Beyond Buzz: Diving Into How You Actually Measure Online Conversation

One of the hardest questions to answer definitively when it comes to social media is “How do we measure ROI when it comes to conversation?” Starting a blog and getting on Twitter and Facebook is a good start, but, even if you’re producing great content at a good clip,  it’s hard to measure the value of the conversations that you generating. This is especially true in the beginning when you’re building a new community from scratch. Common questions I’ve heard are…

  • What’s relevant and what kinds of interaction should I be focusing on?
  • Which kinds of people should I be focusing my attention on?
  • What types of people are important to recruit to sustain interaction and keep my community vibrant?
  • How do we focus on the signals and block out the noise?
  • What are the most useful social metrics?

Measuring conversation is tough, but it’s not impossible and there are a few people out there who are thinking about it deeply and coming up with useful solutions. This 45 minute talk I recorded on my Flip at this year’s Web 2.0 Expo given by Katie Niederhoffer and Marc Smith is, to date, the best resource I’ve found for getting a deeper understanding of interaction patterns that matter and what types of people make communities tick. To my knowledge, it’s the only video taken of the event, so please forgive the ahem…less than HD quality of the recording. Katie and Marc share rich data on what the interaction patterns look like for the types of people that you want to recruit for your community. Hint: It’s always a very special few that produce the majority of the interactions that sustain communities – being able to recognize them when you see them so that you can focus on building relationships with them and keep them around is a key success factor.

Thanks again to Katie and Marc for allowing me to record their talk. I hope that those of you who love this stuff as much as I do get a lot out of this. These guys did a great job in such a short period of time. The talk is a great primer for understanding the social science and dynamics behind what makes communities tick.

Beyond Buzz: On Measuring a Conversation (Web 2.0 Expo 2009 – Katie Niederhoffer & Marc Smith) from Steffan Antonas on Vimeo.

What is the most meaningful way to understand and measure a dialogue? As marketing transforms from a broadcast model to a conversational one, which constructs should be captured and how do you measure them? Is it necessary to make a distinction between the metrics used to tap into the value of a conversation per se and the ROI of a social media marketing campaign?

This presentation offers new strategies to think about and tap into the depth of interactions and emotional connections people have online. Beyond buzz levels, sentiment, and other core metrics typically provided by brand monitoring solutions, the presentation will offer methods to understand a conversation: how emotional is it, how in sync are the constituents, how intimately do they relate to the brand or product? How much trust do the constituents reveal?

Marketing efforts that take advantage of technology to enable community and collaboration render traditional metrics limiting, at best. Traditional metrics have been optimized for more passive exposure to a specific message, frequency of exposure is considered a proxy for relevance; and, the premium is on reach over quality.

Primarily due to its more participative dynamic, a conversation engages constituents unlike static messaging. As many in the industry have noted, a natural development is to measure engagement. However, there is little consensus on what engagement means and how it can be measured. Often it is calculated by merely adding traditional metrics, assuming more is better.

The presentation will introduce new constructs and present case studies with empirical research demonstrating more valuable, still measurable constructs than the core metrics currently in use.

*** Note: This was recorded by Steffan Antonas (@steffanantonas on Twitter) at the Web 2.0 Expo On 04/01/2009. Special Thanks to Katie and Marc who allowed me to record this session. The slide deck for this presentation can be found here: http://bit.ly/gNwC1

3 Comments

  1. JeffHurt
    December 4, 2009 at 12:12 pm ·

    Conversations…h-m-m-m, in all of this a key indegredient is listening. Are we listening to what is being said? Are we really listening to what is being said underneath? Hearing the words and hearing the intent or the motivation are two different things.

    Just talking, spouting words, stating language, whether written or verbal, is one way conversation. It's not until we've engaged another that it matters. If not, then one-way broadcasting would still work. And the social me-me-me self-promoters would have huge followings.

    Ultimately, DIMTY? (Do I Matter Te You?) Ultimately, we look to connect.

    How do you measure that? How deep is your (relationship) love (with your customers)?

    Those are the questions that the successful business of the future will master.

  2. December 4, 2009 at 7:12 pm ·

    Conversations…h-m-m-m, in all of this is the key indegredient of listening. Are we listening to what is being said? Are we really listening to what is being said underneath? Hearing the words and hearing the intent or the motivation are two different things.

    Just talking, spouting words, stating language, whether written or verbal, is one way conversation. It's not until we've engaged another that it matters. If not, then one-way broadcasting would still work. And the social me-me-me self-promoters would have huge followings.

    Ultimately, DIMTY? (Do I Matter Te You?) Ultimately, we look to connect.

    How do you measure that? How deep is your (relationship) love (with your customers)?

    Those are the questions that the successful business of the future will master.

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