It may seem obvious, but if ROI is the destination, the journey must start with great insight. With understanding. Our case is that, whilst there is – quite understandably – a significant emphasis put on how to maximise ROI, on revenue, on ‘calculators’ – we must not neglect our starting point - understanding the social audience.And even as methods of measuring ROI, of building it into the very fabric of campaigns and activities become ever more sophisticated, we would argue that understanding the social audience is in its infancy.
Despite – or perhaps because of – a high level of investment in social media monitoring tools (and albeit with some very notable exceptions), the audience understanding that can be derived from social content remains notably under-appreciated.As we shall see, there are a number of commonly understood ways to get a grip on the vast volumes of social data out there, and to profile the social audience.However, there is so much more that can be understood about the social audience, based on the content they create. And the opportunity to drive profitable innovation lies within that understanding.
This understanding can be in terms of the audience, as an audience, within the social sphere. Equally, however, social content can help us to understand the attitudes, reactions and dynamics of the audience for a TV show, an advert, or at a live event.In fact, content created by the social audience can reveal insights every bit as valuable (and sometimes even more so) as insights identified by using (frequently more expensive and time-consuming) traditional consumer research techniques.
In fact, describing users of social media as a ‘social audience’ is misleading. The social audience is not a group of passive recipients of messages and campaigns. It is a thriving, dynamic mass of interconnected opinions and influences. An ‘active audience’, if you will, though this barely does justice to it. Understanding the dynamics can reveal users’ motivations for engaging with the social web , and that in turn can cast light on their wider attitudes and needs.
So the applicability of understanding the social audience goes way beyond the social media team. As we heard earlier today, the very fact that social media crosses so many disciplines and departments can make establishing ownership difficult. In the same way, socially-derived understanding can inform multiple business areas. Let’s spend some time reviewing the more typical ways to understand social audiences and the content they produce.We’ll then go on to present you with five things you might just be surprised you can understand by researching content produced by social audiences.
The tempting reaction to the oceans of social data that continues to build and swirl around us is rejection. The more you want to know, the more data you have to wade through. And the more data that faces you, the harder it is to pinpoint exactly what you want to know. There is an under-appreciated value of social understanding – harnessing it to for consumer insight. But before we get to that, let’s first plot a course through the tried and tested...
The most salient and widely used method of social media research is monitoring, or social listening, which provides a valuable resource of data about the volumes of conversation regarding your brand. Like any new source of information the focus is on getting the data and getting data representative of the social web, which is no mean feat.Because of the volumes of conversations that the social web generates people tend to focus on the metrics that you can draw from it. For most people it is a quantitative dataset.It’s easy to forget that these are conversations among customers (past, present future) and that listening to them has a similar value to listening to consumers at a focus group or through an interview - only a much bigger scale.It is the scale that is the problem if you don’t have the right tools or minds to mine the data.
We all know that good data is the where a good deal of great insight is born and there are a plethora of tools, that range from free to ‘enterprise-level’ expensive, that offer the first step in helping you navigate and capture all the relevant social data regarding your brand. The tools that are available range from the consultative and the DIY but on the whole they’re incredibly useful tools for scurrying out across the social web, scanning millions of pieces of content and then giving you an array of statistics about that content in relation to your brand.
With these listening tools you can generate social data, usually represented by a quantitative graphs and pie charts, that gives you an overview of how your brand is perceived across the social web. Used properly, this data can be crucial foundation in your social media strategy, and your PR and commsstrategy. It enables you to quickly understand where your brand is winning advocates and provides important validation for marketing and PR activity.
Some tools go so far as to provide automated sentiment analysis on that data too. Although as far as we’re concerned pure automated sentiment really doesn’t work, in our experience, and so whilst you can derive headline figures from it, these might – at best – be 60% accurate (ie slightly better than the toss of a coin) and often they fly in the face of reason, intuition and a deeper analysis of the evidence. We recently saw an example of an automated sentiment analysis for a high street bank, which recorded that all social content was 96% neutral, 3% negative and 1% positive, based on 72% of content being from forums. People don’t take to forums to share neutral opinions about high street banks!
Classic example of this was last years Phones4U ‘Missing Our Deals will haunt you’ campaign of scary ads. The sentiment scores from their monitoring tools were coming back with incredibly low scores even through the actual content was positive – this was because a lot of people were using the word ‘scary’ andAs soon as we are dealing with meaning, we have to go deeper and either read all the content ourselves or use a sophisticated sentiment tool that will learn with you as you read and code several hundred to a thousand or so items of content.
Perhaps as a reaction to the sheer volume of data you can generate, much social audience research focuses on identifying and pursuing influencers. This has value, but it’s a very tactical way of using social media data.
