Social Media Monitoring – 3 reasons why companies should do it Part 2

Written by Marco Fröhlke

3 Best Practices that illustrate how companies can benefit from Social Media Monitoring

In the first part I provided three reasons why companies can benefit from Social Media Monitoring. In this part I will present well executed best practices that reinforce these reasons.

Best Practice 1: Old Spice listens to its audience and gets personal

In 2010 P&G’s brand Old Spice launched a campaign, which is a great example of how Social Media Monitoring can serve as a basis for interaction with the customer. It started with a spot called “the man your man could smell like”, which aired a few days before the big Super Bowl game on Youtube and Facebook. It was 30 seconds long and showed an attractive man who talked about how everything is possible with old spice body wash. The spot became a viral hit, capturing 76% of all online conversations about male body wash brands, and reached 10 million views on YouTube in a few months (Effie Awards, 2011).

Image from the interactive Old Spice marketing campaign “the man your man could smell like”

Picture 1: Image from the Old Spice marketing campaign “the man your man could smell like”

Based on this success P&G created an interactive “Response Campaign” in July 2010. Through Social Media Monitoring they identified a number of popular influencers, such as the NHL Blackhawks, Demi Moore, and Ellen, as well as regular internet users who previously mentioned “the man your man could smell like” in one of their online posts. Once a total of 186 addressees (30% influencers and 70% regular users) were chosen, personalized videos were recorded and uploaded on YouTube, in which the main character of the campaign directly addressed the users. With these very personal videos the brand was in a direct conversation with its audience, which spread all over the internet. The twitter user @jsbeals even asked “the man your man could smell like” if he could ask his girlfriend to marry him – Old Spice noticed this special request and followed it. The personal response video with the marriage proposal almost reached 2 million views on YouTube.

I believe the Old Spice response campaign is an incredible well executed example of how a brand can personally interact with its customers based on Social Media Monitoring. I mean, does it get any more personal, than performing a proposal for one of your customers?

The results of the campaign confirm my personal opinion and speak for themselves (Effie Awards, 2011):

·         Twitter followers increased 2700%

·         Facebook fan interactions went up 800%

·         Facebook fans increased 60% (from 500,000 to 800,000)

·         Sales increase for “Old Spice Red Zone Body Wash”: 125% compared to the previous year

Best Practice 2: Analyzing customers’ responses to Amazon’s crisis communication

One of the benefits of Social Media Monitoring is that it quickly identifies negative comments, which enables a company to react before any reputational damage is taken. However, a crisis cannot always be prevented, and the number of negative comments and complains get out of hand. In 2009, for instance, Amazon was facing such a situation.

The company deleted George Orwell e-books from its customers’ Kindles, because they were sold by a third party who did not hold the copyrights for the books. The affected customers received a notification stating that the books were deleted and the money was refunded, but no explanation was provided. This action released a storm of negative comments on Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs. Quickly the traditional media picked up on it and reported about the incident. Amazon was in the middle of a reputational crisis, and had to react fast (Coombs & Holladay, 2012).

Based on the Amazon Kindle case, Coomb & Holladay (2012) explored the insights Social Media Monitoring provides by analyzing the customers’ responses to the company’s crisis communication. Let me present their findings briefly and illustrate how they can be used for protecting the company’s brand reputation.

The focus of Coomb’s and Holladay’s (2012) analysis were the responses to an apology that was posted by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, in the Kindle community discussion board one week after the books were deleted.

Jeff Bezos’ apology to the kindle community as a response to the deletion of ebooks from customers’ Kindles

Picture 2: Jeff Bezos’ apology to the kindle community as a response to the deletion of ebooks from customers’ Kindles

The first analyzed question was “how was the apology received by the affected customers?”. The responses were coded into the categories “apology accepted”, “apology partially accepted” and “apology rejected”. The partial acceptance, for example, was expressed through statements that generally included an acceptance of the apology, followed by some kind of limitation indicated by words like “but” or “however”. The analysis revealed that 71,4% of the customers accepted the apology without any constraints. This clearly showed that an honest and humble reaction in a crisis like this is the route a company should take to protect the brand from further harm (Coombs & Holladay, 2012).

