At Echo Research we are in the business of helping our clients understand the media landscape in which their brand appears and how best to interact with this media. Up until recently this was a relatively straightforward exercise, as we were largely dealing with established media sources whose reporting characteristics and target audiences were well known.
The advent of social media has added new colour and texture to this landscape. Where we were once surveying a level ground of almost predictable media channel behaviour, we are now facing a rocky terrain of communication uncertainty, ever-changing consumer engagement and a new breed of opinion leaders who can make or break reputation in minutes.
This outlook leaves many a communication team and brand manager with a dilemma: how to understand social media and make it work for their brand to achieve the most meaningful returns and levels of engagement. Crucial to understanding this landscape and how to engage with it is the need for social media measurement.
Understand why you are using social media channels: What is your business hoping to achieve through posting on these various channels? Define the outcomes you expect to see. Are they greater brand recognition? Rising follower numbers? A chance to grow customer base? Or are you doing it because you want to keep pace with your competitors? Without knowing 'why', you won't be able to develop the 'how' and the measurement of the 'what'.
Know the difference between social platforms: Not all social platforms are built equal. The scope for brands to promote themselves and the behaviour of fans are different on Facebook than they are on Twitter. As such, do not treat all fans and followers as equal. Target different fan demographics and the platforms they choose with different, tailored messages. Fans are individuals - hit them with messages and campaigns that are individual to them.
The KPI: develop a set of indicators that are in line with your business goals. Take time to think about point 1 so your approach to measurement is built around what you are hoping to achieve.
Measurement madness: just because something can be measured, doesn't mean you should. Start small with a concise number of KPIs that provide relevant and actionable measures for your business. More measurement produces more data. Bigger data produces headaches when it comes to extracting insight and intelligence.
Match KPIs with platforms: build metrics specific to each network. You cannot compare a fan with a follower, a like with a share, so don't try. Consider point 2 in order to determine useable KPIs on the platforms of choice.
Numbers game: fans and followers are more than simple subscriber numbers. Sure, you can measure a certain amount of success by rising numbers of fans and followers. However, to determine the value of these you need to understand who they are, their motives and intents. Are they passive subscribers or brand advocates? How do you interact with them and nurture their potential to be brand ambassadors? Never place too much value on follower numbers at the expense of sentiment and support.
Collect. Interpret. Learn: evaluate your measurement results and learn from them. Re-assess your KPIs and the social platforms you are operating in. Measurement is an ongoing and evolving process so continue to question 'why', 'how' and 'what'.
The dominant theme of the second, conference day of the World Federation of Advertisers annual Global Marketer Week in Brussels was purpose. Purpose. The role that brands play in people's lives beyond the purely functional; the role of brands in society; their responsibility for giving something back; how brands enable positive change; what brands stand for; what their higher sense of purpose is in the world.
Time and again, different presenters showed how brands with a purpose - a raison d'être beyond pure profit and market domination - are better able to start and sustain meaningful conversations with customers, consumers and stakeholders. In each case, this isn't about corporate philanthropy of its own sake; it's about doing well by doing good, whether the purpose delivers social, environmental or economic benefits.
Kimberly Kadlec, CMO of Johnson & Johnson, set the bar high by showcasing an inspiring range of real life stories that deftly demonstrated the purpose that J&J has written into the heart of its brands' DNA, and the way that it has embraced real-life storytelling to make each individual purpose come to life. She showed how social and digital technology - exemplified in J&J's YouTube platforms and health channels - have transformed how the company reaches, builds and sustains patient communities. And she revealed how the company has evolved and rewritten the classic 4 Ps of marketing, from Product, Place, Price and Promotion, to become Purpose, Presence, Proximity and Partnership.
The theme of purpose was picked up by Manuel Patricio, CMO of AB InBev, and by Marc de Swaan Arons, Executive Chairman of Effective brands, stepping in at the last moment for Antonio Lucio, the global CMO of VISA. They both talked a lot of hard commercial sense about purpose, as did representatives of both the WFA and Edelman, reporting back on two recent studies. The WFA had polled its own membership about purpose, and was sharing findings from 149 members worldwide. And Edelman presented the findings from its most recent "good purpose" study, the fifth consecutive, annual study, which interviews 500 consumers in each of 16 markets worldwide, in both developed and developing economies.
