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.



Hertz #1 By a Mile – Thanks Walter!

October 1, 2008

On Friday afternoon I returned to the Hertz LAX location at 12:30 PM with 1 hour until my flight left. If I didn’t make the flight, I would be stuck at LAX for at least 6 hours. To make things worse, I was flying on United – which at LAX is the last of 9 stops that the Hertz bus makes.

So I got out of the car and started sprinting toward the bus. Someone called out “Sir, Sir”. I turned around, thinking someone wanted to give me a receipt when a Hertz employee named Walter told me to get back in the car so he could drive me around to United.

We had a nice chat and Walter told me that LAX has a policy of trying to help disabled people, families and those running really late (like me) get to the terminal quickly.

Well, I made my plane and got home to see my family that night thanks to the initiative and efforts of Walter at LAX. This is a great example of one person going above and beyond the call of duty to help someone – and I definitely appreciate it.

Please pass on my thanks to Walter and to his supervisor.

Tom O’Brien
Hertz Fan Forevermore

Conversational Marketing Measurement

April 4, 2008

Brian Morrissey over at Conversation Quotient has an excellent post up about conversational marketing measurement.

Social media metrics are still a work in progress

Here’s the money quote:

“But with the rapid growth of social media has come the challenge of measuring the new ways consumers are interacting with and sharing advertisers’ content and brands. In many cases, the biggest difficulty is not just figuring out what to measure but what to ignore — and how to square the need for metrics-driven accountability with the more qualitative feedback endemic to conversation-based channels.”

There is a measure. We have tested it and co-related it to real world results. It’s called Advocacy.

Advocacy is the willingness of people in the online conversation (blogs, forums, newsgroups) to say “you should buy this thing”.

We (MotiveQuest) worked with MINI and their agency BSSP to:

  1. Understand what drives community engagement among MINI owners.
  2. Provide input for a campaign designed to connect to what the MINI community is most excited about.
  3. Measure the results on Advocacy.
  4. Compare changes in Advocacy to changes in MINI sales.

The result?  When Advocacy goes up, sales go up.  When it goes down, sales go down.  I’ll post that case study soon.


VCU Brandcenter Visit

April 3, 2008

I was invited today to speak at the VCU Brandcenter by one of the professors – Caley Cantrell.

Interesting discussion – and one thing I heard from the students was their frustration answering the “so what” question with digital initiatives.

I think this is a perennial question for anything new – and just as the message delivery model is quite fractured for online advertising, it is hard to comprehensively measure the effect of your efforts.

In most cases where MotiveQuest has worked to measure campaign effectiveness, we are looking for second order effects. People just don’t talk about campaigns much online.

But if the campaign is good, it should be driving engagement and advocacy – and those are things we can measure. See case study here: Online Advocacy.

It was great to visit Richmond in the springtime – and always eye-opening to engage with students – who tend to have a fresh perspective.

Yes, that is Robert E. Lee – on his horse – Monument Avenue in Richmond.