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  • 13 Nov 2018 2:28 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    By:  Jim Matorin, Business Catalyst at SMARTKETING: Tech-friendly pragmatist that specializes in innovation and revitalizing businesses.


    My ambiguity regarding influence marketing persists especially in light of an article I read in ContentStandard, a weekly newsletter published by Skyword titled The Psychology of Social SharingWhat Makes People Engage with Your Social Content.    

    Long title for a short article, a six minute read according to Skyword.  However, it took me eighteen minutes because I had to read it three times to fully digest. 

    I highly recommend clicking to the article, but for SMRA readers who would like to cut to the chase, here are my key takeaways. 

    • Recently, social media algorithms have become more complex in order to offset click-bait, spam and false reporting.  These changes are adversely impacting the public reach of content.  Consequently, creating content that generates organic engagement (“meaningful interactions”) has become a marketing challenge.
    • A new study from the NY Times Consumer Insights Group confirmed that the reasons people share information (word of mouth) has not changed significantly over time.  What has changed is how and where people share information.  The NY Times sketched a profile for six different types of online sharers.  For more details I recommend you click to the article.
    • Understand your audience.
    • Marketers are over processing when it comes to targeting. 

    My company specializes in food-away-from-home marketing.  Recently, we were asked by a client to examine future shifts in consumer food-away-from-home eating behavior. 

    Our research revealed that there is one demographic group that eats, sleeps and breathes social media and sharing content online.  Can you name the generation?  Stay tuned.  In my next post I will provide the answer as I continue to investigate influence marketing.


  • 7 Nov 2018 8:34 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    #socialmedialistening at its finest! Finding a new market for a well established product without having to change it at all, using social media to promote. Genius!

    How Pedialyte got Pedialit

    By Kaitlyn Tiffany@kait_tiffanykaitlyn.tiffany@vox.com  Sep 10, 2018, 

    One of the sweeter and more demented rap hooks in history goes, “Baby, I’m important like in Pedialyte.” It’s from Young Thug’s “Calling Your Name,” released in September 2015; the lyric, as helpfully unpacked by Genius user chillHill, means something along the lines of “he is a necessity to his girl (baby) like Pedialyte is to a dehydrated baby.”

    Pedialyte is an oral electrolyte solution manufactured by the Columbus, Ohio-based medical company Abbott Labs. It’s based on rehydration therapies invented by the World Health Organization in the 1940s and was initially designed as an affordable means of treating dehydration caused by acute gastroenteritis, a common inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract caused by any number of viruses, fungi, and bacteria.

    Acute gastroenteritis is still a worldwide epidemic, with a reported 2 billion cases in 2015; in many countries in western Africa and Southeast Asia where it remains a major problem, Pedialyte is classified as a drug. In the US, Pedialyte has been sold over the counter in pharmacies since the 1960s, primarily marketed as a way to rehydrate children age 1 and older following a bout with the stomach flu or a long day at the beach.

    Four months before Young Thug’s beautiful contribution to the canon of lightly infantilizing wordplay, that changed. Why and how that change happened tells us less about the science of hydration than it does about one of the newer and more confusing facts of our existence: Every single one of us is now a social media “influencer.”

    In May 2015, Pedialyte announced that it would target the hangover market — or rather, a subset of the adult market made up of people who engage in what the brand refers to as “occasional alcohol consumption.” The market was already there — Abbott said adult sales of Pedialyte were up 57 percent since 2012, accounting for a full third of total sales; the company was just deciding to go after it officially.

    Abbott’s senior brand manager Eric Ryan tells me the decision to woo adults was simple: “The beauty of the product is that the benefits haven’t changed — Pedialyte is still a medical-grade hydration solution backed by advanced science. We don’t endorse heavy drinking or claim to cure hangovers, but our users find confidence in having a trusted rehydration solution that works.”

    People had been tweeting about using Pedialyte as a hangover remedy since at least 2009. (Although back then, you could also find lots of people talking about rehydrating kittens and puppies. It was a different time online.) Some of these people were famous, including Carson Daly, Diplo, and a slew of college football players.

    A social media image Pedialyte used to promote its Powder Packs to festivalgoers. Pedialyte

    Ryan says Abbott has never paid influencers at any level, neither celebrities nor athletes nor Instagram queenpins. They just pick up the stuff of their own accord. (In 2014, for the recurring Us Weekly feature “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me” — a daring glimpse into the banality of famous people’s lives — Pharrell Williams wrote, “I drink Pedialyte almost every day.” He did not say why.)

    “We knew there was online and social buzz about adults using Pedialyte,” Ryan says. “Because of the high levels of advocacy for our product, we’ve found that our everyday consumers are our biggest influencers. If you take a quick look at celebrity buzz about Pedialyte, you’ll see why we haven’t pursued any formal partnerships to date — Pedialyte is a product people like to talk about, from elite athletes to Oscar nominees to runway models to rap artists. You name it, we’ve felt the love.” The love, sure, but also free marketing everywhere.

    Pedialyte’s brand pivot was written up by just about every business publication you can name. The rest of media soon followed suit.

    “Everyone is Drinking Pedialyte to Cure Their Hangovers,” Cosmo declared. “Does Pedialyte Cure Hangovers?” asked the Atlantic. Ever the trend-setter, the New York Times published “Letter of Recommendation: Pedialyte” two years later.

    Shortly following the 2015 announcement, Abbott sent a #PowderPackedSummer team to 144 music festivals and sporting events throughout the US to distribute a new powdered product convenient for travel and outdoor drinking. In tandem, Pedialyte paid for six branded articles on BuzzFeed with titles like “11 GIFs That Describe How You Feel After the Office Christmas Party” and “11 Dogs Who Are Thirstier Than You”; the latter’s introduction read, “You think you’re thirsty? These dogs know all about it. Next time you need to rehydrate, be sure to look to the lyte – Pedialyte!”

    Members of the Pedialyte street team at Lollapalooza. Pedialyte

    Pedialyte’s in-house research scientist Jennifer Williams does not, for the record, recommend the product as a “hangover cure.” She’s been at Abbott for 25 years and has worked on Pedialyte for the past 10.

    “We know that there is no cure for a hangover,” Williams says. “You can’t go to a store and buy a cure for a hangover. We know that alcohol dehydrates, and we know that our product rehydrates.”

    A hangover is a symphony of unpleasant symptoms associated with the influx of toxic compounds that comes with drinking alcohol. The accumulated compounds cause inflammation, mess with your immune system and hormone balance, and upset your body in all kinds of other ways that aren’t even fully understood; scientists have spent years looking for a surefire salve for the common hangover, and they haven’t found one.

