Category Archives: Blog

The Samsung vs. Apple court case shows the value of social media research

An excellent case study demonstrating the value of social media research has just emerged from an unlikely source: the Apple vs. Samsung patent dispute.

Apple-Samsung-Trial

Documents shared as part of the court case reveal some fascinating information about how the two companies were thinking about social data in 2013.

It shouldn’t still bear saying in 2014, but the messages seems slow in getting though: social media data isn’t just about “looking back” at campaigns or the last quarter’s KPIs. Samsung recognised the power of social data for “thinking forward”, for understanding customer needs strategically to feed into product innovation and early-stage comms planning. Here at FACE, we think this is an incredibly valuable and under-used use-case.

Here’s how it works:

1. Samsung used social data strategically: to attack Apple

From Neal Ungerleider in FastCo: Networked Insights Reveals How Samsung Used Social Media to Hack the iPhone:

“Samsung took on a company with the arguably most successful consumer product ever created,” Networked Insights CEO Dan Neely told Fast Company. “Samsung asked us how to use analytics to attack Apple.”

[...] Using aggregated online posts and machine learning techniques, Samsung found several specific weak spots where they could outperform Apple. Customers specifically complained about the iPhone’s comparatively poor battery life, the inefficiencies of Apple Maps, how small the screen was, unhappiness with the Lightning cable, the lack of customization, Siri, and the iPhone’s fragility. Samsung felt that it could compete with Apple on most of these points–and, importantly, that they hard data to back up these consumer preferences.

When working with Networked Insights, a big part of Samsung’s strategy was to vacuum up any information on the iPhone 5 that was posted to social media. This meant using the dashboard they licensed to obtain every iPhone-related post on Tumblr, Twitter, Disqus (a popular commenting platform), WordPress, and YouTube, as well as new hits on Google. This information was then classified, as Neely put it, “15,000 different ways.” A big part of the problem for Samsung and others, Neely said, was the difference in extracting relevant information when they needed it versus finding erroneous information on other aspects of individual customers that were irrelevant to the task at hand. That meant a lot of data processing and fine-tuned analytics.

Importantly, Samsung used the dashboard to find what people were posting online about the iPhone–rather than just looking for posts about Samsung’s own products. They then identified specific complaints about the iPhone where their own products outperformed Apple’s products, and tweaked marketing campaigns to emphasize these Samsung strong points.

So: social media research isn’t just about tracking your own brand activity.

It’s incredibly powerful when you search for unmet needs and pain points – what are the gaps where consumer desires aren’t being fulfilled? Do this across a category (e.g. smartphones) or a competitive set (Apple, Samsung, HTC, Sony Xperia, Nexus, Motorola) to identify the “whitespace” opportunities that  aren’t currently being met.

As such, social media has just as much of a forward-looking role to play in innovation and NPD as it does “looking back” at campaign performance and the past quarter’s KPIs. Use it to shape campaigns and communications, not just to measure their impact.

2. Apple thought it was “nuts” to pay for social media monitoring tools. Their loss

Business Insider’s Jay Yarrow spotted something else interesting in the court documents:

Jay Yarow quote

Apple famously don’t do research, you say? No, Apple do do research – but they don’t necessarily do it well, as Tom Ewing recently illustrated.

You’d see the occasional interesting message if you just look at mentions of “iPhone 5″ through Twitter search… But also an awful lot of noise, at a million mentions per day kind of scale. It’d only be through luck that you might stumble across a message that’d spark any strategic consideration.

You want to understand the relative dissatisfaction with battery life, screen size, and poor signal reception? You need a social data research platform. Social media monitoring tools make this data analysable as a whole  in a way that free online tools simply can’t. For example our platform Pulsar (pulsarplatform.com) collects over 1MB metadata around each tweet, making big datasets like this powerfully segmentable by sentiment, channel, hour, influence level, profile bio and other demographics – allowing for a really fine-grained analysis of not just what people are saying, but who and why.

Technology and data augmentations enable the unmet needs to be identified, quantified and ranked. Use a tree graph to visualise the most common words and phrases that follow “I love…” and “I hate…”. Use semantic analysis to aggregate topics, and compare the top topics across the range of positive, negative and neutral sentiment scores. Start coding tweets into clusters, and use machine learning to extend this across the whole dataset.

