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Can social media success really have an impact on share price?

Contrary to expectation, markets are very emotional places…and individual share prices are often influenced by sentiment as much as the fundamentals. Every IR and PR professional knows this and they know the power that 3rd parties like the financial press have to drive sentiment.

Many believe that social media can have a similar impact but there’s not been much hard data to support that view.

However as reported, our recent Social Media and the City study DID find some pretty interesting links between strong social media performance as measured by PRINT™ and positive share price movements.

The detail is in the study but, for the statistically challenged (like me) the scattergraph below shows the correlation between the PRINT™ Receptiveness score at the beginning of November and the monthly change in share price to 28 November. These were all statistically significant (r > 0.207, N = 100, p < 0.05). This effectively means that if one variable were to rise or fall, chances are that the other would too. The p bit means there is at least a 95% probability that this relationship is not happening by chance – a level at which studies in the social sciences are generally accepted to be true.

On the basis of these initial findings we think someone should fund a longer, more detailed study to determine whether or not this represents a real and consistent lead indicator.

We’re open to offers!

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Why there’ll never be a ‘standardized’ social media ROI metric

It’s the marketer’s equivalent of the quest for the holy grail: a common, standardized metric than can measure the return on investment in social media. And preferably free.

Like the grail, belief in this mythical metric and interest in its potential whereabouts never seems to cease. The latest quest comes in the form of a survey of 329 senior executives in North America by PulsePoint Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit, as reported by eMarketer. Amongst its findings:

  • The vast majority of companies who had invested in social media saw a positive shift in their bottom line as a result.
  • 84% of executives polled said that social media campaigns had increased the effectiveness of marketing and sales efforts, while 81% said a social media presence had helped their companies increase market share.
  • Almost seven in 10 respondents said they had seen a spike in their sales by letting customers talk about their brands on social media platforms, even if some of that dialogue was negative.

All good stuff so far, once you put the question of cause or effect aside. But watch out, here comes that elusive grail again:

  • Almost half of executives said that the major impediment to social media campaigns was the lack of a standardized metric that can measure a return on investment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one to flippantly dismiss the need for some kind of social media ROI measure. I truly believe that marketers need something more than fans and follower metrics to make social media investment decisions (and their CEOs and CFOs certainly do). But I don’t necessarily buy the ‘standard metric’ argument.

Why? Because we already have one. It’s called Return on Investment, it’s standardized, and as I’ve said before, it’s easy to measure:

(Return minus Investment) divided by Investment

So when these executives say they lack a standardized metric to measure return on investment, what they actually mean is that they don’t know how to (or don’t want to pay to) quantify the return they are getting. And this is a big problem, because it means they don’t know where to direct their limited resources to best effect, what different strategies they are considering might deliver, or how to justify further investment in social media at board level.

So the good news is that we already have a standardized way to calculate social media ROI and it’s free.

The bad news, however, is that calculating the Return part of the equation is specific to your objectives, communities and measures of business success.

So there will never be a standard. But I have no doubt that the quest for the holy grail of social media will go on.

Bonus link: The numbers that really matter to your business – Debra Ellis on why everything is relative.

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De-blurring the publishing boundaries: bought, owned, earned and shared media

The headline reporting a new study from Nielsen caught my eye recently. It said that 92% of consumers trust ‘earned media’ the most. There’s some interesting data in the report, especially the connection between relevance and trust, but I find the ‘earned media’ description misleading.

Earned media used to mean editorial in ‘the media’ (i.e. defined mainstream press/TV/radio/online) until Forrester redefined it to include word-of-mouth, friends’ recommendations, etc. (i.e. any kind of third party comment), as part of their Paid, Owned and Earned Media (POEM) model. Under this model there is no real surprise that ‘earned media’ generates most consumer trust. But since when was a chat down the pub with your mates ‘media’?

Part of the problem in defining where ‘social’ media sits comes from a similar looseness in definition – e.g. describing types of content when we mean the platform it sits on… and vice versa. Or confusing the communications intent of content with its attributes. Most of us have been guilty at times of switching from one description to another, sometimes mid sentence… Yet, for planning and analysis purposes, we need to maintain some rigour or we will forever be comparing Apples with Galaxies.

So here is my own four-part media model based primarily on type of content rather than platform or communications intent, for your review and comment.

Bought media

Time or space purchased on someone’s else’s platform, e.g. an advertisement or a sponsorship logo, jingle or ID. Total message control, usually within legal or regulatory limits.

Earned media

Reportage or editorial created by journalists working for a recognised media third party (originally the press, TV and radio but since expanded to include online) on their closed platforms, based on elements (text, graphics, video) provided by others or by investigation.

Owned media

Controlled content on a closed platform e.g. a brochure, retail space or website. Total control subject only to legal restriction.

Shared media

Anyone can play on an open platform. It’s about us not just about me. We can all engage as equals. Aka social media.

A new media model?

“Wait a minute!”, I hear you say, ”life ain’t that simple. All this is already mixed up and getting more so.” And you’re right. It certainly is. There is increasing confusion between media types (i.e. the nature of the published content itself) and its intended purpose, the channel it is on, the device which delivers it, the degree of interaction which is possible and, of course, its ownership.

For example, brands’ tweets frequently seem like they are just mini-advertisements: the UK’s Financial Times does this a lot, signposting its earned media content to build readership and thus boost rates for its bought media offerings. On the other hand, advertisements can include shared elements (real or gloss). Similarly, traditional, journalist-created blogs are open to interaction with readers to create shared content.  Meanwhile apps and smart devices have opened up new ways to ‘gamify’ previously fixed content, making it not only interactive but potentially social. The list goes on.