    While Pedialyte won’t necessarily alleviate a hungover person’s nausea, headache, or dizziness, it can counteract the dehydration caused by drinking. Here’s how it works: Pedialyte contains sugar, salt, potassium, and water. The water obviously rehydrates you, while the sugar helps pull the salt and potassium into your body to replenish electrolytes that have been lost due to dehydration. That’s it.

    IT COULD EVEN BE ARGUED THAT PEDIALYTE’S APPEAL TO THE ADULT MARKET SURVIVED A COORDINATED SABOTAGE FROM WITHIN HOUSE

    Williams tries to convince me that if you’re really dehydrated, “water isn’t going to do it for you,” and that the amount of sugar in Gatorade and Powerade throws off the chemical balance and negates the benefits of the electrolytes. “It actually makes the problem worse. It can actually dehydrate you or cause a gastrointestinal disturbance. I can say ‘diarrhea,’ if you want.”

    Williams refers to Abbott as a scientifically “conservative” company, careful to never make too specific a reference to a hangover. She has to review every social media post for scientific accuracy, and she notes that the brand’s pivot to the adult market came with no adjustments to Pedialyte’s packaging or presentation. The main product changes since then have been the addition of two flavors — Strawberry Freeze and Berry Frost, obvious rip-offs of Gatorade flavor names — and a new “Pedialyte AdvancedCare Plus,” which has nutrition facts nearly identical to the original Pedialyte but purports to have “even more electrolytes.”

    Pedialyte’s initial summer marketing push coincided with the second season of HBO’s True Detective, which drove 3 million prestige cable viewers to the brink of madness. In the fourth episode, Colin Farrell’s racist, corrupt-cop character Ray takes Taylor Kitsch’s closeted, war-criminal character Paul around in a truck, peer pressuring him to drink whiskey. “I just don’t know how to be out in the world, man,” Paul says (because this was a serious show concerned with the nuances of evil). To that, Ray says, “Hey, look out that window. Look at me. Nobody does. Hit that again. We’ll get you some Pedialyte.”

    Abbott says the mention was “not coordinated”; I asked writer Nic Pizzolatto’s publicist and HBO — no comment. There’s no way to prove that this was product placement. But you do the math: there are few combinations more logical and lyrical than a TV show about sex parties and a guy who was found sizzled to death in a vat of acid, and an Ohio-based medical supply company.

    That summer, Pedialyte also launched a traditional ad campaign and an interactive Twitter campaign called #SeeTheLyte. Two of the copywriters who worked on the campaign said they were bound by nondisclosure agreements and could not talk about it. Abbott’s PR director Molly Sustar referred to the details of #SeeTheLyte as a “trade secret” and declined to discuss it. Yet to many of the people it sought to target — cool, young millennials — the #SeeTheLyte campaign may have appeared morbidly embarrassing. It could even be argued that Pedialyte’s appeal to the adult market survived a coordinated sabotage from within house.

    View image on Twitter

    View image on Twitter

    Pedialyte US@pedialyte

    You are never too old for freezer pops. And you are never too old for Pedialyte. #rehydrate

    12:25 PM - Jun 16, 2015


    Along with stock photos of Pedialyte packets peeking out of wallets and being passed offas discreetly as a dime bag, color-blocked illustrations of bearded hipsters and agave plants, Pedialyte started tweeting things like, “We forgot our tutus, but had an amazing time at Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas!” and, “T.G.I. Finally!” You know — things normal young people say, right before they get lit.

    And yet, this coordinated attack — an embarrassing Twitter campaign, a festival ground team, a new flavor (strawberry lemonade!) — all seemed to work. When the next summer rolled around, rapper Vic Mensa was promoting his new EP with a guest spot on Sway Calloway’s radio show. He completed his freestyle challenge with a verse that went, in part, “Drank too much Ciroc, I need some Pedialyte.”

    In February 2017, Pedialyte joined Instagram and started laying the groundwork for a program called #TeamPedialyte. Pedialyte’s social media team started commenting on every single post that mentioned the brand, most commonly with, “You made our day!” and, “Stay hydrated,” paired with a sunglasses emoji. Then they started hopping into DMs, writing, “You’re a big fan of ours, it’s no secret. Well, we noticed and were wondering if you’d consider joining #TeamPedialyte? And we aren’t just asking anybody. … Only real-deals like yourself.”

    They asked for addresses and T-shirt sizes and sent out a St. Patrick’s Day care package in late February, then a summer survival kit in July. The mailings look to have been designed by someone whose only exposure to EDM culture was that Zac Efron movie, packed with items like a Bluetooth speaker-equipped water bottle, beer koozies with neon lettering (“Lit today, Lyte tomorrow”), and fingerless gloves with “High five to rehydration” printed below a green Pedialyte logo.

    The people who received these kits posted about them voluntarily, typically using the recommended hashtags and sharing an Amazon discount code. Almost none of these fans have more than 800 followers, and most have between 200 and 300. They’re not influencers, except in their very immediate social circles. They’re young professionals and cross-country runners and fratty Midwestern coeds who get dehydrated and swear by this Pedialyte trick they heard about. The largest #TeamPedialyte-posting account I could find belongs to a pair of Bengal cats that live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They have 941 followers, and they are very cute.

    Mae Karwowski, a co-founder of the New York influencer agency and tech company Obviously, explains the tactic: “This is the new evolution of influencer marketing. It doesn’t really matter the size of your following; it’s that you’re excited and want to post about the brand. The authenticity is really there. It’s just people who are really excited about Pedialyte, not like, ‘Your manager arranged this thing where you post five posts and five stories.’”

    Karwowski compared Pedialyte’s strategy to that of the blog-first makeup company Glossierand the Kardashian-knighted clothing company Revolve, calling them three of the first to realize the benefit of spending money on a “really organic brand ambassador community where brands are choosing people based on how excited they are to talk about the brand as opposed to how many followers they have.”

    Raj Rawal joined #TeamPedialyte after posting a photo of himself with arms full of the product at a CVS near Coachella, which resulted in a surprising DM and a gift box. The 28-year-old digital producer from Los Angeles has since posted about the brand a handful of times in his Stories and twice in the grid. He tells me he jokingly adds “#ad” to his Pedialyte posts even though the company consistently reiterates in his comments that he’s a “fan” and not a paid partner.

    “THIS IS THE NEW EVOLUTION OF INFLUENCER MARKETING. IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER THE SIZE OF YOUR FOLLOWING; IT’S THAT YOU’RE EXCITED AND WANT TO POST ABOUT THE BRAND.”

