As insurers and their agents follow customers into social media, most insurers are still determining how to best ensure compliance with regulations and business policies. In the last year, insurers started adopting social middleware solutions to empower employees and agents in social media with audit trails and usage boundaries that ensure appropriate compliance. While social middleware solutions do help insurers, employees and agents to comply while engaging in social media, insurers still need to proactively mine the conversations occurring outside of the social middleware to adequately manage compliance risks in social media. And only a listening platform with access to 100% of Twitter data can provide an insurer with reliable, consistent monitoring for compliance purposes.
The Need for Compliance Listening
First, most insurers do not directly control the social media tools their agents use. Many agents and brokers are independent; they are not employees of any insurer. As a result, when an insurer deploys social middleware, many agents will not adopt it right away, and many agents or brokers may never adopt it. That leaves a tremendous volume of agent and broker conversations that the insurer simply cannot control through middleware.
Even if an agent chooses to utilize the social middleware provided by the insurer, the middleware may not integrate all of the social utilities or properties used by the agent. For example, it may not include their blog or agency web site.
Further, insurers who block employee access to social media at work cannot control employee access to social media through personal mobile devices, or on personal time.
And social middleware solutions do not capture conversations between customers, where no employee or agent is directly involved.
In the Conversation Mining™ work that Converseon performs for clients in regulated industries such as insurance, banking, pharmaceuticals and utilities, we frequently discover customers providing each other incorrect information that the brand must work to correct. Of course, a brand can address such incorrect information only if the brand is aware of such information. And developing that awareness requires a social listening platform.
Ultimately, the only way to reliably ensure compliance with regulations and corporate policies within social media is to implement a Conversation Mining™ solution that continually or periodically mines online conversations for the types of content that can indicate a potential violation of policy.
Why the Firehose Matters
If an insurer’s customers, agents or employees utilize Twitter, then the only way to reliably monitor compliance within Twitter is to use a Conversation Mining provider with access to 100% of Twitter data; and that requires an official partnership with Twitter.
As many folks have pointed out, any listening platform without the firehose can only provide insight and access to a small portion of Twitter data. On the other hand, the Twitter firehose gives a Conversation Mining provider access to 100% of the conversations occurring on Twitter.
Anyone without official firehose access must use the public API, and, as Danny Sullivan wrote on SearchEngineLand, “The Twitter API allows partners to conduct searches at Twitter automatically, to bring back data to someone based on those they’re following or tap into Twitter data in other ways. However, the API limits how much data can be requested and does not give access to everything Twitter has stored.”
Therefore, if your listening provider is not an official Twitter firehose partner, you simply will not be able to access most of the conversations occurring in Twitter. Your listening solution will be incapable of mining the majority of tweets passing through Twitter, and, therefore, you will miss the vast majority of potential and actual compliance risks.
And Converseon is the only listening platform in the recent Forrester Wave report with access to the Twitter firehose. If your listening provider asserts that they are giving you 100% of Twitter data, you should ask for documentation.
The Role of People in Compliance Monitoring
According to Twitter’s most recent estimates, approximately 90 million tweets flow through Twitter each day. And the volumes increase all the time.
In 2007, 5,000 tweets were posted each day. By 2008, up to 300,000 tweets were posted each day, and, in 2009, 2.5 million tweets flowed through Twitter every day. In the past year, Twitter volumes grew 1,400% over the previous year. As Twitter COO Dick Costolo recently confirmed, Twitter sees approximately 190 million users per month, and most everyone expects Twitter’s growth to continue.
With 90 million tweets per day (and growing), it is absolutely essential to configure your listening platform to filter out as much irrelevant data as possible, and that requires three things:
- Keywords framed in boolean queries,
- Constructed by social data analysts,
- Who are experienced in working with companies in regulated industries
If you simply assign someone on your team to enter keywords into your listening platform, you will be challenged to filter the data to your satisfaction. Your listening team will become inundated with tweets that match the keywords, but have no relevance for compliance purposes.
Only by using keywords framed in Boolean queries, constructed by analysts experienced in working with regulated industries, are you able to ensure the most relevant data to your compliance management team.
Converseon combines the best of automated and human analysis in our Conversation Miner™ suite, which is utilized by a wide range of leading brands to help map, monitor and understand the vast social media conversation. The Conversation Miner™ listening solutions are designed to be customized to meet specific enterprise environments to provide a central, robust and highly configurable listening platform across multiple languages, regions and organizational use cases to help create listening organizations.
