content, delivery, participants, and measurement. The programs don’t always fall firmly and neatly into one level of difficulty across all these segments. Rather, training evolves as the company’s commitment to social media evolves, moving through formats till formalization is achieved. Usually:
Influencer marketing is on my mind these days. In addition to working on a report about how interactive marketers should collaborate with different resources to execute influencer marketing, I’m also speaking about the topic at Forrester’s Consumer Forum in Chicago later this month.
Talking with marketers, agencies, and service providers, everyone (yes, it’s been everyone) has voiced opinions about “canned,” algorithm-based influence scores available through providers like Klout and PeerIndex. Detractors say that black-box influence scores focus too much on reach and not enough on context or topics, and that influencer identification is too complex to boil down using an opaque calculation. For example, Charlie Sheen may look like a valuable influencer based on his high Klout score, but a marketer of diapers would probably prefer to tap a mommy blogger with a lower top-line score to advocate its brand.
The supporters’ rebuttal: why would you use these scores in a vacuum in the first place? The score providers themselves dissuade marketers from looking only at an individual’s top-line number with no filters for topic or brand relevancy – and those filters are available. Count me in this camp.
So how should interactive marketers regard off-the-shelf influence scores? Keep in mind that:
These scoring systems are evolving. Companies like Klout and PeerIndex are in their early stages and certainly do have their limitations. But their capabilities to mine scores for topic, category, and brand influence continue to improve.