Category Archives: Pulsar

New! Social media insight from 1.4 billion people with anonymised & aggregated Facebook topic data

Today I’d like to share something new which we are very excited about. We are partnering with DataSift to offer game-changing social media insight – the ability to draw on anonymised and aggregated Facebook topic data. This new data source for the research industry has the benefit of drawing on aggregated and anonymised analytics covering 1.44 billion Facebook users, with searches across more than 60 variables. This allows us to tap into what audiences are sharing and engaging in on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities, all in a way that keeps personal information private. This could be a valuable way for your brand to understand:

  • How, where and when brand and category-related content is being created and shared
  • What audiences are sharing information on and engaging with your brand – and your competitors
  • How a particular target demographic shares content, or interacts with media on Facebook

I’d love to discuss with you ways this data might be of use, and how it can augment your existing customer insight work – send me a note (Matthew.Arnold@Facegroup.com) if you’d like to talk further. pylon-diagram Facebook topic data

Get a free trial

We are offering a free trial of this data in Pulsar to all FACE customers. Just contact me (Matthew.Arnold@Facegroup.com) if you’d like to get set up. We can of course augment this with Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and blog data for more comprehensive social media intelligence, as required. If you think your digital marketing or social media teams would be interested to learn more, do pass on their details too. Facebook is most brands’ biggest social marketing investment, so this new source of insight offers huge opportunities for optimising content, communications and targeting. We’re very excited to be introducing it to boost our ‘socially intelligent research’ offer. Pulsar Facebook topic data launch Matt Arnold is Head of Research for FACE UK and Asia. He’s a strong believer that ‘context’ must remain the driving force behind research and planning design, and aims to continually provide solutions that work to broaden client thinking and challenge conventional wisdom. Find him on LinkedIn here. Or learn more about this new datasource from our VP of Innovation, Francesco D’Orazio, who shares 8 Reasons Why Facebook Topic Data is a game-changer for the marketing and research industries.

Introducing SONIC reports: on-demand social media insight

We’re proud to be introducing SONIC – our new social analytics reporting offer that can kick start your social media journey.

Struggling for time to analyse and interpret your social media data?  SONIC is the tool you need to raise visibility and understanding of social media across your business.

Pulsar SONIC image

Get the social media reporting you need

SONIC reports present you with the facts that you need to measure the effectiveness of your social media practices in a clear and engaging format, saving you valuable time in data prep and analysis. Set the pace of reporting, choose between different report lengths, and drive decision-making with minimum investment.

Three levels of reporting are available:

Executive Monthly snapshots to provide you with clear indicators and strategic, actionable insights to evaluate your performance on social media channels

Essential A report bundle delivering key metrics alongside qualitative deep-dives to give you a continuous, holistic view of your brand presence online

Elite An exploratory package giving you a detailed understanding of your online brand equity, based on crucial benchmark figures and contextual analysis.

Prices start from just £1800 per month and we can offer rapid turnaround to help you meet your deadlines – so get in touch with our lead analyst Giuseppe (Giuseppe.Polimeno@Facegroup.com) to find out more.

Custom options and full-service social media research is also available.  Learn more here, or contact Info@Facegroup.com to discuss how we can help you gain smart strategic insight from social data.

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Why we’ve developed SONIC social media reports

At FACE and Pulsar, our mission is to make sense of social data so our customers can make faster, smarter decisions about their brands, campaigns and customers. We deliver this through the cutting edge data science, analytics and visualisations on our social media monitoring platform…

…But we know sometimes our clients might not have even have an hour or two spare to dig into their data every week. Lack of resource is  still a major barriers to businesses becoming more socially intelligent, resulting in many social media programs becoming siloed in the digital team and not reaching across the business.

The SONIC concept was developed as we wanted to deliver a cost-effective way of reporting social data insights. We identified that many businesses don’t require full strategic social insight or long reports. Sometimes you just need to measure what’s happening on your own channels, benchmark competitor performance, and check in on customer opinion.

Think of SONIC reports as your outsourced social media insight department. Our reporting can give your social media efforts greater visibility within your organisation, and they’ll give you the ability to  share bite sized social media insights on a large scale.

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What makes our social media reporting different?

