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We kicked off our 2nd annual Movers & Shapers event (last year known as Geekfest) on Saturday here during SXSW. This one featured several people I’m lucky to call friends. As Bob Pearson mentioned, we chose this list of speakers because many of them are shaping the future of business in this digital age.

Thanks to our clients, partners and sponsors and W2O employees who made today (and our other #SXW2O events) possible. Below are a few highlights from each of the speakers.

  • Javier Boix, Senior Director, StoryLab, AbbVie
    Javier discussed activating a storyline paradigm (see his pre-interview here). When he and the team thought about how to move AbbVie in the storytelling realm, they knew they had to approach things differently. That’s why they created StoryLab.  For AbbVie, StoryLab = Content Development + Media Relations + Digital + Measurement. Tune into the Movers & Shapers livestream at just over the 9 minute mark to see Javier’s session.

Jesse Knish Photography Jesse Knish Photography

  • Michael Jarjour, CEO, ODH, Inc
    Michael joined us to talk about how Data is Improving Mental Health. He sat down with our own Bob Pearson to discuss Michael’s passion, how we transform behavioral and health. Key challenges in behavioral health are resource constraints and highly fragmented data. Mentrics is a tool that combines ODH’s risk assessment data along with data of the complex care patients to find out which patients are most at risk.  From a data perspective, payers are the most important component. How does the risk stratification process work? Michael explained that the ODH team had worked on the solution for four years. It identifies the high-cost patient population to track cost drivers over a year. The goal is to help health care providers figure out which patients are at risk and provide insights into the kind of treatment that can best affect outcomes. It’s about identifying 1) which patients need the most help 2) what kind of help do they need? 3) How can we help? Tune into the Movers & Shapers livestream at about the 23 minute mark to see their discussion.

Jesse Knish Photography Jesse Knish Photography

  • Amber Naslund, SVP Marketing, Sysomos
    I’ve known Amber a long time. She’s someone I’ve always had a great deal of respect for. Now even more so after hearing her talk about embracing imperfection. Everyone talks about transparency and authenticity. Amber nails both. She lives and breathes social engagement and analytics. Much of her talk centered around Impostor Syndrome. It refers to “high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as “fraud.” In 2011, she was riding high when Radian6 was purchased by Salesforce, she had a successful book and was well-known for the social engagement work that she was a part of. During her next step is when she starting struggling those negative feelings of self-doubt. Especially as so many of her peers in the social space appeared to be at the top of their game. That period led her to do research on the topic. She quickly found in her interviews that Impostor’s Syndrome affects everyone… men, women, all ages, etc. Even extremely successful people like best-selling author Stephen King. Bottom line, Amber’s currently focused on making this topic as her next book. I hope she’s successful on that front and applaud her for having the courage to share with the folks here at our event.  You can check out Amber’s session at about the 39 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
Jesse Knish Photography
  • Ray Kerins, SVP Head of Communications & Government Relations, Bayer
    Ray’s topic of discussion was the Criticality of Intellectual Property. Ray did something I wasn’t expecting. He made a talk about IP pretty lively and engaging. He started his session by acknowledging that most people’s eyes glaze over when they hear about patents and IP. He defined IP as the set of laws that protect individuals and companies who have created a unique product or thing. It’s important to all of us because it protects innovation. Ray cited one of the most difficult aspects of IP is the un-evenness of laws around the world. While those in the United States are decent, several countries outside the US have very weak laws, and in some cases, those laws can be difficult to enforce. Ray is a board member of the US Chamber of Commerce and he’s also a member of the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC). GIPC’s sole responsibility is to make sure the IP laws around the world help protect innovation created in America. According to Ray, IP creates job. He referenced several reports compiled by GIPC. One such report is the International IP Index, which ranks the world’s countries in terms of levle of IP protection. In other words, to track the places where counterfeiting is the biggest problem. Surprises? Venezuela is the country that currently ranks the highest on that list. India is #2. Another surprise? China currently ranks  17th on the list. Ray attributed China’s going down on the list (improving) to the Chinese government’s active efforts to strengthen their IP laws and enforcing those laws. You can check out Ray’s session just about the 50 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
Jesse Knish Photography
  • Michele Skelding, SVP Global Technology and Innovation, Austin Chamber of Commerce
    Michele’s topic was The Next Big Thing? Disruptive Innovation in ATX. Michele has lived in Austin for the last 20 years and has worked in technology for most of that time. She joined the Austin Chamber of Commerce about three years ago with the goal of bringing her tech expertise to the city. Michele mentioned that the average age in Austin was 33. The city has a population of about 1.9 million people, of which 415,000 are students. What’s one of the most important things the city can do to keep those students here? Create jobs that they’ll want to stay here for. As a city, that means we have to be on target with our business benefits. Add it all up and Austin is expected to be one of the fastest growing cities until 2025. Michele ended with a plea for those of us in Austin to get engaged in terms of the future of the city. Along those lines, she mentioned recent headlines where Austin proposed city ordinances are creating barriers for companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in this city. One more thing: Thanks to Michele for making the introduction to Hugh Forrest and making that PreCommerce fireside chat possible. You can check out Ray’s session just about the 1 hour 27 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

Jesse Knish Photography Jesse Knish Photography

  • Robert Scoble, Entrepreneur in Residence, UploadVR
    Robert is another person I’m fortunate to know pretty well. Robert’s book Naked Conversations (that he co-authored Shel Israel) had a big impact on me when I was gearing up to take the reins at Direct2Dell back in 2006. Robert’s one of the best in the business about what’s next in technology. Look at his other books as an example. Age of Context focused on how sensors and big data will continue to impact business. He and Shel are currently working on their third book called Beyond Mobile. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is not surprisingly one of the main topics that book will cover. Fresh off the news that he’s joining UploadVR as their Entrepreneur in Residence, Robert dove right into the topic of virtual reality and augmented reality. He discussed companies like Magic Leap and Meta that will play a part in the future, as well as other established tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Google. This technology is already showing up in our world… self-driving cars use sensors and tons of data to map the world around them. Heavy machinery company Caterpillar is already using AR to help train mechanics on repairs. According to Robert, augmented reality (where we interact with virtual objects superimposed on top of real-world objects) is going to have the biggest impact. We’re still 3 – 5 years away from the truly ground-breaking stuff that will occur has hardware gets smaller, faster and cheaper. It’s coming though, and in my opinion, there’s much to look forward to. You can check out Robert’s session at about the 1 hour 38 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
Jesse Knish Photography
  • Patrick Moorhead, President and Principal Analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy
    Patrick’s topic was The Future of Healthcare is Closer Than it May Appear. Before becoming an industry analyst, he spent over 20 years in the tech business, focused on things like product management, product marketing and strategy. For 15 years he served on the board of St. Davids’s Medical Center and the Austin Heart Hospital (where he also chaired the board for five years). Besides sing the bureaucracy first hand, he was struck by the number of people so passionate about helping others. He mentioned that we spend over $3 trillion dollars in Healthcare annually. An estimated 90% of that goes toward chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. And an estimated 80% of those could be prevented with better healthcare along with personal responsibility. He also said the biggest issue in healthcare is the disconnect between payment and service. During the session, he called out that Moor Insights was welcoming Yuri Teshler to lead the Healthcare vertical  You can check out Patrick’s session at just over the 1 hour 58 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
Jesse Knish Photography
  • Natanya Anderson, Sr. Marketing Director, 365 by Whole Foods Market
    Natanya talked about the Mandate to Innovate, which is a good topic for her given how much she has done inside the walls of Whole Foods before taking on the charter to expand their 365 effort. She touched on disruption and called out Whole Foods’ recent investment in Instacart as an example of how Whole Foods is working with innovative companies instead of against them. Figuring how to innovate inside a big brand was something she struggled with at first. Her light bulb moment came when she spoke at the Foresight & Trends Conference about 18 months ago. She spoke to many people there who were part of innovation groups, or in some cases, even innovation business units. Many of them spent time analyzing trends to help figure out what areas lend themselves to innovation within their respective companies. That’s when it hit her. Instead of thinking, “How do I get that (innovation) job?” She realized the better question was, “How do I make innovation part of my job?” She started by establishing a mandate to innovate for herself. That’s when she starting actively looking for places where Whole Foods could innovate. Then she extended the that intention to innovate to her entire team. She found that some people on her team were more receptive to it than others. The tipping point was when she tied innovation to the team’s goals overall and they worked as a group to figure out how to measure the innovation part of their efforts. Hint: It wasn’t ROI. You can check out Natanya’s session at just over the 2 hour 14 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
Jesse Knish Photography

Check back soon to learn more from other speakers and what amazing insights they offered at Movers & Shapers!

 

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Lionel Menchaca currently serves as Director of Corporate & Strategy at W2O Group. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or reach out to him on Twitter at @LionelGeek!


 

Learn more about W2O Group:  About  Work  Contact.

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In case you weren’t able to livestream our 5th Annual PreCommerce Summit here in Austin, here is a quick summary of one of the sessions. First off was Chuck Hemann and his presentation on how to scale analytics within an organization, globally. Not an easy task for sure, especially within such a large brand like Intel. He offered some really helpful tips below and you can also read the transcripts from a previous interview we did with him.

  • Strong commitment from senior leadership
  • Willing and able partners in the GEOS
  • Metrics Standardization – framework that works everywhere
  • Common taxonomy for all media channels – content, paid social, search, ec.
  • Global capabilities stack
  • Stakeholder commitment to read, optimize on a similar cadence
  • Embracing the connected network versus hub and spoke

He concluded by highlighting how Intel is tackling this challenge:

  • The ability to work with even more speed
  • Bringing the data sources together to tell a comprehensive story
  • Protruding data in more challenging markets
  • Tools and Insights training
  • Developing analytics muscle memory and talent

Next up was Amber Naslund with an inspiring story about storytelling. She did this so effectively by sharing her professional journey from when she first started blogging, to joining Radian6, consulting for a few years and then to her current position with Sysomos.

My biggest takeaway from her session was when she talked about purpose; and how storytelling, whether personal or professional, should have purpose. Without it, storytelling will not inspire others and be doomed to fail. She said that one reason her consulting company failed was this lack of purpose.

The session concluded with Kip Knight who discussed brand storytelling. He started off his talk highlighting some pretty cool examples of campaigns where storytelling was the pinnacle – Allstate, Flo from Progressive Insurance, George Zimmer from the Men’s Warehouse, Most interesting man in the world – Dos Equis and the infamous Etrade Baby.

He then talked about H&R Block’s “Get Your Billions Back” campaign, which referenced the $300 billion dollars the IRS delivered in tax refunds in 2013. The campaign featured a bow-tie wearing spokesperson and H&R Block tax preparer, Richard Gartland and provided expert tax preparation advice to ensure clients receive the maximum refund possible from the IRS.

 

ABOUT THE PANELISTS

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 chuckChuck Hemann (Global Analytics Manager – Intel) – Scaling Digital Analytics Around the Globe Bio: Chuck Hemann is the Analytics Manager for Intel. Over the last 10 years, Chuck has provided strategic counsel to clients on a variety of topics including, digital analytics, measurement, online reputation, social media, investor relations and crisis communications. Prior to joining Intel, he was the Executive Director of Analytics at Golin where he was responsible for leading digital analytics across the agency. Before Golin, he was the Group Director of Analytics for W2O Group where he was responsible for leading teams in New York and London.

Amber NaslundAmber Naslund (SVP, Marketing – Sysomos) – Storytelling: Individual vs. Corporate Bio: Amber Naslund if the SVP of Marketing for Sysomos, a social intelligence platform. Amber’s 15+ years of professional expertise spans nonprofit management, corporate communications, marketing, professional services and social business strategy. She is the former president of SideraWorks and VP of Social Strategy for Salesforce Radian6, where she advised Fortune 500 companies, such as L’Oreal, Dell and American Express. Amber is also the co-author of the best-selling social business book, “The Now Revolution.”

 

Kip KnightKip Knight (President, US Retail Operations – H&R Block) – Who Speaks For Your Brand? BIO: Kip joined H&R Block in 2012 and currently serves as the President of U.S. Retail Operations. Knight’s 30-year career has included senior management and marketing positions with P&G, PepsiCo and eBay. Knight started in marketing research at Burke Marketing Research and has since worked in over 65 countries. He is the founder of the U.S. Marketing Communication College at the U.S. State Department that trains diplomats on marketing strategy and implementation. Knight is currently on the Board of Directors at Quiznos.

For more information on our SXW2O events and speakers, please visit our website: http://w2oevents.com

chuckAs I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we will be interviewing several of our speakers in advance of our events the week of March 9. Third up is Chuck Hemann, head of analytics at tech giant, Intel. For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

Over the last 10 years, Chuck has provided strategic counsel to clients on a variety of topics including digital analytics, measurement, online reputation, social media, investor relations and crisis communications. Prior to joining Intel, he was Executive Director, Analytics at Golin where I was responsible for leading digital analytics across the agency. Before Golin he was Group Director, Analytics for W2O Group where he was responsible for leading teams in New York and London, in addition to key client relationships with P&G and Verizon.

Now onto the interview:

[Aaron Strout] How did you end up in the field of analytics?
[Chuck Hemann] Probably like a lot of people in the field of analytics I ended up in it sort of by accident. My undergraduate and graduate work is all in political science, and during graduate school I did do some of that work both in DC and at home (Cleveland Rocks!). If you love the study of human behavior, you would love to witness the political environment every day. What I realized, though, is that profession had a limited shelf life for me. Twenty hours a day for weeks on end didn’t sound like much of an existence. When I moved back home I sent my resumes to a bunch of communications firms thinking there were some natural parallels between the political world and communications. During that process Dix & Eaton brought me in for an interview and said they were looking for a research assistant for their media research team and, because I needed a job, I took the opportunity. Two years later is when the social media listening boom hit and the rest as they say is history…

[AS] I’ve heard you’ve written a book. Tell us about that? Anything you would go back and change if you could?
[CH] It is true. I have written a book. Ken Burbary and I set out on the journey to give marketers an analytics book that they would feel comfortable reading. To that point most of the analytics books on the market were written for people like us and while they were valuable, they weren’t terribly useful for the marketer who wont be diving into Google Analytis and doing deep web analytics anytime soon. It’s a great question on whether or not there is anything we would go back and change. If I had to answer I would say there is probably two things in particular: 1. We had to talk about tools but discussing digital analytics tools in this sort of environment is a crapshoot. Most of the tools we talked about are still around but in varying degrees of stability; 2. I wish we would’ve talked more about digital media measurement. We do have a few chapters on it, but I think we could write a whole book on that subject – how to develop the framework, how often to measure, what should you measure, how should those insights be applied, etc… (No, before you ask, we’re not contemplating a book on this. My authoring days are over).

[AS] Your talk at PreCommerce is going to focus on going global and some of the challenges associated. Can you share some pre-session thoughts?
[CH] One of the big challenges that my boss gave to me was help drive the idea of being a data driven organization. Intel (like a lot of brands) has more data than we could ever reasonably use, but what we needed to start doing is figuring out how we got insights into the hands of people executing media programs on our behalf. And oh, by the way, do it across digital media, paid social, organic social, SEM, SEO and Intel.com. That’s not a small job in and of itself, but it was made even bigger when she said, “everything we do needs to scale to our geographies.” Crap. How do we go about tackling that problem? During the session I’m going to talk a little bit about that problem, a little about how we’re thinking about it, a little about what we’ve already done and a little about the challenges we still face. I wish I could talk more about these things, but I only have 10 minutes.

[AS] What are your thoughts on the rising importance of Storytizing (using the art of storytelling via paid, earned and shared channels)?
[CH] I’m not sure I would use the word “rising” because I think Storytizing is already here to stay. If you cannot tell your brand’s story across paid, earned and shared channels then your digital story falls flat. Integration in particular isn’t a “nice to have” anymore. It’s mandatory.

[AS] If you attended SXSW last year, what was your biggest takeaway?
[CH] I did attend SXSW last year and I think the biggest takeaway for me is similar to what many said following the event which was it feels like it’s getting more intimate. Events like PreCommerce are sprouting up all over the place, and I for one am not planning to spend much time at any big parties. I’d rather the networking be more focused.