    “So many people hit me up and were like, ‘How do I become a Pedialyte influencer?’” he tells me, laughing. He was happy to post about the product in exchange for free stuff — “Free stuff is rad, obviously. Who doesn’t like free?” — and he was also happy to tell me that Pedialyte is a “fascinating elixir” that you can chug after a night of heavy drinking so you wake up without a hangover and “still a little bit drunk.”

    Taylor Williams, a 24-year-old #TeamPedialyte member from Chicago, expresses feelings similar to Raj’s (“My love for Pedialyte now is more for their whole brand — they’ve realized who’s drinking it and they’ve become fully engaged with us on a personal level”), as does Arizona State undergrad Bryce Schmitgal, who brings Pedialyte to music festivals when he plans to drink all night, passing out packets of powder at the Lost Lake Festival in Phoenix in 2016.

    Schmitgal was hired by a third party, the event-staffing agency Victory Marketing, but was more than eager to instruct his fellow festival-goers that “Pedialyte is not just for babies and can help hydrate more than any other sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade,” he says.

    “What I love about Pedialyte is that it really works,” says Alyssa Feitsam, a 25-year-old fan from St. Louis. “No gimmicks.”

    To understand the cult of Pedialyte, I would need to drink it. (I’ve always been a Gatorade girl, no offense. You can get an eight-pack of Gatorade for $5!) One morning, on the way to the beach, I stopped at Walgreens and bought a bottle of mixed-fruit Pedialyte, a box of Pedialyte powder packets, and a box of Pedialyte freezer pops. This is $24 worth of Pedialyte.

    Pedialyte tastes like Kool-Aid, if Kool-Aid also had an underlying kick of dentist’s office fluoride rinse. Pedialyte freezer pops are tolerable, but their packaging suggests that between 16 and 32 pops may be needed to fully rehydrate a dehydrated person. A recommended serving of the original bottled version is a full liter — two if you really intend to feel better. Travel-size packets have to be mixed with exactly 8 ounces of water or the chemical balance will be off, according to Abbott’s scientist. And in any case, Pedialyte is sold only in pharmacies, coming in cumbersome rectangular bottles that have child-proof twist-off caps and a thick foil seal.

    The packaging still says, “Use under supervision of a medical professional,” which, frankly, is too authoritarian for me.

    My best guess is that this medical appearance is part of the draw — a way to say that your hangover is serious because your partying was serious. Appropriating a medical substance also makes a vague suggestion that you’re doing something illicit. It’s leagues away from bringing cough syrup to the party, but aesthetically, is it that far from bringing cough syrup to the party?

    But the refrain I heard from every #TeamPedialyte member I asked — including former All Thatstar Lisa Foiles, just another unpaid fan who took it upon herself to make an elaborate Pedialyte unboxing video — was that they love it because it works. It makes them feel better, fast, as the tagline goes.

    Actually, according to Rawal, it prevents him and his friends from feeling bad at all. “What we actually do is basically detox to retox,” he explained. “So I drink vodka with Pedialyte as the mixer. Miley Cyrus by day, Hannah Montana by night — best of both worlds.”

    This idea, too, has been co-opted by corporate America. “I started testing Pedialyte in some cocktails in October 2017,” says Mike Perro, the director of operations for PJW Restaurant Group, which owns the Pour House, a pub in Exton, Pennsylvania. “The idea was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek way to help brunch patrons who may have drunk a bit too much the night before with a twist on the ‘hair of the dog’ theory.”

    Mike Perro’s Pedialyte cocktails. PJW Restaurant Group

    The restaurant added brunch to its offerings early this year, and with it, Perro’s Pedialyte cocktails, available only from 11 am to 2 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. You can now also buy them at two other Pour House locations — in North Wales, Pennsylvania, and Westmont, New Jersey. Listed in a section of the menu titled “Recovery,” there is a Weekend Krush (orange vodka, orange Pedialyte, orange juice), a Summer Krush (strawberry vodka, strawberry Pedialyte, lemonade), and a Tropical Krush (mango vodka, orange Pedialyte, peach nectar).

    “I would imagine college kids are doing that,” Williams, the Pedialyte research scientist, tells me. “I have no idea what would happen if you mixed it with alcohol. You maybe be undoing all effort there; I can’t imagine it working well.”

    Today, Abbott says, adults make up “at least half” of all Pedialyte sales. They really did it! Congratulations to central Ohio.

    They have “done it” in such a way that Gustave Karagroziz, a 27-year-old obstacle racer from Long Island, mailed the company a handwritten letter asking to be added to #TeamPedialyte.

    He was told there were no more available spots, which infuriated him to the point of messaging me screenshots and screen recordings of more than a dozen of his Instagram posts about Pedialyte. “I’ll stop there, just know this isn’t even one-fourth of the pictures I have,” he said. He just wants an opportunity to represent a brand that “has done wonders” for him.

    Did I set out to write this as an inspiring tale of a company succeeding based on the merit of its product and its goodwill toward its customers? No, I don’t care about companies succeeding. But having written that story anyway, I’m happy enough to recommend that you spend your money on products that have terrible branding, an embarrassing social-media presence, and solid science behind them.

    Pedialyte is the real deal, which is probably why it’s disgusting. It’s the anti-Goop — not “wellness” but health. It’s the anti-Gatorade, which is basically salty sugar water that made a bunch of football players richer than God. We are so used to being suspicious, it’s easy to forget that some things still have utility genuine enough to withstand even the thirstiest attempts to mask it with neon lights and tweets about wingmen.

    The recently Bieber-affianced model Hailey Baldwin didn’t get paid to post a photo when she knocked back a 2-liter bottle of Pedialyte at the entrance to Coachella this April, but it happened. And by all accounts, she had a lovely, well-hydrated weekend.

  • 23 Oct 2018 3:29 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    By Michael Lieberman

    Michael Lieberman is founder and president of Multivariate Solutions, a statistical and marketing research consulting firm that works with major advertising, public relations, and political strategy firms.

    Data privacy has been at the forefront of the legislative battle waged by Marketing Research organizations like the Marketing Research International Institute, the Marketing Research Association, and ESOMAR. In fact, this issue looms large in the media as well. Advances in technology only make the matter more urgent.

    Privacy is linked to the exploding number of Android and Apple apps on ubiquitous smart phones and IPads. When one downloads an app, a game, a newspaper or Skype, that application requests permissions by default. Most of us barely glance at what we agree to.

    Are these permissions necessary for the application to run? More important, are they an invasion of privacy?