Some highlights of these parallel studies included:
The day was rounded out by one of the most impactful marketers of his generation - Andy Fennell, global CMO of Diageo. He talked of Diageo being in the aspiration game, whether they're selling a bottle at $5 or $150,000 (the 60 bottles of 1952 vintage Scotch blended to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee), Diageo is inviting consumers to buy a product that is more expensive than it needs to be for purely functional effects.
Fennell moved talk of purpose on to focus on "endeavour", and revealed that the company always gets its brand managers to ask and answer the killer question "Why does my brand exist?" By stripping brand purpose back to bare bones, by relentlessly focusing on the role the brand plays in the lives of its consumers, Diageo - like some of its cutting-edge peers - is helping brands to consolidate their social utility, in addition to their functional and emotional utility.
|Titbit of the day: the inimitable, irrepressible Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, Rory Sutherland, was without doubt the star turn of the conference, engaging and lifting the room of 300 senior, post-lunch marketers with a canter through behavioural economics. The classic "Plink, plink fizz" line for Alka Seltzer - suggesting that users plinked two tablets into their tumbler of water rather than the usual observed behaviour of one - saw a sustained sales uplift of 65%.|
Ebiquity is the Effectiveness Partner of the WFA and sponsored the WFA's 60th anniversary dinner on Wednesday 6 March 2013 in Brussels.
The annual World Federation of Advertisers Global Marketer Week (#gmw2013) kicked off in earnest in Brussels yesterday. The highlight of the first afternoon was the presentation of the CMO World Tour by Frederic Colas (@fredcolas), Chief Strategic Officer of the Fullsix
In 2012, Fred took time out from a hectic marketing career to travel the world with his family, and during this time he interviewed and filmed world-leading CMOs about their personal use of social and digital media, how new media have changed their view of marketing, and how this has impacted upon their jobs. With the backing of Facebook, Colas has produced a low-budget, high-quality content snapshot of contemporary CMO opinion of the most talked about and misunderstood aspect of modern marketing.
Some consensus views emerging from Fred's research include:
But in a spread that continually seems to beggar the rules of the normal distribution, most companies claim that they are actually lagging behind the drive to digital. The barriers Fred identified to more effective adoption of digital communications include:
But these barriers, reasons and excuses are starting to wear thin, particularly as many brands are starting to make real progress and deliver genuine, measureable ROI through digital.
|Titbit of the day: we learned that more people are connected to mobiles than to running water in India - one of those killer stats you want to repeat until mobile marketing properly takes off.|
Ebiquity is the Effectiveness Partner of the WFA and sponsor of the WFA's 60th anniversary dinner on Wednesday 6 March 2013 in Brussels.
A swift response, a heartfelt apology and news updates are key to averting a PR disaster, as BP and other advertisers have found.
For every well-planned ad campaign, there is also a PR disaster potentially waiting to undermine it. Most recently, Tesco has had to issue apologies about the presence of horsemeat in its burgers to reassure customers. When a crisis hits that's as big as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it demands an all-hands-to-the-pump approach to marketing and years of attempting to rebuild reputation. Welcome to BP's world in April 2010. Immediately after the disaster, as you might expect, ads appeared in the press to inform consumers and show efforts to clean up. But, more interestingly, the $93 million the oil giant spent during 2011, and every US above-the-line ad since, have been almost entirely designed to refuel goodwill towards the company
Primarily, they have highlighted the brand's desire to rebuild local communities and provided updates on the clean-up work. YouTube was a key medium, with the BP channel showcasing the company's work to boost tourism and help locals get their lives back together. So was BP's Olympic Games sponsorship, designed to convey that the company is both responsibly aware and global. The "fuelling the future" campaign and its emphasis on finding alternative energy solutions was integral to this. However, a launch ad showing Jessica Ennis running along a beach was judged by some to have got off on the wrong foot. Sponsorship of the Cultural Olympiad and Paralympic activity have been activated below the line with events, competitions and workshops, some of which have attempted specifically to engage a teenage audience, while others aimed to regain trust in the UK and champion the company's British roots. Print, out-of-home and online ads celebrated athletes' and workers' contribution to the Games with BP's inclusive "here's to the home team" campaign.
