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The Power of Evil

The Damage of Negative Social Media


Strongly Outweigh Positive Contributions
Marcel Corstjens

Media activities generated by consumers or communities that are neither paid for

Insead

nor induced by brand owners are claimed to have a potentially game-changing impact

marcel.corstjens@
insead.edu
Andris Umblijs

on communication and brand building. In this study, the authors propose a rigorous
methodology to assess the impact of this type of social media activities on the actual

McKinsey

performance of brands in the market. The article begins by developing a four-step

andris_umblijs@

process to condense the complex reality of micro-social-media events for a brand into a

mckinsey.com

manageable set of social media indicators (SMI). These SMI subsequently are used as a
subset of the drivers, together with more traditional marketing-mix elementsin a general
market-response modelto estimate their relative impact on brand performance in the
market. This methodology is illustrated with two real-world examplesone in the market
for flat-screen-television market and the other in the set of Internet broadband-service
providers.

INTRODUCTION

accounts for only a fraction of its real impact on

Social media are a game-changing technology with

brand marketing. Potentially far more powerful

a major impact on business.

though less well understoodis the accelerated

Early adopters who integrated social media

trend in unpaid-for so-called earned, unsolicited

into their strategy and operations are well placed

communications originating with consumers that

to capture new opportunities. Based on a sur-

are beginning to shape (and reshape) the successes

vey of more than 3,000 senior executives across

and failures of brands and companies.

industries, geographies, and functions, a recent

Companies need to do more than just listen.

McKinseyreport indicated that companies quali-

They need to engage in brand conversations. The

fied as networked (those that used collabora-

traditional notion of a target customer in the

tive Web 2.0 technologies intensively to connect

brand-communication paradigm must be enriched

the internal efforts of employees and extend the

to take account of the fact that the consumer now

organizations reach to customers, partners, and

has a voice and wants to be heard. In this study, the

suppliers) outperformed other companies in terms

authors propose a methodology to measure and

of market share, profitability, and market leader-

quantify the impact of this people power on the

ship (Bughin and Chui, 2010; Shearman, 2011).

sales and profits of brands and companies.

The impact of social media has been widely

Wikipedia describes social media as Media

reported in the lay press, trade journals, and aca-

for social interaction, using highly accessible and

demic research. In fact, the growth of social-media

scalable publishing techniques. Social media use

advertising spending in the United States will out-

Web-based technologies to turn communication

pace search advertising by 34 percent to 15 percent

into interactive dialogues.

on a compound annual basis over the next 5 years

Although this definition is informative, it

(Forrester, 2010). This paid-for use of social media

offers no practical help to companies wanting to

DOI: 10.2501/JAR-52-4-433-449

December 2012 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH 433

The Power of Evil

Early adopters who integrated social media


into their strategy and operations are well
placed to capture new opportunities.

A second issue surrounding the use of


social media in marketing is related to
measurement: How does one generate
meaningful measures that capture the full
qualitative and quantitative richness of
type 3 social-media activities for a particu-

capitalize in a meaningful and system-

accusing Unilever of destroying palm

atic way on the opportunities that social

forests in Indonesia to produce the palm

The discussion begins with the rapid

media provide. Companies need to make

oil used in the production of its soap

rise of digital-communication channels

a distinction between three types of social

brands.

and the consequent split of marketing

media activities:

This article focuses on this third group


of social-media activities and their impact

type 1: induced and encouragedbut


not paid forby brand owners;

lar brand and/or company?

analytics into two camps:


Traditionalists

on brand performance. Types 1 and 2

established

analyze

traditional

well-

marketing-mix

already have been featured in the litera-

elements (shelf space, radio, print, tele-

type 2: produced by consumers for

ture (Marchanda, Dube, Goh, and Chin-

vision advertising, price, promotions,

brand owner at the brand owners

tagunta, 2006; Robinson, Wysocka, and

macroeconomic factors, and so on) using

request; and

Hand, 2007; Baye and Gatti, 2009; Shang

well-developed methodologies, linking

type 3: generated by consumers or com-

and Ghose, 2010; Pfeiffer and Zinnbauer,

these marketing activities to sales and

munities that are neither paid for nor

2010; Campbell, Pitt, and Parent, 2011),

profitability.

induced by brand owners.

whereas type 3 can benefit from further


analyses and new approaches.