Moreover, the responses were screened for suggestions regarding additional action that should be taken by Amazon to further defuse the crisis. The screening revealed two main issues, which upset the customers: “First, failure to provide compensation in the form of free copies of the deleted books (8, 9%); and finally, failure to prevent future remote deletions of books (74, 84%)” (Coombs & Holladay, 2012, p.289).

So in the Amazon Kindle case, Social Media Monitoring not only helped to measure the effectiveness of the crisis communication but also obtained insights for further actions that should be taken to prevent reputational damage.

Best Practice 3: Monitoring Social Media for insights about coffee preferences

The market research company IFF used Social Media Monitoring to gather insights about the topic coffee freshness. By using a natural language processing tool, the company created a query for a number of keywords associated with fresh coffee (e.g. fresh coffee types, coffee machines, and coffee store chains) and identified a total of 29,558,892 related posts. If you just imagine how long it would take to collect almost 30 million statements about coffee in a regular survey, it is obvious what a huge amount of data they were dealing with. But how can all these unstructured statements possibly be used for product development?

First of all, the more specific the keywords are, the more interesting insights can be gathered. By examining only the keyword latte, it appeared that people were most interested in the different flavors, with Chai tea and caramel latte as the most discussed types. This is an interesting insight for a coffee shop that wants to introduce a new latte flavor. For more specific insights, the coffee shop could also read what is actually being said in order to understand how the ideal Chai tea latte should taste.

Moreover, by monitoring Social Media with keyword queries in different languages, a company is able to examine customer preferences depending on their nationality. IFF’s research clearly indicated that French users mostly talked about cappuccino, whereas for Latin Americans espresso was the most interesting topic. While this information is rather generic, Social Media Monitoring can also reveal more specific insights, which “would not have been easily identified in focus groups” (Carr et al., 2014, p.358). Let’s take for example the serving temperature of a coffee: The Social Media Monitoring revealed that Americans add cold milk to their coffee, whereas people in Ireland heat up the milk before they add it.

A simple and quick overview of the keywords that are stated most frequently is provided by “word clouds”.

French word cloud for the keyword “coffee”. Provides insights that can be used in product development

Picture 3: French Word cloud for the keyword “coffee”. Provides insights that can be used in product development

As it can be seen in the picture, the French query for coffee is associated with the morning routine (petit dejeuner = breakfast, bonne journée = Good Day). In contrast, the word cloud for cappuccino resulted in a completely different picture with more emphasis on keywords like instant coffee or capsules (Carr et al., 2014). In this case a coffee manufacturer could consider that its customers in France associate fresh coffee with their breakfast, when creating a new marketing campaign.

The two sides of the coin

The presented Social Media Monitoring examples emphasize why this practice is highly useful and should be implemented by every company that has a Social Media presence. As it can be concluded from the company cases, Social Media Monitoring entails benefits such as increased customer engagement, costs savings regarding market research or the opportunity to reduce reputational damages in a crisis situation. Moreover, the available data is not only accessible at low cost but it also represents the customer’s genuine opinion, which is not distorted by response biases found in traditional research methods.However, there are also several challenges associated with Social Media Monitoring which have not been discussed in this post. These challenges include privacy issues, the selection of an appropriate analysis tool, and the difficulty to interpret customers’ comments (Malthouse et al., 2013). Especially the Old Spice proposal example illustrates that Social Media Monitoring enables companies to intrude the personal life of its customers. It is important that marketers understand the boundaries of their actions, in order to not infringe their customers’ privacy. I believe it will be interesting to observe how Social Media Monitoring possibilities develop in the future and if customer interaction will reach an even more personal level. 


















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