Lisa Joy Rosner, CMO of Netbase, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss using social chatter data and insight to understand more about your customers, and as a result, more about your business.
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Social Pros Highlights For Your Reading Enjoyment, Thanks to Speechpad for the Transcription
Listerine and Grandpa
Jay: Tell us a little bit about NetBase. I think many people who listen to the Social Pros Podcast are familiar with the mainstream social listening category: Radian6, Sysomos, Lithium. NetBase takes a different approach to social listening and social understanding.
Lisa: Our product was actually commissioned by five of the top ten largest CPG [consumer packaged goods] companies in the world, including Coca Cola and Kraft, who sat us down and said, “There are all these companies that listen and count what’s being said on social media, but nobody really understands exactly what’s being said and why. We want to understand what motivates and creates the passion in the consumer’s mind and heart.”
Because we read and understand language and most specifically what social media has done to language, the mix of words without vowels and with numbers inserted, all kinds of idiomatic statements. Something sick could have the flu, or it could be the coolest, hottest thing ever. We understand that language and then we have filters that help translate that into what’s driving the passion about a topic or a brand. Does that make sense?
Jay: Absolutely. I think we all understand what a core social listening program can do, in many cases a real time customer service type of initiative, but NetBase isn’t really that, right? It’s not the customer service like, “Hey, somebody is upset about whatever. We should tweet them back.” It’s got a longer time horizon than that and so who, in the enterprise, would use that kind of information?
Lisa: That’s a very good question. We do support the use case that you were talking about, but it really goes beyond that. We work with brand management. We work with product innovation. It really goes across the board.
I’ll give you one of my favorite examples from the very early days. We did a study of Listerine, and you could use any tool to count how many times people mentioned Listerine, but our filters will surface the things that people are saying about it, and one of the things that popped up in green is that, “The smell of Listerine reminds me of grandpa.”
Believe it or not, there are tons of people, male and female, across demographics, ages, across the globe that when they smell yellow Listerine, close their eyes, and it reminds them of grandpa. That’s an insight. That’s something that I can take and stage grandpa in my next commercial. I can do a whole grandpa-type packaging for the holidays. Those insights can drive all different types of actions.
Eric: Are you guys a product company, or are you guys a services company that undertakes these big projects for your clients, or are you a mix of both?
Lisa: That’s a great question. We are a software as well as a service company. We’re primarily a product company. Sitting above me is this gigantic command center of hardcore engineers, 14 of whom have PhDs in computational linguistics. I’m sitting here in Silicon Valley. We’re a technology company.
When I say “study,” that’s more in the lightweight sense. We do have a services organization. We have the infrastructure to get you trained. We do have social analysts that help customers that want that kind of help, but we are fundamentally a technology company.
Jay: When you use the software to evaluate these customer conversations, is that executed overall to say, “Here’s all the chatter about Listerine,” and some patterns that maybe you didn’t recognize, and what it means, or is it, “Here’s what’s being said about Listerine on Twitter,” or both?
Lisa: We have two options. There’s looking at the entire amalgam of the social web, and we store a year’s worth of data across all the channels, the usual suspects (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn). But where I find the real juicy and interesting insights are places like blogs and forums, even news commentary.
I’ll give you a great example. I can’t name them, unfortunately, but there is a fast food restaurant that offered ice cream sundaes to try to sell more burgers. They pointed NetBase at their Facebook fan page and in the word cloud looking at what people love about this restaurant was gigantic in green, “Fries.” In red is “Ice cream.”
“Here we’re doing this promotion, and we’re offering ice cream. Guess what? Our fans don’t even like it, but what they really love,” and that’s the insight, “are our fries. Maybe if we offered free fries, or we double sized the fries, we’d sell more burgers.” That’s insight.
Jay: You and I wrote an ebook together recently about that topic. It’s called “Knockout: Use conversation mining + Facebook data to thump your competition.” The whole premise of the ebook is that we get so wrapped around the axle about Facebook insights and Facebook stats, but it’s all just numbers.
There are literally no insights there other than where people are coming from and their gender and their age, which is guidance information at best. But when you take Facebook insights data and combine it with something like NetBase, where you actually get that word cloud level insight, what’s happening around your Facebook fan page can become a lot more useful, not just as sort of a loyalty generation tool but also as a product marketing and business insights tool.
200 Million Tacos
Jay: I was fascinated by the Jason Falls event in Portland last week. Your team there talked about Taco Bell and their use of NetBase. Can you walk us through that situation?
Lisa: Sure. Taco Bell has been a long time client of ours. They have a pretty lean team that does a lot with NetBase. And back in March, they brought the Doritos Locos tacos. That is a taco where the shell is made out of Doritos.
For the launch, there are two actually really interesting insights: One, and this is one that you probably would get from someone else, but it’s really about the way the data was presented. They had been spending all their energy on their Facebook property. That channel was where they were conducting all the conversations. When they started looking at analytical framework, they saw that all the conversations were doubled – tripled – exponentially more taking place in Twitter. So that’s insight number one.