As example of the first type of social-

Digitalists, whose roots are in technology, focus on the measurement of many


very detailed parameters available in the

media activity, the evolution video is

THE SOCIAL-MEDIA CONTEXT

digital space in isolation of other market

used by Unilever to advertise the Dove

New and traditional media seem to be

mix elements.

brand on YouTube. Unilever did not pay

worlds apart. When discussed together,

Because of abundance of very detailed,

for ad space and time; it initiated a dia-

they tend to fuel controversy about their

granular data, one trend in social-media

logue between consumers about Dove and

respective roles and their potential syn-

measurement (listening) has been to

what it stood for.

ergiesa conflict illustrated by a clash

provide a multitude of measures to cap-

The second category often consists of

between Martin Sorrell, WPP ceo, and

ture activities in the social-media space

social media grounded in user-generated

Keith Weed, Unilever cmo (Marketing

and provide estimates of their significance.

content (UGC). Again, at Unliever, Dove

Week, June 25, 2010).

One can argue that television advertis-

uses the UGC approach to generate a num-

Sorrell stated that research showed that

ing also has a very complex structure and

ber of comments that are subsequently

traditional media were still best for brand

can be measured at a very granular level.

shared in a variety of media, traditional,

building; Weed countered by insisting,

Indeed, exposure frequency and reach of

and/or social. The production process is

Brands are being built when consumers

different target audiences at individual

different from traditional communication

engage online. Affirming that Unilevers

television advertising spot level regularly

approaches, but the advertisements that

objective was to double its growth while

is measured with good accuracy, and these

result from UGC are shown in paid-for

reducing its environmental footprint, he

data are readably available. Actually, tra-

media.

added:

ditionalists use a more aggregated meas-

Type 3 social-media activities are unique

ure: Gross rating points (GRP) that capture

in that they are initiated, developed, and

Digitisation and globalisation feed off each

the market pressure of television advertis-

produced by consumers rather than brand

other creating exponential impact The

ing campaigns. The reason for using this

owners. Examples stretch from consumer

more digital you are, the more global you

more aggregated measure is that more

feedback on a restaurant experience

can become. The more global you are, the

granular levels of data do not always pro-

through Twitter to comments on a publica-

more digital you can become. You have to

duce better analytical results (Kros, 2010).

tion on the Amazon Web site all the way to

be ahead of your consumers in digital, you

a consumer-generated video on YouTube

cannot be at the same level as them.

434 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH December 2012

The digital community currently operates almost independently from such

The Power of Evil

One can argue that television advertising

other (more traditional) elements of the


marketing mix on sales and profits.

also has a very complex structure and can

Indeed, omitting SMR parameters from


marketing-mix models may distort the

be measured at a very granular level.

results because a potentially major sales


driver has been overlooked.

traditionalists and often considers itself

been considered a serious concern for

In the next section, the authors explain

superior because its metrics can capture

Unilever, but the basic questionHow

the proposed methodology to aggregate

the richness of social-media activities in

significant was its impact on Unilever and

a large variety of social-media measures

a more sophisticated, multi-dimensional

the Dove brand?remained unanswered

into a small set of parameters or SMR

way not demonstrable with a simple GRP

absent a rigorous methodology for such

indicators. The authors explain how these

television measure.

determination.

indicators can be integrated into a rigor-

This multitude of measures, however,

Given the recent emphasis on return

ous marketing-mix model and how their

makes it difficult to get an overall view of

on marketing investments, establishing

impact can be estimated and compared to

the importance of social-media activities

a methodology to measure the return on

the impact of such traditional marketing-

over a specific period of time for a specific

investment in social mediain particu-

mix elements as price, promotions and

brand. Many services track and measure a

lar for type 3 social-media activitiesis

traditional media. The authors then illus-

wide array of such content indicators for a

becoming a key managerial priority and is

trate the application of the methodology to

range of social media (Figure 3).

one of the objectives of this article.

a major electronics brand.

Although each has its idiosyncrasies,


by and large these measurement systems

The current research makes a two-part


METHODOLOGY

contribution:

focus on

The ultimate objective of the current study


the development of a replicable meth-

was to determine the impact of social-

the number of messages activated,

odology enabling marketers to gener-

media activities on the variability of sales

the sentiment of each message, and

ate a manageable set of Social-Media

over time (Figure 1).

the number of viewers weighted by

Rating (SMR) parameters that capture

The first stage was the construction of

the full richness of Type 3 social-media

a meaningful, manageable set of social-

activities, and

media activity indicators (in the limit a

their respective importance.


