October 2007 Archives

links for 2007-10-31

links for 2007-10-26

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

  • 19 October - Andiamo Systems launched their web-based social media analysis service. Andiamo offers a 14-day free trial and starts at $275/month.

  • 19 October - RelevantNoise launched their updated Sonar dashboard at the PRSA International Conference. (press release)

  • 25 October - Collective Intellect launched ther Media Intellect service for marketing and communications.
New research and papers
  • Primelabs released Twingly Report - Sweden, a profile of blogging in Sweden. The report is in Swedish, but the graphics and underlying data (xls) provide some hints.

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If you don't like the results, pick a different survey. So, how do you think people feel about consumer-generated product reviews on web commerce sites?

  • CPG Consumers Trust Online Reviews (eMarketer)
    A Deloitte & Touche consumer survey found that virtually all shoppers trust online product reviews.

  • Influencers Wary of Fakes (AdWeek)
    In a Burson-Marsteller survey of 1,000 influential consumers, about 30 percent said that fake reviews or positive comments left by corporations are a big problem.
I wonder how many "e-fluentials" (consumers who influence their social networks' habits and purchase decisions) are also early adopters? Is this another sign of early adopters getting over their initial enthusiasm and turning cynical?

Or is this an early indication of an emerging distrust of online reviews among the broader population? After all, the influencers in Burson's study are "more likely to share opinions and experiences with others." Suspicion of shilling in the reviews is one of the opinions they may share.

Whether customers trust them or not, it's still important to read your own reviews. Someone is writing them, and you might just learn something.

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New at Social Target

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I spend a lot of time talking with social media analysis companies about their products and services. I talk with other folks—clients, media—about what vendors are doing, too. Today, I thought I'd take a minute to share some of what's happening around here.

  1. Round Two
    The RFI for the second edition of the Guide to Social Media Analysis is out. I'm tracking over 90 companies on five continents (welcome, Cape Town!), so the next release will be quite a bit larger than the first edition. To make the longer list manageable, I'm adding more quick-reference tables, too. (Later in the process, I'll go around for updates from the original 31 companies.)

    I suspect some of you are waiting for the second edition, so here's a deal for you: Buy the first edition now, and you'll get the update when it comes out in 2008. You'll be among the first to receive the second edition and avoid the likely price increase, too.

  2. Adjusting boundaries
    After multiple inquiries, I've decided to take on limited vendor-side consulting. Client-side work on social media strategy and vendor selection are at the core of my work, but my previous stance ("no vendor consulting") was too limiting. I've begun accepting sponsored speaking opportunities, and I will accept engagements with vendors looking into partnership opportunities (especially international).

    I talk with a lot of companies, and I have almost no NDAs, but I do have strong personal ethics. A lot of people have trusted me with confidential information, and I have no intention of violating that trust. So, I will continue to refrain from consulting vendors on product and market strategy.

  3. Web site update
    One of the comments on the Social Target web site was that some readers might react with a big "Huh?" So today, I added an introduction to social media analysis for people who find the site but don't follow the jargon.
And that's just the stuff I'm ready to talk about. ;-) It's been a busy, busy week year.

links for 2007-10-22

links for 2007-10-20

links for 2007-10-19

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

New research and papers
Hmm. There's a theme in there this week.

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links for 2007-10-17

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links for 2007-10-12

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

  • 10 October - The Nielsen Company announced Diabetes*Buzz and Healthcare Marketing Mix. Diabetes*Buzz packages Nielsen BuzzMetrics data on perceptions and attitudes of diabetes.

  • 11 October - Dow Jones & Company introduced Factiva Insight: Agency Analytics, a research tool for multi-client agency or corporate communications environments. (press release)

  • 11 October - Reputica announced ReputicaCEO Search Report, a due diligence service that profiles the online reputation of very senior job candidates. The service is targeted to executive search firms and companies filling board of directors and CEO positions.

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Customer service is marketing

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CK digs into listening processes, adding some depth to the what to do where so much discussion is on how. It's a fun read for me, because it's similar to the listening talk I give clients. We're good at that in the echosphere, agreeing on principles that most people in the real world don't know about yet. Here's another: forget what it says on the org chart; customer service is a marketing discipline. If your customer service is handing out bad experiences, you won't be able to fix it with spin.

The easy pitch for listening to social media—monitoring blogs and communities, measuring trends—plays on the fear motivation. Someone may write something negative about your company, and it might get picked up by mainstream media. But take a step back. Have you noticed how many "social media crises" started as customer service issues?

Here's Josh Hallett on how Spirit Airlines could resolve negative buzz by fixing the underlying problem:

What they should do.....It seems that the majority of their issues are related to their customer support line, they should fix that problem first.
It's simple cause and effect: do you treat the symptom (reputation) or the underlying condition (service)? At the Conference Board's corporate reputation and communications conference in New York a couple of weeks ago, we heard repeatedly that substance, not spin, leads to a strong reputation. Isn't that obvious?

Applied listening tactics
If you're not in crisis-management mode, you can use listening tactics to identify issues before they get out of hand (What's the ROI on a crisis prevented?). Deal with the problems you find, whether they affect one customer or many, and you may keep your challenges from becoming the focus of attention.

If you're already in a crisis situation, use listening tactics to identify underlying causes and possible solutions, as well as to measure progress (in either direction). Remember, not every critic is an opponent. Pay attention to constructive criticism.

Customer service priorities
It's easy to say the right things about customers and service, but how's your reality? If you're not sure where your customer service is focused, ask yourself some of John Dodds's questions about your customer service approach:

  • Do you focus on fulfilling all your customers’ actual needs or do you have one eye on cross-selling opportunities?

