For as long as social media has been around and no matter how fast the media changes and morphs into its various incarnations, there have been a couple of consistent questions asked of agencies and marketing managers alike, along the lines of “prove to us we need social and that it’ll work’ or everyone’s favourite “show me the ROI”…yep, these questions still seem to be cropping up on a daily basis. Social strategists and marketing managers alike are still debating the best way of proving the business case to their bosses but social really has come a very long way since I first started talking to clients about it way back in..well…whenever it was..and likewise so has the amount of data available and also the ways of collecting and analysing social data. For us at Coup Media this has always been where the answer lies and how we have always (well for the three years we have been in business anyway) managed to deliver such great insight and strategic guidance to clients when it comes to social and content and now also PR.
Over the years things have pretty much come full circle, my first job ‘in digital’ was back in 1998 working for the UK VAR of Keynote Systems when the first dotcom boom was fast approaching, the information we were providing was very much centered around what would today be called Customer Experience analytics similar to the type of data provided by the likes of Forsee and we were working with some big players like lastminute.com and Yahoo! which at the time was the leading search engine (yep, that’s how long ago this was and years before social media was even heard of). The data and insight that we were providing was showing clients the performance of their websites from the customers’ perspective; how long pages were taking to download, how long a transaction was taking, where the bottlenecks were in site performance etc and we were able to really help organisations shape and mould their digital assets and communicate to their customers in an efficient way that delivered the best experience. Our data helped shape website design and digital communications.
Those dotcom’s and online retailers that got this right and understood the value of the data are the ones that flourished and ultimately succeeded (I think we can say even Yahoo! achieved some success ;-)
In our eyes things are no different today with social, when we work with clients on their social, content and platform development we always start with the data. We have developed an approach called L.A.C.E. and this approach is the foundation of pretty much everything we do. This isn’t exactly unique, there are loads of data analysis tools out there but like any data, it’s the insight we draw from it and what we do with that insight that delivers real value for our clients.
The approach is quite simple and straightforward, first we have to work with our clients and get to know their businesses, their customers and their goals…we develop audience personas to really nail down exactly who it is that we are hoping to engage and then we use our data tools to LISTEN to the social web and all of the relevant conversations that are happening about our brands, our products and also our competitors.
We gather literally thousands of pieces of data and then we ANALYSE, we look for trends, insight, peaks and spikes all of which give us a very detailed map of the social web and how our business is engaged with our target audience within it.
From out of this process we are then able to plan and CREATE the strategy, tactics and collateral that will act as the glue between us and achieving our objectives.
Then we are into the ENGAGE phase of the process when we ‘do the doing’ and implement our plans. Data is central to what we do but so is creativity, I always try to have the old adage “give me the freedom of a tight strategy” by O&M’s Creative Head Norman Berry in my head when briefing the design team at Coup. We can have the most in-depth and insightful data in the world at our fingertips but again if we produce poor content on the back of this then we have failed.
The digital industry (if that is even the right term anymore) is virtually unrecognisable today from the place I started out at back in 1998 but the absolute value of data and being able to draw out true meaning and insight from that data is very much still central to producing great strategy and creative work.
After all, without the data we are basically leaving it all to guesswork and hope, right?