Insight number two: One thing popped up in general about some of the tacos was that they were hard to find. This was a big insight for them. So what they did when they launched the product back in March was have pre-launch tweet-up. They went to the channel where the conversations were happening, and the person that won got the Taco Bell truck sent to their house for a private party.
They were able to see geographically where all of this was happening. They were able to look at, historically, when there has been a response. This is a whole mapped out strategy. When there is a response to a new product in social, how much they sell.
They started doing some predictive analytics. They were able to figure out where, because remember it was hard to find, where they would need to have the largest amount of stock available. This goes all the way back to supply chain.
One of the things we do is read languages really well. Their sentiment spiked up about 35% from the whole tweet-up thing. Their sales went up 13%. They sold 200 million tacos in the first quarter. It was the most successful product launch in the history of the company. It was all from finding these two little insights of: the channel is Twitter, and the insight is “hard to find.” They were able to solve all these problems.
From Insights to Airlifting a Taco Truck
Lisa: Most recently there was a rumor started that Taco Bell was coming to Bethel, Alaska, which is this teeny little town. They picked up on it. People were tweeting and saying, “They’ll never come.” They literally attached the taco truck that was in Anchorage, Alaska to a helicopter and airlifted it. They just dropped it in the middle of Bethel, Alaska and fed every single person in the town a Doritos Locos taco.
Jay: Very nice. Not terribly scalable, but I like the idea of airlifting in tacos. Very cool.
Lisa: It’s absolutely hysterical. Normally, you see something hard to find in a word cloud and you might ignore that. It’s about having that intellectual curiosity and then having that sense of humor. “Hey, let’s airlift a taco truck into Bethel, Alaska.”
Jay: Yes. I think that’s such a really good point Lisa. It’s not just your tool. It’s any tool that requires listening. You said the magic words, which are “the intellectual curiosity.”
So many people end up getting tasked with this kind of project within the enterprise as part of their job. Yes, you’ve got to do all these things. You’re a community manager, you’re a social media manager, you’re doing all this other kind of stuff and by the way, also operate this tool and try to pull insights out of it.
What they are trying to do is dip their toe into it 20 minutes at a time and run a report. The luxury of having somebody to roll around in the data and figure out what it really means I think is vastly, vastly underrated and under-resourced in corporate America and global corporations.
As I have said many times, we are at this weird place in marketing where we think that success is about the wand, and success is still about the wizard. I don’t care what tool it is, if you don’t have the right person or people to operate the tool — whether it’s Eric’s Argyle Social or NetBase or anybody in between — it’s just not going to be successful.
Eric: Indeed. You made a great comment earlier when you said something about digging up insights. I think that’s something that I’ve learned over my career building marketing software. It’s actually pretty easy to build technology that chugs out numbers in interesting ways or surfaces, not obvious numbers. But it’s really hard to go that extra few steps.
A technology company separates that signal from the noise, and it’s impossible to go that last mile, which requires some human to notice that number, apply it against whatever they see internally, and then do something about it.
Lisa: I think everyone gets so wound up about social insight. It’s very important but it is not the be all, end all. It’s another data point that we have available to us. All of these are data points. Social insight is a very valuable data point, but you have to look at it in the context of all the other things that are in your bag of tricks. Any smart marketer will use it with all the other data points that are available to look at the whole picture, use that intellectual curiosity and creative thinking, and then build the action plan.
Social Media Stat of the Week: Promoting a Facebook Story Costs $0.003/person
Eric: It’s really a story wrapped around a number. The number comes from PageLever, who we’ve mentioned a few times on Social Pros. The number is $0.003 per person, which is a number that they’ve calculated that’s the cost of serving a promoted post to a single follower. That’s the number. Let me give you a little bit of a back story and I’ll be interested to get your reaction, Jay and Lisa.
Mark Cuban, the cabillionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks wrote a blog post not too long ago. He said, “Facebook is blowing it. They’re charging me to deliver my content to my audience.” Basically, he got really irritated because he wanted to promote a post and saw that it was going to cost him $3,000 to promote a post to one million fans.
He tweeted that, then he wrote a really long blog post about how that was really problematic. PageLever wrote a rebuttal to try to get Mark Cuban’s attention, and they said something to the effect of, “Hey man, that’s actually really inexpensive.” That’s where the $0.003 cents per person came from. They divided $3,000 by a million people to get that.
Jason Falls, our good friend at Social Media Explorer, wrote a rebuttal to PageLever’s rebuttal, which is basically Facebook is black-mailing their marketers by creating this divide between their content and their fans. It’s this interesting synthesis of threads coming together with the changes in EdgeRank over time that’s made people’s content show up less in the news feed.
The rise of Facebook as a public company, and the need for revenue, and the increasing importance of their ad platform, and now you see big marketers like Mark Cuban getting fed up with the way Facebook is treating their advertisers. It’s an interesting time.
Jay: I actually addressed this last week in the Baer Facts weekly rant video that I do.
A couple of disclaimers before I go on. I’m an investor in PageLever. Obviously, I know Jason Falls very well and have a business relationship with him from time to time. I’ve got a lot of encumbrances in this conversation. What I will say, categorically, is that I disagree with Mark Cuban, and I disagree with Jason, and I agree with PageLever.
