Gherkins for breakfast - a better perspective on social media research through roundtable discussion

Gherkins for breakfast - a better perspective on social media research through roundtable discussion

Standing 180m high, the Swiss Re building or “Gherkin” as it’s more affectionately known, is one London’s tallest buildings. As such it provides some amazing views of the London skyline, giving visitors a perfect panoramic backdrop to help inspire thinking about the bigger picture.

We thought it would be an ideal venue to discuss social media research issues and beyond over breakfast, among a like-minded, enquiring audience. We had representatives from The Princes Trust, Adecco, Saxo Bank, Tata Consulting, Market and The Barbican – keen to explore active web listening, how it can be used to create private online communities and develop into a model of Accelerated Customer Advocacy.

As you may know, we hold many of these breakfast events – although this was the first at such high altitude! We get together to share good food, good ideas and best practice - it’s a great opportunity to discuss what different sectors are doing.

By definition, there is no set textbook for social media, we are all learning so it helps to pool ideas in answering those difficult questions that frequently arise when conducting digital marketing and research.

We encourage everyone to speak freely, so we don’t broadcast the event or run transcripts of the discussions, however to give you a flavour, here are 6 snippets we would like to share that may help you:

1. How well do you know your Facebook fans and Twitter followers?
This is a frequent topic of discussion. Many companies have developed a social media presence but would like to know much more about the fans and followers they are attracting. What messages are fans disseminating, how influential are they, what is the ROI? How many of their followers are “ghosts” – the ones who follow or like, but other than that, are inactive.

2. Moving to toward Social CRM
Addressing how you can plug your followers’ handles and usernames into your CRM database to create “Social CRM” is great a first step in defining and measuring ROI.

3. Be careful when establishing your ROI metrics.
We have found that while your ROI metrics might keep the CFO happy, beware of being too restrictive in what you measure. There are often many other unintended and unexpected benefits generated from your social media presence. For example these might include vastly improved SEO for new phrases, a more engaged audience with which to conduct research, reduced costs for a number of marketing activities.

4. Why accuracy is important
While discussing social media monitoring (SMM) it was apparent that the issue of accuracy rapidly became a very big deal once we raised the subject. Many buyers don’t initially give this priority often assuming it’s a given. A key buying trigger is more likely to be price – or a pretty a dashboard! However, despite the claims, when faced with the reality that some software platforms deliver accuracy of little over 50% then you might as a flip a coin as use the data to make a decision. Conversely other SMM companies that claim accuracy of 100% should be treated with extreme caution, even humans cannot agree with 100% certainty whether a range of statements are positive, negative or neutral. Here are some Qs you might want to ask your potential SMM provider. 

5. Human intervention for better results
We like to refer to SMM as Active Web Listening because where we differ from software companies is that we like to take an active human role within the automated SMM process. Breakfast guests have told us that when they are able to work closely with a provider they can develop more meaningful taxonomies for measurement which provides more useful findings. We also check results by hand to continually test and improve accuracy over time.

6. Where do I start?
Another question we are often asked is that when setting up a social media strategy to generate advocacy is – where best to start? There are so many potential avenues to explore there’s always a danger in wasting time and resource. One of our guests put it best and most succinctly - start with your customer in mind. Look at your customer strategy first and foremost – put your customers at the centre and build your social media around them. Follow this advice and you won’t go far wrong.


If you would be interested in joining the shortlist for a forthcoming event contact Tom Hogg,

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