Word of mouth is perhaps the world's oldest form of advertising and one that has proven nearly impossible for marketers to target and measure...until recently.
Measuring the Social Mix: Qualitative, Quantative and a Bit of Intuition by Camille Lauer
With the explosion of online social platforms, communities and self-publishing average joe’s, established and emerging social monitoring technologies promise comprehensive, quantitative results that will deliver rich meaning and insight. But success is a measure of more than just numbers and percentages across consumer buzz. What is the value of a conversation? Ask yourself – what was the most meaningful conversation you had today? Was it one that changed your attitude? Or one that reinforced your point of view? Did you listen more intently to a podcast of a respected subject matter expert – or to your peer during a casual hallway conversation?
These are questions that numbers cannot answer. A tally of "friends," views, ratings, comments or buzz does not paint a complete picture. Word of mouth by its very nature is fueled not by technology, but by relationships: peer-to-peer, antagonistto- protagonist, expert-to-advice seekers, support groups, one-to-many, many-to-many – not to mention the scores that don’t fit neatly into defined categories. Digital word of mouth is a quagmire of conversations.
Fishing the meaning out of these complex online relationships can vary by industry, business goals and by audience, and using a singular approach to target and measure social media is a fallacy. Forget the "start date, launch date, end date" model. The target audience is no longer a nameless, faceless desired demographic to whom brands can scale campaigns. Rather, social media is relationship-building that requires time and effort, give and take, honesty and transparency. Social media metrics do require a quantitative backbone. But measure of social success includes intangibles that aren’t standard issue in campaign performance reports (i.e., tone of voice, originality, emotional connection). Marketers should define and interpret the metrics as numerically savvy social anthropologists – not pure data analysts. There is no silver bullet for social media measurement, but that doesn’t mean that your company cannot define what it means to move the needle. The methods described herein have guided numerous social media campaigns – from planning, to engagement, to measurement and optimization.
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About the author
Camille Lauer is the Director of VML's Digital Insights Group (DIG), leading VML's team that develops consumer insights based on social monitoring data. DIG drives social media and active engagement for a wide scope of clients including Microsoft, Mattel, AMC Entertainment, Colgate-Palmolive and several pharmaceutical clients.