Marketing Analytics – Summary of Session 1

We started the second trimester today at ESSEC’s Singapore campus. I am teaching Marketing Analytics (Engineering) to two sections of 50 students each. In my first lecture I introduced the fundamental problem in front of marketers – how to justify their decisions to others who control the budget. Gone are the days when people could simply use experience, gut feel, intuition, etc. as valid criteria for selecting marketing strategies. Now nobody wants to bet even $1 on speculative marketing managers. Data driven marketing is the new norm. My course is an introduction to this new reality. In any marketing course, ‘brand positioning’, ‘segmentation’, ‘targeting’, ‘media planning’, etc. are common terminologies. Professors and students know what these concepts mean. Yet, given a real life business situation how many students will be able to actually come up with a strategic solution? Very few indeed.

Our Course Text – Principles of Marketing Engineering

Over the next five weeks, we will take a two-step approach. First, we will clarify a certain marketing concept, for e.g., positioning. We will then understand what type of information needs to be collected to plot a perceptual map showing the brand positioning on 2 or 3 dimensional space. Next we will use SPSS to do the data analysis using statistical techniques such as factor analysis. Finally, based on the perceptual maps, students will recommend actions. There will be hard numbers involved. For example, when the students suggest launching a new brand to exploit potential gap in the market, they will need to justify that by projecting the changes in the market shares. They will have to account for cannibalization of any existing brands from the same company that is supposed to launch a new brand. This will be a complex but fun exercise!

The other topics include decisions on segmentation using probability models, salesforce allocation, and conjoint analysis. As we started working with SPSS today, I used a dataset consisting of accounting information on several US firms over 2010 and 2011. The students’ first task is to build a sales response model and test it using the data. To what extent do the sales respond to advertising? The response model will not be very complicated yet we may end up using a logit-type curve (ADBUDG model), who knows?

I believe that modeling the data is not the most important thing. It’s just a small component of decision making. The critical parts are to read the analysis, interpret it, and then recommend a decision path. I don’t like blind data mining of millions of data points to come up with patterns that everyone believes are true. Unfortunately this is exactly what’s happening in the analytics area. Data mining coupled with intelligent experiments is the way to go. (More on this later). Bringing intuition to this party is like inviting Michael Lohan to speak at a conference on responsible parenting!

Summary of Lecture 3 – 16/08/2012

In the first half of today’s class, we had Wall Street Journal‘s business and technology journalist Lora Kolodny speaking with us on Skype from San Francisco. I know Lora because I subscribe to her Facebook updates and sometime participate in the discussion. Considering that she has written for big names as New York Times, Fast Company, Inc, and TechCrunch, it is a great surprise that she is so approachable!

I invited Lora to speak with our students on primarily two topics–the social media start-up scenario and advice on starting your own business. The call went on for about an hour so I won’t be able to cover everything we spoke about. However, here are a few takeaways from her talk-

1) Although social media companies are getting a beating in the stock market, VC interest in social media start-ups remains high.

2) Any new platform, service, etc. must have a clear mobile strategy.

3) Social media adoption in Asia is growing rapidly.

4) For new start-ups, it is essential to evaluate whether they need large investment. Further, creating a personal brand is critical to reach out to potential investors. She suggested joining newer platforms early to create a significant following. Lora has more than 110,000 subscribers on Facebook!

5) She suggested using services like YouNoodle to connect to other entrepreneurs.

My students could add more to this.

The second half of the session was devoted to discussing the ‘Honeycomb Framework’ for selecting and managing various social media channels. The paper is available for download from here and a case study from Australia is available here. Ian MacCarthy, one of the authors of this paper explains what they propose –

“We explain how a firm can recognize and understand its social media landscape, using the honeycomb framework; develop strategies that are congruent with, or suited to, different social media functionalities and the goals of the firm; develop curating strategies for their own social media interactions and content; and finally use the honeycomb structure as a tool to evaluate the constantly changing social media activity.”

Honeycomb framework identifies seven components of social media – identity, sharing, conversations, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups. The diagram below shows what each component means.

The framework give clear guidance to selecting a social media channel. As a business you need to decide what your community is doing and what the community members’ inherent motivations are. Accordingly, one can select the social media channel. For example, LinkedIn has ‘Identity’ as its clear functionality. I know there are a few users on LinkedIn who are anonymous! Yeah, I keep on getting add requests from such people. But what’s the chance that I will ever accept such a request? If one doesn’t reveal one’s identity on LinkedIn, it defeats the whole purpose of that social network!

