The faith-based Bowery Mission has been a local institution for over 133 years, providing services to needy community members to help lessen the effects and stunt the cycles of poverty. In 2012 alone, the Mission provided more than 369,200 meals, in addition to groceries, shelter, clothing, showers, haircuts, and medical care. The shelter also provides on-site life skills training, including classes in resume building, interviewing, and office applications.
Our activities ranged from organizing blankets and personal materials to serving lunch to several hundred community members. In the afternoon we were treated to a choir of local schoolchildren who came to sing to the residents of the Mission. Our guide for the day described the kindergartners’ rendition of We Shall Overcome as, “so cute, it should be illegal.” We’re so happy to have taken part and to have helped our local community.
International Corporate Philanthropy Day is an international advocacy day intended to build awareness of corporate-community partnerships and to inspire businesses around the world to engage further. If you are interested in donating or serving at the Bowery Mission, please visit them at www.bowery.org.
I recently attended the BDI Search and Social Leadership Forum. The last speaker, Ted Rubin left a lasting impression on me with his quote, “A brand is what you do. A reputation is what people remember. We don’t own our brands anymore.”
For marketers, that’s a pretty frightening statement. How do you build a reputation that people will talk about and remember? While Rubin argued that social media shifts control of conversation from a brand to the consumer, I think the issue may be more nuanced; both the brand and the audience can now influence and control conversation. So to ensure that brands do OWN their brand, they need to create content, conversation and an experience to truly connect with their consumers and lead the exchange.
Create content: A brand needs to initiate conversation around topics that are relevant to their audience. It could be argued that if the content focuses on a niche audience, then there will often be a more meaningful and passionate discussion. To give just one example, GoPro, a sports camera, focuses on extreme sports videos that are captured with the camera and has developed a passionate following across their social properties. Their brand-created and user-generated videos cater to a select audience and illustrate how their product works in real life.
Engage in conversation: Now that a brand is pushing out relevant content, it must also develop a two-way relationship with its “fans.” Rather than thinking about this literally, social media marketers could usefully use another word for “fans:” we should be talking to our “fans” as we do our friends. Oreo does a great job of engaging in conversation – just look at their hugely creative Facebook activity during Pride month for one instance.
Develop an experience: This is the most crucial step a brand can take in terms of ‘owning’ the brand. Most companies understand the importance of being social and engaging, but few brands take it as far as they can. From late 2012 through January 2013, Ben & Jerry’s ran an Instagram campaign around the hashtag #CaptureEuphoria. The campaign went the extra mile by selecting the photos that showed the most “euphoria,” and placing them in ads within the photographer’s local neighborhood. By highlighting their advocates and bringing the experience to the individual’s hometown, Ben & Jerry’s made it more than just a social campaign. In 3 months, they gained over 20,000 Instagram followers and continue to grow their followers.
To conclude, I would say that brands still have the opportunity – and a responsibility, if you consider it from a competitive perspective – to generate relevant content, participate in the discussion and lead dialogue with a branded experience.
If you’re interested in learning more about listening and monitoring the conversation to help with content creation, please reach out to Nicole Murakami (email@example.com).
Last year while riding the subway, I glanced up to see a woman swimming in a clear blue pool amongst snow-covered mountains. It was an ad promoting one of Iceland’s most popular attractions – the Blue Lagoon. The ad worked on me, and I’ve just come back from a visit there.
Since 2008, Iceland has been continuously trying to boost tourism. Early last year, Mashable highlighted Iceland’s efforts to increase tourism through the use social media. In addition to the Inspired by Iceland campaign, Iceland created its own Facebook page, Twitter page, and website (alongside other Iceland properties). With all these efforts, were more people talking about visiting Iceland? Let’s find out.
As seen above, the answer is a definite ‘yes.’ Online conversation doubled from 2011 to 2012, beginning right when the Inspired by Iceland campaign began. This is in tandem with visits to Iceland increasing by nearly 16% last year, according to CNN. With tourism steadily increasing every year, the Icelandic Tourist Board predicts 1 million visitors to Iceland by 2020 (up from around 300,000 in 2000).
The most commonly expressed emotion in online discussions was anticipation, with many authors sharing their excitement about an upcoming trip to Iceland.