Any fleet-of-foot responsiveness came in the form of ads congratulating athletic ambassadors on their success and informing consumers of how many journeys were offset during the Games. Now the brand is expected to draw a line under the oil disaster with a return next month to ads that showcase the contribution BP makes to society. Other brands have had less environmentally catastrophic disasters to deal with and have reacted in a variety of ways. Starbucks and Barclays tried to apologise in open letters after accusations of UK tax avoidance and Libor-rigging respectively - but still were taunted in social media. Domino's Pizza used the need to counteract a YouTube film - in which employees abused customers' food - as an opportunity to revamp areas of its business and apologise. The PR disaster was the catalyst for "pizza turnaround". This was a campaign that began with the chief executive apologising on YouTube and - via a massive social media drive, online delivery tracking and iPhone apps, plus taste tests, TV ads and more - resulted in a reputation that is arguably stronger than ever.
But perhaps some of the clearest examples of how to make the best of a social media gaffe come from KitchenAid and the American Red Cross. Speed of response and consistent apologies from the head of the company managed to pull KitchenAid back from the brink of social opprobrium after one of its corporate Tweets made a joke about Barack Obama's grandmother dying. And humour did it for the American Red Cross when an employee accidentally posted a personal message on the charity's official Twitter feed about "getting slizzerd". The employee and the brand deflated the situation with swift apologies and tongue in-cheek posts. Even Dogfish Head beer - the apparent cause of any "getting slizzerd" - got in on the act with a fundraising Tweet for the charity.
Strategic Opinion Trevor Hardy, Founder, The Assembly More truth, less marketing may be the right approach in the current climate, as the world of business and governments shift from one crisis to the next. A case in point is Starbucks in the UK and what could have been a taxing disaster for the business as many action groups,politicians and media announced their intent to boycott the brand. But Starbucks' approach was immediate and frank; not wrapped up in spin or excuses. It wrote open letters to customers, laid bare the real state of its finances in digital and social channels, and spoke in front of politicians. It was honest, in plain English, about where one could see questionable tax behaviour; it put a convincing case forward and encouraged debate. The power of the response across channels was that it was fast, unpolished and, like some of the best marketing, felt very little like marketing. Sometimes, the truth hurts; but, in Starbucks' case, the truth helped.
This article was first published in print and online at: campaignlive.co.uk
Two things struck me about Jeremy Hazlehurst's Management Today article about the rising influence of PR - which I'd strongly urge anyone with the slightest interest in PR, communications or reputation to read. Firstly, how come Tim Bell can smoke in his office and secondly the cyclical nature of which discipline curries favour with the top brass and
Don't get me wrong, I'm as pleased as anybody that communications professionals are finally being recognised for their work and that reward is coming in the form of taking the helm of proper, big business - the right skills at the right time! Jane Wilson nails it for me, "Your image is what you put out, your reputation is what comes back at you". If reputation is the Holy Grail, then doing what you can to shape and protect it must be pretty high up on any CEO's 'to do' list and who better than someone who knows the art of communications inside out.
What does surprise me though is why, in this ultra connected world where seemingly nothing goes unnoticed and heaven forbid anyone tells an "untruth" as it WILL get found out and if you're newsworthy enough it WILL go viral, businesses are not looking at how all their available communications channels are working together to shape reputation and build a better business.
If the 70s and 80s belonged to advertising, 90s was strategists, 00s was HR then surely the teenties, 10s (whatever we're calling this decade?) should belong to the integrated business? Now there's a very good reason why that should be led by a communications professional - Jeremy has made that point - you need a clear and consistent message to be sent out otherwise how can you expect it to be played back to you? But if PR is now to the fore because of its ability to tackle and tell the truth then surely that has to pervade everything the business does - its proposition, how it operates, what it tells its people and how it advertises its wares?