The Complete Solution for Insurers
The chart below illustrates each element of a complete social media compliance management solution for insurers, which includes six important elements:
- Social middleware that restricts access to features based on policy, archives for compliance, and provides supporting metrics
- Agents and employees trained and equipped for success in social media
- Clear policies that are regularly updated
- Proactive identification of compliance and business risks from online conversations
- Compelling business insights mined from conversation data
- Compliance Management staff trained and equipped to enable compliant pursuit of business outcomes
All insurers realize that their customers, employees and agents are engaging in social media. Most insurers want to make it easy for their employees and agents to use social media with success and compliance every day. For insurers with customers on Twitter, Converseon is the only listening platform that can give you comprehensive and reliable compliance listening within Twitter.
Converseon embeds its Twitter firehose access in all of our listening tools and research reports, so our clients can rest assured that they are reliably managing the risks inherent in thousands of employees or agents engaging with customers in the public eye online.
Insurers with an interest in comprehensive, reliable and scalable monitoring for compliance management should contact Converseon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week Converseon was pleased to have been recognized as a finalist for Social Agency of the year in the SAMMY Awards (we won the inaugural award for Best Social Media Agency last year, so were understandably underdogs to win it two years in a row). It’s testament to our hard work to continue to evolve our solutions, fully integrating social listening, operational consulting and activation for an end to end social approach. The recognition was in part due to our very rapid growth (110% YOY), addition of top clients, the evolution of our technologies (including leadership recognition in Listening Category), the maturation of our strategic management consulting and international expansion.
Of course, the real judgment is based on the company we keep and the results we deliver to clients. Thus, we were especially pleased to win the SAMMY recognizing our work with IBM for Best Socialized Business.
“We thought that the SAMMY for Best Social Business should go to the most forward-thinking company that uses social media to build their company culture and brand, and make listening a core competency,” said Nick Friese, CEO and founder of DIGIDAY, the organizer of the SAMMY Awards. “IBM’s C.O.R.E. approach is an innovative and exemplary approach for social intelligence and this recognition demonstrates the importance of listening in social engagement.”
We thank IBM and our team for their dedicated hard work in making social intelligence actionable. It’s one thing to provide pretty charts on what social strategies should look like in large enterprises, but quite another thing to actually be able to make it happen. We are only as successful as our clients, so a recognition of effective social intelligence and media in action is the real reward.
What is the relationship between social good and social media?
This is the question I was trying to answer while attending the Mashable and 92Y Social Good Summit. And after listening to some brilliant presentations from Jessica Jackley of Kiva, Geena Davis of See Jane (and of course A League of their Own) and Matthew Bishop of The Economist, it seems that Bonin Bough of PepsiCo really had the best handle on the topic.
It is likely no coincidence that consumers’ increased desire for brands to be more socially involved and ethically responsible is surfacing at the same time as the use of social media and online engagement explode globally. Consumers everywhere are taking the time to voice concerns and desires that have long been on their minds but were unable to share quite so easily.
The truth of the matter is that being a good corporate citizen is not just a nice thing to do with some extra cash anymore; it is a legitimate part of a marketing strategy intended to grow a customer base, increase market share and ultimately drive profits. Customers care. And more and more they expect brands to be more than just a clothing retailer or technology distributor – customers expect brands to care as well.
So, what does all this mean? Take the lead of PepsiCo and start making a difference. After all, the Pepsi Refresh Project has already attracted more votes than the most recent presidential election. Increased brand awareness? Check! Increased consumer engagement? Check! Increased brand advocacy? Check!
Social technology allows us to communicate differently with one another and the story of social good allows us to engage more meaningfully, so pick a great cause and go for it! Get involved and tell people about it. It will be worth it, in a myriad of ways.
Looking for a little inspiration? Watch PepsiCo’s Bough chat with Jack Leslie, Chairman at Weber Shandwick.
As usual, Google drops a new feature, and the blogosphere becomes overwrought with suggestions that SEO is dead. Honestly, if Google Instant kills your success in SEO, you’ve been doing it wrong.
We all need to take a deep breath and remember that search marketing is more about marketing than about search. If you get your knickers in a twist every time Google changes its ranking algorithm or its user interface, then you aren’t focusing on the marketing part, just the search part.
Yes, it’s true that Google Instant will change what people search for and what they click on, just as a change to Google’s ranking algorithm changes what sites get shown and clicked. So, if you’ve been happily sitting around in the #1 slot for a popular keyword, Google Instant might change how many people see and click on your site, because it might talk them into completing a different keyword than what they set out to enter.
Live with it.