And wouldn’t it be more useful to know WHY your brand is perceived as it is across the social web, rather than just that IF and THAT it is perceived in a certain way? If social data is a crucial foundation, actual insights are the bricks and mortar that bring it to life. Insight is the house in which better decisions live.Social data is the first step to properly harness the social web to better understand your consumers. But data alone will only help you understand the reaction.To understand underlyingattitudes and behaviours as expressed by the social audience, you need to go beyond social data and get to social insight.
Five things you might be surprised to find out you can understand from content created by social audiences......And if you’re not surprised, then we would say you are at the forefront of understanding how to derive insights from social content.
Our second example is based around a study we conducted to understand Mum’s attitudes to their children’s diet and exercise.We focused our exploration of the social audience on online forums to enable us to better hone in on Mums’ conversations – they were our main target – and specifically looked at topics such as 5-a-day and PE only but to name a few.
Through an exploration of these key topics, here is what we found.When it comes to exercise, mums either feel clear about what children should be doing or are delegating the responsibility to schools.However, their conversations reveal that they are really unclear about how to feed their children and why.This is due partly to a clearly expressed lack of trust in official sources and increasing confusion based on conflicting messages in the media.5-a-day is a good example of a topic which particularly confuses them. With 3 times as many conversations about children around 5-a-day on Mums’ forums than in the rest of social web, Mums are clearly unsure and seeking advice on the subject.Mums understand the principle of 5-a-day, but are unclear about what constitutes a portion and what is included in the fruit and vegetables category.Ok, so what? Well for brand owners this represents valuable insight as it means that they can play a role in helping mums’ navigate through conflicting information and engage them at the same time via social media.
Social audience understanding can help you delve into consumers’ needs but can also offer deep and rich insights into attitudes.And here is an example...We analysed all conversations around the top 5 mobile handset brands to understand consumer perceptions of the key brands including their level of engagement and advocacy.We also performed the same analysis for Android to understand people’s relationship with the platform.
By mapping the brands by share of voice and sentiment we get a perspective of how each of the brands are perceived by users. Surprisingly the true challenger for iPhone are less the otherhandset brands, and more Android, which has a very strong presence.Blackberry has suffered as a result of its outages, and Nokia, whilst it does have a warm, fuzzy feeling around it, is very much seen through a nostalgic lens currently – though this could change. Samsung underperforms its market share in terms of share of the conversation, and is not yet making the inroads as a brand within social conversations that its commercial performance might suggest it should be. The important aspect is that consumers are not attached these brands in the same way as they are with Apple and Android.
Conversations about iPhone and Android display a strong element of tribalism and rivalry between advocates and detractors of iPhone and Android. This tribalism is evident through the main topics of conversation in which users express their love and support for either brand, often using team hashtags.There is a net preference for iPhone which based on the volume of conversations wins 3 to 1 to Android.Being a member of this community gives Apple users a sense of belonging and the feeling of being part of an exclusive club. It also is a statement of who they are as an individual. Apple advocates clearly enjoy being part of a community that seems to have the upper hand and regularly remind Android users.Apple’s closed system and lack of compatibility with other platforms is seen as an advantage by loyal users and helps retain the notion of exclusivity. This perception of exclusivity is core to the appeal of the Apple franchise.In contrast, Android fans are enjoying being part of a community supporting a challenger brand which they see as having equal capabilities. They see Apple as representing the status quo. Openness and compatibility is a key pull for the Android platform and gives the impression to users that the system is superior.So what does that mean? For Android, painting Apple as representing the status quo and ‘following the herd’ could help reinforce their position among a wider audience.
This is what we did in the next example.We analysed all conversations around UK mobile networks focusing on understanding the drivers of customer experience and churn.This analysis included 6,000 posts of which we analysed 800 to understand customer intent and joining and leaving networks.
We looked at network customers’ intent based on their conversations and classified it to understand how each of the networks are faring in terms of potential customer churn. Of the ‘big four’, Vodafone had the best ratio of those expressing an intentions to join vs. intentions to leave, indicating that Vodafone are doing something right.Virtual Mobile Networks like Three and Tesco in particular had very minimal discussions around intentions to leave compared to the other operators.Having looked at intentions, we were also able to get a read on customers’ perceptions of brand experience across each network and identify drivers of churn.
What we found by looking at the drivers of churn based on conversations expressing an intent to switch is, is that not surprisingly, network coverage is a key and is as much a driver to leave as to join .Service – notably customer service and billing issues – is the strongest driver to leave a network. It is clear from our analysis of conversations about switching, that networks need to focus on these key service hygiene factors (what is expected by customers as the minimum level of service) to reduce potential customer churn.Added value are the main pull factors driving network switching. Orange Wednesdays and O2 Priority Moments are good examples of added value offer helping to Orange and O2 attract and retain customers.Handset offers also play a key part in attracting customers.So while the hygiene factors are key to drive retention they have a limited pull on driving differentiation between networks but give a good indication of what the organisation needs to monitor ongoing to ensure that customer churn levels do not increase.