So what drives these emotions? Turns out that the top four factors were the Northern Lights, the music festivals, the hot springs (Blue Lagoon included) and the glaciers.
For more information on how you can use social data to understand consumer emotion, please contact Jasper Snyder (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The year flew by here at Converseon. Literally. It was a year of transformation, evolution, some breakthroughs, and focus.
As we move into our second decade of “social” here (we can’t believe we just said that), we witnessed social truly beginning to mature at brands and at our clients in 2012. There was a clearer move away from experimentation and ad hoc implementation, and more emphasis on how this “social thing” could actually drive business results.
Our mission remained steady: to provide the world’s best social insights and help clients integrate that intelligence into their organizations to take effective and meaningful action on them. In short, we helped create social businesses. So what did we do last year to help drive make that happen?
- Upped the IQ of Social Intelligence: The world’s best social insights requires the world’s best social data. It’s a truism that often gets lost in the marketplace. Where in previous years, “good enough” data was good enough, we saw a growing recognition that high data quality is an absolute prerequisite to unlock the value of social especially among important business functions and requirements. One of our great breakthroughs in 2012 was the launch and spin out of our Convey technology. Convey provides near human level analysis of social data and the scale and speed that only software can provide. Convey was named Dataweek‘s Social Data Mining Innovation of the Year for 2012. It has tested 93% accurate for sentiment, for example, versus human performance and continues to provide deeper and broader data intelligence — such emotion, intensity and the ability to create custom classifiers specific to business questions and brands. Convey’s capabilities will remain a core part of Converseon’s consulting capabilities going into 2013.
- Moved from Platform to Platforms: It was often thought by many that Converseon’s services were only available in conjunction with its listening technology. In 2012, we clearly separated the technology from the consulting so that the consulting practice can provide its social insights, integration and implementation services to clients no matter what listening platform they use. While we think our combination of technology and services is the ideal fit, we work with a wide range of platforms to help make that data more meaningful and actionable. This has helped open the doors to a variety of new opportunities and allows us to help create effective socially-driven brands. We recognized and embraced that there are lots of brands that utilize competitive offerings from companies like Radian6, Sysomos, and others that are in need of our consulting. And now we are able to service them. In 2012 we witnessed growing recognition by socially-savvy brands that simple social monitoring platforms could only go so far — and that it took a combination of monitoring, advanced intelligence and consulting services to truly maximize the value of social in their organization. That combination, of course, is core to who we are.
- Broadened and Deepened our Intelligence: As above, we’ve achieved the highest level of customized social intelligence. But we went further through our Social Scorecard solution to begin integration social listening with social action data, web analytics and other relevant data sets to truly understand a brand’s effectiveness in social — and perhaps most importantly — the value of their social efforts in driving business outcomes. We pioneered some new and innovative solutions that have been called “game changers” by our clients looking to truly do social at scale. We have been fortunate to have clients who are indeed partners that are looking to create new solutions together. Their ambitions help lead to our innovations. And those innovations are going to be rolled out more broadly in 2013.
- Refocused: It was also a year of change of evolution. In 2010-2011, we grew a lot in multiple areas. 2012 was very much about refocusing on what is it we do best, and doubling down on those capabilities. It has been rewarding and validating to see that our focus on best social insights, integration and meaningful action is exactly what we are seeing more and more brands demanding; and where we are clearly differentiated. The world of social has matured rapidly and focus and execution are becoming increasingly critical. This focus is perhaps why we had such great momentum in Q4. And the focus will continue in 2013 as we look to scale out our solutions more broadly and across more geographies.
Of course, none of the innovation and success happens without our incredible partners and clients – many who have been with us for several years and more. To all of you: Thank You! We wish everyone health, happiness and success in 2013. It is sure to be an exciting year.
After our Thanksgiving holiday, Converseon took a look at how online conversations on a Black Friday compared to those happening on a typical Friday. We partnered with Bain to contribute to their Holiday Newsletter, and found that conversation peaked on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, with the most commonly discussed topics being product availability, pricing and retail experience. People were talking about whether they’d be able to find the products they wanted, how much of a discount they might find, and how crazily busy some of the stores were.