Through structured analysis, the depth of insight that can be gained from social data is vast – Samsung realised this, Apple didn’t.

3. What we’ve done

This story was met by us at FACE with a nod of recognition – we have been using social data beyond reputation management for many years now.

Here’s a couple of examples of previous work:

i) Mapping the 4G mobile launch

EE Launch Event..Mandatory Credit Tom Oldham/Tom Dymond

Like Network Insights with Samsung, we also dug into what people were saying around 4G to identify complaints and pain points. What topics were driving discussion – signal, pricing, contracts/tariffs, or the iPhone? For each we identified the specific customer pain points our client needed to address in both comms and their product offer.

“WHAT EVEN IS 4G THOUGH I DON’T UNDERSTAND” – tweet, Sept 2013

But it turned out the biggest unmet need was understanding – a high share of discussion came from people expressing their total bewilderment at the new, high-speed mobile spectrum band.  We used social data to identify and categorise people’s questions, helping our client (a mobile operator) recognise and simplify the messages they needed to communicate to help people understand the new proposition.

ii) “Designing Relevance” for Nokia

Here at FACE we’ve been using social data for strategic insight for years. Back in 2010, Francesco D’Orazio and Esther Garland presented at ESOMAR alongside Nokia’s Tom Crawford on how social media research can be used alongside co-creation to produce a better innovation process:

Innovation should not be so much about ‘creation’, but more about ‘emergence’. Defining the boundaries of possible futures means creating the conditions for fostering the emergence of ideas that are already taking shape in the social space, but have not filtered up to the top or are not formed enough to bubble up yet. In a connected real-time ecosystem where the consumer can be as creative as the designer, the new model of innovation should be listening, reducing complexity, decoding the signal from the noise, collaborating with consumers and only then defining the boundaries of possible futures.

The project started with a “download” from social media to gather the widest possible range of themes and scenarios for this project:

The project kicked off with a two week Social Media Monitoring and Trends Analysis programme using netnography, semantic and network analysis across forums, social networks, blogs, news sites, microblogs, video and photo sharing sites from the United States. Using Face’s social media analysis platform Pulsar we tracked more than 100, 000 ‘sources’ (where Twitter counts as one source) and harvested almost 1.5 million items of content. These were analysed to gather insight into how key consumer segments in North America talk about smart-phones and which key themes, topics and angles were most resonant with them. 

Analysing conversations amongst users talking to each other rather than responding to researchers yielded a huge amount of richness. Furthermore, this helped develop clear learnings on language, tone of voice and attitudes to the brand and the category. It allowed for a different kind of research landscape, one which subverts the traditional question and answer format and replaces it with something far more natural and intuitive. By working in a more natural communication mode we also ended up expanding our research agenda to challenges we didn’t even know existed or that we wanted to investigate.

For the full story, read the full whitepaper up on Slideshare here, or check out the presentation:

Or get in touch if you’d like to talk forward-looking social research – I’m at Jessica@Facegroup.com

Meet us at… Marketing Week Live, Social Media Cafe, SMWF and Big Boulder

May and June are looking busy for the Face teams across the world. Apart from some really interesting projects we’ve recently kicked off, we are getting ready for several conferences and events. Here’s what we’re up to in the next few weeks:

 

marketing-week-live-2014-lo

We’re really excited to be part of one of the top marketing events of the year. It will be our first year at Marketing Week Live and we can’t wait! Our Business Development Team is putting the finishing  touches to the booth concept, while the Research teams are busy finalising the analysis of our presentation. Want to find out how online buzz influences sales? Then join our presentation in the Understand zone on the first day of the conference. Check out Marketing Week Live website for more info and registration. Hope to see you there.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 14.51.20

Also in London, we have partnered with Social Media Café for the next edition of their networking event on May 23. Click here to register, it’s free!

 

SMWF

Social Media Forum (New York)

After a successful Social Media Forum in London, we decided to join the New York leg of the conference, on May 28-29. Face’s Chief Innovation Officer, Francesco D’Orazio, will join the main stage to present breakthrough insights from our How Stuff Spreads research which looks at how content goes viral. Whilst there is no simple answer such as a virality formula, the talk will reveal the common traits of viral phenomena and how marketers can engineer them in their creative and planning process in order to achieve virality and develop a data-driven content strategy.

