THE FIRST P – PRODUCT – Part 2
CREATING A USER-CENTRIC ROADMAP
We saw in the previous article how to build a full listening roadmap that includes all of your brands, products, services, competitors, research topics and organize all the items the best way possible.
By the best way possible, I mean an organic structure that will serve as a foundation to your ever-growing listening structure, enabling you to plug in new items on the go without having to add layers or complexity or modify your listening blueprint.
If you followed the different steps, you should end up with a huge list of items to listen to, first in a list format, then condensed into a simili tree structure, your project roadmap.
Setting up all these queries and exploiting the data can hardly be done in one go. There’s so much we can listen to and setting up these search queries take time, the data costs money, let’s make sure that your first listening project is money well spent.
We need to PRIORITIZE things, and this step is often blurry, the stakeholder trying her or his best, more based on a gut feeling than a clear rationale.
There are two major things to consider here:
- We want some quick wins, prove that what we invested in had a real impact on brand image, social traffic, reputation, and why not, on revenues as well.
- We need to have a long term listening strategy, less glamorous than the quick wins, demanding more efforts that will pay off later. It goes a lot with educating your colleagues. It sounds like an unimportant aspect of the listening field but education is key, each company should ideally have a training center. Some companies experiment already with a digital and social media type of university (integrated in their social room, or command center, war room, or any declination thereof), and employees have to “graduate” to be able to use social media on behalf of their employer. Well, more about this in a future post.
In order to prioritize the listening items properly, we need to introduce the notion of users.
When collecting requirements from clients, in less than 1% of the cases I hear about who will use the data and to which purpose. And yet, it’s definitely the most important thing to define here.
WHO WILL USE THE DATA?
WHAT IS THEIR BUSINESS FUNCTION?
ARE THEY SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVY?
DO THEY KNOW ABOUT STATISTICAL MODELS, PROBABILITIES, CAN THEY READ AND INTERPRET INSIGHTS?
ARE THEY INTERESTED IN SOCIAL MEDIA ON A PERSONAL LEVEL?
ARE THEY AWARE THAT THEY NEED TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA AT WORK?
HOW STRETCHED ARE THEIR TIME RESOURCES?
DO THEY USE TWITTER, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN AND OTHER MEDIUM TO SHARE THINGS ABOUT THEIR JOB?
And there are many other questions we could think of.
The main vector that drives the ROI of your listening budget is the people using it. You can spend a million dollars a year in technologies and analysts, but if no one is there to transform the insights into concrete and well-thought actions, you won’t have much to show for.
The more users, and the more informed and involved the users are, the more multipliers you’ll have in showing a great ROI.
Step 4 (continued from the previous post) – Reaching out to your colleagues
Although this post can apply to virtually anyone in the company, I speak here for the social media stakeholder who ended up with the highly strategic task of funneling social data into the company, and perform some alchemy tricks to transform it into pure gold.
So, as the main stakeholder, you will take the final decisions and use your budget the best way you can, and you need to factor in your colleagues, the end users of the data and the insights.
Some rules to reach out to your colleagues:
- Keep it short, most people won’t take the necessary time for this. There are millions of questions you could ask, but if you make it a 15 minutes task, you’ll get more answers.
- Educate your colleagues, but don’t babysit them.
- Keep the questionnaire to the minimum, some people like to write, a lot, too much even. You don’t want to spend months going through the answers.
- Document your progress and provide clear feedback. Directly (individual emails, individual meetings) or generally (intranet, general meetings)
- Don’t involve everyone in the first place, this would take you forever. Focus on client facing teams, marketing, communication, HR, PR and a few product managers. Ideally you shouldn’t have more than 10 colleagues to collect a SOW from in the first place.
The next steps are:
- PREPARE AN INTRODUCTION NOTE TO PRESENT THE PROJECT AND YOUR APPROACH
- SHARE THE DOCUMENT, PREFERABLY IN A MEETING
- SEND A QUESTIONNAIRE TO ALL STAKEHOLDERS
- ANALYSE THE QUESTIONNAIRE AND UPDATE YOUR PROJECT ROADMAP
- GIVE A FEEDBACK
- GET STARTED (meaning subscribe to a listening solution, kick off the initial setup and deliverables and plan the rollouts).
TIMING is also very important. You can go through these steps in a few days, but from experience the average time to go through these steps is about a month and a half. Then add to this vendor selection (average of a month if you’re well prepared, meaning you went through these steps and have a crystal clear roadmap) and a couple of weeks to have the first build of the setup ready.
Even though some very urgent requests can be catered to in a matter of hours, expect generally about 3 months from the time you have the official go to build a listening strategy to see the fruits of your efforts.
