The Era of Social Data Convergence is Here!

By: Guest | November 16, 2010 | 

Guest post by Chuck Hemann, director of analytics for WCG.

My boss, Bob Pearson, is fond of talking about integration in communications. The reality, as he sees it (and I agree), is that it doesn’t really matter where social media falls within the organization. What’s key to the success of the organization’s communications efforts is that social media is integrated with PR, marketing, investor relations, or whatever business unit communications touches.

When we have the integration conversation, we’re most often talking about just communications. We can save whether or not integration is actually happening for another day. My quick take is that it isn’t happening nearly as often as we say it. Anyway…. onto the real point of this post…

The explosion of the social Web has led to an abundance of available data for marketers/market research professionals. As someone who plays in the latter sandbox, this is very exciting. However, there are some who are arguing that too much data is a bad thing.

Hogwash! As I noted in a recent blog post, there’s no such thing as too much data. What we have too much of is data without actionable insights. I’ll grant you that deriving insights from data is not a skill many people have, but I think that’s mostly because they are dealing with only part of the picture.

You see, for quite some time (about the last two years – in social media years that’s about 400 years) we’ve been making social media marketing decisions based on what we’re learning from listening. However, the social Web has created a 360 degree experience for most consumers. Social media conversations impact search, which impacts Web traffic, which impacts offline behaviors/actions.

Sure, the online experience isn’t nearly as linear as I laid it out just then but you get the point. As much talking as we do about communications integration, we need to start talking about integrating research disciplines as well. Far too often, offline market research isn’t talking to online market research. Oh, sorry for the new term there… Yes! Social media listening/search analytics/Web analytics DO constitute market research. That’s where it should be housed!

Anyway, if you wanted my advice on how this market research function of the future should look:

  1. Cross-functional team including Web analytics, search analytics, social media listening, and primary market research.
  2. There should be one research agenda. We all work for the same organization and the same marketing function. There should be one agenda for all of those disparate parts.
  3. TRUE integration with more than just marketing. Yes, the term says market research, but there are plenty of insights that this cross-functional research team can come up with that would be useful for PR.
  4. Regular reporting structure. Instead of just winging it, determine how often you are going to be reporting out to your counterparts in the organization.

The time when we integrate data gathering functions is here! Have you experienced anything like this within your organization?

Chuck Hemann is the director of analytics for WCG, a global media services company focused on the corporate and product marketing and communications needs of leading healthcare companies. He can also be found blogging at Analytics Is King.

  • chuckhemann

    Hey Gini – Thanks for allowing me to post here. Was a blast to write. What’s most interesting to me, and what came out of a series of client meetings last week, is that brands are starting to think this way but that it’s going to be a long/expensive process.

  • janbeery

    Very good insight bringing this to the forefront. Bringing our clients along in educating them on how all the pieces need to work together is an ongoing discussion. You’ve gotten my wheels turning on how to be more proactive in initial client discussions on the importance of analyzing all the touch points. This truly helps with the entire marketing plan. Thanks for the discussion.

  • ginidietrich

    @chuckhemann Not only a long and expensive process, but a lot of education. Thanks for sharing your knowledge here!

  • HowieSPM

    Chuck great post. Even with my view of people actually going more private with Social in the future when technology allows it, there will still be enough public chatter (like Twitter) to get plenty of data to be of value. And this data is actually more valuable than any other data you can get. Because it often comes in a natural environment. When you do surveys and focus groups its like studying an animal in the zoo. But with Social you can study the animal in the savannah in their natural habitat and we all know we shop in our natural habitat. This data should be shared across all aspects of your business from marketing to sales to customer service to quality assurance if you want your company to become best in class.

    Even if I interview a person on the spot and ask them why they bought something, the answer might completely different than what they just told their friends via a social network. And if they have buyers remorse or the opposite often the Brand won’t hear, but their friends will!

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