Examining “Share of Conversation”

How do you know if you’ve made the impact that you wanted?

In traditional marketing, sales figures and metrics are your post marks, as well as your guides, but in the world of social media and discussion marketing, the currency of word of mouth is different. New articles get posted, new tools and new trends emerge, and it becomes more of a challenge to measure the success of your product or service. I leave out “campaign” because in this world, a short term campaign is too, short sighted.

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One idea I’ve come across recently is that the unique and notable features of a product or service get discussed online, and also to no surprise, cut corners on quality and negative experiences get talked about with exponentially greater volume. All of these different conversations revolve around the brand. When it comes time to measuring, getting an idea for the “Share of Conversation”, or “Share of Discussion” of each topic can reveal how successful you’ve been if you planned for a campaign to focus on feature X, it can also reveal emerging issues that your community has deemed as important and discussion worthy topics.

For whatever quantitative or qualitative terms emerge from your social media listening, the actual terms and connections that emerge, are only as important relative to their contextual relationship to you’re goals.

It should be no surprise that how people talk about your brand and products, goes a long way online to actually defining them. At the same time these conversations are under your control just enough, that investing and planning in them through the setting goals and benchmarks is a fairly controllable way to actually control the democratization of the brand. The difficult part is that this planning into what online discussions will look like in the far future, need to take part in the early stages of experience design, and product design.

An extension, or bonus, to controlling your brand online through share of conversation (when I say control, I really mean “just hanging on”), is that another opportunity appears to extend this control in the responses to the customers initial reactions. Your response and engagement with users in online discussion, as much as it is an opportunity to fix issues or address user needs, is also an opportunity to shape the resulting conversations that get conducted online.

If we relate share of discussion to Groundswell measures, then it’s easy to see how we can relate share of discussion and tie it to: Customer satisfaction benchmarks, social bookmarking, user promoted material, professional review scores, user reviews, user ratings, etc… If possible, splitting share of discussion one level deeper into positive or negative sentiment can help us even more accurately measure our progress for Share of Conversation for a topic.

For this sort of analysis having a word cloud, or similar type of tool tool provides a good starting point to the analysis you can do. This is crucial for being able to see “bigger picture” ideas contained in a single graph, that stem and revolve around your product. If your listening tool is good, you should also have the ability to quickly examine and understand anomalies that appear in discussions, related to context and have the ability to segment your data.

Again I’ve laid out some rough ideas, I’d love to contribute your thoughts to develop this idea further in the comments.

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