This can seem a very long time, but as soon as other people are involved (colleagues and vendors), you have to take bottlenecks into account.
You’ll find below more context on each of the different steps, and some notes on a typical timing for each of these tasks.
Step 5 – Your user-centric listening roadmap
You just received all the questionnaires, educated your colleagues enough, and you have now a lot of data.
- The list of all listening items (brands, products, …)
- The listening blueprint (all or part of the items condensed in a roadmap with search queries, and sub searches (segmentation on one or more levels))
- Individual requests from your colleagues, the questionnaires that can be annotated with your notes on each user.
All elements are there to prioritize the items and plan concrete actions, the immediate ones, and the long-term ones. Every week, there must be something new, delivering new items to the users, documenting success (or failure), sharing best practice, …
Rate the questionnaires:
The questionnaire has 2 purposes:
- The obvious one: Collecting the actual requirements from users
- The hidden one: Understanding the stakeholders, their social media maturity and need for support
We focus here on the second purpose and will “grade” the questionnaires. It sounds a bit sneaky in a way, but this understanding will be key to discover how to best engage with each specific user. There’s no one-fits-all solution, we need to tailor the insights and deliverables to the business requirements of each of our colleagues.
Rating the questionnaires is based on the set of questions you asked. In the example below, we translate the answers into a Maturity Factor (in terms of social media in general, and listening activity), then the Requirements Reality Factor (from the options we propose, as well as spontaneous ad hoc requests from the stakeholders, and the deliverables requested) and we finish with the Overall Objectives, which tells us if the stakeholder will actually act on the insights we provide.
There will be a certain degree of personal interpretation from your part. The questions are open, but your rating is a fixed score. There’s no other way around it as you can’t ask the stakeholders to rate themselves.
Here’s an example of a rating system. The maximum score per person is 100. Please keep in mind that this is just an example, depending on how large and complex your organization is, we can come up with simpler or more complex systems.
PROPOSED RATING GRID
PART 1 – MATURITY FACTOR
SM maturity in general = Question 1: do you use social media at work? How?
- No = 0
- I retweet company stuff = 1
- I experimented with it some time ago, but no time for it currently = 2
- Sporadically, we post every week or so on our channels (Twitter, Facebook, …) = 3
- Yes, we have regularly launch some campaigns, social media is key for us = 4
- Yes, and we have some staff dedicated to it, we monitor social media and have a daily activity (and/or work with an agency) = 5
Listening Maturity = Q2: do you currently listen to social media? And if so how (Google alerts, …)? Is content relevant?
- No, and no interest = 0
- No, we don’t have time or don’t know where to start, but would like to = 1
- Occasionally, no rationale, we share interesting stuff between colleagues = 2
- Google Alerts or other free tools, we’d like to find a better way = 3
- Our agency sends us a weekly or monthly newsletter (as part of a portfolio of services) = 4
- We bought a professional listening solution, we dedicate some time to this = 5
PART 2 – REQUIREMENTS REALITY FACTOR
Listening requirements (predefined, or chosen from the list) = Q3: in the tree structure, check the brands, procucts, topics, … you want to listen to, only the top priority ones.
- 1 item selected only (just the brand for instance) = 2
- No item selected = 1
- Several items selected = 3
- All items selected = 1
Listening requirements (spontaneous) = Q4: Now add what you absolutely need, that is not already in the roadmap
- No add-ons = 0
- One add-on = 1
- Up to 5 add-ons = 2
- Lots of add-ons, with redundancies = 1
Deliverables = Q5: In which format do you want to see the info? Real time alerts? Daily digest? Monthly newsletter?
- No answer = 0
- Email alert = 1
- Detailed answers about frequency and format of deliverables = 2
Ad Hoc Reporting = Q6: Deep-dive analysis: are there some questions or markets studies you’d like to have? On a one-off basis? Recurring?
- No answer = 0
- Yes, a one-off report only: (market research, E-reputation report, Campaign impact, Influencers, …) = 1
- Yes, several one-off reports = 2
- Recurring reports (weekly/monthly/quarterly e-reputation reports) = 3
PART 3 – OVERALL OBJECTIVES
Readiness and willingness to act = Q7: What would you like to accomplish with social media? What are your frustrations today? How can we best help you?
- Unrealistic objectives and/or uninvolved answers and/or no time resources = 0,5
- Clear objectives / frustrations that can be easily solved, willingness to act = 1
Update your listening roadmap
We’re almost there. The last step is to consolidate the users requirements and the listening roadmap.
