Howdy everyone — it's been awhile since I've posted here.  Lots of work on Polygraph and a new addition to my family in the form of a baby.  Margot Ellen Treadaway was born on December 14th and is our first child.  Lots of life changes — all good.  But the blog has taken a bit of a back seat recently.

That's a-changin'.  Regular blogging is back for us as we bring Polygraph v2 to market.  I'll tell you more about that later.

But for now, I thought I'd better explain how our business has evolved and where it is going.  For those of you who have followed the Notice Technologies ride, you know that we've had quite the journey.

We started in 2009 with a couponing platform for local businesses.  We hit the streets and talked with as many local businesses as possible — in an effort to build something perhaps a little less one-sided than Groupon in terms of who benefits from the transaction.  Local businesses were tough to work with because they demanded immediate results — and didn't have the time or energy for anything that failed to generate immediate, incremental revenue.  Hence Groupon.  Groupon built tremendous value for itself, at least early… but much of it was at the *expense* instead of the *benefit* of the local business.  That's why Groupon remains a largely unsustainable business model — and why we didn't (right or wrong) pursue group purchasing aggressively.  It's also why local businesses haven't gotten a revolutionary marketing platform yet.  It takes iteration, which local businesses simply aren't willing/able to do unlike other classes of customers.

We tried salvaging those couponing assets by offering them to newspaper groups.  But that became its own set of problems as you can imagine, and local media didn't prove to be much of a gainful opportunity for us.

All the while, we'd been hearing from people in agencies, brands, and other larger companies that measurement of social media was a huge pain point.  Facebook Insights didn't do the job well and still doesn't.  We saw an opportunity with our v1 of Polygraph to jump into the analytics fray.  And that's been a very positive move for us.

But we see a bigger trend and a bigger pain point in a lot of companies.  Businesses large and small are trying to better understand what value they're driving from social media.  It isn't enough for the world's leading companies to conduct best practices, adopt a social media management system, hire a consultant, or outsource social media to an agency.  The C-Suite really wants to know a few things:

  • What business metrics are being affected by good social media execution?
  • Is there a statistical relationship between social data and revenue or other mission-critical business outcomes?
  • Do Facebook Ads and the like really work?
  • How are competitors grappling with Facebook for customer outreach, customer service, and other marketing purposes?
  • Is the social channel truly worthwhile?
  • Should social earn a greater or lesser investment moving forward?

Who do CEOs and CMOs turn to for clear, data-driven answers to these questions?  They certainly can't turn to existing agencies of record — they're too invested in a positive answer.  C-suite execs need a BS detector to tell them what the data says, and we're increasingly that BS detector.

Polygraph does an inventory of available data and collects it from Facebook for a company, its brands, its competitors, and its portfolio of Facebook assets.  We cache it, analyze it, and find relationships in the data.  Companies will sometimes give us other data sets that we'll add to our analysis — such as web metrics, e-commerce results, or other mission-critical data.  We look at it all holistically to understand the customer engagement system — how people discover the brand and make decisions to engage, interact, and make purchases (where applicable).  We seek understanding of the customer walk and conflict resolution — are people using the brand's social assets as a customer service vehicle.

Ultimately, all of this data tells us a compelling story that can drive next steps.  Should you keep your existing agency or find a new one?  Does your portfolio of assets provide a return on investment?  Does social data correlate to real-world business metrics that matter to you?  Can we find evidence of causation?  Does social data move the needle or vice versa?

Understanding is what the C-suite craves today.  But the C-suite doesn't have it today. Agencies aren't independent arbiters aligned with the interests of a C-suite exec responsible for driving revenue and profit.  Unfortunately, very few marketers are equipped with the analysis chops necessary to make the case effectively also.  Sometimes, a marketer is equipped but isn't viewed as an independent, disinterested judge.

We're doing some fascinating projects right now in several major consumer industries that I wish we could talk more about — but we're under NDA.  It's admittedly a little frustrating in that regard.  But you should know that the data unlocks fascinating insights that leading brands are beginning to uncover today. Truth lies in the social data. That's what we do — collect, analyze, and drive insights from social data.