    There is a hidden tax in our “free” mobile apps: the debt is paid is in the coin of privacy. “Least privilege” or “need to know” are irrelevant and even strange notions to some application developers. And it is hard to differentiate among the legitimate, superfluous or even malicious permissions.

    Each and every time you install an application, it is likely that you will be asked for a large number of permissions. “Can I access your entire life (…just in case?)”.

    Google requests permission for more than 200,000 apps. In this paper we examine one of the most well-known of these, Gmail. We will present results of the Gmail segment and suggest a model for identifying anomalies in permission-requests made by our downloaded apps.

    GMAIL

    When one downloads an application, Android usually suggests a similar app, much like Amazon might suggest a similar book or Nordstrom’s a similar purchase item. The ‘suggestions’ are derived by formula. This is no different, in marketing research parlance, from an a priori segmentation. In other words, certain apps go with other apps. Google makes their categories public and the data available.

    In our database, we have downloaded close to 189,000 data points (each an app). These are provided in comma-separated value format, which is easily read into Excel.

    With each application, Google makes available whether that app requests up to 189 permissions. Most of them are quite common. Some are not.

    Hypothesis

    It is reasonable to assume that Google segments apps for a reason. After all, suggested apps—be it a calorie counter, a simulator war game, or a memory exerciser—are designed to carry out certain functions.

    Thus, one would expect that the permissions granted to similar apps would be similar. It is against this hypothesis that we can search for unusual, or suspicious, permissions. Hypotheses are not always straightforward, but they are necessary for our inquiry.

    Computer programmers have approached me to find a one-size-fits all algorithm to ‘weed out’ bad permissions. In my view, this is not possible, because ‘bad’ is a relative term. For example, it would be ‘bad’ if I managed to the codes to the US nuclear arsenal (and worse for my enemies), but not ‘bad’ if the President of the United States had access to those same codes. It is “good” if I know the password for my bank account, “bad” if someone else does.

    Our hypothesis, then, is that the apps contained in the Gmail cluster should have similar permissions. We will be looking for exceptions to that rule and then deciding if they are ‘bad’.

    Gmail Similar Apps

    Table 1 lists the Aggregated Permissions that are Requested within the Gmail cluster. The most frequent permissions are shown in descending order by percentage of requests within the similar this apps group.

    Table 1

    Naturally, some permissions float to the top. We are seeking the uncommon ones. Glancing at a simple output does not get us far enough. Further analysis is needed.


    Network Analysis

    Network Analysis is the practical use of Graph Theory. Graphs can be used to model many types of relations and processes in physical, biological, social and information systems. Many practical problems can be represented by graphs.

    In computer science, graphs are used to represent networks of communication, data organization, computational devices, flow of computation, and so on. For instance, the link structure of a website can be represented by a directed graph, in which the vertices represent web pages and directed edges represent links from one page to another. A similar approach can be taken to problems in travel, biology, computer chip design, and many other fields.

    There are many statistical measures calculated in Network Analysis. For our practical purposes, only two measures need to be subjected to our analysis. These are “degree”, that is, how popular a given node is, and eigenvector—how well connected a node is to other clusters. We call this a ‘bridge’.

    The first step is to structure the data on which apps are connected to which permissions. The program I use, NodeXL, is an open-source Excel back-end program. Together with SPSS, the data is shaped, placed into Excel, and run with the analysis. The procedure produces the following graph (Figure 1).

    Figure 1 – Network Analysis of Gmail Similar Apps Cluster and Permissions Requested


    The size of each app and permission is the eigenvector centrality—its bridge factor. Despite being classified by Android as similar apps, our analysis has isolated four distinct clusters within the Gmail group. These clusters are not segmented by Google, but rather by which permissions they share. Not unexpectedly, the clusters divide into sub-segments of Gmail/Gmail-like apps.

    The Analysis—Backward Assumptions Reveal Exceptions

    Network Analysis is useful when examining all kinds of data, such as Twitter and website links, restaurant data and media research. We can fit Walmart sales data, throw the data into the analysis, and then advise the client as to which items we suggest he put on sale.

    The general approach is to examine the top Degree (popularity) and eigenvector centrality (bridge). These key measures suggest a sales strategy.

    Here, though, we are looking for exceptions, the opposite of what ‘should be’. To do so, we reverse the Degree and Eigenvector Centrality, searching for the smallest values with the Gmail Google group.

    When we reverse the network analysis statistics, we see that some permissions have low degree and eigenvector centrality, which means they are uncommon.


    The table below shows a smattering of information about the isolated permissions coming from the network analysis. Let’s see what we have.


    Glancing at this chart, one might ask the following questions.

    • Many of us use Yahoo Mail, but do we want it to read our sensitive log data?

    • Are we comfortable with Outlook taking a screenshot of other apps programmatically, without root permission (frame buffer)?

    • BlackBerry might be on its way out, but while you were on your cell phone it was reading not only the calendar but confidential information. What was it doing with the data?

    • Do we want Outlook to automatically delete contents of our USB storage?

    • AntiVirus Security might be a little too secure. We give it permission to automatically delete other apps caches. Which apps? What caches?

    Generally speaking, I wrap up my articles with useful tips. Today stands as an exception: I leave my readers with more questions than answers. This fittingly reflects the reality of our information age.

    Michael Lieberman is founder and president of Multivariate Solutions, a statistical and marketing research consulting firm that works with major advertising, public relations, and political strategy firms. He can be reached at +1 646 257 3794, or at michael@mvsolution.com.



  • 16 Oct 2018 10:10 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)


    By:  Jim Matorin, Business Catalyst at SMARTKETING: Tech-friendly pragmatist that specializes in innovation and revitalizing businesses.


    Recently I was asked by a client to provide a list of F&B social media leaders worth benchmarking.  In acknowledgement metrics are key when evaluating companies best utilizing social media across the top platforms, I began my online research.  Consequently, I learned there are copious research indexes harvesting online data and ranking social performance across multiple metrics on a regular basis – total follower counts, online engagement, SRVs (social restaurant visits), etc.  Numerous brands consistently score high.  I began drafting my list of companies when I realized Wendy’s surfaced to the top.  Rationale: Social media metrics and receiving top rankings are significant, but nothing is more important than backing up the social rankings with stellar financial performance, a true metric monitored by the corner office.  

