Football! America! Land Acquisition. Winners and Losers! There are few things as culturally defining as football is to America. The existence of the Superbowl™, the Ragnarok of sports and cultural end-times pits the survivors of a brutal season against each other. It is as much a battle in the media as it is on the field. 111 million viewers represents a lot of simultaneous outreach and since the spectacle of the ad campaigns is itself now part of the culture, the messages are scrutinized much more carefully. With YouTube and other outlets through which people can see these messages when they want, voluntarily, a new ground for marketing has emerged.
Since the Big Game aired we had intended on doing blog posts about it. I started to rant about one ad I despised, then the CEO and I started talking about measuring how it did in the social media space. That led to a blog post, that became a bit too technical, on measuring social media impact. That was when we realized there was much more to this than simple analysis of a few ads on TV. So now you have this blog post.
The major thing that came out all this talk was this: There are many aspects of the social network that are measurable and those measures can be incorporated as guidance for a marketing campaign. Things like Facebook fans and likes, Twitter followers and mentions and hashtags/keywords, YouTube views and so forth. Did you know that the Volkswagen ‘Little Darth Vader’ ad on YouTube gave the company a 30+ million views lift on top of what it did during the Superbowl? The ad I disliked the most didn’t break 200k additional views. Some companies had well organized social campaigns simultaneously with the game. Some companies, such as Wisconsin’s Topper’s Pizza, who could not afford the multi-million dollar 30 second slots to create a placement, went instead with the social network, using Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.
Pizza is a cut throat business – it is hard to differentiate as the customer base has pretty solid expectations of the product and they know what they want. So it comes down to company image, product quality, reliability and price. With the target market being 18-24 years old this makes it even more important to strike out ground where the market can be encountered and that, today, is the social network. Their campaign was so effective that it got the attention of the Wall Street Journal.
I am biased by my experience with the U.S. Army and the view point that nearly every situation can be viewed as force, terrain, force multipliers and measurable victory conditions. There are some situations in life that require a more Taoist like appreciation but Superbowl™ Sunday isn’t one of them. So, you may ask, what constitutes key terrain on the Internet?
Brand Ground consists of your websites and blogs and media you have complete control over.
Common Ground consists of places where you and the public meet: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and anywhere that your brand and the public meet that neither control.
User Ground is the most valuable. It consists of user controlled blogs and websites. Get a foothold there and the battle will be won if you can get them to talk about your brand and product in positive terms and to reuse your content.
This led to a discussion about a Social Intelligence Dashboard. For the past couple of weeks SheTech has been doing high level discussion about what shape this might take from a business standpoint. From a technical standpoint the act of automating measurement is fairly straightforward. There are two ways of looking at it: one is the actual processing and math, the other is the gathering of the information. The first is easy and the second is difficult. From an intelligence perspective this is actually ideal – intelligence input is more valuable the harder it is to gather and it produces better products the easier it is to process. My approach to this is also informed by my past experiences and so my design will be open source. I want the input of many people on this. I want anyone who wants to see how this information is gathered and processed to have full access. A proprietary and black boxed measurement is worthless. In the world of military intelligence it is not just that we collect facts but that we know things about those facts (where did they come from, how much confidence do we have in them, how much confidence do we have in the source). The same goes for social intelligence as applied to making rational business decisions. It isn’t just what you know, but how you know it and how much confidence you have in that knowledge. You can only have confidence in information if you know how it was come by and how it can be validated.
Development has begun on the Social Intelligence Dashboard (SiD). If you have an interest in it please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your queries. A formal announcement of the open source project will come later.