We are also looking forward to moderating the Brand Reputation breakout session. If you’re around, do join our sessions and come to our booth to say hello.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 14.52.27

Francesco will also be speaking at the Big Boulder conference which takes place on June 5 and 6 in Boulder, Colorado. He will present on the topic of data visualisation and analysis of visual social media.

Hope to meet you at one of these events.

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A Social World of Whisky Part 1: Big Drinkers, Small Talkers?

Winston“The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learned to like it.” — Winston Churchill

Amongst all spirits, whisky holds a very particular place. From teenagers to world leaders, from whisky and soda to $460,000 bottle – a 1946 Macallan in a Lalique decanter was auctioned at this price in 2010, whisky proves being more than simply a category of alcohol, but a potent landmark of social and economic belonging.

The whisky market is diverse, but can be divided in two main categories: Scotch (i.e. distilled in Scotland and matured for a minimum of three years in oak casks) and non-Scotch whiskies. Both have experienced continuous growth, with some particularly dynamic markets in the last couple of years in emerging countries, especially India and China. Scotch whiskies represent around 85% of Scottish food and drink exports and nearly a quarter of the British total, according to the Scottish Whisky Association.

Such a success in the context of our digital era questions us about the way this phenomenon echoes on social media, how consumers take part into the whisky related social discussion around the world, and what insight can social media bring for the whisky industry.

This blog is the first of a series about the whisky industry that will demonstrate several ways we, as social media researchers, can investigate a broad social dataset and make sense of it thanks to the use of different research techniques and integration of other data sources like sales data.

In this first blog, we’ll have a look at the big picture: identifying how whisky-related social discussion is naturally featuring, and how whisky in social media differs from actual consumer behaviour.

Simply looking at raw social data volumes can be misleading since it doesn’t take in consideration the actual population size of each country, and the proportion of its population using social media. In order to balance the countries’ weight and get a better idea of the countries where whisky discussion is getting more traction, we weighted each country to its population:

Average whisky related social posts per 1000 capita 

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 19.30.42

Content posted between August 15th to August 31st,
including “whiskey”, “whisky”, “whiskeys” or “whiskies”.
Collected  by Pulsar, our social media monitoring tool.

What patterns do we see, and why?

Whisk(e)y as a share of British and Irish identity - Ireland is the country eliciting the most social discussion per capita, demonstrating the vitality and weight of the whiskey topic in this country. The second place of United Kingdom in both overall social volumes and discussion per capita, also highlights the importance of the whisky industry and the passion towards this spirit, as home of Scotch whisky – at least for the moment!

The home of Bourbon trails behind Ireland and UK – The United States remains a major country for whisky discussion, especially considering the impressive overall amount of content originating from this territory. But the volumes per capita put this domination in perspective, suggesting that Irish and British are more passionate about whisky.

Whisky proves a healthy topic of discussion in South America and Oceania - A few less populated countries, especially in South America and Oceania, elicit a comparatively high level of whisky conversation, proving their attachment to this beverage, namely Uruguay (6th), New Zealand (7th), Venezuela (8th), and Australia (9th).

Now we’ve drawn a map of social media whisky discussion, getting the most of this landscape implies connecting it to the reality of whisky consumption.

To do so, we are using Euromonitor whisky consumption country data per capita.

Annual whisky consumption/capita (in liters)

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 19.35.25

Source : Euromonitor, Worldbank

This data offers us a ranking of the biggest whisky drinkers that we can compare to the ranking of the biggest whisky “talkers”, giving us a new perspective over the whisky market opportunities in terms of social strategy.

Whisky Drinkers versus Whisky Talkers

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 19.41.43

* Searches didn’t include words in Hindi, Japanese or Chinese
alphabets, 
so these ranks are likely to be higher in reality

A correlation between whisky consumption and whisky social discussion

Out of the top 10 countries with the higher consumption of whisky per capita, 7 also feature in the top 10 countries with the more whisky related social discussion per capita. However the ranking is quite different…

Less social verbose, more drinking?

