Tagged: measurement

How do we measure the value of content? A look at Coca-Cola.

How do we measure the value of content?  Given the amount of money many brands are currently sinking into content, this would seem to be a pretty important question to answer – especially since the conventional ways for measuring the value of content are not really designed to work in this new world where the brand positions itself as a publisher or media organisation – producing forms of online magazine.

To date we have generally measured brand content in two ways: either its effectiveness as a piece of advertising (usually via a direct link through to increases in sales) or we have measured it in the context of how it sits within a website (often through its place in a journey designed to lead through to online action or transaction).  In both of these instances the amount of content we produced was relatively restricted – either because it was expensive to produce or because producing too much of it lead to confusion.  However, the new approach dictates that brands produce a continuous, high volume stream of output – much like a conventional publisher.  No doubt this is why the publisher model is one that many brands like to reference.

Coca-Cola: leading the pack, but in the right direction?

Coca-Cola is one of the most high profile examples of a brand that has embraced the content and publication model.  In its, now famous Content 2020 video, chief creative type, Jonathan Mildenhall outlines how Coca-Cola is shifting from “creative excellence to content excellence”.  The corporate website has been declared dead and instead been transformed into a digital magazine and its stated ambition is to “make a Coke story part of your daily habit – whether it’s on Google+, Facebook, or Flipboard.”  Now that is some form of ambition.  I can’t even identify a traditional publisher whose content (at least in the online space) I consume as part of a daily habit.  The closest for me is the BBC – but even then I tend to come across their stories rather than making any conscious effort to visit their site (or use their app).

Set against this background, there has been a fascinating blogversation taking place between Ashley Brown – the prime mover at Coca-Cola behind the brand as publisher push, and Mark Higginson – from the University of Brighton.  Back in February Continue reading

Free webinar on social media media measurement

FireShot Screen Capture #271 - 'Free Webinar I Are You Measuring The Right Social Media Metrics_' - www_emarketeers_com_events_measuring-the-right-social-media-metricseMarketeers have asked me to run a free webinar on social media measurement next month.  As you can see from the blurb, this is not a review of all the sundry measurement tools and techniques that are out there at the moment – in fact it will largely be a riposte to our belief in the effectiveness of these things.  Rather I will be suggesting that we first need to work out what it is we should be measuring in order to then work out what tools we should be using to measure it.

Please feel free to sign up, tell your friends etc.  There are no limits on numbers.

The latest croissant of absurdity from the SocialBakers

Every month I receive an email from measurement / metrics company SocialBakers alerting me to the latest  league table of performance for UK Facebook pages.  I usually avoid opening this email because it depresses me, perpetuating as it does, the view that Facebook activity and social media in general is a numbers game that is all about creating the maximum number of fans and this thing called engagement.  However, this month I took a look, just to see if things were changing.  They were not.  The part of the report that always depresses me the most, remained depressing.  I have shown it below. Continue reading

Just because something works doesn’t mean that it is working

FireShot Screen Capture #105 - 'November Facebook Data for United Kingdom - stacynet@googlemail_com - Gmail' - mail_google_com_mail_u_0__shva=1#inbox_13b8e711e6d7883eYesterday I got an email from a chap called Darren Reed at Socialbakers (see above).  I say I got an email from him, but in reality got an email from b2b-mail.net because I ended up on an list on account of having commented on piece on Socialbakers’ blog.  I don’t think Darren actually sent it.  Anyway this ‘slightly spam’ email drew my attention to Socialbakers’ latest Facebook Report for the UK recognising the ‘best performing brands on Facebook’ – whatever that means.

As it turns out, this means the brands which have created the most engaging posts, according to the measurements provided by Socialbakers.  Thus I was able to see that the top three most engaging posts in the UK in November were:

  • Coming in at number three, was Appliances Online with “Click LIKE and you could WIN a £500 Electrolux Oven/Cooker.”
  • In the runner up spot was Asda with “Click “like” if you’d love to win £100 to buy your Christmas turkey and all the trimmings!”
  • And the winner, and best performing Facebook post in the UK in November was (insert drum role here) Appliances Online again with “Click LIKE if you fancy WINNING 3 Samsung smart appliances (Worth £2,500).”

One can see a theme emerging.  Indeed it is a theme that anyone who studies Facebook will be be familiar with – namely that the main reason consumers ‘like’ brands is to get offers, freebies or enter competitions.

I was pleased to receive this information because I was able to insert it into a presentation I was about to give to a bunch of marketing folk at Bilgi University in Istanbul in order to illustrate a point I was making in relation to understanding how to use Facebook.  This point was that “just because something works doesn’t mean that it is working” – as in just because competitions are effective in Facebook does not mean that the most effective way of using Facebook is competitions.  In fact there is almost nothing to be learned from the sort of data that Socialbakers et al may give us about effective postings or content in Facebook that will help us determine how to use Facebook effectively for the very simple reason that Facebook (indeed almost all forms of social media) are extraordinarily ineffective tools to use to put content in front of lots of people.  Social media does not ‘do’ large numbers it ‘does’ small groups.  Social media does not have scale built into it, in the way that traditional media does.  The benefit you get from social media therefore does not lie in the numbers, the ability to ‘engage’ a lot of people, the benefit lies in in the ability to create relationships with very small groups of individuals, at any one moment in time.  Critically, therefore, these contacts have to deliver something of significant value – i.e. hugely greater value than that associated with the sort of metrics that Socialbakers are measuring (likes, shares, comments etc) in order for the effort to be worthwhile.

