Baking a social media cake

April 27, 2009

(The other day a client was probing about our methodology. They were asking lots of smart questions and as we worked through the answers, they asked me to send a write-up. Technically, it isn’t a social media cake, but a social media analysis and insight cake. Here it is.)

During our discussion, you asked how we bake this cake – here’s my diatribe answer to that question. (BTW, baking a cake turns out to be a great analogy!)

To bake a cake you need ingredients (data), mixers and pans (tools) and cooks (strategists).  Your questions were focused on developing a better understanding of each one of these. (Disclaimer, I’m not the CTO or the head of research, so my answers may be a bit shallow.  I promise that I’m happy to get both/either of those people (cc’d above) on the phone to dive into more detail.)

Any good cake starts with the right ingredients.  For MQ this means starting with the right data.  The right data is always category, project and client specific.    Here are our thoughts about data.

  1. Including the data you want while excluding the data you don’t what is hard.  We discussed the Visa example, and you have experienced this with your brand.  De-spamming and de-duping is an important part of the job.
  2. Brand mentions range from 2% to 30% of the relevant data (depending on category, so only collecting brand mentions will miss most of the relevant conversation.
  3. It isn’t helpful to get all of the data.  (Splogs – or spam blogs have LOTS of brand mentions – but aren’t real and VERY hard to eliminate.   Focusing on and gathering the sites where the most people are participating virtually guarantees the elimination of Splogs.
  4. 5 years of expertise in solving the challenges above with a combination of technology tools and linguistic programming expertise provides MQ with a significant advantage over most of our competition.

You can’t bake a cake without measuring cups, mixers, whisks, spatulas, pans and an oven.  We can’t do our work without a broad sophisticated toolkit.  One of the fundamental challenges in analyzing large amounts of unstructured text data is that you simply can’t make sense of it in any sort of manual fashion.  Sophisticated software tools are the answer, but how those tools are developed and deployed makes a difference.

  1. Language is fluid over time and across categories.  Tools must be too.  Every one of our tools is parameter driven and allows the strategist to adjust the linguistic model and other parameters for the category and project at hand.
  2. Simple measures (counts, brand mentions, sentiment) are not useful for understanding why people do what they do and without understanding, we don’t gain the insight of what to do next.
  3. Understanding requires more sophisticated tools.   That is why we have tools for passion peaking, measuring motivations, word association, brand advocacy and many, many others.
  4. We have many tools available, but the tools used and the order of use is very project dependent.

Finally, you can’t bake a cake without a cook.  Well, I guess you can use a box mix from the grocery store and bake a cake without a cook, but if you have a special occasion and hire a chef to bake a cake, you don’t expect to get something from a box mix.  You expect a cake cooked to your specifications for your occasion.  You expect something unique, professional, surprising and delicious for your special occasion.  In our world, the dashboard and organized data providers are the box mixes.

MotiveQuest brings the experienced professional chef who will design and deliver a custom cake according to your exact interests, needs and specifications.

  1. Experience matters.  We have very sophisticated toolsets and it takes at least 6 months to get a strategist (most of whom have advanced degrees and backgrounds in consulting or planning) trained and productive.
  2. The tools are complex because the problems are complex.
  3. A single strategist is responsible for the entire project including data collection, organization, analysis, insights and recommendations.
  4. Each project has its own specifications and requirements.  Communication, solid project management and client involvement are all required to achieve good results.
  5. MotiveQuest Senior Leadership is deeply involved in every project to ensure results that meet your needs.

I will send the MQ capabilities presentation in another email.   Our case studies are very marketing (not data or technology) focused for a reason.  We don’t get hired to provide data or technology, but instead to solve real world marketing and communication problems.  I’ll be happy to provide more detail about any of them.

Thanks very much for your time on these issues, and I hope this helps answer some of your questions.

TO’B

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Communities don’t care about brands

April 23, 2009

Does that seem like a provocative title? Well it kind-of is. Communities do care about brands, but perhaps not in the way you like to think. Communities are self organizing groups of like-minded people who gather to share information, opinions, and suggestions, make friends, get together, etc. Sometimes, a brand sits at the center of the community, but more often it doesn’t

(Here’s my deck on How Communities Work.)

We have done hundreds of projects over the last 6 years harvesting and analyzing community conversations to understand why people do what they do. Across all these projects, brand mentions are typically a fraction of all the community conversation. In food, brand mentions are in less than 5% of the conversations. In a highly brand involved community, like cars or cellphones brand mentions are rarely in more than 30% of the conversations.

If you are “brand monitoring” then you are missing between 70% and 95% of the relevant conversation.

If you (Mr. Brand) want to “connect” with communities what you need to do is study community issues, motivations and drivers first. Once you understand the community motivations, then you are ready to participate. Just remember this rule of thumb. Everything you (Mr. Brand) do in the community should go through the filter of community motivations.

Are you serving the community or are you using the community?

YMMV

TO’B