Measuring Relationship Strength

​The article Modeling Relationship Strength on Online Social Networks examines the significance of relationship homophily through a social media lens by statistical modeling. According to Stacks and Michaelson, homophily measures the degree of similarity between people attitudinal and behavioral attributes (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 45). The research attempts to enhance the modeling and measurement of social media interactions to gain knowledge of specific attributes and behaviors. The following will summarize the report findings which offer insights useful for organizations using social media to their advantage.
​Online social networks are quickly becoming a dominant tool for organizations to pursue relationship opportunities. The popularity of use, along with the low cost of entry, combined with the potential reach of targeted customer’s makes social media an attractive channel for organizational relationship building. As Rawlins clearly pointed out in the article Prioritizing Stakeholders for Public Relations, not all stakeholders have the same interests and demands, therefore organizational response must be tailored to each independently (Rawlins, 2006). Hence, it is useful to model and measure social network activities in an attempt to identify and reach your intended audience more effectively.  

The article posits that individuals with strong ties (e.g. close friends) are likely to exhibit greater similarity that those with weak ties (e.g. acquaintances), treating all relationships equally will produce unsatisfactory outcomes (Xiang & Rogati, n.d). Knowing social media is inclusive of all types of relationships, the objective is to identify the strength of relationships through measurement of social media data. The authors further explore the relationship strength formed through social media interactions and how these relationships form groups with varying degrees of connections. The purpose of defining relationship strength is to consider other interesting applications which use relationship strength to understand human behavior (Xiang & Rogati, n.d). Understanding and predicting stakeholder relationships offers organizations a competitive advantage in reaching their audience, understanding the needs of their audience, and meeting these needs.

​Xiang and Rogati developed a model to automatically measure the strength of relationships through the use of statistical analysis comparing variables such as likes, posting on walls, reciprocating postings, tagging, and top friend status, all of which offer insights into the strength of a relationship. The model attempts to represent the intrinsic causality of social interactions via statistical dependencies (Xiang & Rogati, n.d). Understanding and measuring the strength of relationships through social media delivers organizational knowledge to more effectively reach target audiences with the right message at the right time.

​When a systemic model of relationship measurement is implemented through the fast paced, ever changing social media platforms, organizations have a continuous-valued measure of relationship strength. Smart organizations use this knowledge to develop targeted marketing efforts and communication strategies that are tailored specifically for the intended stakeholder group, hereby meeting the needs of various stakeholders in the most effective manner to ensure outcomes are generated and business goals are met.

References

Rawlins, B. L. (2006). Prioritizing stakeholders for public relations. Institute for Public Relations.

Stacks, D. W., & Michaelson, D. (2010). A practitioner’s guide to public relations research, measurement and evaluation. New York, N.Y.] (222 East 46th Street: Business Expert Press.

Xiang, R., & Rogati, M. (n.d.). Modeling relationship strength in online social networks. Retrieved from http://snap.stanford.edu/nipsgraphs2009/papers/xiang-paper.pdf

 

 

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Web Traffic, Outcomes, & Business Objectives

​Paul May, CEO of Buzzstream explains, “Purchase decisions are now influenced by complex networks of friends, family, and peers. The new market winners will be the companies that excel at identifying and engaging with customers’ influencers across the social web (Evans, McKee, & Bratton, 2010).” The purpose of this report is to discuss whether web traffic itself produces business outcomes, opportunities to measure and enhance social and web outcomes, and the importance of aligning business objectives with social media initiatives. The following will explore these concepts and offer solutions for consideration to improve overall business goals through social and web based platforms.
​Web traffic, in-and-of itself does not support business outcomes unless you get customers to stop, browse, and engage in your products and services. The web is a great promotional tool for businesses, the possibilities are endless, and so too are the quantity of data and competition seeking to engage a piece of a limited pie. The author of Issues in Measurement of Word of Mouth in Social Media Advertising states, the sheer amount of information available on the social web can be intimidating, but thoughtful analysis can lead to useful intelligence (Fogel, 2010, p. 58). Organizations must commit to the development of their web based presence to achieve their goals through outcome based interactions. According to the Journal of Advertising Research, the interactive nature of social media ultimately has changed how consumers engage with brands. When using social media on a regular basis, consumers come in contact with many brands and products by reading, writing, watching, commenting, liking, sharing, and so forth (Schivinski, Christodoulides, & Dabrowski, 2016). The key is to engage with the customer to promote their products and services that result in outcomes aligned with the business objectives.

To effectively target customers through social and web based channels, organizations must develop their strategy based on specific target market demographics that align with pre-established business goals. Before managers can more confidently employ social media marketing, they need to understand how consumers behave and interact with brands on those channels (Schivinski, Christodoulides, & Dabrowski, 2016). Understanding the customer behavior is the best way to generate programs that produce outcomes. Social media is largely a free-to-use medium, which can be harnessed to advertise and meet business goals. It can potentially reach large, targeted populations rapidly, providing opportunities for customers and businesses whom may not otherwise be engaged. This strategy of targeting groups is time consuming and requires intensive research and analysis of how best to reach these audiences with approaches that harness and maximize the potential benefits of multi-model social media usage (Khatri et al., 2015). Practitioners should continue their social-media agendas by being present on social-media channels, and continuously producing engaging content that their target audience will most likely consume (Schivinski, Christodoulides, & Dabrowski, 2016). Organizations that best understand their customers will broaden their reach and gain a competitive advantage.  