    The fast-food chain decided to accelerate its social media game back in 2017.  Creative, witty engagement via Twitter with their loyal fans (currently 2.81m) and major competitors, as well as leveraging their YouTube channel to share authentic stories were the epicenter of Wendy’s social movement.  The one Twitter engagement that went viral was follower Carter Wilkerson asking how many retweets would he need for a year of free chicken nuggets to which Wendy’s responded: 18 million.  #NuggsForCarter became the most retweeted Tweet of all time beating out Ellen DeGeneres’s famous Oscar selfie.  However, Carter fell short of his challenge.  Other successful Twitter threads were their banter with McDonald’s over using frozen beef and continually using cultural references that connect with Millennials (e.g., rap artists Kendrick, Jay-Z, etc.).  Note: Wendy’s also levraged YouTube to share with viewers how they source product and poke fun at competitors using frozen beef – 5 million views and counting. 

    Financials by the numbers:

    • Net income was $159.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to $28.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.
    • A 49.7% growth in profit from $129.6 million in 2016 to $194 million in 2017.
    • Their global sales exceeded $10 billion for the first time ever.

    Social media metrics key when measuring the success of your social movements, but there is no better metric than experiencing the corresponding uplift in financial performance.


  • 10 Oct 2018 9:14 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)


    Retailers are on a mission to engage with consumers on social media. And to a certain extent, it appears they are succeeding. According to Salesforce, 54% of millennials use social channels to research products before they buy. Similarly, Aimia says that 31% of shoppers use social to browse for new items.

    But, are they actually buying through social media?

    Not really. Despite clickable shopping posts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, research suggests that users are failing to actually purchase on these channels. A recent survey by SUMO found that 82% of shoppers have yet to use social buy buttons or other forms of social commerce.

    So, why do brands spend so much time and effort advertising on social media?

    At the end of the day, it works.

    Peer recommendations reign supreme with millennials

    According to Hubspot data, 71% of people are more likely to make a purchase online if the product or service comes recommended by others. Millennials simply tend to believe what their peers say, seek their opinions and often validation.

    According to entrepreneur Andrew Molz, in order to reach millennials, brands should focus on earning those referrals and recommendations. Molz is an ecommerce guru who built a Shopify based website and generated $2.2 million in sales using only social media to generate traffic. Apart from hiring influential brand ambassadors and sponsoring influencers, Molz says this may also include asking satisfied customers to leave reviews, soliciting customer testimonials, then displaying those on social media and landing pages.

    User generated content has a big influence on purchasing decisions

    According to Gartner research, 84% of millennials are likely to be influenced to make a purchase based upon user generated content. Molz says this can act as additional motivation to encourage followers to share content such as reviews, images, and stories. “Seeing a product in use or simply reading personal stories from other consumers clearly has a big influence on this consumer group,” he added.

    For instance, Covergirl has worked to create relationships with popular beauty vloggers James Charles and Nura Afia. By working with Afia specifically, the brand stands to capture the interests of Muslim women who may have previously felt ignored by the cosmetics industry. That’s significant as it is predicted that Muslims will spend between 464 and 730 billion dollars on fashion and beauty products and services by 2019.

    Influencer campaigns, similar to what Missguided created, generated huge success this summer on the back of its partnership with Love Island. Instagram offered users the chance to shop the cast’s outfits. Capitalizing on the red-hot popularity of the show, user’s real-time desire, and handy product information – Missguided saw sales surge 40% as Love Island aired. It’s likely that a significant portion of these sales were through social.

    Millennials are definitely more impressed by engagement than promotion. 62% percent of users state that they are more likely to become brand loyal if a company engages with them, sincerely, on social media. Not only does brand loyalty drive purchasing decisions, it also drives those ever important social media recommendations.

    Businesses that are interested in influencing millennials should certainly use social media to address them. But, in order to be successful, brands must recognize exactly how millennials look to social media for information and feedback. This generation values sincerity, peer and influencer recommendations, and values.


  • 21 Sep 2018 3:43 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)


    By:  Jim Matorin, Business Catalyst at SMARTKETING: Tech-friendly pragmatist that specializes in innovation and revitalizing businesses.


    This past year I have been posting about influence marketing.  My last post being Global Fashion Influencer https://smra-global.org/news/6145649, specifically macro influencer, Meghan Markle.  For those that have been following me, I am still ambiguous on whether smart marketers should use macro or micro influencers.  I maintain that it varies by industry which was further validated when I read Kathy Doering’s post this past July Walmart is Cozying Up Influencers https://smra-global.org/news/6394456  detailing Walmart’s implementation of micro influencer content by key product categories (e.g., Bigelow® Green Tea, göt2b® hair products, etc.). 

    Influence marketing update: Is influence marketing an updated version of buzz marketing leveraging the power of social media?  Based on the results Nike experienced with their controversial Colin Kaepernick (“Believe in something.  Even if it means sacrificing everything") ad, I am still bullish about buzz marketing whether it is working the numerous social platforms utilizing influence marketing or implementing a traditional advertising campaign.  Let’s look at the numbers.  According to the Apex Marketing Group, Nike received more than $43 million worth of media exposure in less than 24 hours after the spot ad was posted on Twitter – 44% positive, 25% negative and 31% neutral.  Reuters reported that the brand sold 61% more merchandise in the 10-day period after the ad was posted compared to the 10-day period before the ad was released.  

    Bottomline: Nike knows its customers; two- thirds are younger than 35 and ethnically diverse (source: NPD Group).  Consequently, Nike understands the power of “identity loyalty” where their customers internalize, thus become emotional advocates when their brand is under attack.  Note: The concept of “identity loyalty” was first articulated by Simon Sinek in his famous Ted Talk: “People do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

    Conclusion: Savvy marketers are always inventing new marketing terms to position themselves as thought leaders.  Will influence marketing still be a hot topic one year from now?  I have my reservations.  One thing I do know, smart marketers will continue to create marketing movements online and offline utilizing all the tools in their “Show Me the Buzz” tool kit.


  • 20 Sep 2018 8:11 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    From one of our members, Michalis Michael, CEO of DigitalMR.

    By Michalis Michael

    A few years back I was regularly using this quote from former Global Insights Head of P&G Joan Lewis:

    “Survey research will decline dramatically in importance by 2020. Social media listening will replace much of it, adding new dimensions”

    According to a 2016 report by Markets and Markets, the global social media analytics market was US$ 1.6B in 2015. It’s expected to grow to US$ 5.4B by 2020. We have a couple of years to go, and in my view, the total market size for social listening and analytics in 2020 will be over US$ 7B. Whatever the case, Joan’s prediction was off by a few years but not wrong in my opinion.

    Open-minded customer insights practitioners have been seeking ways to integrate social analytics into their insight generation process, however easy or difficult it may have been for them at the start. I personally believe that unsolicited consumer feedback and behaviour tracking will eventually replace tracking surveys entirely.