Nowhere did it ever say that Facebook was going to deliver this entire audience for free. Nowhere did it ever say that Facebook is somehow interested in your success. They are a public company. They are interested in their success. If, by chance, their success happens to overlap with your success, so be it. The example that I used in my video was, you would not dream of going to a company like ExactTarget, one of my clients, and say, “Hey, ExactTarget. We got a million people to sign up for this email newsletter. Will you please now send them a million emails for free?” No.
You pay them as a platform to deliver that message. Why people think that somehow Facebook should deliver those, on top of their platform, using their corporate resources for free, is absolutely beyond me, and I think patently absurd.
I just think it shows a shocking lack of understanding of the market dynamics that are happening in social.
People thought, “Hey. I’ve got a thousand fans, so a thousand fans are going to see it.” That’s never been true. EdgeRank has been in place for a long, long time. It’s only recently been tweaked down, and been getting the attention that we have talked about in the last few months.
Eric: I don’t disagree with any of that. Marketers went into this with a set of expectations. Their expectations have been completely wrong. It has never been 100%. There has been a change.
They’ve squeezed it down and erected this toll with promoted posts, and people are upset. Whether or not they are right or wrong to be upset, I don’t really know. Facebook is a business. They got to do what they got to do.
To me, I think the interesting piece is that this is going to create complexity within social budgets. Do I spend money on just promoting my stuff on Facebook and Twitter, to make sure I have the same level of traffic that I’ve had in the past? Do I spend my money on a management tool? Do I spend my money on a monitoring or insights tool? I think it’s just creating more budget competition, and just more confusion and complexity for the community manager.
Jay: The big problem is – and I’ve been saying this for years – that people built their house on rented land.
When you do that, someday the landlord comes in and says, “Hey. We are going to change the dynamics here a little bit.” Then, what are you going to do? You are going to do what Mark Cuban has threatened to do and say we are just going to abandon Facebook and instead use Twitter as our primary engagement platform? I guess you’re free to do that. As PageLever pointed out, at a hundredth of a penny per fan, that seems a little bit rash, but perhaps it’s not.
One of the issues is that even if you’re going to pay to promote a post, and therefore more people are going to see it, does the fact that they see it accrue any real benefit to your company? That’s the bigger issue. The bigger issue is that marketers are saying, “Exposure and impressions on Facebook are expensive.” What they should be asking is, “Do impressions and exposure on Facebook matter at all?”
I would be much more interested in this whole process if Facebook said, “We’re going to charge for this, not on an impressions basis, but on a cost per engagement basis.” Now you’re talking. Now you’re saying, “If you want to charge me, Facebook, for each person who actually clicks a link, or comments or likes, now I feel like we can play some ball.”
Social Pros Shoutout
Jay: Lisa, it is that time of the show where you can tell us a couple of people that inspire you in the world of social media who do not get the attention they so richly deserve. Eric, did you see the blog post that I wrote last week that showed all 75 of the people who have been shouted out on the show so far this year? People seem to like that list. It was fun.
Eric: I thought it was cool. It’s not just one person’s opinion of 75 social media people to watch but a collective of public opinion.
Lisa: Someone who really inspires me on social is actually employed by one of my customers, which is Kraft. Her name is Dana Anderson. Before she got into the brand side, she worked at DBB for a long time. She’s an agency person.
She first caught my attention – I don’t work with her directly, I work with people a couple of levels down – in the early days of social insight evangelism I came across an article where she was quoted. This is like four or five years ago, saying, “Should you be doing social media? Absolutely. That’s like asking if I should buy a light bulb after electricity was invented.”
A couple of years later, I heard her speaking at a conference and she said something brilliant. There’s been this ping pong back and forth between the agencies doing everything ever pertaining to social to the brand going, “No. I want to do it”, and then the agents going, “You know what? This is too hard. Agency, you do it, but let me watch over your shoulder.” You know? The brands are afraid to screw up.
Dana gave the audience some brilliant advice about sticking your toe and social media whether it’s social media marketing, social media analytics, or anything. She said, “This is what you have to do. You have to call anything you do a pilot.”
Because if it’s a pilot and it screws up, no one gets fired. And, I just thought that was brilliant. Do you guys remember the Jell-O Temptation commercials where the parents are absolutely traumatizing their children? Does that ring a bell? There’s the mother telling the daughter about the monster who steals toys and they never come back?
Jay: Oh, yeah. Yes.
Lisa: That was a pilot. Interestingly enough when that commercial first launched people said, “That’s evil, but I love it.” That’s where understanding language comes in, right? It’s evil, but I love it. Is it net-positive or net-negative? And, actually it’s net-positive.
Dana is just a real visionary when it comes to all facets of social media marketing. She just has big vision, a great sense of humor, and fantastic presentation skills. I think that she’s a very unrecognized presence specifically in social. I don’t even know if you guys have heard of her, but you should check her out.
Jay: We absolutely will. Lisa, thanks very much. It was fantastic having you on the show. We appreciate it very much. Eric, who do we have on next week’s Social Pros?
See you next week!