If a business is going to deal in honesty and integrity then that needs to be evident in everything it does. What's the point in positioning yourself as a caring, people-friendly, customer focussed business if that's not what you get when you walk in the shop or buy online....you WILL get found out and it WILL go viral.
The point I'm making is that if your business is not a connected business then how can you expect to make the maximum impact on your intended audience and how can you expect to give your reputation the maximum boost?
Through our work we are privileged enough to partner with those clients who understand the importance of measuring not only what is being said about them but also the impact it has on their reputation. And since we joined the Ebiquity family in 2011 we have taken the integrated leap and are now starting to help clients link the impact of all their communications channels PR, advertising, internal comms and social media. Are they speaking with one voice and if not why not?
As someone once said, nobody said it was easy, but the reality is that customers no longer differentiate between what type of communications they are being exposed to so why should businesses differentiate between how they use them? Good clear and consistent communications should be at the heart of everything a business does and how it helps to shape its reputation.
In the run-up to this week's US Presidential election, we were often told that the result was too close to call. By focusing on the share of the popular vote - and not on the performance of the parties in marginal districts of key swing states - many of the loudest in the commentariat got things wrong. An inability to see the wood from the trees - the capacity to know with certainty what's a signal and what's just noise - meant they focused on the wrong Vital Signs of performance.
In our world of measurement and evaluation of paid, earned and owned communication, we often meet marketing, comms and insight teams who are drowning in data. It's not that they have too little information on which to judge how well their company or organisation is communicating - in fact it's quite the reverse. They're crying out for help in understanding just what the Vital Signs of successful communication are so they can make informed decisions based on genuine insight. Part of the problem is deciding which data matters, and part of the solution is how this data is presented.
On both sides of the Atlantic, the world of politics is increasingly looking for big insight out of big data. The US Election spawned more than a dozen, first-class, data aggregation apps to make sense of the real-time shifts in opinion and sentiment. This Prezi is a great summary of the election, and Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog correctly and elegantly predicted 49 out of 50 states' results.And news just in this morning is that British Prime Minister David Cameron is trialling an app to aid Government decision-making. The "Number 10 Dashboard" app keeps track of housing, jobs, opinion polls, and social media commentary, pulling data from hundreds of sources. If the trial goes well, it will be rolled out across Whitehall next year, giving ministers and officials real-time understanding of how policies are being received nationwide.
Collating data from a broad array of different sources, making sense of it and presenting it clearly, simply and effectively is the Holy Grail of modern marcomms professionals. They could learn a lot from US data scientist, Edward Tufte, whose book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is a must-read. And it's easy to get lost in the worlds created by David McCandless, the UK data journalist and information designer behind Information Is Beautiful - lost because of the clarity, simplicity and beauty of the way he presents information.
Lets hope that 2013 will be the year in which politics starts to catch up with those smarter public and private sector organisations that monitor, measure and benchmark the genuine Vital Signs of total communications effectiveness.
A new survey from PR company Shine and the London Business School has found that less than half of marketing and comms directors believe their campaigns are well integrated (Comms Directors want more integration, survey reveals, PR Week, 25.07.12). The study also revealed that four out of five said the issue is among their main concerns.
This is not surprising, but it is a little depressing and concerning that many brands are taking so long to align and integrate their comms when savvy and connected consumers, customers and stakeholders have done so almost intuitively. For them, media is media is media.
To mark the inaugural BrandMAX event, Echo Research - the reputation practice of Ebiquity - quizzed marketing and corporate affairs teams about where they believe responsibility lies for setting, implementing and measuring marcomms activities.
We found http://bit.ly/MnmWBh that explaining to the board how brand and reputation affects business performance is important to more than 8 out of 10 respondents. However, responsibility is still often split and siloed between the functions, which at times appear to actively work against one another despite batting for the same team.