No model can be completely simple but for me a publishing/content based media model works best as a starting point. Twitter may be used like an ad channel but is first and foremost a shared media platform. The FT may share its content but is essentially an earned media platform. A website may have shared elements (like this one) but is fundamentally an owned medium. And an advertisement dressed up as an invitation to join a promotion on Facebook is still bought media.

What about you? Happy to move beyond POEM to BEOS? Got a better model to share?

Update: Since drafting this post yesterday evening, I see our client and partner Paratus Communication’s Adam Vincenzini has been pursuing a similar line of thought.

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The Four Ps of Social Media Marketing

Classically-trained marketers will be familiar with the 4 Ps of marketing, one of the best known marketing mix models, first expressed in 1960 by E J McCarthy. Best summed up as putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time, they are:

  • Product (or service)
  • Place
  • Price
  • Promotion

For decades, the 4 Ps model has helped marketers define their marketing options in terms of product, place, price and promotion, when planning new ventures and evaluating existing offers to optimise the impact with a target market. The model clearly still applies today (it’s all marketing, after all) but perhaps there is an additional 4 Ps that apply in this digital age; the 4 Ps of social media marketing, if you like. If so, I consider them thus:

Personality

Brand personality cannot be faked on the social web, and the penalty to reputation from such fakery can be high. With authenticity as the new baseline for every brand, truth and transparency may pose challenges for many organisations but are increasingly non-negotiable. Social media is personal, so having a genuine personality is the key to achieving competitive advantage in the new digital age.

Presence

Every organisation starts from the same base when it comes to social media. Building a presence where authority is defined not by legacy, size or past initiatives, but by contributing – and being seen to contribute – to the online communities that matter to customers in the ways they want and expect, is essential to social marketing success.

Purpose

It is not sufficient to have presence alone, however. Companies need to be in it for the long haul, contributing consistently and with real purpose – not just to sell products. They should ask, who are we and how can we add value? not where is our audience and how can we target them?

Performance

Marketers must know how social marketing assists/affects organisational objectives, in the short, medium and long-term. They need to deliver a strong social performance across all functions, processes and channels, putting the right internal and external resources in place to achieve that. This performance needs measuring against real indicators of success, in order to learn and improve.

I consider these 4 Ps to be additional (and complementary) to McCarthy’s 4Ps, not a replacement for them. His remain the fundamental building blocks of marketing a product or service, whereas I am perhaps suggesting some new considerations that relate directly to Place and Promotion in the original model.

What do you think? Does this encapsulate what you consider the key aspects of social media marketing? Is the 4 Ps a good model to augment or is it already outdated in the digital marketing age? Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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How community management is evolving

How is the practice of community management evolving? Hopefully better than the depiction above.

It’s a topic Sociagility’s Head of Talent, Steve Ward, will pick up at the next Community Manager’s Meetup in London on 28 March. He’ll be telling the assembled masses about our work in community management and what he thinks makes a community manager – including how we selected our recently named Community Manager of the Year.

Having worked within this field for the past three years, Steve has seen the dramatic changes in the personality of the community manager role, and how different industries, sectors and circumstances produce different perspectives on the skill set required to make an effective community specialist.

But we’d like your view too.

How do you see the role of community manager evolving as businesses become more ‘social’?
What are the best measures of community management ‘success’? Is it all about engagement or something more?
How do businesses rationalise the word ‘community’ alongside profit and shareholder value?

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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The social brand value of the world’s leading brands [Infographic]

Like the infographic? Download the summary report

In November 2011, we looked at the social brand value of 50 of the world’s leading brands, creating a revised top 50 ranking according to their social media performance, as measured by our PRINT Index™ KPI.

The PRINT system compares brands on five key dimensions or ‘attributes’ of social media performance – popularity, receptiveness, interaction, network reach and trust – across multiple platforms. The Sociagility Top 50 report analyses the social brand value of the world’s leading brands and the competitive influences that determine their social media performance. Here’s a visual representation of just some of the report highlights.

If you like it, please feel free to share.

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PRINT™ links brand value to social media performance

Today, we’re launching a solution to some of the more common questions marketers and social media strategists are asking of their organisations’ social media performance:

  • Does our brand’s social footprint add value?
  • Can this be defined and measured in a meaningful way?
  • How can we use this information to make improvements?

We, like many of our clients, have been frustrated by the lack of a practical set of metrics, or even a common measurement framework. The tools we found were too narrow in scope, too vague in their outputs or simply too expensive.

So we set out to develop our own methodology and it is launched today.

It is called PRINT™ because it measures social footprint based on five attributes – popularity, receptiveness, interaction, network reach and trust. We think it has the potential to become a valuable KPI for marketers and social media strategists because it allows brands to compare their social media performance directly with other chosen brands, across multiple channels. And the output is a set of specific actionable insights.

Above all, unlike other public measures of ‘influence’ (e.g. Klout, PeerIndex, etc.)  PRINT™ correlates closely with established measures for brand value and growth from respected sources like Millward Brown (BrandZ) and Interbrand.

It comes in three flavours:

  1. PRINT™ Benchmark – a one-off report for £950 (US $1,500)
  2. PRINT™ Annual – a one-off report plus 2 updates over the course of a year for £1,800 (US $2,900)
  3. PRINT™ Tracker – a one-off report plus 11 monthly updates for £4,250 (US $6,800)

There’s more information about PRINT™ available on our site – including a sample scorecard, insight charts, FAQs and a summary of our investigation into the link between the PRINT™ Index and brand value/growth.

If you like what you see, please share it. If you’d like to become a customer, go straight here.

We’re already applying the PRINT™ solution to our own clients, but we’re also keen to investigate different sectors too. So watch out for the Sociagility Social Top 50, our list of the top global brands ranked using PRINT™.

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