The user of such data can drill down to a

the authors proposal that the inte-

single indicator) that captured the large

microscopic level of a particular message,

gration of these parameters into a

quantity, variety, and richness of ongoing

in a particular medium, on a particular

marketing-response model and the

social-media activities in the marketplace.

day, aired by a particularly important per-

explicit estimation of the relative impact

The value of these indicators over time

son (e.g., Mrs Jones, an opinion leader).

of social-media activities on a brand/

is then used in a marketing-mix response

Although this level of detail is impressive,

companys economic performance.

model alongside other stimuli such as

marketers need a fuller perspective if such

television advertising, print, competitive

information is to be actionable. The aggre-

This is valuable not only because it allows

activities, coupons, promotions, macro-

gate view largely is missing in this set of

marketers to estimate social-media impact

economic factors, and the like to explain

social-media metrics. It is like having an

on sales and profits but it improves the

the variability in sales of the focal brand/

elaborate dashboard with multiple gauges

validity of the estimation of the impact of

company.

but no mechanism to integrate all the bits


of information.
Yet another concern with existing
social-media research is the absence of
a methodology to link the intensity of
these activities with brand/company performance. The viral YouTube Indonesian
palm-forest attack on Unilever could have

Yet another concern with existing social-media research


is the absence of a methodology to link the intensity
of these activities with brand/company performance.
December 2012 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH 435

The Power of Evil

SM Listening
Results

Weighting/aggregation
methodology

Social Media Rating


(SMR) time series

In the define stage,


management articulates
the relevant categories

Weekly SMR
(SM Negative)

for which SMR ratings


will be constructed.
Time (weeks)

to rainforest destruction, to impoverishment of farmers, and so on.


Market mix regression model
Service Quality
Regression

Sales

Marketing
Stimuli
SM Positive
Promotional Price

Consumer complaints about a variety


of customer-service issues such as long
waits on phone-response lines.
Industry-Specific Concerns

SM Negative

Just as the arrival times and tarmac waits

POS Advertising

are regular fodder for transportation-

TV Advertising
Competitive
advertising
Base

related social media discussions, so do


any number of other industries foster
discussions specific to their practices.
The define stage is different for each socialmedia project and driven by what man-

Time (3 years)

agement wants to understand about how


specific types of social-media messages

Figure 1 Illustrative Representation of Inclusion of Social Media


into a Marketing-Mix Regression Model Explaining Sales by
Market Stimulus, Including Social-Media Pressure

have an impact on sales. For example, to


explain what effect social media have on
sales of Brand A flat-screen television sets,
management identified four specific topics of interest: pricing, technology, product

The process of condensing the complex

Samsungs social-media strategy played

features, and brand image. Typically, these

world of micro-social-media events hap-

a critical role in creating a viral flow of

topics need to be narrowed down fur-

pens in four stages (Figure 2).

information about the so-called grip-

ther by identifying a set of keywords and

effect technical flaw in the first itera-

phrases (topics) for each category:

Stage I: Define

tion of the iPhone 4. (When the mobile

In the define stage, management artic-

was handled in a certain way, the new

Price: high price, low price, overpriced,

ulates the relevant categories for which

design antenna lost reception, and the

value for money, promotion, rebate, and

SMR ratings will be constructed.

call was dropped.)

covered by social media:


Product Functionality and Quality
For example, the agency that managed

436 JOURNAL

so on;
Technology: Plasma, LCD, LED, 3D,

There usually are four types of topics


Product and Ingredient Sourcing

and so on;

Ethical sourcing grounds a variety of

Product Features: screen size, contrast

social media discussions that range in

ratio, sound quality, ease of use, HDMI

topic from child labor in poor countries,

ports, and so on; and

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH December 2012

The Power of Evil

Define

Listen

Weight

Aggregate
Followers

KOL
(+)Sentiment
Topic
relevance

SubCategory 1

Topic 1

(1)Sentiment

Keywords/
Phrase

Topic

()Sentiment

Keywords/
Phrase

Topic n

Topics
unique
followers

Keywords/
Phrase
Category
SubCategory 2
SubCategory n

Keywords/
Phrase
Keywords/
Phrase

Figure 2 Methodology for the Conversion of Large Numbers of Individual Social-Media Events into
Social-Media Rating (SMR) Indicators
Brand Image: Brand A, Brand B (com-

