Monday, October 6, 2008

chasing engagement

Someone accused me of being like the Music Man when I suggested there are meaningful metrics that tap into the value in a conversation. Sadly, there is a lot of black magic out there in the form of widely variant algorithms for things like influence, engagement, and even less buzzy constructs like sentiment. But the constructs we're chasing exist; it's the methods that are misaligned. You don't necessarily need to add, or even use every variable available simply because you can.

People have deep interactions and make strong emotional connections. 

How do these manifest? Using a simple text analysis program, I did an experiment comparing 500 blogs in which people make a "definite recommendation" to a random sample of blogs (with a similar topical focus). Why? Recommendations have been hailed as the holy grail of word of mouth and even organizational performance (c.f. Net Promoter score).

If you look closely at the language people use around "definite recommendations" you see they are far more emotional, and as you might expect, more positive than negative. Interesting ecological validity there...

More interesting to me, recommendations are more intimate. People used more personal pronouns (I, me, my) indicating that they felt connected to the recommended items ("products") they were evangelizing.

And here's the clincher, they use more verbs than nouns: recommendations included more discussion of experiences with the products than discussion of objective attributes. Recommendations are experienced-based, not removed evaluations.

I don't interpret this as the precise litmus test that will give you the PH of a conversation, but it's a good example of the ability to tap into something valuable, relatively easily. Point being, I think something deeper usually lies beneath: subtle ways that people express deep emotional connections to brands, products, people, and the world in general. 

No comments: