Wendy Moe, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business, has won the 2014 Robert D. Buzzell Marketing Science Institute Best Paper Award for her research on social media intelligence.
Her pioneering work, also featured in a new book, shows companies how to extract timely, inexpensive and accurate consumer data from social media sites such as Twitter, Amazon and Yelp. The key is to control for human tendencies that shape online conversations using the same rigor of traditional social science.
“If we ignore the effects of human behavior and just take social media comments at face value, we will get all noise,” said Moe, director of the Master of Science in Marketing Analytics program at Smith. “After we control for those factors, what we have left over is a brand measure that tracks closely with well-developed offline surveys.”
Moe said many organizations monitor social media conversations about their brands, but they hesitate to integrate the information into their marketing strategies because they do not know how to filter the noise. “They do not know what to do with the feedback,” she said. “Social media just gives them a lot of useless information.”
Her research provides a path forward, allowing companies to use social media intelligence in combination with traditional surveys, interviews and focus groups. “Social media data are what people want to share,” she said. “But there is a lot of information that companies need to know that consumers might not voluntarily share online. For these topics, if you want to drill down deep, you still need to do traditional research.”
The award-winning paper, Social Media Intelligence: Measuring Brand Sentiment from Online Conversations, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Marketing Research. Co-authors include David A. Schweidel of Emory University and Chris Boudreaux of Accenture. Data access was provided by Converseon, a social media strategy and analytics firm.
Schweidel is also co-author of the book, Social Media Intelligence (Cambridge University Press, 2014).