[AS] What is a trend that you expect (or hope) to see talked about most at SXSW this year and why?
[CH] I would love to see the trend above continue as it makes for a much better event experience. To be honest, I’ve not been keeping up with the buzz around SXSW leading up to it (I’ve been busy scaling globally) so it’s a little difficult to answer… My guess though is we’ll see as much if not more chatter around the proliferation of mobile and the (seeming) retreat on the rapid expansion of catch all social platforms. There are new social platforms popping up all of the time, but the ones that are popping up are very niche to fit a very particular use case.

14 Posts to Take You Into 2014

A year ago my colleague Aaron Strout did a nice wrap up of the most interesting/appealing posts of 2012 on this blog. As Aaron noted, reviewing which posts resonated over a period of time can be informative to better understanding the interests of customers/employees/followers. By collecting the top performers in one place, I’m hoping to provide you with some relevant content you may have missed during the year. Like last year, you’ll notice some themes here – rankings, how-to’s, and analytics-based posts, in particular, continue to resonate.

In 2013 we’ve seen a marked increase in the frequency and number of colleagues contributing to this blog, which is great. And, with 50+ posts having over 2,000 views each, we had to be more restrictive with this wrap up than in the past. As a result (and with a goal of keeping it to less than 15), this year’s list is ranked based on the number of post views – with a minimum of 3,600 views required to make the cut. Of course, there are a ton of other great posts and I encourage you to go back and read these from Bob Pearson, Jenn Gottlieb and Jim Weiss. (Selfish plug, you might also want to read my post-ASCO blog post.)

This year’s list brings us some familiar faces – like Chuck Hemann and Brian Reid as well as some new comers to Common Sense such as Michael Brito and Michael Westgate.

So here it goes – our top posts from 2013 to take you into the New Year:

And the number 1 post of the year – with over 35,000 views…

#SXSWPickUpLines by Aaron Strout (35,847 views!)

I hope you’ve found this list helpful and that you’re looking forward to more engaging content in 2014!  What do you think? Are there topics you’d like us to cover? Interviews you’d like to see?  If so, please let us know in the comments below.

During Social Fresh West earlier this year I had an opportunity to present on how brands can more effectively use data to inform customer service efforts. Brands like Samsung, Comcast, Bank of America, Zappos, Delta and many others have improved customer satisfaction over the last several years by making themselves available to questions and complaints being posted online. Those same brands are measuring their efforts in very interesting ways. Those metrics run the gamut from traditional customer service metrics like resolution rate and time to metrics that may be more focused on the social channel itself like sentiment. While there is variability from brand-to-brand on how the social customer service programs are executed, there are two common characteristics worth highlighting.

  1. Business Metrics — Tracking metrics like sentiment and resolution rate are fine, and definitely needed to gauge the performance of a social customer service program. However, what is most critical is tracking how likely the person raising the issue is to recommend the brand to a family member/friend/colleague, and how likely they are to work with the brand again. The brands who actively manage social customer service programs track these metrics religiously.
  2. Constantly using data — The best brands use data to inform home base for the social customer service program, and then are constantly looking at the types of questions and complaints people are raising in order to maximize the program’s effectiveness. It isn’t as simple as putting up the outpost, and then measuring periodically. It’s critical to be gathering data in real-time, feeding insights derived from the data back into the team executing the program and then taking action on those learnings. It’s not dissimilar to any other digital marketing campaign in that way.

If you want to check out my presentation on this subject to the Social Fresh audience I have included it below. Also below is a short video of me describing the talk in some more detail. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Do you remember way back to 2006-2007? What specifically do you remember about those two years? Where were you working and what were you working on? I remember working for a more traditional (I don’t even know what that means anymore) communications agency doing research for our media relations, crisis communications and investor relations teams. The primary focus then was on evaluating the performance of media campaigns and events using metrics like impressions, message resonance and number of mentions in key mainstream media outlets. There was some element of the role that required real-time analysis, but generally speaking we were evaluating those campaigns and events after the fact. It wasn’t bad. It is just what was common practice.

A funny thing happened as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube began to explode: The number of companies that were created to help brands and agencies understand what was happening on those networks also exploded. Companies like Radian6 and Sysomos were the industry leaders, and early pioneers of a new approach to gathering and analyzing stakeholder behavior online. They offered users the ability to track share of voice, keyword trends, volume trends, sentiment and influencers. If you were working in the digital marketing industry then and saw those tools you would have never guessed they would have grown to this point, or achieved the kinds of valuations that they now command. To be fair, both companies helped show us that there was more to learn about our stakeholders behaviors than we analytics pros were getting through the traditional tool set.