One really interesting additional finding that jumped out us as we went through the data was something that chimes perfectly with some of the work we did in conjunction with the ARF, comScore, FireflyMB and Communispace recently. When comparing the purchase-specific conversation on Black Friday – i.e., messages where people are actively discussing major retail brands (including Best Buy, Macy’s, JCPenney, Amazon, Walmart and Target) to that which takes place on a typical Friday, the percentage of purchase-specific conversation is basically the same.
So why is that? You might expect consumers to be much more focused on the purchases themselves at this time of year, after all. What our ARF collaboration had found, however, was that consumers are ‘always on.’ We’re always evaluating brands and products, regardless of the time of year. With information consistently at our fingertips, we’re constantly searching for information, comparing products and making purchases, making purchasing part of our daily routines. That explains why the percentages are the same.
For more information on how Converseon can help you to understand how your brand is being discussed pre- and post-purchase, please contact Jasper Snyder at email@example.com.
As we’ve discussed previously, the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) has just published a White Paper entitled ‘Digital & Social Media in the Purchase Decision Process.’ Converseon was a research partner on the project, together with comScore, Communispace, Firefly MB and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. We caught up with Todd Powers, EVP, Research at the ARF to ask him a few questions about the project.
1) Hi Todd. Thanks for joining us today. Please tell us a little about why the ARF thought this was an important area to tackle.
Great to chat with you, Jasper. I’ll tell you that the project came out of early discussions I had with ARF members about the “things that were keeping them up at night.” This would have been in 2011, and I heard three things consistently: 1) digital, 2) social media, and 3) cross-platform advertising. Every member I talked to had at least one of these topics on their strategic imperatives list, and some companies had all three!
Now, since there had been so much recent press about the changing nature of the “path to purchase,” we decided that the project should investigate the ways that social media had influenced shopping activity. And the foundation of that initial design included both an online panel study based on buyer-behavior methods, and a web-listening study based on techniques used to mine online conversations for insights about these issues. Ultimately, we expanded the work to cover all of digital communications, and we added qualitative methods to the array of research tools we deployed, and this resulted in the multi-phase, multi-method project that the ARF and our key participating sponsors took on.
2) What were the two or three most important questions you wanted to answer via the research?
I’d say that the questions fell into two basic and distinct camps. First, we had all sorts of questions about how, when, where and why people were turning to digital resources in their quest to acquire merchandise. So we decided to study product categories that differed in the amount of time and expense people normally dedicate to the effort. We tested fast-moving consumer goods (Kraft wanted to study packaged meats and cookies) at one end, and automobiles (GM focused us on small cars) at the other. Motorola, who studied smartphone purchases, fell somewhere in the middle. And we spent considerable energy documenting the purchase journeys for these products, using all of the research methods I mentioned. We asked consumers about their most recent purchases, so that the activities would be particularly salient.
The other camp of questions was really about pure discovery. We were determined to enter the study without a lot of pre-conceived notions of how any of this worked. Instead, we wanted to see what consumers might surprise us with. And this is where our different research methods were so valuable. We had researchers from our category sponsor companies that I just mentioned, who helped us craft the inquiries in their particular markets, and we had help from our digital sponsor (Google), and our strategic consultant (Y&R), who brought a strong cross-market perspective to the table. When you mix this with the research expertise at our research partner firms, you have great potential for unearthing the kinds of discoveries we were hoping for.
3) If you had to sum up the main finding (in, let’s say, 140 characters), what would you say?
I’d say, “Digital and social media have fundamentally changed the purchase process – our sources, our view of markets, our emotional response, everything.”
4) How much of a challenge was it to analyze the findings across a variety of industries?
It was the only approach that made sense. Despite the difficulties, this was the only way to make the process manageable for both the respondents and the research analysts. Rather than ask people to comment on how they “typically” buy things, we had them focus on a recent experience with a specific product. This ensured that we had qualified buyers, and that they were giving us first-hand insights into what they had done. Our web-listening efforts were similarly focused, with keywords and brand names chosen to drive down into the product-relevant spaces on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, and so on.
Then, our analysis allowed us to identify unique patterns for the diverse product sets, but also to combine the results, where appropriate, to show common tendencies. From this, marketers who read the findings can make judgments about the degree to which results can be generalized to their own situations. We expect that many of these marketers will want to execute studies of their own, confirming that the trends we have identified hold true in their particular product environments.
