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Measuring AT&T's It Can Wait using social media monitoring data

By Jordan Hanson  •  October 3, 2016

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Measuring AT&T's It Can Wait using social media monitoring data

Posted by: Jordan Hanson on October 3, 2016

In our last post on the wireless industry, we shared just a few of the ways that incorporating social media monitoring data can add new levels of depth to research analysis on any given topic. Let's review, shall we?

  1. First, looking at historical post data allows researchers to connect the dots between different campaign approaches and find insights to improve their future efforts. Knowing what results a given campaign achieved allows researchers to compare and contrast different methods to find out what works best in reaching a particular audience.
  2. Second, topic extraction functions ensure that analysts won't miss the overall context of conversation data. Because query results come form unprompted feedback, social media monitoring tools provide an unfiltered look at conversation topics outside the ones you might solicit in particular, as in the context of a traditional focus group.
  3. Finally, looking at post verbatim content can help make sure research results are narrowed to only the conversations of interest for any given research effort. While uncovering unfiltered topics is certainly a valuable function, social media monitoring tools can also allow you to filter data to make sure researcher conclusions exclude as much extra post noise as possible.

These techniques illustrate just a few examples of how social media monitoring tools can provide brands and agencies a wealth of quality data on a variety of topics without the delay of more traditional focus group testing.


As I mentioned above, there will be some more specific answers agencies and brands like BBDO New York and AT&T will want, respectively, for which traditional focus groups are the most likely research avenue to provide the quality results they would want for the purposes of evaluating campaigns like 'It Can Wait.'

Social media monitoring tools, however, can reduce the amount of focus group testing that would be required by allowing researchers to conduct preliminary research on a wide range of topics, producing results almost instantly. Analyzing publicly available conversations using social media monitoring tools like Infegy Atlas can free brands and agencies from the time and resource constraints of rounding up focus group participants for an in-person survey.

Use historical data to establish a baseline for evaluating changes in conversation data.

Some social media monitoring tools allow researchers the ability to look at more than just current conversation data, using historical post data that has been archived to preserve the integrity of query results. The big benefit for brands and agencies? Unlimited access for researching past trending topics.

infegy-atlas-historical-post-data.pngInfegy Atlas hosts a proprietary post database going back to 2007.

With historical data, researchers can always go back to an event they missed in person and look at the social media data available in order to get a better understanding of the public reaction to events as they happened. In evaluating messaging shifts, as in the case of AT&T's 'It Can Wait' for example, researchers could look at query results on distracted driving before the release of Werner Herzog's original cautionary video to look at the tone of social media conversations.

From there, analysts could look at different audiences or demographic groups in particular to look for any concentration of emotional or thematic content from a variety of different angles to find any insights available from before the video's launch. Using this particular strategy, brands can contrast all of the contextual event data with the specific application of tracking any deviation in their particular data points of interest.

Compare and contrast consumer reactions from one target audience to the next.

Just because an agency or campaign targets one particular audience for measurement and evaluation doesn't mean they should ignore all of the other potential people who might see their content. 

example_wireless_buyers.pngNot every target audience member lives the same way.

For AT&T's 'It Can Wait,' for example, there is an obvious shift in the audience targeted by the campaign's messaging.

Werner Herzog's original video for the campaign was released in high schools across the United States and leveled blame squarely at Millennial driving habits he said were responsible for 'catastrophic accidents.'

hashtag_x_blog.jpg#X was supposed to be AT&T's distracted driving shorthand.

In MRY's #X campaign, they maintained a focus on Millennial users with the intention of proactively changing driver behavior with text message shorthand that signaled the driver was too busy to pay attention to their phone.

There was a significant shift in the audience being targeted by AT&T's campaign, starting with the agency shift back to BBDO New York in 2015. Internal AT&T focus group testing leaked the year prior revealed that it wasn't just teens justifying their actions. If AT&T had only tested teens in evaluating their campaign, for contrast, they wouldn't have necessarily had the data available to change messaging directions.

The messaging focus shifted from chastising distracted teens to communicating a generalized sense of empathy, which makes sense given the focus group results AT&T received.


BBDO Executive Creative Director Matt MacDonald commented specifically on how they made a conscious effort to avoid directing blame at any particular audience, that the creative team responsible for the videos thought it would be valuable for people to understand that these accidents can happen to anyone.

Something in AT&T's testing worked after all, it seems. Werner Herzog's film, "From One Second to the Next" has only 3.3 million views to date on YouTube, having been released on AT&T's channel in 2013. As we noted in our last post, both of BBDO's 2015 and 2016 'It Can Wait' campaign videos ("Close to Home" and "The Unseen") are outpacing the engagement traffic of the earlier installments at 7.7 million and 5.3 million views to date, respectively.


Tell compelling stories on behalf of your brand using a consumer's own words.

Finding any kind of concentration in conversation data can be especially interesting if the particular social media monitoring tool allows researchers to access post verbatims.

Hope Norman, senior digital researcher and innovation consultant at Seek Company, shared how the use of post verbatims has become an integral and formative part of her research process:

My process starts with getting fully immersed in the data. I start by pulling post verbatims, theming them appropriately for the direction of my research, and then reporting them. I do it this way because my favorite moments with social data are when I am presenting to a client and I can tell the story behind a post - but I can only do that by spending time with the data.

att-icw-text-verbatim.jpgAT&T used a similar 'verbatim' strategy with texts from distracted driving accidents.

Hope expressed how valuable she felt it was to incorporate unsolicited consumer opinions before delivering recommendations and insights to her clients. She suggested that people adding social media monitoring software to their toolkit "never lose sight of the human element in all the data. These are real people who are putting their stories and opinions online, which is what makes digital so powerful. You are not asking people to give their opinions - they are gifting them to you."

Make sure to use social media monitoring tools that fit your needs best.

Some social media monitoring tools are focused on tracking engagement, while others are focused on delivering deeper insights than post counts or general sentiment.

While you are evaluating tools, propose some potential problems you have and ask how your prospective vendor would recommend approaching that question using their own software. If you're unsure that one (or more) of a vendor's key differentiators don't really fit your needs, be sure to point out your hesitations and clearly call out the selling points that give you pause.

Infegy Atlas is our own social media monitoring tool focused on helping researchers and analysts understand consumers better and faster using social data.

Software benefits like unlimited research access to our proprietary historical database, psychographic audience segmentation, and automatic thematic/emotional analysis are just a few of the ways our tool provides researchers a simpler way to understand consumer behavior.

In our last post in this series, we will use Infegy Atlas to track AT&T's 'It Can Wait' using social media monitoring data:

  1. First, we will establish a baseline for emotional sentiments communicated in conversations about 'distracted driving' or 'texting and driving.'
  2. Second, we'll compare results on a year-to-year basis across demographic subsets of potential audience members.
  3. Finally, we will look at verbatim post content from our custom target audience to add levels of depth to our analysis we would normally miss with other tools.

Each of these benefits enable a huge advantage in understanding how consumers feel about a shift in campaign messaging like AT&T's 'It Can Wait.'

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know on Twitter.

Also, don't miss our telecommunications report evaluating wireless consumer loyalty in the US:

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Topics: wireless, social data, social data research, post verbatims, historical data, carrier, infegy atlas, topic extraction, atlas


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