Every communications professional starts with this basic question: What business problem am I trying to solve?
Yet any attempt at an answer immediately raises more questions:
Who is talking about my brand, and who should be talking about my brand that isn’t?
What are emerging themes or potential crisis points and how do I get in front of them?
Who are my competitors, where are they showing up, what are they saying and how can I take advantage of this insight to stay a step ahead?
Where and why is my content and message resonating, and how do I sustain and grow impact into other critical outlets and channels?
What was the overall impact of my communications activities, and how do I improve?
If a company’s communications program does not help push the business forward in measureable ways and answer the questions above, it is simply a waste of money.
Communications pros need the right insight and intelligence to help answer these questions quickly and with high-quality data they can trust. This requires a comms measurement program that consists of the right technology to wrangle massive amounts of data combined with the right analytic and comms talent to show impact and extract insights about your audiences, competitors, and key influencers.
As we looked at and used the many technology solutions in the marketplace, we were unable to find one that helped solve our clients’ problems – so we built our own, called WE Infinity. It is a pioneering analytics platform and service that helps communications leaders act smarter, faster, and more nimbly. When combined with the skills of our analytics and communications experts, WE Infinity helps our clients do the following:
- Measure. It analyzes perception, engagement, amplification, and reach to compare a campaign’s overall performance with its intended goals.
- Discover. It reveals themes and patterns, and exposes new opportunities and competitive intelligence.
- Act. It informs campaign strategies and identifies the next steps for continuous improvement.
The WE Infinity Impact Measurement Methodology is based on the performance of a piece of content against four primary attributes: Perception, the sentiment expressed toward the content; Reach, the actual or potential opportunities to see the content; Amplification, the viral nature of content measured via sharing and retweets; and Engagement, the level of interaction with the content measured by comments and replies. WE Infinity does this across a large universe of outlets and Twitter handles.
But how does it work in the real world? To bring it to life, here are a few examples and tips that illustrate how to help inform programs and activities designed for impact. Inherent in each example is the business question the client was trying to solve – the smart query that enables our data analysts to apply the right model and pull in the right data.
Problem: One of our technology clients knew that its communications efforts were driving product awareness but wanted to see how communications affected its bottom line.
Solution: Following our client’s announcement of sign-up availability, we secured sign-up data and conducted an analysis to determine communications impact. The analysis proved a strong correlation between influencer attention, call to action, and total sign-ups for the product over time (image 1). Communications had indeed boosted actual sign-ups by providing influencers and audiences with engaging content and a clear path for them to connect with the brand.
Tip: While sales, download, and sign-up data is sensitive and often out of reach of communications professionals, always ask for it. To show true ROI, this type of data is necessary.
Image 1. Measuring how communications boosted the bottom line
Problem: A consumer tech company wanted to understand the risk and reward for its brand of having a top executive conduct intentionally disruptive marketing stunts to drive awareness. It also needed this impact study fast – within 24 hours – to inform its strategic plan.
Solution: By using WE Infinity to analyze media mentions of the executive and the brand’s narrative, as well as average social media amplification per article, we determined that marketing stunts indeed had the positive effect of generating higher volume, sentiment, engagement, and amplification in media coverage (image 2). Our analysts and comms professionals also concluded that the stunt strategy would need to change focus as the company successfully advanced to become a category leader.
Tip: Understanding the impact of an action is essential. Equally important is reviewing the data for insights that inform revisions to your planned activities to improve future impact.
Image 2. Positive effects of disruptive marketing stunts to drive awareness
Problem: While refining the company’s influencer management program, our client wanted to understand how a recent influencer’s move to a new outlet impacted that person’s influence on the consumer audience.
Solution: Tracking the media influencers most crucial to our clients is a given for any measurement system. Yet today’s digital influencers are more numerous, scattered, and diverse than ever. Within several hours WE Infinity helped us confirm that this influencer’s reach, amplification, and engagement within the general consumer space had decreased significantly. However, influence within specific technical subsets of the consumer audience had grown (image 3).
Tip: Effective analysis helps you stay up on the ever-changing roster of your key influencers. Knowing who is rising or falling in influence can be crucial to crafting an effective influencer management program.
Image 3. Changes in one influencer’s mentions and amplification
Given the sheer volume of digital content being generated, a common mistake is to try to review all available content about your brand. Attempting to count every mention in every story is not only unproductive, but it can actually be harmful. In trying to miss nothing, you miss everything. The result is mere noise and useless data. Narrowing the scope of your search lets you gauge impact and extract the "aha" moments that spark your next moves. The first step is always deciding what you want to know.
We believe that the best measurement approach blends the right data, the right platform, and the right people. Such an approach is inextricably linked to your communications plan and connects all the pieces of your communications cycle: strategy and planning, campaign execution, and measurement and analytics. The benefit of an automated data platform backed by human analysts is its ability to address key questions and quickly return unexpected results.
If your communications campaign is not moving your business forward, you are wasting both your money and your time. It is critical to measure your results and gain insights that lead to continuous improvement. As data analysis plays an ever-growing role in communications, and as the pool of available data reaches mindboggling proportions, the key remains: Ask the right question up front. With that firmly in mind, you can cut big data down to size.