  1. Expert analysts. Our reports are written by experienced market researchers who also work on major global brands such as Tesco, Mazda and Telefonica
  2. Actionable insights. We don’t just report metrics: our analysts know how to dig insight out of social data and make clear recommendations about what this means for your brand and comms strategy
  3. Full global coverage. Pulsar can track social data in 170 languages and our trusted international network of analysts can deliver social media reporting in any European language plus Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and Korean
  4. Flexible report formats, not rigid, one size fits all templates. We can customise our reporting options to answer your specific business queries
  5. On-demand reporting options that allows you to design a support system that truly works in alignment with your business needs, practices and objectives.

Case study: how Mazda used SONIC reports to drive their social business strategy across Europe

Sonic client Mazda facebook page

CHALLENGE Mazda Motor Europe wanted to introduce social media listening as a new way to gather customer feedback and inform its first brand-led marketing campaign in Europe.

They came to Pulsar for our advanced analytics capacities and the fact our platform integrates social listening (Pulsar TRAC) and CRM (Pulsar FLOW) into a one stop social media management tool.

APPROACH A tailor-made set of SONIC reporting options available to the Central team to assess brand performance and measure the effectiveness of different marketing practices at both local and European level.

RESULTS SONIC reports are playing an instrumental role in raising awareness of social media across Mazda’s 12 key European markets. Mazda is now actively integrating social media in its Europewide marketing planning for 2015 and SONIC reports are being integrated with Mazda’s wider agency roster for consistent and long-lasting performance evaluation

Mazda say, “Since rolling out Pulsar across 12 European countries, we’ve been able to get truly insightful information from our customers in real time”

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So that’s our SONIC reporting offer: providing you with the expert resource you need to measure the impact of your activities and prove the value of social media to key stakeholders.

If you want to find out more about SONIC reporting then contact our lead analyst, Giuseppe (Giuseppe.Polimeno@facegroup.co.uk) to build a package that’s right for you.

Why Big Data is a human problem, not a technology one

At the beginning of October our VP of Products Francesco D’Orazio hosted a talk at the Internet & Mobile World conference in Romania. This event was focused highly on the digital transformation of businesses, aiming to highlight the online and mobile challenges they are faced with. Leading experts from the technology world gathered to share their thoughts on what’s driving forward the industry and how this translates to business.

“Big data” has been around for a few years now but for every hundred people talking about it there’s probably only one actually doing it. As a result Big Data has become the preferred vehicle for inflated expectations and misguided strategy.

As always, the seed of the issue is in the expression itself. Big Data is not so much about a quality of the data or the tools to mine it, it’s about a new approach to product, policy or business strategy design. And that’s way harder and trickier to implement than any new technology stack.

In Fran’s talk from the Internet & Mobile World, he looks at where Big Data is going, what are the real opportunities, limitations and dangers and what we can do to stop talking about it and start doing it today.

Please see below if you want to have a closer look at the slides Fran used in his presentation:

If you want to learn more about how social data can positively impact your company, get in touch by emailing: Francesco.dorazio@facegroup.com

How We Became A Software Company: 5 steps to the birth of Pulsar

“We all need to become software companies!” That’s the message from John C McCarthy in his latest Forrester Research report which in a nutshell proposes that software is a central driver of brand and financial growth.

In his post earlier this week, our CEO Andrew Needham discussed the “business of products” and how to build them, touching upon ‘Lean Startup’ methods and Marc Andreesen’s quote that “all companies are now software companies”.

The big question you are left with is how the heck do you become a software company?

At FACE, we’re now a software company (as well as a research & innovation firm). Many of you reading this will have followed our journey over the past 5 years, culminating in the 2013 launch of Pulsar, a SAAS (software as a service) social data intelligence tool.

In this blog post, I want to share how we did this.

Why? As an innovation consultancy, we’re advising brands every day on how to build products and services. Yet unlike almost every other company in this space, and even many product design firms, we have first hand experience of building products ourselves – one that’s succeeded at scale, growing seven-figure sales revenues in its first year. The story of how we built Pulsar is inscribed deep in the DNA of what FACE is as a brand, and it’s a story we want to tell much more powerfully going into 2015.

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Pulsar social media monitoring platform Bundle data visualisation

So here’s the first installment: 5 ways we turned ourselves into software thinkers.

