Investigative Forms of Social Media Measurement

Architecting Better Data-driven Digital Experiences

Investigative Forms of Social Media Measurement

In yesterday’s post I wrote about the category of social media measurement most frequently discussed in conference sessions; evaluative measurement which identifies/estimates the impact that communications are having across various media channels including social networks.

While this one form of measurement gets a lot of attention thanks to the facts that 1) people need to show value to their bosses/clients and 2) measurement vendors like to sponsor these conferences, there are other reasons for measurement that also bring great value to organizations.

While evaluative measurement looks backwards at what has been done to evaluate and confirm (and provides real value by this when done right), investigative measurement is a forward looking approach that seeks to discover advantages or even predict outcomes.

Customer Intelligence is the most recognized practice in this category. The investigation of demographic (attributes) and psychographic (attitudes) context around consumers informs product strategies as well as segmentation, targeting and communications (content) approaches. While there are well defined practices in marketing for this type of measurement, social media has added a flood of new contextual data, along with challenges around how to glean real insight from that data.

More refined Customer Intelligence insights emerge when other customer data such as support/CRM history, behavioral insights (online & purchase activity), social graphs, online calendars & wish-lists and real-time location data are correctly integrated to the full array of insights around attributes and attitudes.

Competitive and Market Intelligence is another important brand of investigative measurement that can harness social media for additional insight. “Listening” to conversations in social media reveal consumer attitudes toward all of the brands in the market, competitors included, revealing our market’s perception of the comparative strengths and weaknesses of competitive offerings. Listening to the conversations within/amongst targeted segments of consumers also helps to uncover existing or emerging complements or substitutes for our product, or overall gaps/opportunities in the market.

Marketing Mix Modeling is a key component of quality marketing communications management, but the integration of social media into marketing mix modeling has a long way to go. Marketing mix modeling uses historical data on sales and prior marketing communications through multiple channels along with forward-looking estimates of market conditions, attitudes, etc. to estimate/predict the impact of the various sets of communications activities, and to allocate resources accordingly. While media planning for traditional channels is now a well-established practice, and while the use of historical analysis for prediction of the value of a placement in digital display advertising has advanced rapidly in concert with real-time bidding for premium digital display space, the value of various forms of earned and sponsored social media communications are still being determined, and the ability to predict the impact of social media communications (alone or in coordination with other communications) on sales is still in a very early stage, though advances are rapidly being made by those who wish to become/remain market leaders.