The first step toward effective brand management on the social web is identifying where the people we’d like to interact with are talking about us, what they are saying and how competitors are managing their presence. The importance of monitoring these conversations with reliable tools, regardless of where they take place, becomes evident.
There are several companies out there that offer this kind of service, but there’s one that stands out thanks to, among other things, their customer support and has been able to establish itself as a key player in this market. We are talking of SocialBakers, founded in 2008 as FaceBakers, given its initial focus on Facebook.
SocialBakers CEO Jan Rezab, which I got to know thanks to comments on this post, took some time to answer a few question on the challenges the company faces and how they managed to become one of the main point of reference on the market.
1. Briefly tell us about your services, for the few who do not know you?
We are a social media analytics company launched in 2008, operating a large database of Facebook data that features more than 10 million indexed pages and places. We allow major brands around the globe to measure and compare their social media campaigns. We also track Twitter, Youtube, Google+ and LinkedIn.
2. How did you get to reach customers from 75 different countries and 5 different continents in so competitive a market? Where did you start from?
In this market, success can only come if your analytics solution provides real results across multiple social media platforms. Facebook is, of course, the dominant social site, and our tools provide never before seen visibility into how Facebook campaigns can translate into business growth. Our brand engagement data allows us to demonstrate the true value of Facebook in generating referrals and positive brand buzz that result in downstream revenue.
Our growth has been global because of the inherent reach of the most popular social media utilities, so therefore our analytics are meaningful for companies on any continent. Many of the top brands also sell products to a global audience and need to know country-specific metrics in order to best tailor offers and further fine-tune their social media campaigns.
3. The web (and especially the social web) is always on the move and whoever works in this area cannot afford to remain behind. If the “formula” for circulating certain metrics remains unchanged, perhaps it is because the algorithms do not allow doing it. So how do you go about it? For example, has any progress been made in the calculation of the engagement rate on different channels?
We understand this is a fluid environment, and engagement metrics can and should change as the sites themselves adapt to user preferences.
We do have our opinions as to how each site should calculate their engagement rates. For example, Facebook measures engagement as (Likes+Comments+Shares) / Number of Fans x 100. We think our own calculation of (Likes+Comments+Shares on a given day) x number of wall posts on a given day / total fans on a given day x 100 is a more accurate way to measure day-to-day engagement. For each of the major social networking sites, we are of course constrained by what information they chose to publicly share, but we do feel there are ideal formulas that provide a fair and consistent engagement rate for brands. We are constantly looking to tweak and improve our own formula, but consistency of methodology is the basis of accurate comparison.
4. Usually brands focus solely on the ‘Likes’ of a single page, followers on the Twitter account, or on the number of views of a YouTube video, thus neglecting what are actually the most significant metrics for the social web, i.e. the engagement rate. I discussed this in a post and you rightly pointed out that SocialBakers uses a formula which takes into account the number of interactions, shared posts, and Likes of a page. Do you also take the temporal variable into consideration? Don’t you think that even the number of views of a brand’s FB page constitute an interaction, even if they do not elicit an explicit response by the user (i.e. a Like or a comment)?
A view of a company’s Facebook page does hold some level of value, but it’s not necessarily a true “interaction”.
This view could be very fleeting, and given the amount of information the typical web user sees every day, it might not resonate. Sharing, Liking, or Commenting represent the viewer taking a more active role in participating, instead of just passive viewing/surfing, and should therefore hold considerably more weight in terms of engagement.
However, these views still of course count for something, and if our analytics see a large number of views but few Likes, Comments, or Shares that does provide a brand with valuable insight that perhaps their Facebook content or offers may need to be adjusted.
5. You have quite recently launched a service (Socially Devoted) which I am finding really interesting because it focuses on what people are really interested in, which is the interaction between users and brands when the former need an answer. One of the most interesting data is that 70% of the brands do not answer people on the social web. How do you interpret this figure? Lack of resources? Fear of exposure? Or perhaps the importance of customer care has not yet been acknowledged on the social web (as the following research shows)?
Another of our strengths driving our growth is our ability to show brands how they are doing with “social devotion”. We developed a standard measurement of how open and responsive the brand is to social media inquiries where we measure “question response rate” and other metrics. Our solution allows them to gauge their performance against their competitors. Companies typically only respond to 30 percent of social media feedback, and many companies even have closed walls meaning users can’t post questions or feedback of any kind. Companies that want to reach high levels of engagement need to see the correlation between their level of feedback and the desired growth of their social media fan base.
Some of this can be attributed to a lack of resources, where the company might have a staff of social media managers, but no one is a dedicated customer agent. Some of it is a resistance to change, where companies want to keep people funneled through only a few communication points, even if that is not what many consumers prefer. Imagine if a company ignored 70% of its customer phone calls or emails. Business and customer satisfaction would plummet. Brands need to understand that consumers will increasingly expect social media to be a two-way street, and if their questions go unanswered, they will simply move on to the competitor. We see companies outside of the U.S. so far doing a better job of managing their social media channels and responding directly and promptly to inquiries.