magazine’s September, 2014 cover was a photo of Eric Snowden, period. No photo caption, no headline, no copy whatsoever.
We won’t take a position
on Snowden or the cover. But as marketers we were intrigued by a follow-up story in Wired that
reported on reader reaction. But rather than the reactions themselves, what really caught our attention was how the
tonality of the received comments varied so much by medium. Wired was clever enough to track responses by each
platform. They reported on the seven most-used sources of feedback/word of mouth. These high-volume channels ranged
from Instagram to Twitter, to their own website and even traditional postal mail.
The strategically relevant
story, from a marketer’s point of view, is how much difference there was in the tonality of communications by channel:
analysis shows that relying on a ‘content analysis’ from any one source could lead one to drawing conclusions
that were completely unrepresentative of the overall sentiment. The diversity exhibited here clearly suggests the
need to monitor multiple social media channels to accurately determine what your customers may be saying about you.
It's What Many Brands Are Doing
But even if you include multiple
channels (as Wired did) you're still likely hearing only a fraction of what's being said. That's because customer
comments aren't restricted to only the public social media (Instagram, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube,
etc.). Instead, research from multiple sources tells us that 80% + of all word of mouth takes place through private
social media (emails, test messages, phone calls, and plain old face-to-face conversations).
The Lesson from Wired's Analysis
Most astute marketers today understand
that consumers control the brand message. As a result most now make an effort to monitor social media and to respond
when and where appropriate. But the most important lessons the Wired story should teach us are:
one or two public social media platforms is not enough.
- Be sure to give your customers multiple channels to reach your brand.
And, be sure you are listening to all of them.
One Final Reminder
Wired did not consider it
in their summary, but you probably should. The 80%+ of word of mouth that circulates out of the public eye doesn’t
all take place through email and hard mail. The majority likely occurs in private text messages, phone calls, and face-to-face
conversations. If you truly want to understand the forces that are impacting your brand today, and those that will shape
the future of your brand, you need a broader, more objective, more representative measurement tool like our Buzz Barometer®.
You need to know how much word of mouth is circulating, through which channels, with what frequency, with what tone, and the
exact content that's being communicated