5) We discussed in our previous blog post some of the emotion-centric findings in the research – as a hugely experienced researcher yourself, was there anything new to you here?
Absolutely! In fact, almost everything we unearthed about the importance of emotions in the purchase journey was unanticipated. Think about it. We were studying how digital resources are changing purchase behavior. And people go online to get the stuff they need to make an informed decision, right? So we really thought that our study would simply confirm that digital and social media had solved the information crisis, and now the purchase process is quite straightforward.
But this was only part of the story. Sure, people now have all sorts of information at their fingertips, but now, instead of needing more information, they need more help sifting through the mountain of data that confronts them. They want trusted sources. They want to feel confident in their choices. They want to reduce risk, so that they are not anxious about spending hard-earned dollars. And ultimately, they want to announce their victory, their successful conclusion of the shopping excursion.
The qualitative research and especially the web-listening effort, which documented the prevalent emotions in the various stages of the purchase process, were instrumental in revealing these emotional components. In our research presentations, when we show our audiences the different emotional journey for smartphone purchases, compared to groceries and automobiles, that’s always a real eye-opener for people.
6) What was the most surprising thing to you that came out of the research?
Oh please, Jasper. You can’t possibly ask me to select just one. There were so many surprises.
I was surprised to find that our sponsors, despite coming at this issue from very different market perspectives, shared many of the same marketing challenges.
I was surprised to discover that people think of the shopping process as starting when they begin their active quest, but that passive shopping has already established a view of the marketplace for them by that time.
I was surprised to find that people go to so many different places, both online and offline, during their purchase journey.
I was certainly surprised to find that oftentimes, emotions trump cognitions in determining winners and losers in the competitive marketplace.
I was particularly surprised to discover the importance of brands and brand-sponsored information in the path-to-purchase.
And small things, too. I was surprised to find that people are much, much more likely to post things online after they have completed their purchases, and that they tend to be observers – some would say voyeurs – while they are seeking input.
It goes on and on. The study was simply full interesting new learnings. And there certainly remains much to be learned going forward. I’d say we still have our work cut out for us.
Thanks for your time today Todd. Really interesting responses!
ARF members can download the White Paper here.
Pinterest has evolved from an upcoming social network to a key component in the social landscape. The focus on visualization drove many businesses to create visually appealing sites including eBay, Mashable’s beta site and even a test by Facebook called “Collections,” that allowed users to accumulate items in a visual list. As Pinterest grows and develops, the site recently announced new changes, including business accounts and secret boards.
Business pages allow Pinterest accounts to verify their website and add new Pinterest buttons and widgets. There is an additional set of terms for business accounts; the most noticeable difference indicates that a business can use “Pinterest’s website, products and services for commercial purpose.” Though this was just recently published, the restriction has not stopped brands from joining Pinterest. Yet the changes geared specifically toward businesses shows Pinterest becoming more business-friendly (and perhaps looking to monetize in the future).
Another change includes secret boards. Each user can have up to 3 secret boards, which means that the pins are kept completely private. The secret images won’t show up in visible boards, categories, search results, feeds, or pins from your profile. To start pinning to your secret boards, go to your profile and scroll down to the bottom. Users can also collaborate with others on a secret board, meaning you can have more than one person contribute pins to a shared secret board. The secret boards have great potential and could be used for planning a surprise party, collecting ideas for a work in progress gifts and more importantly, sharing personal photos. Think about company photos for employees only, or photos from a specific event.
What are your thoughts on Pinterest’s updates? Have suggestions on how to use their secret boards? Let us know and leave a comment!
Some of you out there in the world of search engine optimization may had the pleasure of working with Ted Ulle over time. He is our senior search strategist when he’s not moderating forums for Webmasterworld.
We’re so proud to report that Ted was honored at the prestigious Pubcon conference with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to search engine optimization. As was said when he received the award:
Ted “is a proactive diplomat and is willing to work with anyone, regardless of who they are or where they live. He has had the unique ability to connect with people all over the world. His development skills are second to none, and his SEO (search engine optimization) skills are beyond most books on the subject… I doubt there is a website on the Internet that hasn’t been touched by Ted in some way. From Fortune 500s to a massive list of independents, Ted has worked with everyone on some level.”