Two groups of countries emerge:

On the one hand, countries that feature higher in the consumption ranking than in the social discussion ranking. Including Uruguay, Australia, India or South Africa, this group bears a high potential for social marketers: healthy markets with a lack of social media structure, thus an opportunity for whisky brands to own the category with targeted efforts. The emblem of this group is France, that ranks at the first position for whisky consumption, but only 19th for whisky related social discussion. Some could think that French people drink too much whisky to be able to post their experience on social media. Being well placed to answer this exaggerated statement, I tend to consider that the reason is more likely to lie within cultural and media habits, both in terms of whisky consumption and social media use. This will be the topic of a future blog.

On the other hand, countries that feature higher in the social discussion ranking than in the consumption ranking. And this comprises almost all main whisky producers, namely United Kingdom and Ireland: in addition to a healthy discussion around the whisky consumption itself, distilleries, associations, news websites and organisations contributes to the fact that whisky also feature as a business and economy related topic.
This first glance at the whisky social landscape opens quite a few doors that we will enter in the next couple of months, and that will lead to how we dig more qualitatively into social discussion:

  • Scotch/Bourbon fracture: how is it tangible on social media, and which is winning the social battle?
  • Booze vs Nectar: whisky’s duality
  • A whisky connoisseur social audience
  • The French enigma: understand the specificities of the French social whisky environment
  • Whisky brands: what is their place within the social conversation, and which ones are stealing the show

Stay tuned!

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anthony

Anthony Fradet is a social media research manager in FACE’s London office. Since gaining a Masters degree from Sorbonne University, Anthony has spent 5 years working for French market research companies, with quantitative, qualitative and social media focus. Before joining Face in 2013, he was responsible for a unique partnership between a top 5  ’traditional’ market research agency (CSA) and a social media research agency (linkfluence). Get in touch with Anthony via LinkedIn or Twitter.

A Whole New World: our 2 new qual researchers on their experience of joining FACE

Aladin 1

Here at FACE we like to think we do things differently to other agencies – what agency doesn’t, right? But it’s been a few years since many of us worked anywhere else! To get a fresh point of view, we asked the two newest members of our qualitative research team to tell us about why they joined.

Beca has previously worked at a boutique quant agency in Ireland and a digital qual agency in London. Rich has worked as a parliamentary researcher for an MP and a commercial analyst at a premier league football club before specialising as a qualitative researcher.

Joining FACE brought with it many changes for both of us, and lots of learnings too, so we’d like to share with you what we’ve discovered in our time here so far.

Beca: So Rich, what was it about FACE that made you want to work here? Was there anything in particular that really excited you? 

Rich: I joined FACE to get experience on wider range of research methods. I remember in my last role, I was crying out for the use of a mobile app so I could record people’s behaviour in situ. Here using our mobile app, consumers can record their instinctive reactions almost immediately with minimal disruption to their lives. This has great benefit to a researcher as it negates a lot of factors that add doubt over the validity of responses. It adds precision and detail because it drastically shortens the time between experience and response.

This is key because a person’s memory naturally filters out detail and often leaves only summary. You may test drive a car and note many things you disliked. Interior too cluttered, steering unresponsive, poor satnav, weak handling/brakes etc. If asked straight after the test drive why you didn’t like it, you’d have no problem reeling off details. If asked a few weeks down the line, you will have forgotten many of the particulars. You will simply remember that your overall feelings towards the car were negative, but not necessarily all of the reasons why.

The Pulsar platform is another great tool that I wanted to be able to call upon when making strategic recommendations. By tracking the buzz about a brand – not just on social media, but anywhere mentioned on the web, we are able to grasp the feelings of the consumer like never before.

This kind of information is invaluable when it comes to making valuable recommendations. If I, as a researcher, don’t truly understand how your consumers feel about you today, then how can I possibly help you to be successful tomorrow? 

The online community has a great advantage also and is something I was very keen to learn and use. I knew the world of research was changing and that online was the way forward. The online communities are very useful especially as they are so cost effective compared to the alternative, leaving us with more budget for the stuff that matters – the research.

