This is a case study of a media monitoring project that followed the launch of the Verizon Wireless iPhone. It was not commissioned or endorsed by Verizon Wireless but rather it was a project we undertook merely for the sake of illustration.
Verizon Wireless launched its own version of the iPhone on February 10th, 2011. So far, initial reports show that first-week sales have been weaker than AT&T’s launch of the iPhone 4, according to the Boy Genius Report. Surely there are several contributing factors, most obvious that until now, AT&T had no competition in the iPhone market.
However, the point of this article isn’t to analyze the market factors, it is to demonstrate how media monitoring can be used to analyze thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of data points that provide product marketers with feedback for planning and improving both products and launches.
We say media monitoring, as opposed to social media monitoring, because when considered comprehensively, the two work hand- in-hand. For example, sometimes the chatter on social media reaches a threshold that prompts the mainstream media to cover a topic they might otherwise have ignored. In other cases, mainstream media drives the conversation on social media, as ReadWriteWeb reported.
The search terms were elegantly simple: we monitored for references to the Verizon iPhone. The terms are unique enough to distinguish meaningful conversations from the noise. We next segmented our search by three categories: news, blogs and social media. Segmenting the searches in this way enabled us to see the relationships or interdependencies among them.
Verizon Wireless took a page from Apple’s marketing playbook by announcing its intent to sell an iPhone on January 11, 2011. While rumors had already circulated for some time, this was the official announcement confirming the plans. It mirrors the approach Apple follows with its product launches, for example the iPad was pre-announced before it was available in stores.
The initial announcement caused a dramatic spike in coverage that was universal across news blogs and social media. The time that elapsed between the pre-announcement and the announcement of availability in stores – that is launch date – provided ample opportunity to evaluate market chatter and sentiment about the Verizon iPhone. It was a chance to identify potential issues, points that require clarification, and messages that resonate and should be reinforced at launch. It also helps us understand which mediums contain a customer center of gravity for Verizon’s iPhone.
The key questions that should be answered include:
The screenshot of social media coverage above answers this question with a sizable volume of chatter. Notice how sentiment analysis trend lines flow over time, especially as compared to a similar view of news and blogs in the screenshots below. This is especially useful in comparing the segments by medium to identify and understand the correlation, or lack thereof, of chatter among news blogs and social media.
For example, news coverage below shows a closer relationship between news and social media than between blogs coverage and news or social media. This tells us that in the case of Verizon iPhone, news drove the discussion on social media – as opposed to social media chatter driving news, which might be the case in a grassroots-driven launch.
If we can understand where people are talking about our product, then we have a place to focus our efforts. It’s not surprising that more than 90% of chatter occurs on Twitter. Since the platform is open and easy to use, people freely share their (often visceral) reactions. With some 200 million users posting some 95 million tweets a day, it has a sizable user base and represents perhaps the largest focus group in the world.
Forums rank as the next largest category for an important point because it’s often overlooked as part of the social media family. In the case of technology, forums are still widely used and fantastic sources of information to get feedback from dedicated technologists, gadget enthusiasts and especially savvy users.
Frank Strong is the director of PR for Vocus, a provider of cloud-based software for marketing and PR. Twitter: @Vocus