Areas like Social Media Measurement are particularly fertile for the X Change Conference. I've noticed that some topics just work better than others. To be really successful as a Huddle, it's important that a significant number of people in the group have real hands-on experience (not everyone has to - but enough to keep a real conversation flowing). I remember a couple of years back when we had Huddles on Big Data or Mobile Applications, there were groups where nobody had hands-on experience except the leader (has that ever changed!). That ends up being more like a traditional Conference presentation. On the other hand, areas that are already pretty deeply understood sometimes don't spark enough interest - it's hard to get beyond the common wisdom. So the best topics are ones that achieved enough critical mass to have plenty of contributors but not enough maturity to be old-hat. I think Social Media measurement is right in the sweet spot. And reading Alex's take on the key points for enterprise Social media this should be exactly the kind of conversation that drives deeper understanding and real-world business opportunities.
Could you describe your role at Thomas Cook?
I look after UK social media – my job is about finding ways to add value for holidaymakers across the travel cycle, from consideration right through to sharing their holiday experiences.
What key challenges do digital analysts face with regards to tracking social media data?
There are 2 epistemological approaches to social media tracking: you can monitor what people are saying about marketing campaigns or measure their actions vs. your KPIs with tagging. Depending on the context you can do one or both (be sure to read Brent Dykes’ fantastic article on the topic here). As a digital analyst you want meaningful business insight and tagging ties social media interactions to on-site activity for a single customer view – so it’s preferable. But social networks know the value of their data and tagging opportunities are limited. So I think the key challenge digital analysts face is getting actionable insight from monitoring data. Keyword or taxonomy based brand monitoring has familiar hurdles: over-abundant and sometimes irrelevant data, unrepresentative samples and flawed sentiment analysis. But, if directly applied to business problems, monitoring tools can help develop marketing messages, find new channels and engage influencers (Nate Elliot wrote my favourite piece on this). Further, it seems like the divide between monitoring and measurement is closing. Developments like integrated community platforms and customer content mining from social media mean web properties and marketing can be optimised based on visitors’ social personas - beyond simply pulling in their social graph. It’s a big opportunity to create relevant and targeted messages that work towards business goals.
Your first huddle topic is “Social Media Today: Tools and Metrics”. What led you to pick that topic?
Actually, it’s precisely because tagging opportunities are limited. Speaking to other marketers I think we’re seeing businesses pointing analytics resource at channels where ROI is easier to measure, which means the legwork around capturing and interpreting social data is often outsourced. The result seems to be lots of data, but not really enough insight that speaks directly to business objectives. This huddle is about testing that hypothesis.
The social media measurement eco-system is fragmented. Too many tools providing too many metrics – much the same as the early days of web analytics. How should analysts tackle this challenge?
I can’t comment on the early days of web analytics, but there are certainly lots of incredibly bright people selling shiny social solutions. Here’s the best tip I’ve come across: try to remember that there’s far too much data available (Patrick Sawyer makes this point more narrowly, in relation to social network profiles here). Best-in-class social analytics solutions are tightly focused on business objectives. So my advice is that analysts should first ask themselves what their business needs to know to perform better, then pick the right tool for the job – rather than being seduced into investing in tools they either don’t need or aren’t (yet) ready to use properly.
Your second huddle topic is “The Social Multiplier: Improving ROI by Measurement and Integration”. What will this huddle cover?
It’s a deep-dive into ways social media analytics can make online marketing across channels more relevant, targeted and successful. We’ll be discussing best and worst practice in relation to both the biggest social networks and ‘socialising’ web sites to drive conversion.
What are you hoping to achieve through your huddles?
I want participants to get excited about the potential of using the right social data in the right way for their businesses.
Of the other Huddles at X Change which are of particular interest to you?
The one I’m particularly excited about is David Williams’ ‘Preparing for Big Data’. I’ve admired Mr Williams’ work from afar for a few years now, and even if I wasn’t a huddle leader I’d still have come to Berlin for the chance to pick his brain about focusing analytics solutions on business problems.
In your opinion, why should web analysts and optimisation professionals attend X Change?
Because innovation happens when you look at the same problem from new angles!
We're about a month away from X Change Berlin, so there's still plenty of time to register and save your seat in the conversation. The chance to sit down and talk deep analytics with people like Alex from Thomas Cook, Ross McDonnell from Disney or David Williams from ASOS is priceless. Click here to join us!
Thinking ahead to X Change U.S. in September? Click here to register since the U.S. Conference always sells out early!