1. We challenged ourselves to do our jobs better 

As researchers with a passion for technology we were early users of social analytic software and we quickly learnt the limitations of the tools in the market. As part of a research innovation exercise, the team led by Francesco D’Orazio identified the key areas where we had to develop manual workarounds on client projects such as topic, network and audience analysis. A lightbulb went off when we looked at the results, which showed we could both reduce the amount of time spent on analytics and improve the quality of our work if we could automate these steps. Then we realised that no tool was offering this…

2. We became obsessed with other people’s jobs

We then looked outside of our company and our own jobs as researchers, and set about evaluating which other jobs could be improved by a tool that could automate these analyses. It was a long list: social media marketing, PR, brand management, corporate relations, advertising agencies, financial forecasting, media planning…And so on. It started to look like a viable market opportunity.

3. We started to build 

Looking outside and seeing the opportunity to improve jobs across so many industries gave us the confidence to start the pilot build of tour own social analytics product. For 18 months we built Pulsar with a small budget and team, working all the time with our clients to pilot a wide range of research projects to understand needs, features and use cases. Without having a research team in house who served as ‘internal customers’, this “listen to your users” process would have been much harder and much less powerful. To our delight, after 18 months, a lot of hard work and development, we had happy clients, happy researchers and most importantly a working product prototype – which we named Pulsar.

4. We thought BIG…

In the summer of 2012 we were so excited by the prototype of Pulsar that we started to think big. What if we scaled up the product? What if we could sell this to other companies and work with them on an ongoing basis?, What if we could sell this to lots of people all over the world doing lots of jobs? We then developed a plan to turn Pulsar into a leading platform for social intelligence. In 2013 we rolled out our big thinking by creating new teams in the company under the Pulsar brand: product, development, sales, marketing and account management. Now we really were a software company.

5. …But fought to stay Agile

After 18 months of launching Pulsar and hundreds of clients later what we have learnt about being a software company? It’s really incredibly simple: to win and keep customers as a software business, you have to be obsessed about how you can make your customers’ jobs better – and you have to keep innovating. Our development team follow Agile ‘scrum’ methodology, working on a rapid response development cycle where every aspect of development — requirements, design, and so on — is continually revisited and recalibrated to ensure it’s both deliverable and meets customer needs.

Agile software development principles

Principles of Agile software development

But it becomes something we’ve embraced deeper into the business too.

We’re developing continuous delivery research models, delivering social insights not just through big category landscape reports but also monthly newsletters & the Pulsar dashboard itself.

We passionately believe that “business people and developers” – that is, clients and customers, brands and consumers – have to work together to create products of value, and that’s why we still champion co-creation.

And our version of “working software” is actionable, direct recommendations that provide very specific guidance for what to do and how to change your product or brand.

So that’s how we built Pulsar – and changed ourselves as a research business in the process.

If you’d like to talk further about how we can change your business, whether that’s service design or new product development or just a difficult problem you need to solve – send me an email: Job.Muscroft@Facegroup.com

Previous post: Andrew Needham on How to Succeed in the Business of Products

Does social media drive sales? A research review

As social media research matures, the big question on everyone’s lips is “How can we connect this to other data?” More particularly, how can we connect it to what really matters to our business: sales?

Last week I gave a webinar on exactly this topic, sharing the results of our research study mapping social media buzz for 3 music events against ticket sales. You can find that presentation here on Slideshare, and download the full recording from this link.

In this blog, I want to put our work in context and map the wider industry thinking on this issue by summarising 5 other key social-to-sales research studies. There are a number of different ways that social media activity and sales can be compared, and I hope it’s useful to provide a summary and outline some of the key differences:

1. Buzzkill: Coca-Cola Finds No Sales Lift from Online Chatter
March 2013

Presenting at the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:Think 2013 conference, Coke’s Eric Schmidt reported that “We didn’t see any statistically significant relationship between our buzz and our short-term sales.” (AdAge.com)

Note that Coke are still big believers in social media’s effectiveness as part of an integrated campaign: said Wendy Clark, “It’s the combination of owned, earned, shared and paid media connections – with social playing a crucial role at the heart of our activations – that creates marketplace impact, consumer engagement, brand love and brand value.”

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[image created by Coca Cola, via iEdge.eu]

But this study is evidence that overall social media buzz – the number of brand mentions – doesn’t necessarily correlate with sales. What might?