An example of effective use of social media and or web based marketing is seen in Zappos.com. Zappos has built an extraordinary reputation through positive and effective web marketing, creating an environment in which customers and employees are drawn to the organization. Zappos understands the importance of researching and targeting customers in a manner consistent with their overall goals and objectives. Zappos transforms web traffic into engaged customers and business outcomes. Organizations must invest in social web engagement similar to Zappos that measurably contributes to business outcomes.

References

Evans, D., McKee, J., & Bratton, S. (2010). Social media marketing: The next generation of business engagement.

Fogel, S. (2010). Issues in measurement of word of mouth in social media marketing. International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications, 2(2), 54-60.

Khatri, C., Chapman, S. J., Glasbey, J., Kelly, M., Nepogodiev, D., Bhangu, A., & Fitzgerald, J. E. (2015). Social media and internet driven study recruitment: Evaluating a new model for promoting collaborator engagement and participation. PLoS ONE, 10(3), 1-11.

Schivinski, B., Christodoulides, G., & Dabrowski, D. (2016). Measuring consumers’ engagement with brand-related social-media content development and validation of a scale that identifies levels of social-media engagement with brands. Journal of Advertising Research, 56(1), 64-80.

 

Strengths and Weaknesses of Measurement

        The purpose of this report is to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of measurement as it relates to the SAS Socialcast case study. The SAS Socialcast case study provides empirical evidence of the effectiveness of creating an environment of seamless, rapid communication available to everyone. The culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing enhances relations and productivity. However, measuring the impact of these efforts offers strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. The following will explore these strengths and weaknesses and offer solutions for consideration.

        Measuring the impact of the enterprise social network (ESN) provides information on the effectiveness of the tool. According to the SAS Case Study, the investment in the ESN, offered numerous business purposes, such as, enhancing transparency and speed of communication, client satisfaction, collaboration across business locations, employee engagement, efficiency gains, and productivity improvements (Socialcast by VMware, 2012). Each of these functions or effects can be measured to better understand the collective effectiveness of the ESN tool. Measuring the impact of the ESN will also provide information on the return on investment of the product and services provided. These valuable insights into each purpose will identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. SAS has seemingly benefited from an organizational culture that provides a great reputation internally and externally. The following will further explore the strengths and weaknesses inherent in measuring performance and outcomes.
The collection of historical and current data allows organizations to evaluate their past performance to make smarter business decisions that support current and future business needs. Measuring employee performance offers insights into productivity and opportunities for improvements. Measuring organizational results as they relate to customer expectations and satisfaction as a result of the implemented ESN service provides valuable information on the impact on these enhancements. Measuring the organizational climate variance represented by employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity offers insight into the impact on the organization. Each of these strengths offer valuable insights regarding the impact a project has on the organization.
Weaknesses associated with measuring performance may include; subjectivity of soft data, interpretation of information, error in results, and or incorrect assumptions and poor understanding. Any one of these weaknesses can cripple the measurement process. It is imperative that the criteria for measurement are established in advance and aligned with company goals and objectives. According to an article published by the Institute for Public Relations, PR professionals can directly measure the business value of carefully targeted social media opportunities (Duncan, n.d.).  
Measurement is more challenging when dealing with subjective data. The point is to clearly establish criteria with systematic consistency when measuring the results. Establishing benchmarks and goals allows professionals a way to establish campaign impact and public relations effectiveness as related to marketing and advertising indicators, demonstrating impact on final return on investment (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 29). A challenge with measuring peoples’ behaviors or expressions is that each human perceives information differently through their beliefs and values (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 36). Focusing measurements on cultural beliefs and language offers insights into belief systems and allows for generalized measurement opportunities of targeted markets. Insights that provide organizations with empirical evidence of their effectiveness are invaluable and must be measured against organizational goals and objectives.  
Organizations must perform secondary research when developing project goals such as the SAS Socialcast project. Researching and analyzing product offerings, competitors, expected business goals and objectives. This proactive approach will ensure the investment returns value to the organization in the manner intended. A statistical analysis will evaluate the correlation between variables to identify their strength and provide valuable insights on programs that are successful and others that may need improvements. As pointed out in the discussion; there are strengths, challenges, and opportunities at stake. Measuring and understanding potential variances and their impact on the organization are essential. According to our text, A Practitioner’s Guide to Public Relations Research, Measurement, and Evaluation, strategic and proactive approaches to the evaluation of the marketing mix requires that professionals have an understanding of the past, competitors, expected business goals (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 64).  
Reliability means what you are measuring will be measured the same each time. Validity means that you are actually measuring what you say you are measuring (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 40). Using reliable, validated data is essential to obtain quality results. There is an error component when predicting outcomes and behaviors even with reliable validated data. Hence, establishing systematic data gathering of reliable, validated information reduces the significance of error in measurement. According to the article Total Survey Error in Public Opinion Quarterly, publication error exists when limitations of data or misinterpretations are not understood or disclosed (Groves & Lyberg, 2010, p. 853). Establishing a scale of reliability and validity is an important strength if accomplished or weakness if not.  
Organizations such as SAS have proven the value of establishing an ethically responsible culture where professionals are creating, measuring, and disclosing their programs accurately. When programs are measured to ensure success with transparency into the process, the outcomes are positive from an employee engagement, productivity, customer satisfaction, and return on investment for the organization.
References
Duncan, S. (n.d.). Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved from http://www.instituteforpr.org/wp-content/uploads/Seth_Duncan_Web_Analytics.pdf 