    Reasons Social Listening Hasn’t Taken Off in Market Research Yet

    Trust

    One of the main challenges insights managers face is accuracy. These professionals have probably tried some traditional social media monitoring tools in the past. When they realised the sentiment precision* of the analysis they were receiving was nowhere near appropriate for insights (in most cases <60%), their trust was broken. Accuracy = trust in this case. Resultantly, they’re now reluctant to use anything branded as ‘social listening’. Even if it comes from legitimate market research specialists who can conduct social listening & analytics with precision high enough (>80%) to be suitable for consumer insights.

    *accuracy in big data is measured with the following distinct metrics: Precision, Recall and F Score

    Choice

    Over 1,000 social media monitoring tools exist. How do we expect buyers to make an educated choice and believe in the potential of the tool or solution if we refuse to accept this methodology that makes our lives easier? We must be careful. We should probably come together and set some boundaries to protect the image and value that our industry offers, from aspiring tech companies that don’t care about the accuracy of their data.

    Consistency

    Numerous buyers and use cases for Social Listening within an organisation complicate matters further. Large organisations who tend to be the main buyers of MR want to have a “one stop shop” for various departments: PR, Customer Service, Product Development, Digital Marketing, and Customer Insights. The problem with this is that insights professionals are forced to use the tool their marketing department is already using, rather than searching for an accurate, more appropriate alternative.

    Knowledge

    Some die-hard purists stuck in their old ways still ask the question “how representative is the sample”. They’re unable to understand that we are not dealing with a sample and we are not dealing with participants!

    There’s also a misconception that only negative people post online, thus making social analytics biased and unrepresentative. This is far from the truth:

    a) for most product categories most of posts are neutral in sentiment

    b) there are significant variations in sentiment for different categories

    c) even if only negative (or positive) opinions existed online, the rest of the consumers – not posting, just reading – are still impacted by the opinion of the few. Consumer sentiment expressed on social media impacts sales!

    Education

    As in many other cases where innovation was introduced into an industry, we need to figure out how to accelerate the education of clients to use it effectively. The only way to do this and convince sceptics is by demonstrating that we can discover relevant and unique insights that enhance or replace surveys and traditional focus groups. We need to prove that social listening data can be integrated with survey and behavioural data to produce an outcome that is by far superior than the sum of its parts.

    Even though we are heading in the right direction, our adoption pace is too slow. All signs show that a slow acceleration has started with big multinational clients leading the way. The only hope for Joan’s prediction to come out right is to experience exponential growth of social listening in MR during the next 2 years. Such a possibility is still in the cards. I now have a new favourite quote I use in conferences and client meetings. It was told to me personally by Tom Emmers, former Senior Global Director CMI of Heineken:

    “I believe that today, given the rapid advancement of capabilities, we should only resort to surveys if we cannot find the answer in social listening or behavioural tracking data”.

    By Michalis Michael, CEO, Digital MR


  • 17 Sep 2018 10:53 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Pew Research's Recent Findings:

    Most Americans continue to get news on social media.


    BY ELISA SHEARER AND KATERINA EVA MATSA

    About two-thirds of Americans get news on social mediaAbout two-thirds of American adults (68%) say they at least occasionally get news on social media, about the same share as at this time in 2017, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Many of these consumers, however, are skeptical of the information they see there: A majority (57%) say they expect the news they see on social media to be largely inaccurate. Still, most social media news consumers say getting news this way has made little difference in their understanding of current events, and more say it has helped than confused them (36% compared with 15%).

    Republicans are more negative about the news they see on social media than Democrats. Among Republican social media news consumers, 72% say they expect the news they see there to be inaccurate, compared with 46% of Democrats and 52% of independents. And while 42% of those Democrats who get news on social media say it has helped their understanding of current events, fewer Republicans (24%) say the same.1 Even among those Americans who say they prefer to get news on social media over other platforms (such as print, TV or radio), a substantial portion (42%) express this skepticism.

    Asked what they like about the news experience on social media, more Americans mention ease of use than content. “Convenience” is by far the most commonly mentioned benefit, (21%), while 8% say they most enjoy the interactions with other people. Fewer social media news consumers say they most like the diversity of the sources available (3%), or the ability to tailor the content they see (2%).

    This study is based on a survey conducted July 30-Aug. 12, 2018, among 4,581 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel.

    Growth in social media news consumption slows down

    No change in share getting news on social media in 2018About two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) get news on social media sites, about the same as the portion that did so in 2017 (67%). One-in-five get news there often.

    Social media sites as pathways to newsFacebook is still far and away the site Americans most commonly use for news, with little change since 2017. About four-in-ten Americans (43%) get news on Facebook. The next most commonly used site for news is YouTube, with 21% getting news there, followed by Twitter at 12%. Smaller portions of Americans (8% or fewer) get news from other social networks like Instagram, LinkedIn or Snapchat.

    The prominence of each social media site in the news ecosystem depends on two factors: its overall popularity and the extent to which people see news on the site.

    Reddit, Twitter, Facebook stand out as sites with the most news-focused usersReddit, Twitter and Facebook stand out as the sites where the highest portion of users are exposed to news – 67% of Facebook’s users get news there, as do 71% of Twitter’s users and 73% of Reddit users. However, because Facebook’s overall user base is much larger than those of Twitter or Reddit, far more Americans overall get news on Facebook than on the other two sites.

    The other sites studied – including YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and WhatsApp – have less of a news focus among their user base. Fewer than half of each site’s users get news on each platform. Still both YouTube and LinkedIn saw these portions rise over the past year.

    Nearly four-in-ten YouTube users (38%) say they get news on YouTube, slightly higher than the 32% of users who did so last year. And 30% of LinkedIn users get news there, up from 23% in 2017.

    The percentage of U.S. adults who get news on two or more social media sites is 28%, little changed from 2017 (26%).

    Demographics of social media news 

    Social media sites’ news consumers can look vastly different in terms of their demographic makeup. For example, the majority of news consumers on Instagram are nonwhite. Three-quarters of Snapchat’s news consumers are ages 18 to 29, more than any other site. And LinkedIn, Twitter and Reddit’s news consumers are more likely to have bachelor’s degrees – 61% of LinkedIn’s news consumers do, as do 46% of Reddit’s news consumers and 41% of Twitter’s news consumers.