Another area in which social data can bring insight is in the area of customer experience.In this specific example, we wanted to understand whether Asda’s 5 customer pledges were being met when customers visit store.There pledges are:Best For New – access to new products Happy To Help – customer service Quality You Can Trust - qualityAlways Available - Availability Every Day Low Prices - Price Our way to do this was to see whether the pledges were reflected in customer conversations based on their recent in-store experiences.
What we found by looking at conversation content around these pledges is that not only they were discussed in almost half of all the conversations mentioningAsda but also attracted positive sentiment.With a high proportion of Twitter content, and a tendency for consumers to report their experiences as they shop, or immediately afterwards, it appears thatAsda’s pledges are being delivered effectively through the in-store experience. For retailers, customer experience is key and being able to track whether the key elements of the customer experience are delivered in real time, can help gain early warnings of any changes in performance, and indicate opportunities for improvement.Happy to help is the one with the lowest positive sentiment but the other pledges are positively demonstrated through social media conversations.Of course, in the same way, we are able to track brand values or customer experience drivers for a brand or service.
1. Understanding and influencing the social audienceHow consumer behaviour trends can revolutionise your ROI 08 February 2012James Withey and Gaelle Bertrand, PreciseThe Registry, Royal Mint Court, London EC3N 4QN T +44 (0)20 3301 4490 www.precise.co.ukImage courtesy of jot.punkt from Flickr
2. Understanding and influencing the social audienceAgendaThe case for understanding moreHow the social audience is typically understoodUnderstanding more about the social audienceWhat do you want to understand?1
3. The case for understanding more2
4. ROI is king3 Image courtesy of Googlisti from Flickr
6. The value of social insight is currently under-appreciated6
8. An active audience.8 Image courtesy of Hohumhobo from Flickr
9. Applicabilityright acrossa business9 Image courtesy of Pablo/T from Flickr
10. How the social audience is typically understood6
11. ‘...Information gently but relentlessly drizzles down on us in an invisible, impalpable electric rain’. Hans Christian von Baeyer7
12. It starts withmonitoring9 Image courtesy of Hampton Roads Partnership from Flickr
13. A plethora of data mining technologies 500 £ 0 anyone EXPERTISE expert13
14. Topline analysis outputs Trend in Coverage by Social Media Type: 6 – 16 July500450400350300250200150100 50 0 06-Jul-11 07-Jul-11 08-Jul-11 09-Jul-11 10-Jul-11 11-Jul-11 12-Jul-11 13-Jul-11 14-Jul-11 15-Jul-11 16-Jul-11 Blogs Micro-Media Forums Comments Facebook Video / Images Message board/forum Microblog Social Network News Website 11
15. Pure automated sentiment – flip a coin!13 Image courtesy of ImagesOfMoney from Flickr
16. Scary good or scary bad?14
17. Tracking influencers17
18. Wouldn’t it be more important to understand the themes of the conversations regarding your brand and, more than that, what is driving those themes?16
20. Not (just) social data. Social insight.18
21. Understanding more about the social audience19
22. “All truths are easy to understand oncethey are discovered. The point is todiscover them.”Galileo22
23. Understanding more…About mums’ attitudes to their children’s diet and exerciseAbout how the battle between mobile handset brands and OS brands might be wonAbout what drives customer churn between mobile networksAbout how customers spontaneously recount their experiences of a supermarket’scustomer pledges21
24. Mums’ attitudes to their children’s diet and exercise What we did Social media exploration focusing on conversations about family health within online forums during summer 2011. Mothers talking about their children’s health A series of topics around eating and exercise e.g. Five a Day, P.E.24 Images courtesy of bgotlisab and jeffreyw from Flickr
25. What to eat or what not to eat, that is the question... Mums either feel clear about what exercise children should be doing, or delegate responsibility to schools But they are not clear on what to feed their children in order to achieve a healthy balance Spotlight on 5-A-Day Mums are unsure about what constitutes 5-A-day and seek advice on the subject. Mums understand the principle…but are unclear about it in practice. Share of conversation mentioning children across topics “If tinned fruit counts as one 42% 41% of a five a day, surely tinned 30% 33% veg does too?” 29% 29% Across Total 27% Social Web “It was overwhelming how 24% many people thought that “The "five a day" thing. potatoes were one of your 15% 14% 11% 13% 13% 11% Wonderful spin and sciency five a day, and I work with On Mums stuff - but what does it actually people in professional Forums mean? Unless Ive totally missed careers who cant identify it, theres never been an certain fruits and explanation. Five peas, five vegetables” Fat Exercise Sugar Salt Obesity Cholesterol 5 A Day cabbages, or what?” So what? • There is a huge opportunity for brands to help mums navigate through the confusion of conflicting information25