Social networks may have multiple functionalities. Consider Twitter. Originally, Twitter was used for broadcasting the message–sharing on the go. Therefore, ‘Sharing’ was its core functionality. However, these days Twitter also acts as a very common conversational tool. Therefore, ‘Conversations’ is an added core functionality to Twitter. The readers should think about other channels such as Facebook, FourSquare, Pinterest, blogs, etc. to see how they fit into this framework.

Once a business identifies the channel, it can use the following diagram to operationalize the channel management. The implications can be different based on the functionality a channel offers. For example, for reputation management, one needs to do a lot of monitoring using tools such as Klout scores.

Overall, honeycomb framework is great for channel selection and community management.

In the last leg of the session, I tried to answer the question “why do people share?” I used ‘Unselfish Gene‘ article to show one perspective. We know for a long time that the classic game ‘prisoner’s dilemma‘ doesn’t always end up with everyone choosing the game-theoretical solution. In other words people don’t like to betray others easily. Reputational concerns aside, human values are equally important in sharing something for the community’s good. Unselfish Gene tries to bring home that point.

Summary of Lecture 2 – Part 2, 14/08/2012

In part 1 of the summary, I briefly discussed the case study on SAP. In this part I will focus on 5 Cs of social media – community, conversations, content, channels, and collaboration (co-creation).

Before I describe the 5 Cs, I should clarify that these 5 elements of social media are neither original nor all-encompassing. There are, of course, several other aspects of social media strategy that one should take into account. However, as a guideline these five suffice in most cases.

There isn’t a clearcut mapping from the traditional 4 Ps of marketing–product, price, promotion, and place (distribution)–to the 5 Cs of social media marketing. Social media marketing gives a lot more importance to the community. It is partly because in many cases a community is already in existence and the businesses want to join it. This differs from the traditional “segmentation analysis.” A community is not a segment with characteristics of its members statistically identified by a marketer. Instead a community is a much more cohesive group of individuals who have some common intrinsic motivation for being a part of the community. Such communities can be described just by this motivation and nothing else. No other identifying characteristic may be attributed to them. For example, the popular financial blog www.zerohedge.com is an example of a completely anonymous community. Most of the blog posts are written under the pseudonym ‘Tyler Durden’–the unforgettable and legendary ‘Fight Club’ community leader played by Brad Pitt in the movie Fight Club. (If you haven’t watched this movie, the only advice I can give you is “Stop reading this blog and watch Fight Club, now!”) I was never an active member of Zero Hedge but I used to read their posts and the comments by members very regularly. During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, we were all driven by the same motivation–to read about and discuss the corruption on Wall Street and the dirty nexus between the banks, government officials, and politicians in the USA. Beyond that there was nothing you could know about us. This underscores the problem faced by a traditional marketer in the digital world.

A risky solution is to create your own community. That’s what SAP did. It’s risky because you would never know whether it will capture the attention of your target members, whether they will participate, engage, and contribute, and whether they will spread the word to grow your community. It takes a lot of time and effort (and also a great bit of luck) to organize and manage a successful online community.

The next 4 Cs–conversations, content, channels, and collaboration–will be discussed in detail as we progress in the course. Conversations are a must in social media marketing. The question is how you do it. There is always that temptation to get carried away and be condescending, witty, smart, and sometimes brutal because brands think that they are the leaders. But that’s the recipe for disaster. The conversations must be driven by empathy and honesty. In my opinion, these are the only two things that make conversations meaningful, thereby leading to long-lasting relationships.  Channels consist of different platforms and services on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Foursquare. Again, I will talk more about this when in Lecture 5 and 6 we start working with the tools directly. Content is an essential part of social media marketing. In case of SAP, the content was the blogs by the developers and SAP employees, as well as the presentations created by SAP. They hold tremendous value for the community members. On August 23, we will dissect content strategy of an Indian business Ayojak in a case study (read the 4th abstract). Finally, collaboration (and co-creation) is the final component of social media strategy. More on this in lecture 3 summary. I had asked students to read ‘Unselfish Gene‘ and 1st chapter from book ‘Share This!