    Profiles of social media news consumers

    Most social media news consumers are concerned about inaccuracy, but many still see benefits

    More than half of social media news consumers expect the news there to largely be inaccurateEven though a substantial portion of U.S. adults at least occasionally get news on social media, over half (57%) of these news consumers say they expect the news they see on social media to be largely inaccurate. This is consistent with the low trust in news from social media seen in past surveys. About four-in-ten (42%) expect the news they see on social media to be largely accurate.

    Republicans are more likely than Democrats and independents to be concerned with the inaccuracy of the news they see on social media. Among social media news consumers, about three-quarters of Republicans say this (72%), compared with 46% of Democrats and about half of independents (52%). And, while there are some age differences in expectations of the accuracy of social media news, this party divide persists regardless of age.

    Concerns about the inaccuracies in news on social media are prevalent even among those who say they prefer to get their news there – among this group, 42% say that they expect the news they see to largely be inaccurate. Still, those social media news consumers who prefer other platforms such as print or television for news are even more likely to say they expect the news on social media to be largely inaccurate.

    Inaccuracy tops people's concerns about social mediaNot only do social media news consumers expect the news they see there to be inaccurate, but inaccuracy is the topconcern they bring up about information on social media. When asked an open-ended question about what they dislike most about getting news on social media, concerns about inaccuracy top the list, outstripping concerns about political bias and the bad behavior of others.2 Specifically, about three-in-ten (31%) social media news consumers say that inaccuracy is what they dislike most about the experience. Included in the responses about inaccuracy were concerns about unreliable sources, lack of fact checking, and “fake news.”

    Politics surface as another negative aspect of social media, though at a lower rate – 11% who at least occasionally get news there say there is too much bias or political opinion, either on the part of the news organizations or the people on the platform. About the same share of social media news consumers (10%) say they dislike the low quality of news – such as lack of in-depth coverage, or clickbait-style headlines.

    Convenience and ease seen as most

     enjoyable part of getting news on SM

    ESocial media news consumers like convenience, speed and social interaction

    The most commonly named positive thing about getting news on social media is convenience – 21% say this is what they liked most, with responses such as “It’s very accessible,” “It’s available at the touch of a button” and “I don’t have to go looking for it.”

    Respondents also say they like the interpersonal element: 8% of social media news consumers say they enjoy interacting with others – whether through discussing the news, sharing news with friends and family, or seeing what others’ opinions are. Speed and timeliness are also mentioned as positive aspects of getting news on social media – 7% say they like how quick it is to get news on social media, and 6% say they like that news there is up to date, with descriptions like “up to the minute” or “the most current.”

    A fair share of respondents (12%) say they do not like anything about getting news on social media. This is higher than the percentage who volunteered that they do not dislike anything about news on social media in the previous question (only 4% say this).



  • 12 Sep 2018 11:54 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)


    Do you want to know if your social media marketing efforts are paying off? As a business owner, you should!

    In order to better understand what’s working and what’s not – and to get the best bang for your buck – try incorporating a social media audit.

    What is a Social Media Audit?

    During a social media audit, you collect and analyze detailed data from all of your social media accounts. You look at your activity, results, audience, and dollars spent with the goal of finding out if your social media efforts are relevant to your current objectives and goals.

    Doing an in-depth audit may help you discover you’re spending too much time or money on a platform that’s not delivering results, or that you’re lacking key demographics in your audience on Twitter but not Facebook.

    You need to audit every aspect of your social media marketing to get a complete picture. Try examining the following:

    #1: Metrics

    The first step in your audit is to compile all of the social media metrics you can to evaluate your overall results. These metrics include:

    • Number of followers
    • Likes
    • Shares
    • Comments
    • Clicks
    • Video views
    • Number of followers
    • Post reach
    • Number of mentions (Twitter)

    Get into the details and take a close look at how the results compare on different types of posts. Do you get more engagement from Facebook when you tag influencers than when you share blog posts? Do your video views get more engagement on Instagram or Twitter? Are they steadily increasing over time?

    Determine what types of posts work best on each platform, which platforms are most valuable to you, and how your audience is engaging with you on each platform.

    #2: Analyze Audience Demographics and Interests

    Your social media followers might be different for each platform. The visitors who frequent Pinterest can be quite different than those who use Snapchat.

    You also may be missing one demographic of your target audience if you only advertise on one platform. You probably don’t have as many male followers on Pinterest or you may lack older followers on Snapchat, for example.

    Most social media sites provide audience information, like Facebook’s Audience Insights or Pinterest’s AnalyticsCompare your social media audiences, looking at factors like demographics and interests. If you’re not reaching a key demographic on one platform and you know that demographic is on the platform, figure out why.

    Now that you know who your target audience is and how people are interacting with you on social media, monitor your presence for consistency and quality.

    For example, do you respond rapidly to Facebook messages and emails, but not Twitter direct messages? Is your branding consistent across all platforms (including your bios, logo, and About Me sections)?

    Now, consider what content you publish on each network. Do not duplicate your content on all social channels. If you’re posting the same content on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, why would someone subscribe to all three accounts? Make sure your content is appropriate for each social media network’s purpose and audience. For example, Twitter is great for quick communication with fans, sharing useful content, and responding to audience questions. Facebook followers prefer a more engaging approach from brands and don’t mind having a bit of fun. LinkedIn, however, is strictly a professional network, and you should refrain from posting any non-professional messages.

    When you use different networks for publishing different content, you give people a reason to follow you everywhere.

    Is your voice the same on each platform? Are you very formal on one network while communicating in a casual manner on another? Even though each network requires a slightly different approach, you should still maintain a consistent brand voice throughout your entire social media presence.

    To properly represent your brand, your social media accounts should be consistent.

    #4: Audit Your Competition

    Lastly, perform competitive analysis and compare your efforts with what your competition is doing. Pay attention to:

    • Networks they build a presence on
    • How they present themselves (assess their business bios, profiles, and where they link from their social media profiles)
    • What audiences they attract
    • How active they are on each network
    • What content they post
    • How much original content they post and when/how often they post
    • Whether they have any influential followers

    Basically, assess their efforts using the same criteria you would use to audit your own social media accounts. Conducting competitive intelligence will help you gain perspective on your own efforts, establish how you stack up against companies you’re competing with, and discover new opportunities to improve your strategy.



  • 27 Aug 2018 1:13 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Great Explanation on The Importance of Using An Agency Who is GDPR Compliant.

