Solving the Riddle of Measuring Social Voice

July 17, 2013
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Social VoiceTwitter has seen the analytics light. In a recent move of great importance, but zero fanfare, the bluebird folks have opened their analytics tools to everyone. Now you can see real time details on mentions, follows, unfollows, and the number of clicks each tweet produced.

Social VoiceTwitter has seen the analytics light. In a recent move of great importance, but zero fanfare, the bluebird folks have opened their analytics tools to everyone. Now you can see real time details on mentions, follows, unfollows, and the number of clicks each tweet produced. You can also see a load of collective detail about your followers, including their top interests, location, gender breakdown (gotta wonder though, what gender is, say, “IBM”?), and the top ten accounts your followers are following, among other items.

How to find it:  To reach your Twitter analytics dashboard, go to “Twitter Ads” under “Settings” (you might have to login again) and then click the “Analytics” tab at the top. 

While this is cool, and certainly helpful to marketers anxious for data to help measure Twitter impact, it heralds a bigger hunger: How to measure the overall impact of brand marketing on what we now call “social voice”.  Social voice, in our view at MarketShare, encompasses both online and offline (face-to-face and voice-to-voice) brand mentions and conversations that occur among consumers.  In other words, it’s not merely a digital phenomenon. It includes complex interplay between digital and traditional media that influence consumer decision making.

Measuring marketing’s impact on social voice has proven problematic. What marketers want to know is whether their spending boosts social voice, and if so, how that converts to sales or other business goals. To find out, Keller Fay Group, a word-of-mouth (WOM) research and consulting firm partnered with MarketShare to quantify how social voice influences consumer actions, affects online searches and impacts sales and brand perception.

That research showed, in short, that social voice can be measured, and can’t be ignored. [For a quick overview of the research, view the video here.] It confirms with real data that social voice is in fact a major sales driver in both direct and indirect ways and can significantly amplify a brand’s message. Knowing how marketing spending boosts social voice is valuable because it helps CMOs allocate budgets more effectively and craft campaigns that specifically incorporate social voice benefits.

Keller Fay’s research compiled and modeled huge amounts of multi-year data to solve the social voice riddle. This included media ad spend, non-media marketing spend (events, PR, etc.), online/offline brand mentions, Facebook metrics, Google search activity and website traffic, among others. The analysis also controlled for external factors such as seasonality, competitor activity and the economy. (You can download an executive summary of the report here.)

Key Results & Takeaways

In the end, social voice accounted for anywhere from 10% to 54% of total marketing impact for the brands studied. Investments firms were highest (54%), followed by automotive (27%), beverages (25%) and brokerage firms (10%). As always, your particular mileage may vary.

And here’s the good part:  For the brands studied, every 10% boost in social voice (or word-of-mouth) produced a measurable sales lift of from 0.2% to 1.5%. Other takeaways include these:

  • You’ll get the most bang for your buck online where a 10% spending increase boosts word-of-mouth from 1%-5%. A similar increase in marketing spend offline increased word-of-mouth from 0.2%-1.0%.
  • Social voice is a major driver of online search activity. Research results showed that social voice can generate nearly as much organic search traffic as your other traditional marketing activities combined.
  • All media, it seems, are social.  Radio, TV, print, out-of-home, paid search and online display all had a positive impact on online word-of-mouth.
  • Marketers should invest in keywords specifically associated with social voice brand mentions and adjust SEM/SEO efforts to account for an expected lift in search from advertising. And calls to action should encourage social voice through sharing and conversations.

Twitter is making its platform more transparent to data-driven marketers, which makes social voice an even more appealing marketing tactic. And that’s something to tweet about.

What’s your take?  Leave a comment below.  

(social voice / shutterstock)

A version of this article first appeared in Forbes.com

© 2013 MarketShare LLC. All rights reserved.  

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