March 2, 2017
One of the first case studies of conversation research I can remember is when Listerine used social listening tools to find out what their customers said about their product. They discovered that many talked about the taste and burn in using it, but also that people sometimes use it to fight toenail fungus.
While that may sound funny, it’s no joke when you’re a brand manager and seeking to create new revenue streams for your company. Could Listerine have repackaged the formula as an application to help fight toenail fungus? Perhaps. Whether or not they did isn’t the point.
The point is are you looking at your customer’s conversations online to discover insights like use cases which can help your product team develop better or even different products?
We took a close look at Dirt Devil recently, not because they’re a client, but we wanted to run some tests on a consumer product that wasn’t difficult to distinguish from similarly named products. (We easily weeded out references to the weather anomaly and off-road race course and race truck by the same name.) These are the use cases we discovered:
Pet hair, hair, college dorms and hardwood floors were expected. But look some of the others.
An air pump for blacksmithing? That might be a new product idea. Sticker removal? That’s interesting. Beekeeping? Okay, maybe a little weird but what if you dive into the conversation and discover that the lower power hand-held vacs are able to remove bees from honeycombs without harming them and beekeepers everywhere would pay for one with larger receptacles?
If you’re only looking at word clouds and pie graphs of themes, sentiments and genders, you’re not seeing the fullness of the conversation. From a product innovation and feature enhancement standpoint, conversation research can be a treasure trove of opportunity and, eventually, treasure itself.
And as an aside, none of this type of conversation research is available using just software. These conversations about Dirt Devil were filtered and coded by hand. (Okay, by hands on a computer.) But you don’t get use cases for products as an output of automatic or algorithmic topic surfacing.
Are you ready to do some product innovation research with CRI? Drop us a line. We’d be glad to chat.
January 5, 2017
It’s one thing to know what percentage of a given audience is male-female, different ages, ethnicities and so on. It’s another to understand how that audience compares to the norm. Indexing a given set of results against a generally understood or accepted point of reference not only frames the context of that audience characteristic, but can help you elevate important insights in conversation research.
Some social listening platforms offer audience indexing in the demographic and psychographic data. This seldom used and often misunderstood statistic is one we constantly refer to at CRI since it can lead to more intimate understanding of the overall make up of a given audience.
To better understand indexing, take a look at this chart on a given audience’s ethnicity. Its primary function is to show the percentage of the audience broken down by ethnicity.
But we’ve also displayed the index compared to the general demographic profile of a commonly used site (in this case, Twitter). We know from multiple resources (Pew, Northeastern University, etc.), in general, Twitter’s audience parallel’s the U.S. population in terms of ethnicity. Even with some variations considered, at a minimum, we are comparing our audience to an audience of people who are active social media users.
As you can see in this audience, caucasians index at a 1.14 rate. That means that this audience if 14% more likely to be caucasian than the base audience of Twitter users. So it skews white. It is comprised of slightly more African-Americans, 19% less Asian, a bit more less American Indian or Native Islander and “other.”
But look at the Hispanic index. An index of 0.28 means this audience is almost 80 percent less likely to feature Hispanics than the base audience of Twitter users.
What does this tell us? It could tell us a few things:
- Hispanics aren’t talking about this topic (if you’re doing conversation research) or buying this product (if you’re analyzing sales data)
- The industry or brand in question does not appeal to Hispanics
- The industry or brand in question ignores Hispanics
The definitive answer would require more detailed research, but seeing the huge disparity in the indexes gives us reason to investigate and perhaps an opportunity to fuel decisions to improve the business.
And keep in mind that demographics aren’t the only thing that can be compared in index form to Twitter or other data sets. You simply need a known and common data points. In CRI’s research, we frequently surface indexing for age, gender, ethnicity and geography, but also social interests, professions, bio terms and more.
Indexing is a powerful statistical feature to understand as a researcher or a marketer. Understanding it could be the key to unlocking equally as powerful insights for your business.
For help with understanding your audience and how they index compared to known audiences, drop us a line. We’d love to help.
