Measuring Social Influence Marketing in the automotive industry
By Shiv Singh
Fluent, a new Razorfish report, examines the rise of Social Influence Marketing – the method of employing social media and social influencers to meet a company’s business and marketing objectives. The report features a new proprietary survey that explores how social media informs consumer purchase behavior, and introduces the SIM Score – a new benchmark Razorfish developed to measure a brand’s social influence and favorability relative to its competitors
Razorfish surveyed 1,000 consumers who reported both social media and e-commerce activity, in an effort to discover how social media and different social influencers affect purchasing decisions.
Razorfish developed a new index, the SIM Score, to determine how a brand is being talked about online. Collaborating with partners TNS Cymfony and the Keller Fay Group, Razorfish measured two factors, “reach” and “likeability,” to establish a brand’s SIM Score relative to its competitors. Recognizing the obvious problem of discounting offline influence, Razorfish also factored in word-of-mouth data from the real world. This report determined a SIM Score of five to six companies within four industries - financial services, pharmaceuticals, media and auto. (More information on the data sourcing methodology is available in the complete report.)
For the purposes of this Headlightblog.com post, we’ll be looking only at the portions of the report that pertain to the automotive industry.
Social Influence Marketing in the automotive industry
For the auto industry, it was easier to choose which brands to benchmark. The largest auto brands together have significantly greater market share than all the other auto manufacturers. We chose the corporate brand rather than the product brand as auto company reputations are built on the corporate brands first and foremost. With product brands in a state of flux, given all the issues affecting the auto industry, we also saw this as a more useful approach to take. The total number of conversations over a six-month period was 2,106,523.
It is not surprising that Ford leads the share of voice metric (see table at right) with all of its various Social Influence Marketing programs underway. In terms of net sentiment though, Honda is highest. With regard to the SIM Score, Ford barely wins by virtue of its share of voice being the second largest and its sentiment just a few percentage points below Honda’s. All in all, even given the turbulence in the auto industry, people still like to talk about the auto brands and do so largely in more favorable and neutral terms.
As with financial services, we also looked at offline share of voice numbers for the auto industry using research data from The Keller Fay Group (see table below).
While not perfectly co-related, it is fair to conclude that there is a correlation between online share of voice and offline share of voice. In the case of GM, Nissan and Toyota, the differences between the online and offline share of voice are less than six percentage points. But Ford has significantly greater offline share of voice while Honda has significantly greater online share of voice. This could be related to many different factors — from how much a brand advertises online to the number of dealerships across the country to the total number of conversations. In future studies, it may be worthwhile to compare online media spend to online share of voice too.
In terms of sentiment comparisons, Honda, Nissan and Toyota online and offline sentiments don’t vary dramatically (all under 10 percentage points) but the differences for Ford and GM are startling. This means that in the offline world, people speak a lot less favorably of those brands, especially in the case of GM where there’s a 30 percent difference between net sentiment online and offline with offline being considerably lower.
What can we infer from the analysis?
First, and without a doubt, the auto industry has a far greater presence in conversations online than any other industry. Those conversations help the industry, resulting in a SIM Score of 92. Coming a distant second is the finance industry with a SIM Score of 6.3. This is followed by pharma with a SIM Score of 0.96 and finally media with a SIM Score of 0.33.
Within each industry, we can observe that negative sentiment affects the total SIM Score of a brand. It is not enough to have a high share of conversation — you have to have high net sentiment numbers too.
The comparisons also show that there typically aren’t significant differences between the sentiments for the various brands. This is largely because brands are mentioned in a neutral context more often than they are in a positive or negative one. Still, the net sentiment does change the SIM Score ranking of some of these brands.
Surprisingly, the tumult in the auto industry hasn’t affected its net sentiment numbers or its SIM Scores in the same way that it has affected the finance industry. This could be for several different reasons, one being the fact that our auto industry analysis includes foreign brands as well. The foreign brands do have higher net sentiment scores than the domestic brands. This does not always translate into a higher SIM score though because they are not discussed as much. The media brands are discussed mostly in positive light resulting in strong SIM Score numbers.
