Wandering the floor at CES 2017 gives you a great sense as what companies have been tinkering with over the past year. Not all of the innovations are shiny new technological breakthroughs. Some are just better story telling. The Z-Wave Alliance has a novel Point of Sale Display they are showing off in hopes of helping consumers and retailers break through the brand blockade of Smart Home. They are showing off the notion of consumer recipes, easy ways for consumers to pick what Smart Home experience they are and get the right devices to enable that experience.
And while Argus Insights is spending a lot of time in the Smart Home space, looking at the broader social conversation coming out of the show tells a different story.
Smart Home continues to fall at number 7 on the list but is doing better than in the past. Noticeably absent from the top 10 are Wearables and Laptops, past top categories of discussion. Automotive, Televisions, Gaming, IoT and VR round out the top five most talked about areas. AI, a new comer this year, is getting washed over the entire show given how the market’s fascination with deep learning and cognitive computing touches every category shown at CES.
We’ll share more along our journey through the show. Sign up for our newsletter if you’d like to get a regular dose of Argus Insights.
In our last post you heard more about the evils of Corporate Bias and how our metrics help identify and then mitigate the risk of being a LOUD brand through Social Narcissism. In this post we will shift from an inner focus on how much brands and their advocates reference themselves to an external focus on how the brand content resonates with the market. External Amplification is a metric of how much your content is being shared outside of your brand advocates and employees. Because we track the brand advocates for a given brand, we can determine which of the retweets and other forms of amplification are from the those external to the brand.
For example, if a brand like Cisco tweeted out an announcement regarding a new strategy targeting Autonomous Vehicles, naturally several brand advocates would echo this message out to their networks. In this example, let’s say this tweet attracts 125 retweets by Cisco employees and other advocates we’ve identified as being part of their “Circle of Trust.” At first glance, this looks like a great result. Issue is that the total retweets of this announcement is only 130, which means that while the ratio of tweet to retweet looks awesome(130:1), the actual ratio is 5:1, meaning that only 5 people/accounts outside of your existing advocates found your content to be compelling enough to retweet. Typically we average this metric across all mentions authored by a brand for a given time period to understand, in general, if their message is being picked up and shared out beyond their ‘Circle of Trust.’
Again, pulling data from the Network Function Virtualization market, we see some real results to analyze together:
Notice that our Corporate Bias culprit, Juniper, also has the worst External Amplification. So not only are they behaving as a LOUD brand, just crowing their own name, but they are also crowing a message that is being amplified at almost half the rate of the competition in this market.
That is another important feature of this metric. This is based on amplification WITHIN the target market. Having people/accounts outside of your market amplify your message is interesting but not useful in advancing your dominance. Knowing that the cousins of all of your employees are helping broadcast your message to their neighbors does not help you grow your awareness within the target market Network Function Virtualization. That is why we pull all these metrics from conversations related to your market instead of your brand. This let’s you see the growing influence your content is gaining for you within the market and, at times more importantly, against your competition.
In the example above, HPE might have a lower Corporate Bias than Brocade, but their content is performing almost as well. Cisco is the only brand with an External Amplification greater than one, showing a multiplying effect of their NFV content, especially relative to their chief competitors. You would only know this if you had the entire market conversation captured, not just the branded ones. You can see how External Amplification is an actionable metric, you can immediately see how your content is resonating relative to the competition, tracking the impact of your campaigns on growing awareness outside of your advocates in real time. This helps you bypass being LOUD and go straight to being effective.
This is what we do at Argus Insights, we focus on metrics that matter, metrics that help our clients move markets. External Amplification is just one of many metrics we have developed to help our clients craft the right actions to drive growth and engagement. let us know if you’d like to learn more! You can also sign up for our free market analysis newsletter.
We’ve all seen it, the eruption of buzz around a launch event, a scandal, a contest or some other drastic shift in the conversation around a brand. Since we started looking at Social Media as another data source to help clients make sense of the market, we have helped several clients make sense of these volatile phenomena. Our clients worried endlessly when their competition had these volcanic explosions of interest, especially in B2B markets where mindshare was so jealously guarded. Our forensic analysis of these events found they fell into three buckets:
Legitimate market interest in what the brand had to say and sustained engagement (Yeah!)
