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diffusion of innovations

Customers are normally the best sources of product and marketing ideas*, and social media are perfect for harvesting those ideas, every day. In fact, one Converseon client recently used our social media research to dramatically improve campaign performance, simply by understanding how customers wished they could use the product.

Simply stated, they recognized a trend in real — and imagined — product usage, then tailored their marketing messages to fit customer beliefs and needs, in real time.

For example, see the following chart, which summarizes disguised conversation data pertaining to a technology server product shortly after its release to market:
Diffusion-3-300x181 CASE STUDY:  Improve Your Marketing Messages With Social Media Research

At product launch, the server’s manufacturer promoted the server’s superior performance in business applications, such as retail analytics and cloud computing. During the campaign, our research found that customers were attracted to the server’s role in cloud computing, but expressed less interest in retail analytical applications. Instead, many conversations focused on the server’s reliability in data protection.

Recognizing the conversational trend, the brand adapted its marketing messages with significant improvement in the performance of the campaign.

In addition to improving campaign performance, social media research has helped brands understand how product applications evolve over time, as input into product development.

Learn how to use social media research to improve campaign performance or generate new insights for product development.

* “Re-invention”, as coined by social scientist Everett M. Rogers in his book, Diffusion of Innovations.

People are wrong in their criticisms of the Apple social media policy that was allegedly leaked recently, and here is why:

A company’s social media policy should support the unique qualities that make the company successful. In fact, the elements of a successful social media policy must exist in concert with the unique culture and business context of any organization.

In Apple’s case, secrecy has been a critical key to success. While many social media pundits claim that Apple should be more open, very few of those people are running billion-dollar corporations, and the notion that all companies should apply the same level of “open-ness” is, at best, over-simplified.

Comparisons to other technology companies abound, but that just makes no sense. Those companies and Apple take completely different approaches to differentiation, which has led them to create very different cultures. They also rely on different business processes to create growth and value. Many are well-run and highly successful, but for very different reasons.

And those differences are the keys to understanding why they use different social media policies.

The chart above shows the business factors that companies should consider when developing an effective social media policy (which I published in The Social Media Management Handbook earlier this year).

Chris Boudreaux leads the Strategy and Measurement practice at Converseon and created SocialMediaGovernance.com to help companies govern social media, including the largest online database of social media policies. You can Contact Chris on his web site, or by email: cboudreaux [at] converseon-dot-com.

On November 9, Converseon’s lead scientist keynoted the Sentiment Analysis Symposium in San Francisco. It was my first Symposium event organized by Seth Grimes, and I was impressed with the quality of speakers and content. It was one of those that effectively bridged academia with practical business applications.

While we talk a lot about how to make social media drive business results in our communications and white papers, we have not often dwelled deeply into the science behind our social intelligence technology, Conversation Miner. Behind the scenes we have had a team of PHDs, including Dr Resnik, when he’s not attending to his professorial duties at the University of Maryland working hard on these problems.

As a wide range of academics, researchers and forward leaning brands discussed at the conference, the challenge of how to understand this vast unstructured social conversation to finding meaning and insight is one of the great technical challenges of our time. It is also perhaps one of the most profound. The implications of not just capturing — but understanding — this conversation for brand management, advertising, customer service, R&D and more is only now starting to become realized.

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In a webcast yesterday with Bulldog Reporter’s PR University, my fellow presenters and I discussed interesting ways that brands should consider using Google+ today. It was an engaging and educational session with social media practitioners of different backgrounds giving their two cents on Google+, including the following five tactics I suggest brands consider today:

  1. Reach new audiences
  2. Create content experiences
  3. Position yourself as thought leader or trusted advisor
  4. Improve your SEO
  5. Listen

1. Reach New Audiences

Users don’t need to bring their friends to enjoy Google+. On Google+, users can seek out topics and then discover interesting conversations among strangers with similar interests. In that respect, it is more like Twitter than Facebook: Facebook has no value without your friends. Therefore, Google+ should be a good place to find and engage new audiences who may not know about you today.

2. Create Content Experiences

People who use Google+ are not looking for an alternative to Facebook. They want a better experience on Google properties. Create more content that engages and facilitate conversations around your content.

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For this year’s Video Music Awards and Emmys, online conversation volumes predicted the winners for 4 of 7 VMAs and 6 of 14 Emmys. Converseon monitored online mentions of each nominee from the time nominations were announced to the day of the award ceremonies, then looked for correlations between conversation mentions and awards.

MTV Video Music Awards

Social media volume correctly predicted (1) Video of the Year, (2) Best Male Video, (3) Best Female Video and (4) Best Pop Video.


Of the top fourteen awards, social media volume correctly predicted (1) Outstanding Drama Series, (2) Outstanding Comedy Series, (3) Outstanding Reality Program, (4) Best Actress in a Comedy, (5) Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, and (6) Best Director of a Drama.

Other research has revealed that Twitter conversations can predict box office revenues and that overall social media volume can predict electoral outcomes.

In addition, Converseon researchers have also developed a methodology for measuring customer satisfaction through online conversation mining.