We also found that earned media coverage - in social and traditional media - has led nearly half of companies to change their marcomms activity in some way. The same proportion could readily name examples of message misalignment between paid and earned comms, from BP to Innocent, Cadbury's and Tesco to Toyota. As a result, nearly half our sample believed that better alignment between marketing and comms would benefit their business directly.
Social and online media have driven the transparency agenda (a good thing). They've wrested brand management from the hands of brand managers (an interesting transition, but on balance positive in driving brand-customer dialogue). And they've generated an exponential leap in data volumes (an opportunity, but a threat unless you use well thought-out analytics to make sense of it).
Businesses and the comms teams are not short of data. Far from it. But many are drowning in it.
Comms is increasingly everyone's business - marketing, corporate comms, HR, customer service, operations, the C-suite. Those brands that will thrive in the era of Big Data will be those who get a proper handle on the alignment or otherwise of the totality of their communications, across paid, owned and earned media. This is exactly what we do for an increasing number of our clients.
Are promises made in outgoing, controlled messaging seen to be kept in inbound, mediated communications? To ensure that they are, brand custodians need to plan, execute and measure the outputs, outtakes and outcomes of their comms in a properly integrated fashion.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @samknowles
For the last three days of last week, the great and the good of the world's reputation and PR measurement and evaluation community came together in Dublin under the banner of our representative trade body. It was time for the 4th Annual European Summit of AMEC - the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication for long.
Measuring the outputs, outtakes and critically the outcomes of communications activity designed to sustain and build corporate and brand reputations used to be relatively straightforward. Each reputation research house had its proprietary methodology for aggregating, interrogating and making sense out of media coverage and stakeholder opinion and sentiment.
But then, like an overflowing crèche of boisterous toddlers suddenly appearing as if from nowhere, social and digital media made things a whole lot more complex. Brand management was firmly wrested from the hands of brand custodians. Influential and connected consumers, customers and opinion-formers found platforms for their voices. Dialogue replaced monologue, and many more voices mattered. Brand owners responded with a variety of strategies, from investing in intelligent, bespoke metrics
to burying their heads in the sand and hoping social media would go away.
And those in the business of measuring and evaluating reputation all did something - some did a very great deal of smart stuff - but most of these somethings were idiosyncratic and unaligned. The Darwinian business imperative of dominant competitive advantage did a fundamental disservice to clients looking to compare apples with pears.
Since the advent of social and digital media channels, AMEC, which represents those who matter in the reputation measurement game, has really come into its own in setting and aligning standards across our diverse industry. The first public-facing landmark in this process was the creation of the Barcelona Principles at the 2010 AMEC Summit. Bringing together existing best practice, this set of seven principles set the industry on the right path for measurement across all different facets of earned media, encompassing traditional and the proliferation of social media channels. It also sounded the first (of many) death knells for less meaningful measurement practices, including the zombie pariah of the industry, AVE - Advertising Value Equivalency.
Last year, jumping across the Iberian Peninsula to Lisbon, AMEC's members were introduced to the valid metrics framework, a standardised approach to help ensure reputation research agencies and clients measure the same kinds of metrics in the same kinds of ways. This was an approach of similarity, not a cookie-cutter model. The framework conceptualises all indirect communications as moving a target audience across a spectrum of engagement and empowers those in the business of comms measurement with a common worldview and methodology for mapping progress on that journey.
And so to Dublin last week, where highlights of the dialogue and debate included clients from private and public sector - and their M&E agencies - demonstrating the power of the valid metrics framework in action. On the last day, the standout session saw leading thinkers in the field @kdpaine and @tmarklein unveil AMEC's new, industry-standard template to drive transparency across social media research, analytics and measurement services. The philosophy of Barcelona was followed by the strawman of Lisbon and now - at last - the dynamic working model of Dublin. It truly felt like we'd moved from the talking shop to the workshop, from the ethereal to the practical. We got so down and dirty in Dublin, I have no doubt that delegates will have had the nail brushes out over the weekend.