2. McKinsey Finds Social Buzz Can Affect Sales — Negatively, Anyway
June 2013

“The consulting firm initially couldn’t find any connection between social-media buzz and sales, either when looking at overall data changes or even by applying an algorithm to assign sentiment to the buzz. But McKinsey found the relationship between negative buzz and a decline in sales when it “hand tabulated” sentiment in social-media comments.” (AdAge.com)

This negative sentiment hurt signups by 8%, “offsetting their entire TV spend,” McKinsey principal Jonathan Gordan said at the Advertising Research Foundations Audience Measurement 8.0 conference in New York. Why? Because the negativity was primarily driven by complaints about the sign-up process and call-centre workers at the telecom provider. 

This shows how a relationship between social and sales can become visible when you drill down into more specific aspects of social data. Brand volumes didn’t impact telecoms sign-ups - but complaints about the sign-up process did.

3. Eventbrite: Facebook Drives More Ticket Sales Than Twitter And LinkedIn Across US And UK
April 2012

A different metric here – not social media volumes (aka the number of messages mentioning a brand), but the number of shares:

“The company says that Facebook is the king of all social networks when it comes to ticket sales. In the UK, if a person shares an event on Facebook, it generates an average of £2.25 ($3.60) in additional gross ticket sales. A share on Twitter, meanwhile, drives an average of £1.80 ($2.90), and an event shared on LinkedIn generates an average of £1.24 ($1.99) in additional event revenue.” (TechCrunch.com)

Eventbrite’s reason for why Facebook is bringing in more sales is good sense: “The connections we have on Facebook most closely represent the people we actually know and spend time with offline,” its researchers write.

Eventbrite facebook

4. Why Twitter Buzz ≠ Movie Ticket Sales
December 2012

“140 Proof looked at 25 major Hollywood films released in 2012, compiling data on each movie’s social media activity (mentions and hashtags) two weeks before, and two weeks after the release. It found that the number of overall Twitter mentions is a poor predictor of box office sales (unlike tweet volume and TV ratings). What did correlate to box office success was the number of tweets from influential tastemakers” (Readwrite.com)

Again, the relationship between social and sales doesn’t show up when you just look at raw volumes – but it is still there. Pulsar’s range of influencer metrics such as visibility and Klout filters can enable deeper analysis of how influence relates to sales, going beyond “number of tweets from tastemakers” to understanding how influence levels and sales-power scales.

5. Vision Critical: “From Social To Sale”

A totally different methodology – they’re not mapping activity in social media, or measuring clickthroughs from social channels, but rather surveying 5,657 people asking them to report whether they’d ever bought anything they’d seen on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.

This is worth doing because, “68% of Facebook users  are “lurkers” who post only rarely, so the influence of  social on their purchasing will not be visible from social  media analytics alone.” It’s a good reminder to think about social media users as much as an audience as content-creators - and that the path to purchase is more complex than old-fashioned sales funnel models, or simple ‘last-click’ attribution.

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[image via Digital Information World]

Five studies, two key take-aways for understanding how social and sales connect:

1. Think about your user journey. How do people make a decision to buy your product – who or what might influence them? How  do people consume your product – is it particularly social, like something you would want to do with friends, or something worth boasting and sharing on Twitter and Facebook? Is it something people can purchase quickly online, or a more considered purchase?

2. Think about what aspect of social media to measure. It may not be simple volumes of brand messages that correlate with sales, but something more specific – such as influence, sentiment, or specific topics. Or perhaps it’s not messages at all but behaviours such as sharing. Most of all, remember to measure all of social media, not just owned channel activity: you’re looking for consumer behaviour, not just reactions to your own!

As these studies from a diverse range of brands show, social media does often connect to sales – not all of the time, but often with some statistical smarts & a deep knowledge of social, a link can be found.

Note that we’re saying “connect”, not “cause” - correlation can be assessed using relatively simple stats such as R-squared tests, but unpicking causation (Was it social media activity that made someone buy, or a price promotion, or TV advertising?) is a challenge for regression analysis and a bigger topic than we can discuss here.

And sometimes the relationship between social and sales can go both ways – not only “I buy a concert ticket because I saw the news on Twitter”, but also “I bought a concert ticket for my favourite band and I’m so excited, I want to tell everybody!” Perhaps brands can even hope for a virtuous circle of social driving sales, which drives further social activity, which drives even more sales… Fingers crossed!

Found this interesting? Read our social to sales study: get the presentation here on Slideshare, or download the webinar recording from this link. Thanks!