Do you remember what conferences were like before Twitter? It seems that events are now defined by live streams, hashtags, Tweeting, and check-ins. This constant stream of public sharing amplifies events far beyond the people wearing badges and sitting in conference centers. Great news for data lovers: the byproduct of this social activity is a mountain of data that can be turned into business insight. The vast public conversation around events creates an opportunity to better understand consumer trends, isolate the impact of brand messaging, and make decisions about investing in major events. To assist you in making sense of all this, here are our recommendations for extracting insights from this kind of data set.
1. Did Your Brand Rise Above the Noise?
Brand messages are part of every major event – from headline sponsors to speakers to the products people are using and talking about via social media. With that, events are an opportunity to measure engagement within an influential, focused segment of consumers. How did they react to our announcements or involvement in the event? Which brands drove the conversation (if any)? Did headline sponsors or major participants see a reward in social media? How does this compare across industries or competitors?
Using our CES analysis from earlier this year, you can see how we paired down our analysis of the hashtag to compare key brands. This gives a high-level view of who rose above the noise and we can then compare details between industries and competitors.
2. What Drove the Conversation?
Measuring volume in total for an event is unlikely to provide significant insight for your brand. However, understanding the key conversation drivers and themes can help to understand consumer preferences and trends. This is even more powerful in context with the audience — it’s effectively your own organic focus group. For example, we know that CES draws avid tech consumers, media, and influencers. When we drill down on the #CES Tweets and see mentions of Tablets outpacing Ultrabooks and OLED TVs that could be a meaningful indicator for broader interest in these categories.
3. Measure the Moments — When & Why Did People React?
Every event has “big” moments, from keynotes, to product announcements, to after parties. In these moments lie additional insights. We talked about measuring themes across a longer time period, but sharp reactions at key moments can sometimes tell a different story. Where did consumers have an immediate or dramatic reaction and why? For instance, take a look at the F8 Keynote chart from last year. We can actually see how reactions ebb and flow with by the minute analysis. These peaks, valleys, and themes can let us know what was hot, what draws attention, and identify opportunities for our brand to engage or follow-up.
4. Know If “It” Lived Up to the Hype
Before major events, there is always hype about something. Whether it is an anticipated product launch or a hot new startup, the media is always making predictions. The post-event social media data lets us get beyond that hype and see what truly resonated with consumers. For instance, in the days leading up to #SXSW 2012, there was a lot discussion about social discovery apps. By comparing the share of voice for top social discovery apps, we can see that Highlight led this (over-hyped) category. However, we also need to put the overall category in context with the broader conversation. In fact, social discovery apps were only mentioned in a small number (<1%) of total #SXSW Tweets, by no means stealing the show.
5. Put Each Year in Context. Is It Worth Your Continued Time & Investment?
If you are investing heavily in major events, it’s also useful to understand the overall reach of the event with context. How do things change year over year? Is the event growing in popularity? How does this event compare this to other events? Are the audience dynamics shifting for better or worse? Asking these questions of your data can put the size, impact, and reach in perspective. And ultimately it will make it easier for you to prioritize major events and decide where to invest in the future.
Using #SXSW as our example, we can see that from 2011 to 2012 the volume of activity around has grown but the hour by hour breakdown of when that engagement happens, has not changed. This suggests that while #SXSW is gaining in popularity (and the use of Twitter hashtags continues to be on the rise) the overall dynamics of when people engage, has not changed year over year.
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