In the years we’ve worked together, I’ve found Ted to be selfless, passionate, intelligent and one of the most decent human beings I’ve known. He has played a strong mentoring role for current and past Converseonites, and is the first to jump on client problems and situations and share his knowledge openly. He represents the best of what Converseon stands for.
Im not only proud to have Ted as part of our team — and a newly-annointed Converseon Fellow — but also proud that the rest of the world now knows Ted’s contributions as well. Please join me in congratulating him on this excellent recognition.
The Walking Dead is back, and apparently it’s better than ever. On Sunday night, nearly 11 million viewers tuned in to watch the premiere at 9pm, setting a new cable record, and a combined 15.2 million viewers tuned in for either the premiere or one of the reruns at 10pm and 12am. Turns out, it wasn’t one of the most anticipated premieres this fall – it was the most anticipated premiere this fall.
Zombie fans posting messages online upped their positive mentions from last week’s 75% to just over 90%, with posts falling into the strongly positive category rising to account for 58% of total mentions. On the flip side, negative mentions increased by 5% and neutral posts dropped a noteworthy 22%. The episode got the neutral audience off the fence!
“Best episode yet of The Walking Dead. I refuse to comment beyond this. If you want to know why you will have to watch it.”
“AMC has so many good shows. The Walking Dead is honestly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.”
As it was revealed, the show’s storyline became a hot topic post-premiere, rising 18% in total discussions; seemingly a prison take-over is always discussion-worthy. In addition, as news spread about the premiere’s success, rating discussions jumped to 9% of total conversation, followed by mentions of the show’s cast at 6% (poor Hershel).
“The Walking Dead premiere broke records http://t.co/vHtOMHdJ Of course it did. It’s awesome. #Zombies”
“Terrific season premier of The Walking Dead. Enjoyed the transition in some of the characters attitudes. Carl is more like is comic self now”
The most common emotion expressed in online conversation continues to be happiness, followed by anticipation and surprise. Viewers wanted more blood, AMC delivered and one thing is for sure – the network left them wanting more.
“Must say the walking dead was exactly what I needed last night. So many zombies getting killed. As well one of my favourite characters.”
“Just finished watching the season premier of The Walking Dead. SO CRAZY. Can’t wait for next week! #TWD”
For more information on how our SocialTrack offering can help you understand the impact of your launches, events and campaigns and what’s driving online conversation about them, please contact Jasper Snyder (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We’ve just co-authored a White Paper with the Advertising Research Foundation, entitled ‘Digital and Social Media in the Purchase Decision Process.’ The White Paper is the result of an extensive, mixed-method research project focused on understanding how consumers use digital and social media as they consider and make purchases. We’re really proud of the work, which was sponsored by GM, Google, Kraft, Motorola and Y&R.
We set out to answer these types of questions:
- How do digital and social media inform the brands being considered by consumers?
- What impact do social networks have on consumers’ purchases?
- What are the differences between industries in terms of consumers’ use of digital and social?
One of the most interesting aspects of the project for us focused on the role of emotion in the purchase decision process. There are really two angles to this:
First, figuring out what the emotional journey is that a consumer takes through the purchase process; we saw some really interesting differences between sectors in this question – for example in the smartphone sector, we saw that emotions bifurcate into joy and anger, post-purchase. There are some really interesting implications for brands here in terms of the emotions that are expressed by consumers as they consider, evaluate and eventually purchase a brand’s products. How can brands optimize the purchase process now they have access to this emotion data?
The other research angle in terms of emotion is exploring what the consumer hopes to get out of the purchase process now that digital and social are such an integral part of the process; the research can help brands to really learn about the desire for ‘triumph’ in a purchase, both from the perspective of controlling the experience and from the point of view of ‘validation’ – the latter something everyone’s likely to be familiar with from their Facebook news feeds.
Thanks to Todd Powers at the ARF for spearheading the project, and to our great research partners Communispace, Firefly MB, comScore and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. ARF members can download the White Paper here. If you’d like to talk about how to track consumer emotions in online conversation, please drop me a line at email@example.com.