Google announced today that searches by logged-in users will be securely sent over SSL encryption. Therefore, Google will no longer send the query terms in the referrer data to analytics tools that analysts use to understand the keywords sending traffic to their site. If you’re not using Google Webmaster Tools, you will no longer know all of the keywords bringing people to your website from searchers who are logged into Google when they search. This is potentially a big problem for folks relying solely on enterprise analytics solutions.

While Google says they are focused on protecting user privacy, the change clearly forces everyone to use Webmaster Tools and decreases the value of paid analytics solutions because they will no longer be able to collect as much data as they did before.

If you have not verified your website through Webmaster Tools, do it now.

It is only a matter of time before Google incorporates Webmaster Tools directly into Analytics. Until then, marketers will have to pull a portion of their search performance reports from Webmaster Tools.

Now that Google, Twitter and Facebook implemented SSL this year, privacy advocates will likely expect the same from Bing and Yahoo.

View the original blog post from Google.


While the changes that Facebook announced at F8 created more ways to connect with consumers, reaching those consumers may be more difficult, in three important ways, which we explain below.

To summarize the recent announcements, two major changes occurred on Facebook.

First, Facebook announced the Timeline. This is a chronological, user-curated view of every activity the user has taken or announced via Facebook that he or she deems meaningful. It’s a personal scrapbook annotated with photos, status updates, music, location check-ins, etc. This may become the most valuable real estate for users and for brands. Marketers may create applications that interact with the Timeline.

The second big change is the expansion of a piece of an underlying technology called the Open Graph. Previously the Open Graph allowed brands to include owned web properties into the Facebook ecosystem via the Like button. Now brands may go beyond the Like and embed custom verbs and actions into their applications — on Facebook or on their own sites.

This may result in more brand-relevant and viral newsfeed updates. Instead of simply Like-ing content on a brand site, consumer can send the following types of messages into their streams, from branded properties: “Joan is redecorating with the bold look of Kohler” or “Ron is grilling an Applegate Organic Hot Dog with Laurie.” Users can choose to include these branded stories or experiences into their Timeline, thereby elevating them to updates likely to be seen by friends.

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Evergreen Content

Bit.ly recently published data indicating that links shortened in bit.ly and shared on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube receive the vast majority of their clicks within 3 hours of being shared. While clicks can be a critical call-to-action on social media, and the bit.ly data help us to understand the dynamics of viral sharing, viral distribution is only one important goal of content that is created or distributed through social media. Specifically, a balanced social media marketing plan must also include provisions for evergreen content: feature articles that deliver significant long-term impact — especially in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Evergreen Versus Real-Time Content

Evergreen content sticks around and continues to provide value after the 3-6 hours of initial sharing. For example, think about search engine results. In general, we see blog posts, wikis, reviews, forum threads, and videos with the longest staying power in search results. Perishable media such as Facebook and Twitter updates are important in search results, but evergreen content is equally as important.

According to Lijit, 20% of referrals are driven by social media, and search still delivers twice the amount of traffic versus social. Ignoring the role of search in your social strategy will simply lead to all of your hard work being lost to time.

As marketers increase their focus on real-time marketing, the concept of a timeless article is increasingly derided by some in journalism and public relations because its very definition denotes something that is not immediately newsworthy. Rather than appreciate the long-term benefits of evergreen content, they treat it as filler for a slow news day.

However, marketers must resist the urge to chase sharing statistics at the cost of search engine performance. Yes, social media affect search engine results, but they are not the primary determinant of search engine performance, so don’t let the spirit of real-time take your long-term marketing performance off track.

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Social media have emerged as a powerful force for social good. The power of social listening, specifically, to positively impact business, government and social policy is clear. This is creating a paradigm shift in business methods. To combat potential misuse of the data available from social media, we have to ensure that these new business methods are underpinned by ethical approaches meeting the new demands of the marketplace.

As a member of a strong subcommittee that included a diversity of thoughtful perspectives, we were actively involved in the drafting of CASRO’s guidelines for social media research. In addition, we submitted feedback to ESOMAR for their corresponding initiative. We’re pleased the guidelines enable the use of social media data for research purposes while also meeting what we think are two core requirements:

  1. The ability for businesses to collect data required to meet the new generation of services and consumer expectations for brand engagement in venues where public conversation is occurring. For example, a consumer may post about a product or service issue on Twitter, addressing a brand directly. There is a clear expectation that a brand’s customer service function is listening and ready to respond.
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Anyone who’s been using search for a long time – especially a professional researcher or a web marketer – has formed some almost reflex expectations about what search results will be like.

One of the most basic assumptions is that search engines are about text matching. In other words, if you enter a group of words in the search box, the results will by and large include pages where those exact words are in the document.

Over the years, Google has moved gradually beyond this basic idea. Some of those changes came from offering results where the search terms “only appear in links that point to the page”, as Google’s cached version of a page will explain. But the most unexpected changes now come from advances in semantic analysis.

Let’s look at a basic example, courtesy of the Google SEO forum at Webmaster World forum. Do a search for the word “couches”. The results look pretty much like what you’d expect – every result uses the word “couches” or perhaps “couch”.

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Categories: Search, SEO, SEM
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