You’ll need to open your listening blueprint, the document where you organized all the potential listening items into a sort of tree structure. You’ll need to add a few columns to record the feedback from the users.
- Key Users (Departments): short description of who requires which item
- General question or need: why do we want to listen to this item
- Concrete business application: this translates the generic question into something more business-driven, concrete, with a measurable ROI. A general need could be “we want some e-reputation reports”. This is not very-focused, too broad. And most of the time your colleagues will come up with some vague idea of what they want. Something more focused could be “we need weekly reporting on how our new car model is perceived around the 4 values we communicated on: eco-friendly, family, spacious, urban. How does it compare to competitor X? Which are other perception values mentioned by the audience, that we didn’t think about?”
- #requesters: how many people requested this item
- #social media score: the sum of the social media score of all requesters
- Time resources: vague estimate of how complex and time-consuming the task could be
- Urgency: time element, how urgent is this? A potential crisis situation or product launch will have more priority than a long term aspect of the listening, like CSR for instance
- Prioritization score = ((#Requesters * 10) + (#Questionnaire Score * 1)) * (Time Resources) * Urgency
This formula can be adapted, but it’s supposed to prioritize items requested by the largest number, then items less requested but flagged by people with a high score, so with a higher willingness and readiness to act factor, this will contribute towards our listening ROI. Then the complexity (what costs time and money) and the time element will come into play.
Then you can sort your table and you get your top 10 listening priorities for the first 3 months of listening.
Well, it’s just a rule of thumb, you’ll need to go through the document though and check if it all makes sense.
Step 6 – Get the data
In most cases, people rush through the previous steps. What they end up with, is a poorly designed SOW. Then they contact listening technology solutions and it’s the start of a ballet of Q&A’s. Providers proposing features you don’t need, sending tons of documents of all sorts, millions of phone calls or email, … and finally you leave your social listening strategy into the hands of sales people, most of them being quite skilled, but still, you’ll definitely gain more by having full control over your listening strategy. You’re the best person to know what your organization needs, what the stakeholders are like, and it’s you and not the provider who will have to report on the success of the mission.
This was just to state and overstate that the above steps, as annoying as they can be, will empower you and give you more clarity.
But now you’ll need to purchase a listening solution (or resort to free one for starters if you’re a small organization and have little to no budget).
There’s much more to that topic but for the sake of brevity (after 10 pages!), I’ll leave this for a future post.
There are many comparison reports about listening solutions out there, you’ll find below a couple of notable examples:
- Forrester Wave Report (https://www.forrester.com/report/The+Forrester+Wave+Enterprise+Social+Listening+Platforms+Q1+2016/-/E-RES122523)
- G2Crowd: the top listening solutions rated and commented by your peers (https://www.g2crowd.com/categories/social-media-monitoring)
Step 7 – Provide feedback and next steps to the stakeholders
Well, not final, this is actually just the beginning. But your colleagues spent some time with you, and have some expectations now. You owe them some feedback.
- Expose the roadmap as it stands: short term, for the next 3 months, and beyond.
- Answer to all their specific requirements: when and how can they expect the requirements being fulfilled
- Share the overall timeline: choosing the vendor, implementing the listening solution, trainings
- What is expected from the stakeholders: regular feedback from their experience, quarterly meetings, documenting their success stories, … you can think of any scheme that you think would push the social awareness further (training center, weekly coaching sessions, one on one sessions between colleagues, …)
And that wraps it. I’m aware it’s been a long read between the first post and this one, but there are no shortcuts when starting a social media listening strategy. You need to plan some time at the beginning, so that you get full clarity on all the challenges of having a proper listening roadmap:
- Save money: data doesn’t come cheap, you need to collect it (through a third party) and you need to digest, dissect and interpret it (your in-house BI experts, data scientists, or outsourcing the job to agencies). This all costs a lot and your ROI starts with where you invest, and this initial data point is what
- Don’t forget about any possible use case, even if it is for later, you’ll need to draft a roadmap
- Only clear and resource-savvy actions can be successful, not only you’ll find happiness in your job, but you’ll be seen as the one who know his or her job, get things done and can nav
- You can be a super hero. With a proper method, focusing on what counts and what generates impact (not only direct revenue only, but impact on the brand image, and your colleagues), you can achieve a whole lot by yourself and lead what is becoming the most important strategic part of any company today.
- When interacting with listening solutions providers, you’ll have full control over your requirements, cut the sales bullshit to the minimum and share something that makes sense. You don’t want to leave your social listening strategy in the hands of sales people who, as skilled and well intentioned as they can be, will put first their solution, then your requirements.
The examples shown above are quite generic. Feel free to reach out with any specific question.