Composition of Corporate Social Media Team

I referred students to the survey results published by Altimeter. According to Altimeter, the typical size of a corporate social media team is 11 employees. Out of these 3 are the heart of the team–the community managers–who engage with customers. Their primary objectives are to create brand awareness, acquire customers, retain them, create the bran culture, and provide customer service. The social strategist, who is sitting at the top of the hierarchy, makes sure that the performance of the entire team is in line with the objectives set by top management. You can read more about the role of corporate social strategist here. The two guys on the left side of the chart, the education manager and the business unit liaison, hold inward looking positions. They chiefly interact with various business units internally, train people, and make sure that everyone uses a consistent strategy. Social media manager is in-charge of the operations. He/she decides the nature of interaction, gamification, what offers to provide, etc. Web developer is a part-time role and technical in nature. Finally, social analyst tracks various social media metrics. The last part of my course is focused on the metrics and crises management issues.

For a small business, 11 social media team members are meaningless. The suggestion from Altimeter is to use the proportions from their compositions. For example, is you want to devote 40 hours for social media in a week, roughly 11 hours (40 x 3/11) should be assigned to community management. Of course, if you hire one person it is impossible for that person to do everything. A person who is good at managing a community not necessarily will be good at doing analytics. A solution is to train your existing workforce to carry out part of these jobs. A person who is good with numbers could be trained to be social media analyst. Further, some of these functions could be automated or outsourced. You may not require an in-house web developer, for example.

Data: Composition of a Corporate Social Media Team

Summary of Lecture 1 – 13/08/2012

On August 13, we commenced the new trimester (technically lasts for just 5 weeks) at ESSEC Singapore campus. I delivered my first lecture on social media marketing to 42 ESSEC students who have come from France and one NTU student, who is a Singaporean.

I have not yet decided whether I will make my slides public. However, the syllabus is available for download from here. I had asked students to read up three articles before coming to the class. I am not sure whether anyone read it. Anyway, the highlights from the session are as follows:

1) The course is divided into thee broad segments. First segment focuses on the most critical strategy aspect. The second segment involves implementation of that strategy, and the third segment is about monitoring and measuring the social media effectiveness.

2) Under the strategy aspect, I introduced 5 Cs of social media marketing. I will write a separate blog post about this. The 5 Cs are community, conversations, channels, content, and collaboration (or cocreation). Like all the marketers, I believe in “know your customer” mantra. In social media, I would say “know your community.” I chalked out a vague mapping between 4 Ps of marketing (product, price, promotion, and place) and 5 Cs of social media marketing. there is no clear cut mapping, which indicates that social media marketing is a distinct concept.

3) I discussed two readings, one from McKinsey Quarterly and the other from MIT Sloan Management Review (see the syllabus for the titles). McKinsey article makes an argument that marketers should use consumer purchase decision process (information gathering, evaluation, purchase, experience, brand advocacy, and bonding with the brand) as various touch points. Depending on what you want to do with social media–monitor, respond, amplify, and lead–marketers should use different responses. For example, brand monitoring can be done at all the six stages in the consumer decision journey. Various social media analytics services are available and should be used for such purposes. Monitoring also includes early warning systems, which should reduce or eliminate the impact of a crisis situation. After a customer experiences the product, turns into an advocate, and creates a bond with the brand, marketers could lead engagement by involving the customer into decision making process. For example, the customer could provide rich feedback to improve the experience, or even to design a new product. Starbucks has been running such a co-creation experiment for some time now.

4) The second article talks about how to convince CEOs of large companies to adopt “Enterprise 2.0”. Such a social media effort requires engaging with employees internally and customers, suppliers, and developers externally. The article identifies several impediments to adoption of Enterprise 2.0. The ones that I have personally come across involve threat of competitor espionage due to the exposure of vital information in a public forum. The second important hindrance is the legal issues involved in sharing of information. For example, what if the information that the firm releases breaches some contracts with another party? The article, which is in the form of an interview, lays down five potential solutions to these problems. First, you could explain the CEO that by creating an online community of the employees and developers, the firm could unleash a vast amount of information to be used by the firm. Second, social media create a large number of weak ties, which have great usefulness (this is based on Mark Granovetter’s seminal paper [PDF]). Third, point out to the CEO that the demographics are changing fast (“look at your kids, big fella!”). The consumer usage of technology has dramatically shifted. Fourth, listen to all the objections, fears, and counterarguments from various company executives. Then prepare a proposal grounded in research, case studies, etc. to mitigate these concerns. In other words, don’t hard sell and remember that “Talk is cheap.” Finally, take a note that in many cases the middle management, rather than the top management, is the one opposing Enterprise 2.0. Therefore emphasize to them that the social media is not going to challenge existing internal hierarchy. The decision making will still remain with the few. However, Enterprise 2.0 will ensure that the input is coming from many.