Bot-Storms flooding a brand because someone ‘bought’ followers or attention (Shame on you!)
Lift generated almost entirely by employees and brand advocates like agencies
Those legitimate lifts are gold for the market and for the brands. It means they are contributing to the narrative in a way that drives overall growth and adoption.(Or a huge scandal was just exposed and heads will roll.) The Bot Storms are more prevalent in B2C but are being used less and less as social media properties do more to filter their impact. The one that is most difficult is where the employees and agencies relentlessly promote the parent brand. There are even tools to make this simpler. The minute any product is launched, press release embargo lifted, memo from the CEO ‘leaked’, swarms of employees and brand affiliates take to the social mediawaves (not quite airwaves) to immediately share how excited they are by X. In past blog post, we have described this as a Loud brand, one so intent on broadcasting their message that they drown out any actual dialogue with the market they are attempting to impact.
We created the Corporate Bias metric for our clients as a way to mute the impact of the advocate driven bursts in buzz. It’s a way to weed out the extra mentions in a conversation driven by those closest to the brand. It’s also a way to hold a brand accountable for how much they speak of themselves. (How many brands do you know that mention themselves in every single tweet?) This metric helps our clients not only separate the market driven buzz from the brand driven buzz, but also helps them manage their own brand advocates, encouraging dialogue over monologue. One of our clients also used this metric to ensure their lift was outside their brand, demonstrating to their leadership the impact of their outbound efforts.
For example, looking at the Network Function Virtualization Market for the last two weeks we see the following results:
You can see that HPE and Juniper had the most Posts during the last two weeks but their Corporate Bias numbers tell a very different story. Of Juniper’s 23 outbound posts, only 17% did not mention Juniper, meaning that the Juniper is acting as a LOUD brand within the NFV market whereas Brocade, even though they have fewer posts, is behaving more as a LISTENING brand, which, in the face of the recent acquisition rumors is admirable. You can quickly see where using Corporate Bias can help manage your engagement with the market narrative, see the impact of social strategies, and identify which eruptions of interest are real, imagined or manufactured…
This is what we do at Argus Insights, we focus on metrics that matter, metrics that help our clients move markets. Corporate Bias is just one of many metrics we have developed to help our clients craft the right actions to drive growth and engagement. let us know if you’d like to learn more! You can also sign up for our free market analysis newsletter.
Popular Smart Home Links Shared (Week of 30 October – 05 November)
Summary – With 5.3K shares this past week, traffic was down from the 7.9K shares of the week before. In addition to a red herring regarding makeup that uses the title of “Smart House” there are four pieces that surround either funding or the launch of solutions for the Smart Home space. As a result, let’s call the theme of the week “Investing in the Smart Home.” Whether through internal or external funding, there is no doubt that plenty of money has been, and will continue to be, funneled into the Smart Home space.
Sevenhugs Remote – What do you name a company when your founders have seven children among you? It appears that you name the company “Sevenhugs.” This company has been focusing on sleep sensors, but received 391 shares of their soon-to-be-released one-touch remote. Either Sevenhugs is executing a very clever marketing move to keep customers guessing, or my observation skills are poor (perhaps both). You can register on the web to get 50% off the remote, but I can’t seem to find either the price or the release date of this product. Regardless, I like the family emphasis and look forward to seeing the product come out.
Sunflower Labs Funding – Would you like to have drones patrolling your house, as shown above? In an article with 357 shares, Techcrunch writes about startup Sunflower Labs receiving funding for a security system whose motion sensors activate a quadcopter that is dispatched to investigate unusual disturbances on your property. The exact release date is a bit vague, but for $25, feel free to reserve yours online if you like.