Groves, R. M., & Lyberg, L. (2010). Total survey error past, present, and future. Public Opinion Quarterly, 74(5), 849-879. 

Socialcast by VMware. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.socialcast.com/files-SAS-Case-Study.pdf 

Stacks, D. W., & Michaelson, D. (2010). A practitioner’s guide to public relations research, measurement and evaluation. New York, N.Y.] (222 East 46th Street: Business Expert Press. 

Measuring the so-called unmeasurable. 

The company I chose to analyze the Facebook content and code against core company goals and objectives is Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo core vision and value proposition is trust, understanding that it does not happen in one transaction, in one day on the job, or in one quarter. Trust is earned relationship by relationship (“Vision and Values – Wells Fargo, “n.d.). Wells Fargo objectives are to grow their business through these trusting relationships providing services for customers as their financial needs evolve through life. According to Marketrealist.com, Wells Fargo strategy is to increase customer engagement and loyalty and increase efficiency through technology. These two important goals align well with a social media strategy (Perez, 2014).To analyze the impact of social media against the goals of the organization, a random sampling of 10 Wells Fargo Facebook posts, comments, likes, and shares will provide a coding perspective that supports the goals and objectives of the company. The structured protocol evaluates posts and comments for positive, negative or neutral weighted outcomes. The coding weighted the posts and comments on a scale of 0-20 points based on the following criteria: Reference to trust or relationship building, clarity of message, tone, response timing, and number of likes, shares and views. Each of these criteria provides perspective on achieving the goals of nurturing a trusting environment through improved relationships to achieve repeat business. According to an article published by the Institute for Public Relations, PR professionals can directly measure the business value of carefully targeted social media opportunities (Duncan, n.d.). The results of the analysis are summarized below using a sliding scale with criteria supporting the scores. The average score from 10 random posts based on the following criteria:

1. Does the post reference trust or relationship building?

(0-10 for no words trust, or relationships) (11-15 if words exist) (16-20 if trusting situational story about relationships)

Average score 16.4

2. Clarity of Message

(0-10 for unclear messaging) (11-15 for semi-clear messaging) (16-20 for very clear messaging)

Average score 14.4

3. Tone of Message

(0-10 for negative tone of message) (11-15 for neutral to positive tone) (16-20 for upbeat positive tone)

Average score 16.4

4. Wells Fargo Response Timing

(0-10 if no response or responded to greater than 7 days later) (11-15 for comments between 1-7 days) (16-20 if response time is less than 1 day)

Average score 16.3

5. Quantity of Likes & Shares

(0-10 for less than 20 likes and shares) (11-15 for 20-100 likes and shares) (16-20 if greater than 100 likes and shares)

 Average score 16

As the analysis point out, the categories ranked relatively high with regard to trust, tone, responsiveness, and reach. It also points out the lacking clarity of message. Most of the categories provided upper quadrant results, however constant improvement is imperative to maintain a positive social media presence that supports the goals of building trusting relationships and enhancing engagement and efficiency. As socialmediaexaminer.com states, engagement and reach are the most important metrics when analyzing social media impact (Ernoult, 2013). Wells Fargo has opportunities to improve their reach and customer engagement through social media.

In conclusion, Wells Fargo Facebook does a relatively decent job at aligning social media marketing efforts with the goals and objectives of the greater organization. A couple of cautionary items to note include; the comments section seemed to channel mostly negative feedback, sometimes related to the post and other times off topic; and the perspective of the post is slanted towards the company with limited external influence. Overall, Wells Fargo has done a good job of diversifying the outreach through social media to reach sub groups of the population that broadens their reach and impact.  

References

Duncan, S. (n.d.). Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved from http://www.instituteforpr.org/wp-content/uploads/Seth_Duncan_Web_Analytics.pdf

Ernoult, E. (2013, March 18). 6 Facebook Metrics Marketers Should Be Measuring : Social Media Examiner. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-page-metrics/

Perez, S. (2014, October 9). Why Wells Fargo is leveraging technology to cut costs – Market Realist. Retrieved from http://marketrealist.com/2014/10/why-wells-fargo-is-leveraging-technology-to-cut-costs/

Vision and Values – Wells Fargo. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/corporate/vision-and-values/