So the tools FACE uses were the flame to the moth for me, what about you?  Does FACE do things differently than what you’ve done before?

BecaBeca: Coming from a predominantly digital background I am fairly new to the world of face-to-face qual research. Since joining FACE I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in on some groups and I was so pleasantly surprised by how different they were from what I’d seen before. Rather than the moderator being an authoritative force within the group, the playing field was levelled and the participants were much more natural and relaxed because of it. But the thing that made FACE stand out from the crowd for me is co-creation!

Rich: I agree, ‘co-creation’ is a buzzword you hear a lot, and many people have copied the approach. To find out that FACE were among the first do adopt it in a market research capacity was a huge draw for me. I wanted to go beyond just probing for reactions and actually have a hand in sculpting creative outputs going forward. 

So the methodologies are quite new for both of us then, an exciting learning curve! Anything else different at FACE?

Beca: What was probably the most difficult thing to get my head around upon joining FACE is that I am no longer expected to be everything. Coming from an agency where researchers are responsible for everything, from the very seed of a project to the felling of the tree, this was difficult to get my head around initially. I’ve quickly realised the immense benefits of having teams dedicated to production and commercial as well as account managers and in-house technical support. Each team has different strengths, to handle different stages of a project. Having the time to dedicate to the research, which is after all why I chose this path, is a luxury I am still getting used to and one I appreciate more than I ever thought I could.

Analysis of qualitative data is central to what we do as researchers, and FACE really gets that! In previous agencies analysis was often a solo pursuit, but here at FACE analysis is a team effort, with people challenging each other’s conclusions and pushing them to the next level.

You came from automotive research, right? This must be a big change from that?

Richard Addison 3

Rich: Definitely! One of the great things about FACE is the clients we have and the type of work we do. Not wanting to be typecast in one industry led to me wanting to move somewhere with such an enviable FMCG client list; brands like: Coca-Cola, Unilver and Reckitt Benckiser!

You’ve worked in FMCGs before though, haven’t you?

Beca: I have, although quick turnaround projects were much less common in my previous agency. And although watching a project grow and evolve can be very rewarding it can be more difficult to maintain the same level of interest and creativity and keep the momentum going. The short-term nature of most projects at FACE encourages excitement and enthusiasm from start to finish, and allows for continuous creativity throughout. As an added bonus it also opens you up to working on a whole range of projects in a variety of industries, keeping the nature of your work diverse and varied.

How’re you finding it? A new job can be quite daunting…

Rich: The attitude of everyone on the team is first class. From the intern to the directors, we all sit together like a happy family of beavers, all with different roles, but ultimately unified in our goal of making robust and long lasting dams! From a personal point of view, it’s been a touch being able to feel so comfortable so quickly at a new company. There is an eclectic mix of cultures and backgrounds making for a great dynamic both in and outside of work.

With unemployment at an all-time high, working somewhere that both challenges and stimulates is increasingly rare. In joining FACE we have both found a great opportunity to continue to learn and grow as researchers. The multi-faceted approach of online, social and traditional techniques will help us to develop skills we would not have gained elsewhere.

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If you want to learn more about what it’s like to work at FACE, check out Oana’s post, ‘A Peek Through The Keyhole of the FACE Office’.

Or think you’ve got what it takes and want to join us? Let us know here.

Thoughtful, observant and collected: the value of introverts as research participants

Calin Chua from FACE’s Singapore office, on the role of personality in research:

This blog post is born out of the challenges that both clients and researchers face in recruiting and speaking to the right participants.

Being articulate is an attribute that recruiters and researchers seek in every research participant. We believe this verbal fluency indicates that we will be able to tease out deeper insights from them to help us build a strong and richer story.

Despite the rigour recruiters go through to find articulate research participants, we still get two common comments from clients: either some people aren’t participating enough, or others are overly fired up. If we had screened all the participants on their ability to articulate their thoughts, why do we still face these situations?

Articulate

(Source: dictionary.com)

To unpack this question, there are a few factors to address as we unravel the heart of the issue:

  1. Research participants’ personalities: extrovert or introvert
  2. Nature of the research methodology: group or individual; offline or online
  3. Nature of the research objectives: insights generation or concept creation

Are extroverts always the best participants?

