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Social Media – Ignoring the Possibilities


Editor’s Note: Please join me in welcoming Malcolm De Leo to the ever expanding roster of GreenBook Blog authors! I’ve had the great privilege of working with Mal on the most recent iteration of GRIT and he is one of the most energetic thinkers I’ve ever met; I have a hard time keeping up with him since the great ideas just keep on flowing at full force all the time! Mal is an expert on innovation and in his current role he has turned that experience to the market research space. I think his perspective is fresh and much needed; I’m very much looking forward to working with Mal to share his thoughts with our readers as well!


By Malcolm De Leo

A question?  How are you tracking your social media P&L?

Do you even have one?  Are you wondering what I am talking about?  The answer is this: the social media P&L is all about your social media brand awareness.  And by social media brand awareness, I am talking about making sure that you have a good understanding about what people are saying about your brand online.

The reality is that social media is becoming impossible to ignore because of two very important reasons:

1.  Your market research wears no clothes – People are talking about everything online as we speak.  They are also talking about your brand. In addition, people are reading about what they are saying about your brand.  And because people are reading it, they are being influenced and you might not even know it.  And having a thousands of likes on your Facebook fan page does not cover everything that is being said online.  Why?  Because when you go to buy a new refrigerator and you want to buy Samsung do you go to the Samsung Facebook Fan Page to find out what people think about refrigerators?  No you don’t because your Facebook fan page is a bunch of your core consumers passionately saying how much they love it.  There isn’t a ton of objectivity there.

2.  The suggestion box is now public – Much in the same vein, consumers are making suggestions and essentially gushing insights every second online.  That being said, people still insist on spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to figure out the next big thing and most of the time are only talking to their “target consumers”.  I get this strategy, but at the same time, isn’t the concept of a target consumer slowly becoming obsolete because everyone is out there in a consumer free-for-all acting like MEO’s because they must be heard…I mean…the suggestion box is now fully public.

So how should you think about this concept?  Think about being able to UNDERSTAND some key attributes of your brand.  Of course you want to know the following:

1. What is the buzz around my brand?

2. How does my buzz compare to others in the category?

3. What is the overall sentiment for my brand?  Do people speak positively or negatively?

4. Can I measure the intensity of that liking for my brand?

5. What are some key things people like or dislike about my brand?

Even with this very basic information one can begin to get a clear picture about what social media says about your brand.  And more importantly, you will gain insight from a NEW data source.  Many people are spending entirely too much time debating whether or not social media is a decent place to collect data.  Stop the debate…it is!  But…and it’s a big one…think about how it can work for you.  At a minimum, you should be thinking about how it can augment your work.  Even if it isn’t your core consumer and even if you think the data is skewed, couldn’t it save you money to study social media before you do a focus group or ethnography?

The point is this:  the companies who can identify how to best operationalize social media by bringing concepts like a social media P&L into their work flow will win in the mid-term.  Notice I say mid-term;   I spend all my day working with very large companies helping them understand and still convincing them about the value of this new BIG DATA set.  The reality is adoption is dependent upon the vision of the leaders.  And today, many folks spend far too much time worrying about making  a mistake rather than paying to conduct a really great experiment.

Start simple.  Start with a quarterly look at your brand versus your competitors.  You can always go from there.  Getting a way to have an overview with social media data will help you decide a few things:  1) it can help you decide whether the data set is merely an augmentation of what you do.  2) you might realize you can save a boatload of money because it is accurate and worthwhile as a new way of doing things that might replace slower and more expensive methods.

Either way, social media is change…and change is my business and business is good.

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