If you’re focused on rankings or even traffic, you are focused on the wrong thing. It’s all about the conversions.
If you’ve been focusing on conversions, you haven’t been sitting around expecting that everyone will type in your favorite popular #1 keyword. You’ve been working on optimizing for many variations, including deep (long tail) keywords that few people look for.
Some people say that Google Instant will cause fewer people to search for those less popular keywords, because they’ll just follow the suggestions, but Google Suggest has been around a long time, so we’ve already seen this movie, and I wonder if something else will happen.
We already know that fewer and fewer people, with each passing year, go to page 2 of the search results, preferring to enter a second query and spin again. With Google Instant, might people scan the results as they type and enter longer keyword phrases until they see what they want coming up?
We should also remember that many people never use Google’s site, preferring toolbars from Google or from their browser. While those toolbars might suggest keywords, they certainly do not show search results on the fly.
And a certain Bing search engine seems to power almost one-quarter of all U.S. queries. So, whatever havoc Google Instant wreaks on search marketers will affect a lot of searches, but it doesn’t affect them all.
The bottom line with Google Instant is that, like most search engine changes, you win some and you lose some (and some are rained out). But if you’ve been focusing on everything that your searchers need, you’ll find that you weather changes better than if you calculate everything you do to please the way Google works right now.
If you are into Google-pleasing, then, when Google sneezes, you catch a cold.
Between now and the end of 2010, Converseon leaders will speak at the following social media conferences and events:
August 29 – September 1, 2010
Rob Key, Chris Boudreaux and Craig Daitch are attending OMMA’s Social Media Insider Summit beginning August 29 in Lake Tahoe, NV. Chris and Rob will speak at the event.
Twitter hastag: #mpsmis
October 27, 2010
At Social Media Bootcamp: Social Media For Research and Marketing at ARF University, hosted by the Advertising Research Foundation, Chris Boudreaux will present best practices for using social media as a research and marketing tool.
October 28, 2010
Several Converseon-ites are attending Forrester’s Consumer Forum, beginning October 28 in Chicago, IL. Rob Key is speaking.
If you attend any of these conferences, please say, ‘Hi.’ And if you aren’t able to attend, you can always follow the action through our Twitter accounts:
We always look forward to meeting friends and fellow travelers.
Facebook Places officially landed last week and legitimized a new location-based channel for businesses to interact and engage with their customers (see these instructions to claim your Places). In order to help business and functional leaders to leverage, we’d like to see businesses capitalize on Facebook Places through the following opportunities:
1. Branded Applications
Today, only a handful of companies can push data to Facebook Places. This includes competitors like Four Square and Gowalla. Eventually, this will open to other companies, providing businesses a fantastic opportunity to create their own applications. A company like Starbucks — already an early adopter on Four Square — could easily incorporate a store locator with Places check-ins into their emerging mobile payment application, and a reward system that replaces the punch cards distributed at check-out.
Checking-in not only means that the person is in the store (most likely purchasing something), but is also virally spreading the brand to all of his or her friends on Facebook. And because the app connects into the larger Facebook ecosystem, it doesn’t feel like a one-off “microsite,” providing real value to the consumer.
2. Game Mechanics
Facebook has, so far, stayed away from game mechanics. Instead, Facebook leaves them to third parties and partners. As a result, there are no out-of-the-box points, rewards or mayors.
Were Facebook to offer mayorships as a white-label service to businesses, then companies could offer their own versions of a mayorship tied to creation of content by their customers, rather than simple check-ins.
For example, visitors to Six Flags could earn a mayorship based on uploading videos and photos while in the park, thereby showcasing the experience rather than simply checking-in to it.
In the future, firms might enable customers to photograph purchase receipts as an input into mayorship qualifications, thereby preventing check-in manipulation and opening the doors to richer customer rewards. The possibilities are endless.
3. Flash Mobs
On launch, Facebook offers a unique feature that allows users to check-in their friends. While there is some debate on privacy concerns, this functionality offers a very unique way for businesses to create their own Flash Mobs.
For example, The Gap could offer discounts to customers who check into a location with ten of their friends, creating an on-the-fly sample sale.
Business that rely on critical mass could benefit even more. For example, bars have long offered specials to customers that show up with groups of friends. Such businesses could now advertise happy hour specials through Facebook Places to generate a similar result.
4. Like, Content and More
One feature we’d like to see combines the existing Like functionality with Places, as follows: Businesses who create product pages that people can Like could now tie-in Places for targeted, location-based advertising.
