The Social Business Index is open

by Lee Bryant 13 Sep 2011 Blog Post

Today is an exciting day for Dachis Group, with the public launch of the Social Business Index, which has so far been in closed beta with over 100 early access customers. See Erik’s announcement for a good introduction to the service.

The Social Business Index tracks the performance of the most socially engaged global businesses, providing real-time ranking, analysis and benchmarking. It covers companies’ social business initiatives on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, message boards, forums and other platforms, tracking behaviours that can provide evidence for real business KPIs, and ultimately ROI. Currently, it tracks over 26,000 brands from over 20,000 companies, including over 100 million social accounts worldwide, but this is growing all the time.

Whereas social media monitoring has tended to look at what the market is saying about a brand, the idea here is to gauge the effectiveness of your organisation’s own social engagement strategies and tactics - not just sentiment (which it seems to do rather well, by the way), but defined, identifiable behaviours.

We believe that a far greater proportion of marketing budget spend could move to social engagement and performance brand marketing if we are able to develop more sophisticated ROI or measurement models geared to real-world business impact rather than just social metrics like hits, clicks, like and views. As my friend Niall Cook wrote just this morning, ROI is hard to measure as a purely financial metric; but more than anything we need benchmarks and some way of measuring relative success. The Index is Dachis Group’s contribution to that process, and it is the beginning of a journey that will almost certainly involve a lot of tweaking, debate, testing and refinement. But we know the need is there – companies are regularly asking us how they can objectively assess the success of their social engagement efforts, and see how well they are doing against competitors.

The Index is the first service to be launched on the underlying Social Business Intelligence as a Service platform (SBIaaS) that Erik and his team have been building over the past year or so. The team are using a supercharged combination of big data technology, cloud computing and distributed development, combined with crowdsourcing of data analysis, applied to both public and commercial data, to build up a sophisticated picture of each company’s social activity. In fact, there is a fascinating story to be told about just how the platform has been developed, but that is Erik’s story to tell. Of course, seeking perfect data is a fool’s errand, but we hope the SBIaaS platform will help companies start to get a handle on market, industry and competitor benchmarking to put their social activities and results in context.

And, of course, as Rand Fishkin wrote last year, the algorithm + the crowd are not enough – there is still a need for expert evaluation, guidance and sense making. On top of the Index itself, we also offer consulting, design and other services to help companies make sense of their social data and what it means for their business. As I said in Boston at E2.0 this year, it is not how big you data is, it’s what you do with it that counts, and so our focus is on action as much as it is on analytics.

I have argued elsewhere that the social media world is moving away from basic brand monitoring and listening, towards a more business-relevant Social Business Intelligence approach and this is a sign that we are maturing beyond the early period of purely campaign-driven (hipster) agencies towards a more grown-up and grounded view of social engagement as a whole. We think this will be crucial in supporting the case for further investment in social engagement, but also key to how we adapt engagement strategies on an ongoing basis, informed by customer insight and feedback. In (my colleague) Dion Hinchliffe’s recent thinking on the social business maturity model, meaningful listening and smart analytics are a necessary step towards the eventual goal of using co-creation with customers as the basis for new, highly-engaged business models. I think the Index is a very useful piece of that puzzle.

We are really excited to see how companies engage with the SBI, and what sort of insights it can bring to their social activities. If you would like to learn more, or just give us feedback on our Social Business Intelligence practice, then please feel free to contact me directly.