Introducing the Public Launch of the Social Business Index

by Erik Huddleston 13 Sep 2011 Blog Post

Many of you may recall the launch of the Social Business Index in June.  We were all excited about it and it generated some interesting conversations in the market.  Unfortunately, unless you were a social media practitioner, brand owner, or social strategy owner in one of the companies covered by the Index, there wasn’t much to see.  Today we are excited to open up a portion of the Social Business Index to the public as a resource on social business adoption and performance and as part of our ongoing conversation about what it means to be a high performing social business.

The Brand Marketing Context

At the macro level, we see the beginnings of an inevitable shift in brand marketing spend towards social.  While there are many reasons for this (several of which have been the subject of other blog posts at Dachis Group), there is one factor that is of particular interest in motivating the creation of the Social Business Index and the underlying Social Business Intelligence as a Service (SBIaaS) platform on which the Index is built.

Social, as a conduit to connect with a brand’s market, is on the brink of offering a unique environment to measure the return on investment of marketing activities, particularly for the murkier business outcomes of brand marketing such as brand awareness, brand love, mindshare, and advocacy.  There are a few factors that are driving this.  First, social has now hit a scale of adoption to provide meaningful audiences for brand engagement as witnessed by Facebook blowing past the 750M user mark this year (for context, the typical superbowl commercial is viewed by 111M).  Further, the volume of public conversation in social is staggering (remember Twitter engineering’s casual “350B tweets delivered daily” disclosure).

The treasure trove of social data and potential insight is ripe for analysis to understand the impact and value of a particular activity.  That insight can be immediately acted on to optimize the strategies of a brand because of the unique nature of social’s authentic, two way communication with the market.  Not only does this provide the potential for superior marketing results, but creates the opportunity to test many messages with many segments and measure them individually (in a way, similar to the unique A/B testing of performance marketings simpler marketing activities).

The Challenges of Measuring Social ROI

There are a couple of significant hurdles that must be overcome to capitalize on social’s opportunity to be a marketing vehicle with clearly measurable performance.

First, there needs to be traceability of the behaviors and activities executed by a brand in social to the business outcomes that they are trying to achieve.  Second, a marketer needs context to understand where their execution of a marketing behavior is on the spectrum of performance between best and worst in class for their industry (or competitors).  The latter provides the marketer with the canvas of what is possible and sets expectations for expected results.  The former provides the tools to measure their performance within the context of what is possible and expected.  The combination of the two allows the marketer to optimize marketing spend and confidently plan.  If Coca Cola, Starbucks, or Red Bull want to add another million Facebook fans, there are many ways they could be successful.  If a Chinese mining company wants to do the same, their options are…more limited.

Dachis Group and Social Business Intelligence

The Dachis Group SBIaaS data services platform was created to solve these two core problems and that is reflected in the Social Business Index, the first lens on top of the data produced by the platform.  The Social Business Index measures social performance and adoption of the world’s leading social businesses.  It provides a stack ranking of these companies as well as a best in class and industry rankings.

Currently we are tracking thousands of companies, their subsidiaries, and their brands. We monitor their social accounts, as well as the social accounts of their engaged market (over 100M total, and tens of millions active at any given time). This coverage increases daily.  Using natural language processing and machine learning algorithms powered by our industry defining Social Business Design framework and the world’s largest Social Business strategy consultancy, we identify specific behaviors and activities that are being executed by those brands.  We use the execution of those behaviors and associated measures to construct metrics which correlate to brand marketing business outcomes.  We’ve started with Brand Awareness, Brand Love, Brand Mindshare, and Advocacy.  We then benchmark the execution of those measures, metrics, and behaviors against each companies competitors, their industry, best in class, and the market in general.  In aggregate, this gives us a company’s Social Business Index Score and is the basis of the rankings in the index.

The ability to provide that traceability from behavior to business outcome coupled with comprehensive benchmarking overcomes the two hurdles to measuring performance of marketing in social.  This is the beginning.  We will learn.  We will evolve our approach.  We know things aren’t perfect, but are excited to be at the forefront of this new and interesting world of Social Business Intelligence.  We look forward to learning from all of you and participating in the dialog around uncovering insight in social data, making that data actionable, and then measuring the performance of those actions.

  • mark

    We’ve been wrestling with the issue of measuring ROI for some time – we found this series of posts – and the SB index very interesting

    The fact that you’re undertaking an assessment of a brand’s activity – as well as measuring an effect is also something we’ve come to understand as important – how you are doing that cost effectively I have no idea!

    Our issue with your approach is the complexity bound up in it…

    In our experience, simplicity is critical (we’ve just been bought by M&C Saatchi whose mantra is “brutal simplicity of thought” – and it is a principle we adhere to religiously).

    Instead of trying to develop new terminology and methodologies, which in our experience confuses clients already struggling with new platforms and technologies, we use the principle of correlation to enable us to talk about KPIs clients already understand – NPS / brand health / revenue.

    To get to the point where you can use correlation (as the financial markets do – most of us are ex-quants @ human digital) you obviously need to be very clear about what you’re measuring (we use a deliverable called a G.H.O.S.T. matrix for this clarity here

    Once you have KPIs the clients care about – it then becomes pretty straightforward to show how social metrics (share of voice, sentiment, and sentiment by topic are the 3 social KPI’s we track on a monthly basis) impact them.

    Is there any way we can find out more about your research methodology? We developed ours with MIT and the London School of Economics – we’d be very interested to hear from other people who are using humans – and not the quant tools….

  • Niti Vaish

    Great insights!

    In my blog, I touch on a related topic ‘Multi-Channel Customer Intelligence’. The blog discusses the need for forming deep relationships between people interfacing with customers at multiple touch-points as well as harnessing the power of big data to provide insights that drive business and organizational decisions such as product improvement, business process improvement and trend analysis.