Ernest Funding – Just like my previous newsletter, Arturs Pumpurs crowdfunding idea for “Ernest, your first mobile butler” made it into the top shared stories. As I type this, it has received roughly $17.3K from 48 backers and has 28 days to go. With an additional 276 shares (after 277 the previous week), it is clear that there is always interest is funding a startup with an interesting idea.
Ecobee Thermostat – Ecobee launched their new Ecobee3 Lite thermostat on the 21st of October. They have done a great job of continued activity to promote the new product, giving it life for a sustained two week period with 223 additional shares of the product page on their website.
With a “tweener” price-point of $169 (roughly midway between low-end and high-end smart thermostats), and support of five major Smart Home platforms, this product is aiming to be the Goldilocks of thermostats. As consumer reviews roll-in over the coming days and weeks, the Argus team will be checking to see delivery on that brand promise.
Make up Red Herring – Although the most highly shared link with 466 last week, the lead story was only marginally Smart Home. There were two virtually identical twitter postings, for Makeup with Laura and a different Makeup oriented handle, that both used the “Smart House” tagline and made it into the Smart Home social media listings. It goes to show you that raw numbers don’t tell the whole story and it is important to analyze the stories behind the numbers to separate the signal from the noise.
Popular Smart Home Links Shared (Week of 23-29 October)
We had over 7.9K shares last week in the Smart Home space. The previous week, I pegged the theme for the 5.9K shares as “using the present tense” in the Smart Home. I put forth the argument that we need to be talking about the Smart Home in terms of what it can do for us today as opposed to a futuristic world of the Jetsons and Jarvis. This week is a continuation of that theme, with two stories that reinforce that point. And then, as if to further accentuate my conclusion, the top share actually discusses the Smart Home in the past tense.
Believe it or not, that picture above is a cutting edge computer, circa 1987. In the mid-1980’s, the Soviet Union State Committee for Science and Technology assigned the task to develop a “revolutionary computer.” The result was called the Sphinx project, which eerily has some Apple-like qualities. Exhibited at a show in London this past September highlighting Soviet relics, this computer was developed ahead of it’s time, behind the iron curtain, in a state-controlled environment. It goes to show you that labeling a display “Soviet home automation” can drive roughly 1,000 shares on Twitter. Smart Home — in the Past Tense!
Online publication Droid Life drove 865 shares with a contest to give away a free Google Home. Before you click to enter, the drawing was last Friday. One clear takeaway is that (not surprisingly) giving away free “stuff” drives traffic in all businesses. A more subtle point is the picture above. I noticed the use of books: old school paper books. Again, this is a fine example of integrating the Smart Home into the rest of our regular home living.
October 27th through the 30th saw the Vancouver Home & Design Show on the West Coast of Canada. This particular show is not designated a “smart home” show. A glance at the show’s website quickly demonstrates that on display are quilts, garage storage ideas, and yes — the Smart Home. The actual article was posted on a website called Miss 604. Featuring a Best Buy Smart Home, the post was shared 525 times. This blog is written by Rebecca Bollwitt and describes her own home. The complete home solution features products from Nest, Philips, and Ring (to name a few). She describes some practical uses for these products and how they have impacted her life in the past year. In doing so, she proceeds to describe how Best Buy will be featured at this annual show.
The final highly shared post is a crowdfunded startup. As I type this, it has received roughly $17K from 45 backers and has 34 days to go. The idea, dubbed “Ernest, your first mobile butler” comes to us from founder Arturs Pumpurs. Eerily similar to Jarvis, this product is in Beta. Having never used Kickstarter myself, I can neither endorse nor reject this particular idea. However, with 277 shares, it is clear that a number of people are considering doing so.
The Argus team just finished two exciting days at the Smart Home Summit in Palo Alto, California. With everyone from Logitech to Sears to the City of Palo Alto in attendance, it was educational and focused on how to move the Smart Home from the future to present tense. We were on hand to demonstrate the recently released Argus Analyzer personal toolkit. The toolkit is a SaaS platform designed to help Smart Home Product Managers with tasks such as: competitive analysis, tracking externally based marketing metrics, using data to drive your message with executives, and even tracking the success of product launches.