    Why a scan, either conducted by ESOMAR or someone else is key to getting GDPR right

    By Kim Smouter

    Why a scan, either conducted by ESOMAR or someone else is key to getting GDPR right

    We are now officially living in a GDPR world, after years of negotiations and a two-year ‘transition’ period, the EU GDPR (or General Data Protection Regulation if you’d rather call it by its full name) entered into force in May. Its arrival was heralded with a flurry of emails of all shapes and sizes reaching the inbox of people from the four corners of the world. Thanks to that flurry of emails, if you didn’t know about GDPR before May, your inbox certainly told you about it in the meantime! But, if one looks carefully at all the emails, one can also see patent misunderstandings of the legal requirements to secure consent which has to be informed, unambiguous, freely given, and affirmed by a clear action. The wide variety of emails with an equal diversity of calls to actions (opt-in, opt-out, only opt-in if you want something changed…), some might say companies missed the plot or at least followed less than informed advice! So, whilst the reality might be that there is more awareness than ever before about the EU GDPR’s existence, to say that we all understand what exactly it entails is a whole other enchilada, or cookie, or whatever national dish is best placed at the end of this sentence.

    As the global voice for market, opinion and social research and data analytics, ESOMAR has accompanied the drafting process of the EU GDPR, lobbying on the expansion of the research definition and attempting to secure a wide applicability to the derogations and opportunities offered for processing conducted for a research purpose. In that context we’ve gained a lot of knowledge about the GDPR, what motivated certain obligations, and which ones proved to be particularly difficult to iron out. That expertise is being leveraged for members and by members to improve their GDPR readiness programmes, and for those who already have come a long way in their journey to GDPR compliance to have an independent assessment confirming that the processes in place indeed meet the requirements of GDPR. One of our most popular webinars leading to the GDPR’s adoption was our recommended 12-steps programme which outlined steps that could be taken by companies to achieve a robust compliance programme and have it up and running a year before the GDPR came into play.

    The first step to that programme was assembling a multi-function team to steward the GDPR compliance programme in the organisation because personal data flows go in and out of a company in ways that no single function can realise. Having someone in charge of this is critical to the business bottom line because Data Protection Authorities tasked with enforcing the law will be less forgiving of companies that have put zero effort in setting up a programme. If you haven’t started with your GDPR compliance programme, that team is going to have a lot of work to do and will need support from the entire organisation to catch up on lost time. But never fear, it is better to start the process now and to do it right than to rush and declare yourself GDPR Compliance ready before you are. As the US data protection authority demonstrates, the FTC uses what you say and do against you in its decisions and there’s no reason why an EU data protection authority wouldn’t do the same moving forward.

    One of the important first task this team will need to complete is the conducting of what we like to call a data-mapping scan of the organisation. Even at ESOMAR not a day goes by that we don’t discover a third-party that we haven’t accounted for because it was part of a project run by an internal team and having little impact on the core business functions. It’s these ‘under-the-radar’ processing and transfer activities that can prove particularly difficult to catalogue completely. The objective of a scan should therefore be to zero-in on all the personal data that is collected, processed, and transferred by the organisation and to have a single place which records all of these. The secondary objective of the scan is to identify which of these processes are currently correctly covered by the right legal base, an appropriate retention period, the right communication to the data subject, and subject to the appropriate data processing agreements if it gets passed on further than the organisation. The third objective of the scan is to identify activities and processes where the organisation is not meeting or unlikely to meet GDPR requirements and to identify these as priority tasks for the teams to resolve and thereby improve the GDPR readiness of the company.

    Conducting a scan isn’t easy, even the scan conducted by the ESOMAR Plus team takes easily a good day to conduct just to go through the core functions and to identify the top-line processing activities that might fall under scope of the GDPR. But even the exercise of the on-site scan proves useful for both the organisation and the ESOMAR Plus team because it will form the basis of an action plan and will reassure the organisation that it has a greater visibility of what exactly it is collecting and holding that may become a sitting liability for the organisation. What we’ve found useful with our first ESOMAR Plus subscribers is that by having an external team looking at the organisation it also allows us to identify processes that might be so embedded in the organisation that the organisation itself doesn’t see them for what they are. During the scan nothing should be left unseen or unknown as an incomplete scan only will lead to more difficulties moving forward.

    The scan is conducted alongside the business entities that are running the core business operations, it’s a series of simple interviews with the team where we ask them to describe what they collect that might be classified as personal data, how they collect it and work with it and simply get them to talk about their job. A scan shouldn’t be about judging the business operation simply catalogue what the business operation is like today. So, we go methodically by first understanding the research processes that are collecting personal data, looking at the IT systems that are making the processing and transfer possible, looking at the contractual framework that governs the organisation and its relationship with its business partners, we look at marketing, HR, finance, senior management… all of it must be in scope of the scan for it to be of use to the organisation later. It’s quite an intensive exercise and combined with our half-day training that briefs teams about the key principles of GDPR, we often find that this exercise will sensitize the teams about just how much personal data actually transits through an organisation and the important caretaker role each employee has as regards to that personal data too.

    Organisations that go through the exercise will come out the other hand with a data processing map that consequently allows them to be clearer in their own privacy policies and notices which improves the quality of the information provided to the data subject and decreases the risk of a compliance action against the organisation. One shouldn’t underestimate the quality of that information because most legal bases for processing require clear, transparent, understandable information to be provided to the data subject and failing that, the data subject can always question the legality of the data you’ve collected about them (whether that be a respondent or a member of staff!).

    Performing a scan isn’t a one-hour meeting exercise (if only it could be!), teams need to prepare for it, need to review and assess their current and past projects and the way they work, and these things take time. For those conducting the scan and issuing the report, that process can also easily take (for a small, straight-forward organisation) a full-week from the site visit to producing the report, but as a result of it, the organisation should have a clear understanding of what it needs to do in the coming months to build a compliance programme that prioritises addressing where the organisation and the personal data it has collected are most exposed, and only afterwards, dealing with the processes which are relatively secure. Getting all the stakeholders around the table also often takes time, and with the countdown now completed, time is even more urgent in the event a data subject decides to activate the rights they have on the data you’re holding.

    Data protection authorities are already actively investigating the first complaints and whilst the headline-grabbing tech brands will be the first targeted, one shouldn’t underestimate research organisations and their clients entering their radar as well in the near future.

    So, the question is, have you conducted a scan, and if not, maybe it’s time to ask ESOMAR to conduct one for you so you’re able to demonstrate you’ve started your compliance journey? Because wherever you as a company decide to go, one good thing to always have is a map – whether it’s on your smartphone, in your head, or indeed on paper! That’s what the scan’s outcomes will represent for your company, and the rest you’ll find, will fall right into place.

    Good luck on your compliance journey and remember that you have a partner in ESOMAR to support you to get there.

    Kim Smouter is Head of Public Affairs and Professional Standards at ESOMAR. 


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