Fast forward six or seven years and the tool set has evolved tremendously. There are literally hundreds (probably thousands) of tools out there that companies and agencies can use to gather online data about its key stakeholders. We have evolved beyond relying on a social media listening tool to answer every question, albeit not far enough. There have been great advances in search, content and audience analytics over that time. There have also been great strides toward the integration of traditional market research and digital/social research. As quickly as a new social channel pops up, so too does a new tool that gives analysts the ability to harvest and analyze that data.

Because the industry is moving so quickly, I don’t think we take enough time to document where we want it to go and what we need from the tools. So, beginning today, I am going to document in two parts where I think the industry needs to move and what we need from the tools. Part one, or what you are about to read, offers a point of view from the analyst perspective. Part two, what you will read later this week (I hope), will offer a point of view from the marketers/communicators perspective. Here is where I think we need to go from the analysts perspective:

  • Cleaner data – Anybody who uses a social media monitoring tool can tell you that a lot of the output from these tools is spam. Now, part of that is a function of how much spam there is on the Internet but going through a dataset that is 75%+ spam (and we have seen higher) is a time consuming task. It distracts from the real job of an analyst, which is to interpret the data. It also makes it very difficult to analyze behavioral trends over time because the analyst is constantly wondering if the dataset is clean or it has been biased by the introduction of more spam. What analysts really need is a tool with a smart spam filter system that learns over time as data is collected.
  • Integrating data sources – Social media listening can tell us a lot about how consumers are behaving, but it does not tell us everything. What were to happen if key stakeholders were talking in limited volume? Would you be able to develop insights based on a few hundred conversations in a 12 month period? That is a very likely scenario if you represent a niche B2B brand today. We analysts need to be better at pulling data from all aspects of the data supply chain (content, audience, social media monitoring, search and influencers) to understand the complete picture of how our stakeholders behave online.
  • Truly understanding PESO behaviors – At W2O Group we refer to the integrated media landscape as PESO — paid, earned, shared and owned. What the tool set allows us to do today is understand shared and owned media activities very well. Unfortunately, the integration with paid and earned media analytics platforms is lacking. Point #2 and #3 here are related, and it is something we need the tools to deliver desperately. In the meantime, though, approaching research projects with the mindset of understanding behaviors across PESO is a helpful place to start.
  • Assist colleagues in seeing the value of digital/social data beyond the communications context – Ken Burbary and I originally met in 2008 after we started a Twitter exchange about the value of digital and social data to the entire enterprise. Five years later we wrote a book together, and five years later we are still talking about the need to expand. It is one thing for the analysts among us to deliver insights on key communications questions, but is is another thing entirely to deliver insights that may help product development, customer service, HR or sales. Even if we aren’t asked for it, that is what we need to deliver more consistently.
  • Understanding audience segments at a deeper level – One of the questions analysts are often tasked in answering is understanding how a company’s social community is behaving. When we are asked that question we often approach it from the standpoint of understanding that behavior on the company’s shared and owned properties. That is only one part of the equation. The other part is understanding what ELSE those people care about. You, the analyst, already know that they have liked your page. Do you know what else they care about? At W2O Group we call this forensic analytics, and I think we analysts need to take the next step in understanding consumer behavior at a deeper level.
  • Training the next generation of analysts – Many of the people who work in digital and social analytics today came from the traditional research realm because they saw an opportunity to advance their career in a new, and interesting area. Because analytics has become so hot there are a number of people now entering the industry who don’t have as much context as they will need as their career unfolds. It is on us analysts who have been in the space for several years to develop a rigorous set of standards that can be followed by the next generation.

What else? What else do we analysts need to do to ensure the industry is evolving and keeping up with communicators’ needs? Again, later this week I will offer up a perspective on where the analytics industry needs to go from the marketer/communicator perspective, but in the meantime I look forward to hearing from you.