5) We didn’t have time to go over Deloitte sponsored Tribalization of Business study (note- there is a typo in the syllabus). The study has some nice charts explaining the social media usage across different firm sizes. It is instructional to see the studies from 2008, 2009, and 2010 to observe the shift.

Embedding PDF in Facebook Fan Page

Embedding PDF documents in Facebook is not straightforward as there is no native application in Facebook that allows us to do it. However, such a capability is crucial for fan page administrators to disseminate information. For example, I would like to share my course syllabus directly from the Social Media Marketing course page rather than from my personal Website.

In this post, with the help of two videos, I explain how to use www.issuu.com and a Facebook app Static HTML. This app handles iframe codes. I am exploiting the ability of Issuu to generate an iframe document embed code, which we can add to the Static HTML app and create a Facebook tab.  Before you proceed to watch the videos, please read the following steps.

  1. Create an account with Issuu. This is a free document management service similar to the more popular Scribd. I am not sure whether Scribd generates iframe embed code; I did not find it.
  2. Upload your document on Issuu. This is straightforward and their instructions are easy.
  3. Log in to your personal Facebook account (DON’T switch to your fan page as an administrator yet!)
  4. Search for “Static HTML: iframe tabs” app and visit their app page.

Once you complete the above steps, you are now ready to watch the following videos.

(I have divided the tutorial in two parts because my screen capture service TechSmith Jing allows for only 5-minute videos at a time.)

Embedding PDF in Facebook Part I

Embedding PDF in Facebook Part II

Social Media Metrics

On Tuesday we are going to start learning social media metrics. Measurement of any marketing strategy is tough because we are rarely able to “control” the experiment as scientists do. For example, when a firm launches its advertising campaign, there can be several other things going on at the same time. The competitors tweaking their ad campaigns, changing their prices, introducing new products, customer behavior might be changing, the economy may start tanking, government may change the regulation…any of these things and many more might be going on at the same time. In that case how does an advertiser isolate the effectiveness of the ad campaign? It is really difficult.[1] The same is true for social media marketing. Therefore, understanding measurement of the effectiveness of a social media campaign is critical.

Read the articles below. They give a fair idea about social media metrics. I am going to keep on updating this post over the next few days by adding more links below.

Book – Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik

CLV Calculator

Net Promoter Score

How to Track Social Media Metrics Like A Rockstar

Top 10 social media dashboard tools

Why Your Friends Have More Friends Than You Do

Ever wondered why your friends seem so much more popular than you are?

The 10 Social Media Metrics Your Company Should Monitor

Social Media Metrics – Chris Brogan

Archive for the ‘Social Media Measurement’ Category – Jeremiah Owyang

[1] Check this article, however.

Social Media Career Options in Small Businesses

As my class is moving closer to the end of the semester, many of the students are actively seeking jobs. I have little idea about how the career opportunities in social media marketing domain are. Therefore, we had Lisa DiVirgilio as our guest speaker yesterday. She gave a presentation entitled “Social Media in the Real World,” which is embedded below. Here I summarize some of the key points from the presentation. Note that we are talking about the jobs in the small businesses in local areas.

1. Career options: There are several levels at which social media specialists can work. For the entry level, however, the students are most likely expected to join as social media assistants or junior strategists. The salaries are relatively lower in the news media, local TV channels, etc.

2. Flexibility: The jobs have lot of flexibility because the social media strategists need not be tied to a chair and table in the office the whole day!

3. Entrepreneurship: Social media strategists in most cases have the liberty to design the firm’s social media efforts from the scratch. This is like running your own small business.

4. Performance metrics: Although measurement of performance is tough, it is still one of the most critical aspects of social media marketing.

Enjoy the presentation!