Nike, for example, could advertise a special for all users that Like their new Air Jordan sneaker, sending them to the nearest retailer based on their location. We suspect that this functionality isn’t far off, given the enormous potential.
We would also like to see companies attaching content to the check-in location. For now, the only activity the Place page shows is check-ins and Likes. Allowing users to upload photos or videos would enhance the experience, and provide businesses with more unique ways to connect with their consumers.
Allowing users to write posts would foster reviews in a Yelp-like fashion. Sure, this would open the gate to both positive and negative feedback, but a comprehensive listening and conversation mining strategy would allow businesses to interact and take advantage of this flow of information.
The Road Ahead
Facebook’s scale will change the market for location-based services and check-ins for businesses — from something niche and cutting-edge, to a very real and powerful marketing channel. When a 500-million-person network enters a vertical, it’s hard not to notice — even when it launches with a bare feature set and only a vague sense of a roadmap. But this will certainly evolve as consumers and business owners embrace the platform and begin to tap the potential of hundreds of millions of accounts.
On August 16 Converseon announced an important partnership with Twitter to infuse the Firehose – all 80+ million daily tweets – real time in to our Conversation Mining platform. You can read the release here.
It’s a significant advance, and a big commitment. But it is also critical: if you care about social CRM or near real time social engagement, you simply cannot operate without access to the full Firehose. As Forrester Research said in response to the announcement, “ultimately, this is a big step in the listening platform market…”.
And indeed it is a big step. In our experience, general API Twitter data represents only a fraction of tweets (those limited to “high velocity) and Twitter is continuing to limit that data stream. Just last week, reports surfaced that Twitter is limiting historical searches to four days. The plain truth is that there are currently significant blind spaces abound even for those companies who may be using paid listening services if they don’t have Firehose access.
At Converseon, we take pride in bringing a healthy skepticism to new platforms and technologies. In the early days, we too were a little skeptical about the growth potential of Twitter. However, it indeed has evolved into the heartbeat of social conversation. As author and technology observer Steven Johnson wrote recently in Time Magazine, “Twitter is looking more and more like plumbing (of the web), and plumbing is eternal.”
We’re proud today to plug this plumbing into our Conversation Mining solutions to finding meaning and insights – and action – in the immense stream of data to help brands harness the power of social across the enterprise. Effectively managing the vast amount of data is one challenge since in addition to Firehose we mine blogs, newsgroups, and more. Finding meaning in the data is the other. This requires a lot of technical horsepower, advanced text analytics and human intelligence.
But we’ve been preparing ourselves for this for quite some time. And the benefits to brands are myriad; they include demand/lead generation, customer service, real time social engagement, and, ultimately, using active listening as an engine to transform brands into social organizations with real time intelligence flowing across the organization for action and competitive advantage.
Let the Firehose begin.
- For content created prior to July 2010, maintain your TweetMeme button.
- For content created during or after July 2010, you can use the Twitter button.
- For blog content, we’re stuck. Blog posts created prior to July need to maintain the Tweetmeme button, but posts created since July 2010 can use the Twitter button. However, the TweetMeme and Twitter plugins do not let you apply the button by post, or based on publish date. You must apply it to all posts or no posts. NOTE: While Twitter has not published a WordPress plugin, a few community members have, for example: here and here.
As of today, the Tweet button from Twitter shows lower tweet counts than existing buttons from TweetMeme. If you replace your TweetMeme buttons, your visitors will see lower tweet counts that on the Twitter button, versus the TweetMeme button.
For example, See this screen shot of Chris Boudreaux’s social media research database on SocialMediaGovernance.com for a quick glance at what the two buttons look like together:
You can see in the image that Chris added the new, light blue Twitter button to the right of his existing green TweetMeme button, and the two display dramatically different counts (210 for TweetMeme and 76 for Twitter).
While TweetMeme has been working with Twitter for months, Twitter began counting “… a couple of weeks before the launch of the Tweet Button. This means links which have been shared on Twitter before July 2010 will not contribute towards the count”, according to Twitter FAQ.
Therefore, if you trade the TweetMeme button for the Twitter button on content that existed prior to July 2010, your visitors will not see the true count of tweets you have earned.
If you use both buttons, you should review the FAQ on Twitter.com to avoid duplicating content. (See: “I want to use multiple Tweet Buttons on my page. Is there anything I should know?”)
For some, the quibbles of style that pop up by cluttering your articles with two Twitter share buttons are irrelevant when the count is king. Others will default to Twitter’s crisp aesthetic.