Industry and trade association events are interesting for many reasons. They're like a prolonged period of ceasefire, when companies usually at one another's throats leave competition in the hotel lobby and work together for everyone's benefit (while at the same time representing their own smart thinking to their peers). They let you learn what the competition is up to, and provide inspiration - often from unexpected sources - for your own innovation. You learn skills and content
relevant for business development, forge alliances and open up prospects through networking.
What I found distinctively different about the Dublin Summit last week was how, under the light-touch leadership of @BarryLeggetter, AMEC is an organisation that can do all of this and more. It's not only representative, it's not only relevant, it's also increasingly - and impressively - action-oriented. The week will lead to what's already been dubbed the Dublin Declaration, the industry will do what it does better, and clients will be better served.
You can't ask more than that. And as befits a grouping of comms measurement professionals increasingly focused on making sense out of social media dialogue, the quality of Twitter action throughout the #AMEC2012 Dublin event was top class. You'll get a sense of the debate in this Traackr A-list, even if the tool to track conversation is not one that delegates chose to endorse.
Roll on 2013.
In the first of Ebiquity's 3 sessions on 'brand optimisation' at BrandMAX, the discussion was about Reputation, more specifically about how social media means that there is an increasing need for Marketing and Corporate Affairs to better align their efforts and activities.
Our panel represented Marketing (Nigel Gilbert, Virgin Media), Corporate Affairs (Dominic Fry, M&S) and brand (Khaled Ismail, Tetrapak) representing both the B2B and B2C sectors. The session chair was Matthew Gwyther, editor of Management Today.
'We boobed' said the ad that M&S ran just 48 hours after the story broke that they were charging shoppers more for larger bra sizes. Dominic described how Marketing and Corporate Affairs worked swiftly and cohesively to minimise the negative impact on the brand's reputation following the story gaining traction in social media and subsequently mainstream media. They engaged the social media groups that were formed, reduced prices, apologised and turned what may have lost them market share into a share gain. "Reputation protection is a key focus for us," he said.
Nigel Gilbert described the relationship between Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Virgin Media as 'unusually close'. He said that the immediacy of the media business necessitates such closeness.
Describing his time at Lloyds Banking Group, he said he witnessed how they went from trusted High Street name to a 'pariah' during the banking crisis in 2008. It was he said a 'salutary lesson' in how to move from 'neutral to negative' in one bound. He went on to describe how 'trust is the key to reputation' and how the name change to Virgin (from NTL:Telewest) improved perceptions of by 30%. "This says a lot about the Virgin brand," he said.
He was very complimentary when asked about Sky in the context of News International and the phone hacking scandal. He knows that the scandal did have a negative impact on the Sky brand because Virgin constantly monitor Virgin and their competitors reputations and social media sentiment.
Khaled described how Tetra Pak go to great lengths to ensure that all areas of their business are aligned and that their staff do things 'the Tetra Pak way'.
He agreed with Nigel that the trust of all stakeholders is the single most important thing, "If the Nestle, Coke or Danone consumer loses trust, we can all go home." He described reputation as the 'cushion' that means stakeholders give you the benefit of the doubt in a crisis.
The panel were asked about the role of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in building reputation. Khaled talked about how Tetra Pak had been active in the area for a while but now consumers were demanding that they 'turn up the volume' on it. Dominic was frank about Marks & Spencer's challenge to generate an emotional response from consumers on its 'Plan A' initiative for them to make a commercial gain.
They were asked whether the inevitable cost-cutting drives many businesses are facing, might threaten initiatives that businesses put in place to build and protect reputation. 'Potentially' was the reply. Dominic talked how he manages this threat at an executive level and how risk audits help inform such decisions.
The session was hosted by Sandra Macleod of Echo Research, Ebiquity's Reputation & PR arm.
Social media demands that companies link both their paid and unpaid communications and measurement. Andrew Challier asks what this means for brands.
In the age of the informed consumer, big brands are subject to an unprecedented level of scrutiny. That scrutiny extends way beyond the confines of their products and financial performance.