December 22, 2016
An advertising agency friend recently challenged me that conversation research isn’t relevant to traditional advertising. “We focus on print, radio and TV, so that online stuff isn’t a primary concern.” Yes, I laughed and performed a hearty shaking of my head.
“So when consumers see those advertisements, what do you think they do next?” I replied.
“They either buy or they don’t.”
More furious head shaking.
“No, they go online to research. They talk to friends to see if someone knows more about that brand or has experience with them. They look for validation. In fact, I would argue that the online conversation is more important to purchase consideration than your ad in the first place (though they go hand-in-hand and one isn’t likely without the other).
So he asked me to prove conversation research would support traditional advertising. Even in a three-month-old company, I had a case study.
We were approached recently by a high-end home and lifestyle brand who had some suspicions about their advertising campaign. They didn’t think their messaging around quality and style was really resonating with consumers. Their campaign was developed on assumptions, not assertions and they felt like they’d guessed wrong.
So we analyzed what consumers were saying about their brand — when they turned to the social web to find out more about it — and discovered the brand’s suspicions were correct. The buying decision topics that emerged were almost completely focused on price. There were no (as in zero) conversations discussing quality and style.
Now, the presence of topics (or lack thereof) doesn’t an insight make. Deeper conversation research could yield more understanding of why. Were style and quality assumptions? Did those decision points even matter? Were they simply too high priced for consumers to focus on anything else?
All of those questions made for a great follow-up research project.
The point to my friend was to say that conversation research supports traditional advertising many ways. Some include:
- Validating assumptions made without adequate consumer research
- Confirming consumer talking points about the product to focus one’s messaging
- Discovering tangential topics or qualities resonating with consumers the brand isn’t aware of
- Uncovering audience segments for better targeting that fall outside the brand designation of its target
And there’s more.
So how’s your advertising doing? Are you happy with the results? Does your messaging resonate with your audience? How do you know?
If you don’t, we can help. Drop us a line and we can chat about how.
November 16, 2016
There’s a spirits brand we’re familiar with at the Conversation Research Institute, not because they’re a client, but they’re a favorite for us when we break for a drink at the end of the week. Their marketing is not unlike other sprits brands in their category. It’s focused on tradition, heritage and quality. It’s aimed at men and of a particular status in life.
Honestly, you could take one of about two dozen brands in this category and put them in the same advertisements or even social media posts and, generally, the communications would work.
But we did some snooping around the conversation about the brand and found something interesting. The professions of the people who talk about the brand don’t exactly align with who the brand thinks they’re talking to.
Over the course of two months time, almost one fourth of the authors talking about the brand online listed themselves as artists. While certainly more research needs to be done to determine what type, what gender, how serious and the like, if you are targeting your messaging at male executives, does this data not give you pause?
Yes, 15 percent of the authors talking about the brand fall into the executive label. But the labels of “artist” “teacher” and even “journalist” add up to almost half of the online conversations about your brand, don’t you think segmenting and targeting them could result in more, bigger or better?
Conversation research isn’t just about finding sentiment and tone. It’s about uncovering insights about your brand that help you make critical marketing and business decisions. This particular brand of spirit is missing out on a huge content marketing or even targeting paid spend potential if they aren’t paying attention to the data that conversation research can unearth.
More can be had for your brand. Let us know if we can help.
October 24, 2016
Understanding how conversation research data can help your business is certainly your first step in knowing what to ask for, who to ask it from and how you might approach discovering insights for your brand. There’s high-level data that points you in a general direction, then specific, granular research that can point to specific insights that help you make decisions.
I recently had the honor of sharing information about conversation research to the audience at TBEX, the world’s premier travel writing and blogging conference, in Manila, Philippines. In preparation for that talk, I recorded a little video to share some of the differences in high-level vs. specific insights with you. I also talk a bit about a specific example of a high-level insight that led to answers at a granular level.
So, what questions do you have about your business or industry that the consumer conversation may answer? I’d be happy to tell you as a response how conversation research may be able to help. Go ahead — the comments are yours!