Barring a few companies, we also noticed a fairly close correlation between online net sentiments and the offline net sentiments. Conversations typically have similarly positive and neutral sentiment online as they are offline. The one caveat here is that a much higher percentage of conversations offline are of positive sentiment only versus online. Note, this conclusion can only be drawn by looking at the raw data (not reflected in the tables here)
With regard to further analysis, this study begs the following questions:
What impact does advertising in all the different mediums have on a SIM Score?
How does a SIM Score affect overall brand affinity and purchasing decisions for you?
What does it take to put a program in place to manage one’s SIM Score effectively?
Can a SIM Score that accounts for both online and offline be developed holistically?
What about all the other metrics?
Outside of the SIM Score, which tells you your brand health in the social Web, it is important to think about social influence measurement in the context of specific business, marketing, program and campaign objectives.
Depending on the specifics of the objective, the measurement framework may look different. However, it doesn’t have to be completely different from anything else you’ve done; you’ll probably realize that a lot of the measures you’ve been using elsewhere in the digital realm apply to SIM too. For example, your success metrics in social media could be any of the following:
To increase sales at your ecommerce site
To reduce your support costs
To see how many influential people tweet about something related to your brand
To turn up the volume of coversation about your brand
To increase the number of unique visitors to your website
To tally the number of people who use a specific coupon
To generate increased awareness within a specific audience
What comes next?
First and foremost, you need to establish your SIM Score relative to your competitors and benchmark it against the average for your industry. You must then track your SIM Score on an ongoing basis and note how it changes each time you run a digital or offline advertising campaign, a social marketing effort, a product launch or make some other major announcement. Managing your SIM Score is going to be important.
Second, you must try to map your SIM Score to your offline share of voice and sentiment. Those numbers matter too — as much as your SIM Score. You need to pay attention to why one may trail the other and how sentiment in one domain can impact sales most directly. The methodologies aren’t perfect as yet, but the approach used above is an important step in that direction.
And third, you must put tactical Social Influence Marketing measurement objectives in place at the start of any online effort — whether it is a display banner campaign, a SIM campaign or a blogger outreach program. The success of your program should be measured against these objectives.
My biggest takeaway from this report is that Automobiles as a brand and industry is being talked about in a larger way than any other industry out there, except Music and Gossip. The work to be done is going to be creating interesting and compelling stories about the dealership and its people, local events that support cars and community, and doing a great job of identifying your key influencer's at grassroots ( dealership)level and developing a method of reaching meaningful touchpoints with Key Influencer's, Social Influencer's, and Known Peer influencer's within their Social Graph. How many folks in the auto biz have drilled down their data, e-mail lists, and now with social tools their newest customers to know where to find them online and start a relationship with them that can last a lifetime with them and their network or going forward give them a start to get social for some the first time?
The last section was on Social CRM- the last quarter mile done by David Baker (@Social_C_R_M) and here is where a larger part of success and failure I think will happen. The reason that I see is that Social Media is a time consuming longer term plan than other marketing efforts and use of tools( software) will be critical to try to scale this thing called Social Business- i like that term better than Social Media, because it is about the business end driving future sales. My prediction is that those that rock out their data, e-mail marketing( drip and closed looped), and CRM will be the leaders in this industry just like those in other industries. Doing video's, taking customer pictures, manning the Facebook page, Twitter account, aggregating your work across the whole web, doing blogger outreach, developing a community is hard work and takes skills and training for sure, but you have to capture this massive information wave, measure it, automate it, where you can work on it to ensure your measurable success that can be shown in data to the powers to be so that as adjustments to the marketing budget is are made they will be allocated for best ROI available.. Also any game changing or major changes of " that's the way we do business here" attitudes is going to need to be supported by numbers...ALWAYS.
Wish I had more time to continue- look forward to any comments and discussion...