  • Do you acknowledge and listen to your customers or do you harass and broadcast to them?
See John's post for the other 8. I'll add one:
  • Do you hide your policies in the fine print, or are they front and center? (Customer-friendly policies don't need to hide.)

Substance first, image follows. My guess is that none of this is very controversial inside the echo chamber. I think it makes sense in the real world, too. The question is, how many businesses are ready to operate this way?

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links for 2007-10-10

New feature: link posts

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If I've done everything right, a new feature will start on the blog tonight. I've turned on link blogging at del.icio.us to share the items I'm tagging there. Taking a cue from James Governor, I've started adding more extensive comments when I tag items, so it's more than just a list of links. I hope it's helpful.

Something about enjoying a bloggers dinner in the city makes me want to get together with the crowd at home, too. So here we go again—it's time for a business bloggers dinner in Raleigh. We're going back to Brier Creek, splitting the difference between Raleigh and Durham.

    What: Business bloggers dinner

    Where: Champa Thai & Sushi
    8521 Brier Creek Parkway
    Raleigh, NC 27617
    (919) 806-0078
    Map (PDF)

    When: Monday, October 15, 7:00 pm

    BYO$

We're about as casual as it gets. If you blog for, or about, business, join us! If you're into social media for business, call yourself a blogger for the evening and be there. No program, no rules, just interesting people with common interests.

As usual, please RSVP in the comments so I can warn them we're coming.

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IABC on social media measurement

An article based on my post on sorting out social media measurement appears in the October 2007 CW Bulletin from IABC. Articles from Christopher Carfi ("Social Networking for Business: Measuring the results") and Caroline Kealey ("Web 2.0: The medium is the message, but what's the result?") round out the issue on social media measurement.

Several of my sources mentioned Website Grader yesterday. It's an easy-to-use tool for evaluating blogs and websites for search engine friendliness, and it gave me a few helpful suggestions. It also pointed out something that I knew: this blog is not dumbed down. Fair enough, since I've been wondering about the role of calculus in social media measurement. Specifically, what can we learn by taking derivatives of the metrics in social media?

Sorry, this is going to be long. There will be math, but no numbers, and for the pedantic, I'm going to be a bit loose with some definitions.

On readability
One of the things that Website Grader does is evaluate the readability level of a site. A lower level means that a larger population will be able to read it, which is generally a good thing. My company site scored an 8th grade readability level, so any potential clients who dropped out of high school should be able to read it.

The blogs showed a somewhat higher reading level. I guess that's what I get for talking with people who do data mining, machine learning and natural language processing for a living. That jargon probably explains most of the "advanced degree" rating—I don't think my writing is that opaque, although I do have a vocabulary and like to use it.

Since you're all apparently capable of reading at an advanced level, let's talk about some math. Not at a PhD level, though. It's just a little first-semester calculus, and to further spare the pain, we won't deal with any numbers, just the ideas.

Bring on the math
Social media metrics have been the topic of a lot of discussion lately. It's on the agenda at the IPR Summit on Measurement today, to take the latest example. But instead of taking another swipe at what to measure, let's think about what you can do with the metrics you do collect, beyond sorting and charting them. Remember derivatives?

The first derivative
If you recall, the first derivative is the rate of change—velocity. Any report that includes the change of a metric since the last period is reporting velocity, but have you considered looking at velocity over time? Do you have top movers lists to go with your top 5 lists? Do you have a view into how long a trend has been growing?

The interpretation of velocity is straightforward. It provides trend information on how much a metric is changing, so it's useful for identifying areas with the biggest change. By extension, it can be a leading indicator for items that will move to the highest/lowest values, such as a top topics list. Here are a few ideas for applying change measurement:

  • Topics: Top-moving trends, growth history of emerging trends
  • Sentiment: Improvement/worsening trend, change of contribution of topics/sources to overall sentiment
  • Influence: Growth/decline trend of a source's influence, shift of a source's focus
The usefulness of the first derivative shows up in Market Sentinel's follow-up analysis of Dell. The sentiment scores are still negative, but some of the trends are positive. From an internal reporting perspective, it would be nice to be able to report positive trends with negative scores, especially if that combination persists.

The second derivative
The second derivative is the rate of change of the rate of change—acceleration. While velocity can be visually apparent from the slope of a graph, acceleration is harder to see. Its application is less obvious, too, but it's a leading indicator of changing directions in trends. Acceleration will show the slowing of a top trend before it starts to drop, or the beginning of a turnaround in a negative score. It will also show if a trend is snowballing, if both velocity and acceleration are either positive or negative.

If you're measuring continually—daily or more often, for example—large acceleration values can trigger alerts. A fast-growing (1st derivative) trend with a large, positive accceleration is something you want to understand quickly. Negative-trending sentiment with negative acceleration indicate a problem that is getting worse.

First + second = Priority
Just as velocity is a leading indicator for absolute values, acceleration is a leading indicator for velocity (assuuming that your metrics don't bounce around willy-nilly). Put them together, and they show where things are going. If both are positive or negative, a trend is accelerating—great if it's positive, potentially a crisis if it's negative. When one is positive and the other is negative, things are beginning to change, and acceleration shows the direction. You don't want to get too twitchy in responding to changes in acceleration, but big changes may be trying to tell you something.

Regardless of your choice of metrics, are you doing the (simple) math to evaluate trends over time? What other uses have you found?

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About Nathan Gilliatt

  • ng.jpg
  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Studying complexity and futures.
  • Principal, Social Target

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