One of the questions I am constantly asked during conference presentations is, “what are some free tools that you might recommend for the non-enterprise customer?” That is a hard question to answer only because every business has different needs and resource challenges. My typical answer is that the business should explore lower cost alternatives with the enterprise tools that we typically talk about. Many of those tools do have small-to-medium size business pricing if you ask them.

That said, there are a number of free-to-inexpensive tools that you can use for quick analytics needs. If you are a smaller business there is a good chance you have heard of, or are currently using some of these. If you are an enterprise business you might think some of these tools do not work for you. You would be wrong. Some of these tools, like Google Trends for example, provide valuable (and quick) information on how people are reacting to your brand online. Other tools, like Simply Measured, are used by enterprise clients every day to measure the effectiveness of social media channels versus benchmarks and competitors.

Google Trends and Simply Measured are two of my favorite free-to-inexpensive tools currently on the market. What are some others? Below you will find a list of my top 10. Is there every free-to-inexpensive tool that I like? No, it is not. Are these the ones I have used most often over the years? Yes, it is. You may have a tool that you use regularly that isn’t represented below. Feel free to let us know what that is so we can all expand our tool vocabulary.

Top 10 Analytics Tools You Can Use Right Now

With the 2013 version of SxSW Interactive in the books, it’s time for a look back on highlights, key trends (or lack of) and links to some of the awesome content we collected during the several events that we hosted during the event.

For starters, there really weren’t any big technologies that shined through at this SXSW like we’ve had at past events. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but likely more of an indication that it’s becoming harder and harder to break through all the noise at SXSW Interactive. There was a larger corporate presence than ever this year and that will likely be a continuing theme over the next few years as companies continue to embrace, grow and operationalize social, digital and mobile into their corporate DNA.

Social Commerce Summit

For W2O Group in particular, we had a very successful set of of events that kicked off with our Social Commerce Summit on Thursday, March 7. During this six hour event, we had 19 speakers each give 10 minute TED-like talks. The talks covered a range of topics including love, marriage and creating brand passion. We know it’s a lot of content but we hope you’ll take the time to watch the video (or at least read the highlights in the blog posts) from the speakers below.

We also had a few nice write ups from the event by former PR Week/current Holmes Report writer, Aarti Shah (here) and friend of W2O, Lisa Grimm (here).

In particular, we would like to thank our sponsors, Sysomos and BazaarVoice, for making all of our events during SXSW possible. They were (and are) great partners.

 

W2O Group Open House/Live from Stubbs Video Podcasts

While there weren’t any breakthrough companies this year at SXSW, we did have a number of themes crop up during our Social Commerce Summit and then again during our Live from Stubbs podcast tapings during our open house on Friday, March 8. In particular we heard a lot about big data, mobile, analytics and the operationalization of digital across the organization from many of our speakers/guests. There was also a significant amount of interest in our partner, SnapTrends, technology that provides for location-based analytics, a topic that W2O is quite bullish on.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be embedding the Live from Stubbs videos in blog posts on our Common Sense blog. In the meantime, you can check out all of the videos on our Youtube channel here. You can also read my Live from Stubbs co-host, Kyle Flaherty’s summary of our interview with Youtube’s Jeben Berg, here. When Kyle is not podcasting he is the VP of marketing at local analytics firm, 21CT who was kind enough to sponsor our Live from Stubbs videos. I would also like to thank local video production and strategy company, UPG for all of their brilliant work with both the Live from Stubbs videos as well as recording/editing all of our Social Commerce videos.

Geek-a-cue

Of course SXSW wouldn’t be what it is without a party. And party we did at our 4th annual Geek-a-cue on Saturday night at Franklin BBQ (ranked best BBQ in the U.S. by Bon Appetit Magazine). Fortunately the rain held off this year allowing us to eat fantastic BBQ, enjoy the brilliant music of local favorite, Monte Montgomery, share a few beverages, take funny photos in our photo booth and play a little Corn Hole out behind the tent.

This short video shot and produced by UPG does a wonderful job of summing up this fabulous event.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_TYROYXApk[/youtube]

We also need to thank Natalee Norwood and Spoiled Doves for producing our Geek-a-cue. Without all her creativity, foresight and elbow grease, this event wouldn’t be what it was. Thank you to Aaron and Stacy Franklin and the Franklin staff for use of their venue and all the mouth watering BBQ they served up with smiles on their faces.