Let’s start off with the nature of research participants. Some recruiters seem to practice a common understanding that people who are extroverts are articulate. They believe that if someone is an extrovert, he/she is naturally outgoing, which means he/she is able to talk a lot in front of strangers, and is therefore articulate.

But that logic makes a big leap: being good at talking isn’t the same thing has having something to say. And we may end up with some fired-up consumers –and then the rest of the story is what all researchers and clients are familiar with: managing dominating voices to ensure there is a balanced conversation within the group.

While it is the moderator’s job to manage the group’s dynamic, it would still be a tough challenge to get constructive comments from someone who is only good at critiquing ideas. We need a thinker, not a speaker. We need ideas, not more issues.

What about introverts?

US writer Susan Cain’s TED talk has driven a lot of attention on social media towards introverts. Her presentation demystified the stereotype of introverts as “antisocial”, and unveiled the understated virtues this personality can display. Introverts are less quick to warm up to new faces but they can still be sociable people. Introverts may not be the first to contribute an idea because they are finessing a big thought. Introverts are great listeners and observers, which means they are processing their thoughts and not fighting to talk.

Susan Cain

(source: ted.com)

Different personalities fit different research methods

This brings us to our next factor to address – research methodology. At FACE, we run co-creation workshops, online communities and in-depth interviews. These methodologies are extremely different in nature, which calls for different dynamics and types of participants.

Although introverts may take longer to warm up at a co-creation workshop, this is not to say that they should therefore be excluded from group setting research studies. Research participants should all be equally screened for their ability to work with others in a group setting.

In a recent experience at a co-creation workshop in China, all the participants were screened for their ability to articulate themselves and to be extrovert by nature. However, when they all came together, some were quieter and less participative during the group discussion. To ensure that every participant spoke up during the discussion, instead of mixing the articulate and quieter together, I decided to group all the quieter ones together. Interestingly, people in the “quiet” group started speaking up and contributing pretty good ideas. (Well, someone will have to start speaking somehow!)

This highlights another interesting finding that someone might be an extrovert under a setting but an introvert in another. This further strengthens the need to go beyond hunting for obvious personality traits, but to measure the desired behaviour that best fit the research methodology.

When dealing with online community research where people are more anonymous, it is less about finding research participants who are sociable and interactive, but more about their familiarity interacting through the medium. Online communities and self-ethnographies are designed to give people time and personal space to think and respond. Hence, these approaches would be excellent setting for introverts to contemplate over the questions and form their thoughts, without the pressure to socialise with a larger group.

introverts-what-we-are-really-like1

(Source: iamanintrovert.wordpress.com)

The research objective should determine the participants we pick too

As brands face stronger challenge with engaging consumers, researchers are faced with more complex questions to answer, which means research participants are being asked some pretty challenging questions too. Also at FACE, we believe strongly in collaborating with consumers to create ideas. For this to happen, we need thinkers not mindless talkers, creators not solely critics.

In another communication development study, a client lamented that consumers tend to comment negatively on the creative work but are less able to provide ideas on how to improve it. Client wants to know what is wrong with the idea but also what can be done right. Without collaborators, it is challenging to build wilder, bigger and better ideas. Introverts are known to be more contemplative, thinking and observant. We believe there is a lot of value tapping into these characteristics.

Closing thoughts

At the end of the day, brands are marketing to consumers who can be extroverts or introverts. Eliminating or focusing only on either type during research stage may result in a bias in the final idea direction and tonality.

This open doors to think beyond traditional screening approaches – perhaps it is less about hunting for articulate consumers through a series of standard attitudinal questions to tease out for an extrovert, but more about assessing people’s ability to think, process and create idea (with others).

At FACE, we introduce additional rigour into the screening process by asking interesting and challenging questions to understand their personality and capabilities better. Given that every project brief is different, methodology is prescribed to address the project objectives, so should recruitment of the type of research participant. Finding a research participant is easy but finding a great one takes extra thought and effort.

 

Read more of our Asia team’s thoughts on research recruitment, with Nicole Li’s essay on “Going beyond ‘creative consumers’ for co-creation

Or if you’d like to talk to the team about recruiting for a project of your own, contact us at info@facegroup.com.