I was using this point to illustrate the main theme of my presentation – namely that we now have two worlds: the world of the audience and the world of the individual (I thought this was a rather neat theme to use given that we were standing is a city that has been defined by the fact that is sits at the physical and political junction between two worlds – the world of Europe and the world of Asia).  Up until this point there has only ever been a world of the audience and as a result, most brands are simply trying to push approaches designed to be seen by audiences (i.e. lots of people) in front of individuals or groups.  And, of course, this doesn’t work.  As Hugh MacLeod memorably stated “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they would punch you in the face”.  This doesn’t mean that advertising doesn’t work, it means that advertising needs an audience in order to make it work, or as I, rather more charitably put it, “The great thing about advertising is that no-one take it personally”.

The value of Facebook, and all of social media, lies in the ability for your consumers to tell you what they think of your brand and, potentially, to help you improve what it is your brand does.  Pushing ‘engaging content’ out through Facebook is a total waste of time – consumers don’t want engaging content, they simply want a brand to be listening to them and answering their questions.  Now if you can do this at scale in a platform neutral way (i.e. listening to consumers wherever they want to talk to you – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, forums etc.)  you will be creating something of value – albeit Socialbakers won’t be able to measure it.  In reality, as I have said before, you don’t need to attach metrics to Facebook, Facebook itself is metric – it measures what people think about your brand.

Anyway – I will send this post to Darren.  I am sure he won’t mind given the liberty he feels he has to send stuff to me.  Let’s see how (or if) he responds.

As an interesting footnote, a few weeks ago I was running a session with a group of post-graduate students at the European Communications School in the London College of Communication.  Of the 30 or so members of the group only one used Facebook to have any sort of relationship with brands.  A handful said they occasionally ‘like’ brands, but only to get access to offers and the rest said they only use Facebook to stay in contact with their friends.  Is anyone surprised about this and if you are not, why do we then think Facebook is some sort of magic platform to ‘reach out to’ or ‘engage’  a significant number of consumers?

We also then went on to do some basic brand mapping work in order to identify what sort of relationship people had with ‘the thing’ that is Facebook.  What this showed is that people see Facebook as a utility.  It ranks somewhere slightly above the relationship they have with a mobile phone network and a long way below the engagement they have with services like Google or products such as Apple.  So, remind me again, why is it that Facebook is trading at an earnings multiple about four times greater than that of either Google or Apple?  Maybe it is because marketing directors are being encouraged in the deluded belief that Facebook is some form of media platform that allows them to reach lots of people, rather than a tool that lots of people can use to reach brands often with content and requests that brands are unprepared to respond to (a tool for which, incidentally, consumers will not be prepared to pay – as my research with the students also confirmed).

By the rivers of Data, there we sat down…

By the rivers of Data, there we sat down

Yea we wept, when we remembered Nielsen.

(After @Psalm137, RT@TheMelodians, RT@BoneyM)

Times were indeed simpler not so long ago, when TGI and Nielsen were the main data tools within the box of the brand planner.  Now we have this thing that is being called Big Data.  (Check this recent post from Useful Social Media for a quick overview).

In recent years the rise of CRM has given us more exposure to the world of data, but the main channel here was mostly email or point-of-sale and the quantity of data was relatively containable and reasonably static.  Now, however, usage of social tools has caused an explosion.  What is more, the data has become dynamic.  It moves and changes over time – hence why people are starting to talk about flow and data streams, rivers or even floods.  The challenge of simply logging all this data now looks pretty horrendous let alone the challenge of converting it into some sort of actionable intelligence.

However, before we shed too many tears, it is worth remembering that there are two ways of looking at a river.  I studied fluvial geomorphology at university – so I know this.  The first way (the Big Data way) is to try process as much as the whole flow is possible – measuring speed and volume of flow, calculating turbidity, assessing cross-sectional areas, ‘wetted perimeters’ etc.  The other way is to stand on the bank, notebook in hand, and simply look at it.  This form of observation, rather than measurement, can actually give you a lot of intelligence about how the river is behaving, certainly to an experienced eye.  What is more, it is highly actionable intelligence – if you wanted to take a kayak down that river, the Big Data about that river is not very useful to you, whereas observation is critical.

I can’ t help thinking that there is a lesson here for social media and Big Data.  You have to start with looking at the overall shape of things, rather than try to process the specifics of every interaction.  This observation is something only a person can do, and the role of technology is simply to create visibility on the flow, rather than to process the flow. The problem at the moment, however, is that most of the approaches to Big Data are based on trying to swallow the whole flow rather than creating observational tools.

There is, of course, another problem, referred to in a previous post, which is securing permission to have access to the data in the first place – even at an observational level and certainly when it comes to taking actions as a result.  Individuals are happy to be observed when they are regarded as an anonymous individual within the flow.  But once you pull them out of the stream a whole different set of rules apply, where it not so much what you know, but how you got to know it that becomes important.

Update: Just read this from Stowe Boyd for another perspective on the Big Problems with Big Data.

So, consider it this way: Big data is unlikely to increase the certainty about what is going to happen in anything but the nearest of near futures — in weather, politics, and buying behavior — because uncertainty and volatility grow along with the interconnectedness of human activities and institutions across the world. Big data is itself a factor in the increased interconnectedness of the world: as companies, governments, and individuals take advantage of insights gleaned from big data, we are making the world more tightly interconnected, and as a result (perhaps unintuitively) less predictable.

Update 2014:  I wrote this before I realised that algorithms can swallow the entire river.  None-the-less, it doesn’t take away from the fundamental point about the role of observation versus analysis.

When social media becomes the metric

There is, of course, a huge debate about metrics, measurement and ROI in social media.  This tends to be framed in terms of   “if I do some social media, what am I going to get out of it and how will I measure that”.  Last week I came across an a new take on the whole metrics issue – not measuring the impact of social media activity, but seeing social media activity itself as a metric. Continue reading