Digital Brunch

Capping off the week, we hosted a digital brunch at our East Austin offices. In spite of threats of rain, the springing ahead of the clocks and a lot of hung over SXSW attendees, we still enjoyed over 125 visitors to our new offices. The petting zoo, chair massages, drinks (alcoholic and caffeinated) and gourmet brunch courtesy of local restaurant/catering company, Dai Due, probably didn’t hurt.

Biggest thanks of all go to the dream team at W2O Group of Erin Disney, Stephanie Layton, Blaire Borochoff and Katrina Hallowell for their months of hard work putting these events together. Huge props also go to our CEO, Jim Weiss and President, Bob Pearson for making these events possible. Last but not least, a shout out to all of our W2O Group employees who volunteered/attended as well as our clients for being an integral part of our SXSW experience. Thank you!

Last but not least, we also had a little fun with our #sxswpickuplines this year. Details are here. Video that put the cherry on the cake is below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR6kVwM2Gp8[/youtube]

Over the last five years I have been a part of hundreds of social and digital media research assignments for clients of all industries and sizes. There are nuances to each project, industry and client that make the research side of my brain excited with the process of exploration. That process is simply a series of steps that analysts follow to read and analyze the data, and then develop insights based on knowledge of the business and the data to inform a strategy and tactics. Those insights are what clients pay us for. Well… not entirely.

Let us take a step back for a second and explore the process we use to arrive at the insights development phase.

  1. Business input – An old colleague of mine used to tell clients that they will always know the business better, but the reason we were brought in was because of our expertise in translating the business into the written (or digital, in this case) word. Every project starts with a debrief on where the business currently stands, where it is going and what are the steps being taken to get there. It is critical for analysts who may come in and out of a particular industry or client situation to have the business context when reviewing the data. Without that context, the insights could totally miss the mark.
  2. Initial research – We always start with an initial research phase in order to hone keywords and test initial assumptions. It doesn’t need to be structured.
  3. Hypothesis development – Before you go into anaphylactic shock after reading the word hypothesis, you should know that I don’t mean it in the very literal, high school science class way. If you would like to format your hypotheses that way, be my guest. However, when I say hypothesis all I am referring to is a brief statement detailing what you as the researcher are expecting to see after the business input session. It can be something as simple as saying like, “the majority of conversations will be taking place on Twitter.” That’s a perfectly fine statement and it helps frame the research in such a way that you do not end up with 500 slides of data and no clear story or direction. More on this in a moment…
  4. Research/Analysis – This is where the analyst takes everything he or she learned during the business input session, initial research and hypothesis phases and applies it to the actual data. For the purposes of this post, just know that this is where the bulk of the work happens, particularly in industries that receive quite a bit of attention online.
  5. Insights development – After the analyst has gathered all of the data, he or she can start to develop insights based on what they learned during the business input session and in the data gathering phase.

Clients and internal teams alike are always looking for this insight, right? It is where the rubber meets the road. It is the basis for the development of our communications strategies and tactics, right? While it is certainly the goal to uncover that golden nugget of an insight that forever changes the business, sometimes confirming an initial suspicion can be just as valuable. For example, what if during the business input session your client or key stakeholder told you that there was some negativity about the brand. That the brand image itself had been tarnished in some way. What if during your research you confirmed that yes, in fact, there was a negative stigma attached to the brand? Would that not be valuable for the brand to hear? Obviously, it is your job as an analyst to help the team translate that finding into an action plan to counteract the negativity, but you have just confirmed their gut instinct.

What if you were conducting this same kind of social media research for a B2B company and the client or stakeholder told you that nobody is talking about the brand online and you then demonstrated that through your research? Would that not be valuable to hear? Again, it is incumbent upon you (the analyst) and the team to develop an action plan to counteract or grow the volume of conversation (if desired).

There are going to be those instances where finding the truly amazing insight in a set of data will not happen. Trust me, I have been a part of several projects over the last several years where that is the case. In those instances, confirming initial gut instincts can be just as valuable if translated into an action plan. Don’t forsake confirming your instincts in search of the magical insight elixir. If you do, you might be disappointed.