You should also consider Twitter’s new ability to auto-suggest up to two relevant accounts after a user retweets, as one potential reason for deploying the new Twitter button.
In any case, we are very interested in hearing your experiences and insights which can help to inform decisions regarding which buttons to deploy.
by Chris Boudreaux and Adam Edwards
Update (August 16, 2010): Google PR phoned this afternoon to let us know that this screen shot was an experiment, and that the search results below the ads are organic; they’re just mixed with results from Google Maps. Our point was that the results seemed to exclude traditional organic search results, and that the page appeared dominated by organic results from Google Maps.
Yesterday, for the first time, we saw a standard Google web search results page, without any standard web search results. That is, a search for “car rental nyc” returned a Universal Results page showing a map alongside results from paid, local, and books categories (see screen shot below). Not one standard organic result appeared on the first page of results.
As it expands its Universal Results strategy, Google is testing lots of changes to their main search results page. Most of the significant changes occur in searches that contain a localized search term (such as a city).
First, Google added a “sticky map” in the upper right, which maintained a constant position on the screen, as the user scrolled down the page. The sticky map appeared to disadvantage paid search results appearing below the third slot, which disappeared behind the map as users scrolled down the page.
In the search results we saw yesterday, there were no organic results until the second page. When we performed the same search today, we found a single organic search result at the bottom of the first page.
This could be a watershed moment for Google, and it could force local or franchise businesses to use AdWords and Google Places (formerly Local Business Center).
Creating a great web site with strong SEO may no longer take you into the first page of local search results.
In an industry where it is more and more difficult for brands to separate fact from fiction and understand the differences between Listening platforms, Forrester Research, led by Zach Hofer-Shall, recently published their review of Listening Platforms: “Forrester Wave™: Listening Platforms, Q3 2010″, and you can download a complimentary copy from Converseon.
In order to identify the category leaders, Forrester evaluated offerings from nine companies according to 76 criteria, including data sources, textual analysis, functionality, consulting and analysis services, strength of management team, and corporate and product strategy.
Based on performance across these dimensions, the companies were then grouped into four categories: Leaders, Strong Performers, Contenders and Risky Bets (see image above).
Converseon, we are pleased to report, was recognized in the Leaders category as one of three vendors that “combine the best offering and go-to-market strategy.” Also, Converseon scored highest for text analysis and the second highest for its consulting and analysis services, strength of management team and corporate strategy. A free copy of the report can be downloaded from our website.
According to Forrester, “Converseon offers a leading product with its “customized for your needs” mentality. There is no standard Converson installation, (Converson) builds a tailored dashboard for its enterprise installation and offers professional services around every step of the Social Intelligence process. Converseon’s model of starting with technology and adding human analysis makes for highly effective data quality, leading custom reports and strong functionality.”
We are especially proud to be one of the very few listening platform providers to remain independent. Our approach enables us to iterate quickly, partner deeply with our clients, and move fast to meet marketplace needs.
We understand the category is still quite young, and that leading brands are looking for solutions not just for today, but for the next years as Social Intelligence evolves and becomes more deeply integrated into the DNA of enterprises. This is an area where Converseon excels.
We focus on designing listening solutions (beyond simple “tools”) to help infuse listening across organizations, for multiple use cases, and to help large enterprises redesign business processes to make the intelligence actionable. This includes governance, policy, infrastructure, training and more.
Perhaps most profoundly, we believe that social media listening is the first step in effective business redesign. All too often, once social intelligence is flowing through an organization, there is a moment of realization: “These are great insights and intelligence but we’re simply aren’t designed to act on this.”
Real-time intelligence requires business process redesign to enable agile movement for competitive advantage. That’s why Converseon remains the only leading provider of Conversation Mining with robust management consulting and activation practices.
Of course, we see others in the industry moving into this space too via joint partnership or rollup/acquisition, and we believe that our strength lies in organic evolution. We are proud that our team is rapidly evolving and our solutions growing. I am also quite excited because some of the most interesting technology and solutions have yet to emerge from our R&D work.
We appreciate the industry recognition for our work, but won’t for a moment rest on our laurels. We have a 24-hour rule here: even with good news, we allow only 24 hours to pass before moving on. And we agree with the general observation of the industry: the best is yet to come.
You can obtain additional information from Forrester.
The Forrester Wave is copyrighted by Forrester Research, Inc. Forrester and Forrester Wave are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. The Forrester Wave is a graphical representation of Forrester’s call on a market and is plotted using a detailed spreadsheet with exposed scores, weightings, and comments. Forrester does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in the Forrester Wave. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.