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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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”.
Michael Maoz recently wrote that CIOs these days shake their heads at the fact that marketing, sales and services leaders are able to obtain funding for social media projects without a business case, instead of being held accountable for the same level of quantitative rigor as other IT-enabled investments. While it is true that most social media investments still travel with no business case, anyone who wants to change that fact needs to undertand a bit of history:
One challenge is that most communications professionals and social media consultants don’t have much experience in organizational change. They’ve never led cross-functional change programs. They’ve never built a business case that had to stand up to the CFO’s rigor. So they just don’t know how to do those things.
And, in the corporate communications arena, they never had to measure business impact from their efforts. Clippings were all they ever counted.
But that is all changing as marketing, sales and customer service leaders begin to ask for real dollars for social media.
However, the one critical factor that is changing the slowest is that CIOs are simply not getting in the game. CIOs and their teams are simply not at the table when cross-functional social media efforts are launched. And, ultimately, the CIO has to change that. CIOs need to start reaching out to their VPs of Communications and Marketing, and start figuring out how enterprise IT will enable the business goals that social media supports.
The bottom line is that CIOs can not sit back and wait for other functional leaders to bring them a business case or a well-defined social application architecture. CIOs need to get out of their foxholes, and go be the smartest person in the room about how the organization should use technology to solve challenges in marketing, communications, sales and service.
In 1966, Harvard Business Review published a study by Ernest Dichter that identified four motivations for a person to communicate about brands, as follows:
- In 33% of the cases, people shared because of product-involvement. The experience was so novel and pleasurable that it had to be shared.
- In a quarter of cases, people shared because of self-involvement. Sharing knowledge or opinions was a way to gain attention, show connoisseurship, feel like a pioneer, have inside information, seek confirmation of a person’s own judgment, or assert superiority.
- One-fifth of sharing occurred from other-involvement: the speaker wanted to reach out and help to express neighborliness, caring, and friendship.
- In another 20% of cases, message-involvement drove sharing. The message was so humorous or informative that it deserved sharing.
Implications for Brands
If we assume those trends to be valid and normal expectations for online sharing today, we can use that distribution as a benchmark to assess the health of the conversation about any brand, based upon the extent to which the conversation about the brand deviates from this average distribution.
For example, we might expect 33% of conversation about a brand to focus on people describing their experience with the brand. And when we see more than 33% of a brand’s conversation being generated by customers based on product or service experience, we might guess that the brand is doing something exceptional — either within the customer experience, or within their social media marketing.
When we see a brand whose customers create significantly less than 33% of the conversation about the brand, we are likely to discover flaws in either the customer experience or the brand’s social media capabilities.
You can be assured that when industry analysts focus on a category, it’s driven largely by brands looking for clarity and answers within a complex and confusing environment.
Nowhere is this more true than within the social space. Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen a flurry of new, insightful research designed to help brands separate fact from fiction, and make better decisions about vendors and solutions. We applaud these groups for providing much needed, independent, informed perspective to the world.
We, at Converseon, were very pleased about how we fared, especially given the robust and detailed methodologies that the analysts used to come to their conclusions — including, in many instances, user feedback.
Here is a run-down of the three most recent reports, in chronological order:
1. Gartner Group Magic Quadrant for Social CRM
July 25, 2011
Social CRM is hot, with Gartner expecting that it will become at billion dollar business soon. The market clearly understands the opportunity in this space, underscored by the value of some recent valuations in the space. As Gartner says, ”
“Hype around social applications by sales, marketing and customer service departments has exploded during the past two years as companies implemented social applications mostly as experiments or for tactical purposes. Actual use cases are still diverse, narrow in scope and unevenly diffused across companies, with experimentation that, most times, forgoes measuring business benefits…Successful social CRM vendors will provide clear benefits for companies and communities, with multiple use cases for sales, marketing and customer service processes.”
Gartner further noted that, in 2010, spending on social software for marketing, customer service and sales increased by 40 percent, but social CRM remains less than 5 percent of the total CRM application market. Gartner expects the social CRM market to reach over $1 billion in revenue by year-end 2012, up from approximately $625 million in 2010.
Dr. Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne recently published findings indicating that web users tend to trust web sites 20% more today versus 2007, but are 30% less loyal to ecommerce sites versus 2007.
1. Why He Believes Trust Increased
Dr. Coker said the increase in online consumer trust is largely linked to the visual appeal of websites. “As aesthetically orientated humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. With websites becoming increasingly attractive and including more trimmings, this creates a greater feeling of trustworthiness and professionalism in online consumers.”
Anyone interested in web credibility should also visit the Web Credibility Project at Stanford University.
2. Why He Believes Loyalty Decreased
“The biggest source of frustration is the inability to find relevant information on a website. The best way to stop defection to other websites, and increase loyalty, is to be interesting. Being pretty, but with nothing to say, is not enough.”
The research found that if a website has poor navigation or access to information, or is slow (i.e. more than two seconds to download), web surfers are more likely to opt against purchasing and navigate to an alternate website. (No surprises there.)
However, it is interesting that, in the last five years, the frequency of referring others to websites has increased by 32%. Largely due to social utilities, such as Facebook and Twitter.