If brands are under the microscope, it is social media which has provided the means to dramatically increase the order of magnification. The bigger the brand, the bigger the target, and so the bigger the threat posed by what would historically be labelled a 'PR crisis' but which now should be seen just as much as a 'brand crisis'. BP, Toyota, almost any bank and, most recently, News International have all suffered from the attentions of the social media 'chatterati' as well as the mainstream media.
On the plus side, however, the opportunity to manage the crisis - via the same social media channels - is greater than it ever has been.
We all recognise that 'reputation management' seeks to mitigate the negative and accentuate the positive. In this new world, however, we also need to recognise that reputation management is no longer the preserve of the Corporate Affairs function, nor is 'brand management' the sole preserve of Marketing. The consequences of misaligned communication have never been more critical.
A greater variety of Influencers
Reputations and brands are impacted by a wide variety of stakeholders, internal (staff) and external (consumers, investors, lobbyists etc) and businesses need a way to measure, manage and influence these various constituencies. Paid media is an important part - but only a part - of the picture. Brands need to benchmark and analyse both paid and unpaid media, to help identify both the 'danger signs' and the opportunities.
To create effective tools, a brand needs to understand the context for how its key products (within key markets) - and those of its competitors - are being discussed in social (and editorial) media around the world. This helps start to build an understanding of the issues of most importance and how they might choose to engage with relevant groups/audiences in a relevant way.
At the same time, by benchmarking paid-for messaging versus their principal competitors, companies can analyse the extent to which they are able to 'own' important topics and the extent to which they or their competitors are achieving better alignment between what is seen as important and the messages transmitted. Benchmarking the price paid for that media and the quality of its placement completes this circle.
Choosing the right measures and tools
There is an increasing amount of message monitoring software available to brands - paid, unpaid and social media etc. Most of it adds little value: whilst it aggregates the data, it lacks the human intelligence to draw meaningful, business-relevant conclusions. Clients are demanding an integrated 'vital signs' marcomms monitoring service tailored to their individual needs. Such a system need not be complex (in fact, the less complex the better), but the benefit is magnified when the total picture is assembled from a single, impartial perspective. And it only works to its true potential when brands have identified the correct KPIs within the business that can be reasonably linked to the benchmarking.
While brands might wish for the holy grail of a 'one size fits all' brand optimisation tool - simply drop all the ingredients in the top, pull a lever (or push a button) and out drops an optimised plan at the bottom - the reality is that there are very good reasons to use a combination of methodologies and tools.
For example, digital measures frequently underplay the contribution of offline marketing and other media 'levers' and, while econometric modelling is great at budget allocation and provides a powerful basis for budget optimisation between markets, brands and different channels, it rarely reflects the importance of reputation.
Different - and appropriate - techniques are available for measuring the corporate value of reputation. The 'brand lesson' which we preach, therefore, is to understand how these different measurement techniques are best used - not to provide a universal panacea, but to inform better quality decision making.
Ensure that corporate and brand messaging are aligned - addressing the key issues in a coordinated manner.
British Airways is aiming to rekindle pride among staff and consumers via a new 'heritage' marketing campaign; the aim is to regain the trust of both the general public and its own employees disillusioned by strike action, cancelled flights and low morale.
Ensure that the company organisation is aligned organisationally. This doesn't have to imply a merger between corporate affairs and marketing.
Nestlé has appointed Pete Blackshaw - author of Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3000 - as Global Head of Digital and Social Media, with dual reporting lines into the global heads of both Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Ensure that tracking and measurement are able to answer these two questions from a consistent and comparable perspective: - What are people saying about us and our competitors? - What are our competitors saying about themselves?
In response to client demand, Ebiquity has developed an integrated message alignment reporting and benchmarking service, which draws upon data from its Portfolio and Echo Sonar monitoring software, and which feeds into both the marketing and corporate affairs functions.
Jeremy Cowles"7 Tips for Social Media Measurement"
Kirsten Fernie"The big picture - Media evaluation for the entertainment industry has evolved"
Jeremy Cowles"Value in volume: dimensions of ROI for social media marketers"
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