26. Battle of the mobile brandsWhat we did• Analysed all conversations around the top 5 mobile handset brands + Android• To understand users’ relationships with these brands26
27. Battle of the mobile brands Leader Challenger Quantitative mapping by favourability and share of voice Low positive reputational impact Highly Positive Conversations Strong positive reputational impact NS: +21 NS: +10 NS: +5 NS: +4 NS: +4 Lower Share of Higher Share of Voice Voice NS: -14 Low negative reputational impact Highly Negative Conversations NS: Net Sentiment27
28. Team vs. Team : 2 to 1So what? droid try to “Why does “Might make some of yall mad compete with iPhone. buuut, Android > iPhone Painting Apple as representing the status quo and its users as ‘following the herd’ could help #teamiphone.” ahah#TeamAndroid.” reinforce Android’s position as a percieved challenger (in spite of its market share) “Twitter on iPhone is so much “Man im addicted to dis game called temple run its only in Reinforcing the sense that iPhone, so dominant within conversations, is more ubiquitous than better than android.. the apple app store so if u got a #TEAMIPHONE” droid cnt get it... #TeamIphone” it actually is, and eroding the exclusivity that is such an important driver of the brand Themes of conversation about Apple & Android General preference (Apple or Android) 33% Switching/want to switch (Apple or 15% Android) Androids robustness 13% “Hate Android? Open your minds Better Capabilities (Apple or Android) 11% ios sheep! Apple is over rated over priced and bought primarily cos Unsure which to get/which is better 8% peeps think its cool and they must have 1” Apple battery life is better than 6% Androids Android and iPhone not compatible 6% Other conversations 7%28
29. Should I stay or should I go? What we did • Analysed a sample of 800 tweets mentioning a consideration or an intention to leave or join one of the mobile networks, from a total of 6,000 sent in the UK over six months during 2011 • To provide an insight into the drivers of customer churn between mobile networks29
30. Propensity for churn based on stated Twitter intentionsIntention to join / leave based on social media conversations Key Joining Consider Joining Leaving Consider Leaving Highest intention to leave Share of conversations Highest intention to join30
31. Drivers of churn Drivers of customer experience and churn “Edinburgh sucks!!!! Theres no 3G in the centre on Vodafone and no medium for Network coverage me to vent about the total dicks that are here!” Dissatisfied with level of service “Vodafone are so lovely to me... I am on pay as you go and in April they told me they wont take money for my Better tariff or cost/expense internet service until July.” Balanced Attractive add ons/features “@TomDavenport Negative @feemcbee From £25 per month. Im switching when iPh5 appears. Orange charge Positive £5 on top of my £45 per Phone offers available month. 3 is £35 all in.” 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% Percentage of ConversationsSo what? Being able to get an early warning of the changes in perceptions of service that drive churn is key for service-led brands in a category with a relatively high propensity for churn31
32. How customers spontaneously experience Asda’s pledges What we did Evaluated the degree to which Asda’s five customer pledges are reflected in social discussions about the brand32
33. Customer Pledges in all social media conversations about Asda by Sentiment Percentage of All Social Media Conversations Every Day Low Prices Always Available “I took some cat food back to Asda once because the cat showed his displeasure by picking up mouthfuls and throwing it round Quality You Can Trust the room. Well, I took back the other unopened can anyway. They not only refunded but said I should have brought the Happy To Help opened can back as well. I also got a letter from Head Office!” Best For New Positive Negative Neutral 0% 2% 4% 6% 8% 10% 12% 14% 16% 18% 20% So what? Being able to track the customer experience delivery in real time gives early warnings of changes in performance.33
34. To conclude: understanding more from the social audienceBy researching the content created by your social audience you can: Understand consumer attitudes, needs and behaviours to drive experience strategy Understand perceptions of a brand and track brand values or image statements Understand reactions to any campaign or event and implement learnings Understand how consumers relate to the broader category your brand operates within, to identify opportunities to drive relevance and difference Hone in on unmet needs and unrevealed issues to drive innovationThese are only a few example of how powerful understanding your social audience can be.Who has the responsibility for deepening your understanding within your business of yoursocial audience?34
35. Who has the responsibility for deepening the understanding of your social audience within your business ?35
36. What would you like to understand?Q&A36
37. Thank you.James Withey and Gaelle Bertrand, Precisejames.firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com+44 207 7264 6316; +44 207 7264 4649 Image courtesy of jot.punkt from Flickr