December 16, 2011
There seems to be a lingering amount of conflict between traditional business practices and emerging technologies.
Before, your company could run a television ad, use the Nielsen Ratings to target your demographic, and compare the change in sales to the control data, either an ad-free market or a period of time. Or maybe you’d include a coupon in the local newspaper and measure how many sales it directly lead to in comparison to the ad’s cost. Because the number of media choices were relatively limited, measuring your marketing activities was a fairly straight forward practice.
Today, the model is different. Newspapers are dead. People DVR past the commercials. Satellite radio offers advertising-free radio. Texting while driving means your billboard goes unnoticed. People are spending increasingly more of their days on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr.
Businesses are starting to realize and accept this, but, there still lies one big issue: measurement. Company heads need numbers. Numbers gauge progress, indicate the need for a new method, and keep the suits smiling. Because the online landscape is so immense and dynamic, finding a system capable of prowling through this ocean of data and turning it into something meaningful is hard to come by, to say the least.
Appinions claims to have the solution, at least on the matter of influence.
With social media so prominent today, people are far more likely to turn to those in their network for recommendations, advice, and suggestions. This means that you have far less direct impact on your message than you once did. It’s in the hands of your customers, specifically those with the greatest influence over their extended network. In traditional business terms, you are the manufacturer, the influencers are the retailers, and your customers, are, well, still the customers. It doesn’t matter how good the manufactured product is if your retailers are putting your product on the bottom shelf in the poorly lit back corner of their shop.
This is precisely what Appinions’ “Influence Gap” measures: “how many and how loudly influencers are talking about [your] brand.” Setting benchmarks for how well you’re communicating your product with your niche’s influencers gives crucial feedback on what you’re doing right and what can be improved upon. You can also compare how well your brand is doing versus a given topic (e.g. Land Rover vs. SUVs) or a particular competitor (e.g. Land Rover vs. Range Rover).
In the example above, you will notice that the grey circle (iPhone) dwarfs that of the (seafoam) green (Blackberry). The relative size of each indicates that term’s unique influence. The influence gap score to upper left (highlighted in red), indicates the gap between the two topics. In other words, the majority of influencers who are talking about the iPhone don’t seem to include Blackberry in this conversation. Oh how RIM longs for 2008.
Let’s compare this with two topics, cloud computing and big data.
In this report, we see that cloud computing is a more popular topic than big data, but the “Influence Gap” between the two, comparatively, is much smaller.
An Influence Exchange subscriber can take a snapshot of their current standing against various topics and/or competitors, and then see how this compares after they run a social media, blogger outreach, or similar online marketing campaign. The smaller the Influence Gap gets, the better job the brand is doing.
As the Influence Exchange data pool grows more mature, it would be interesting to see it incorporate suggestions for improvement, in addition to just the raw data. A good starting place would be for the Appinions blog to include some best practices and case studies to give new businesses a starting point.
For those interested in signing up with this influence measurement service, be sure to sign up before January 1, 2012. The price increases from $1,000 to $1,500 at year’s end.
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