Listening services provide rich infor-

estimating the sentiment of each of the

petition), trust, consistent quality, reli-

mation regarding each individual social-

filtered events into one of the following

able service, and so on.

media eventTweet, Facebook entry,

three groups: positive, negative, and

product-rating entry, and the like. For the

neutral;

Stage II: Listening

construction of SMR time series indicators,

In the listening stage of the methodol-

the following information provided by

nator of each social-media event:

ogy, data are collected on the quantity and

social-media listening service providers is

reach of each social-media event orig-

the quality of social-media events per-

particularly relevant:

providing information about the origi-

inatornumber of friends on Face-

taining to the specific topics identified in

book, number of followers on Twitter,

Stage I. There are many social-media lis-

filtering all individual social-media

tening service providers in the market-

events (Tweets, Facebook entries, and so

place (See Figure 3; Rappaport, 2010).

on) containing selected topics;

and the like; and


information
the

author

regarding
in

the

status

of

social-media

Figure 3Some of the Companies Providing Social-Media Listening Services


December 2012 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH 437

The Power of Evil

communitykey

opinion

leaders

deploy linguistic-analysis algorithms

(KOL), and so on.

the importance (or KOL status) of

to determine the relevance of each com-

providing information on the size of

munication to the original topic of the

the chain reaction of each social-media

people originating the event;


the size of the chain reaction the event

communication.

creates; and

event (topic), with analysis including:

the relevance of the specific communica-

number of topics unique followers;

Stage III: Evaluation

total number of secondary, third,

In the third phase of the current program,

tion topic.

fourth, and so on degree events; and

the listening points are integrated for

More specifically, the weighting procedure

further chain-reaction communica-

each social-media event by weighing the

is performed as follows (each original

tions on the particular topic initiated

event according to the level of the compo-

communication has a starting value of 1):

by the original author.

nents described above.

providing information on the relevance

The communication pressure of each

apply weight to this starting value

of the topics. To that end, most social-

event in the marketplace is determined by

depending on the KOL status of the com-

media

the size of audience reachedweighted by

munication originator;

listening-service

providers

Table 1
Illustrative Example of the Weighting Procedure (Messages in the Table are for Demonstration
Purposes)
Stage of weighting
A

KOL
weight

Chain
Reach reaction

Topic
relevance

Total
score

Message

Category

Message
Sentiment count

Brand A is the leader in LED technology and their


LED TVs are best on the market. I bought a 42inch
one and it has the best picture I have seen.

Technology

Positive

36

I bought Brand A LED TV. The black was really black


on the screenthe contrast ratio is excellent. The
Technology
Brand A are producing really good LED screens! And
the TV is so thinexcellent product!

Positive

27

I spent hours to set up my new TV. The Brand B


really is not good in this sense and does not think
about convenience of usage of their productsyou
need an engineering degree to set up their TV!

Technology

Negative

My new Brand A TV died 2 hours after plugged in!


I will not buy Brand B TVs any more. I sent it back
and asked to exchange it for a different TV.

Technology

Negative

Brand A TVs are overpriced.

Price

Negative

Brand A TVs are worth every penny I paid forgood


price for this quality product!

Price

Positive

18

Brand C products are cheap, but you get what you


pay forI would not take one for free!

Price

Negative

81

Positive

12

With the manufacturer rebate Brand A TVs are good


value for money! The rebate offer lasts only one
Price
more month! Hurry!

438 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH December 2012

The Power of Evil

apply

additional

weight

depend-

in a single SMR indicator using a priori

positive topic, which conversations, in

ing on the reach of the originator of the

weights for each of the categories and for

turn, had caught imagination of people

communication;

each of the sentiment dimensions, where

on social-media networks.

apply additional weight depending on


the size of the chain reaction following the
original communication; and
apply additional weight depending on

these weights can be determined together


with management.

media communication wave is losing its

Preparation of SMA-data time-series


using

this

Re-invigorate: If a positive social-

methodology

involved

momentum but still is very beneficial to


the company in terms of sales impact.

the relevance of the rated communication

relatively large data processing effort.

Problem-Solve: If the negative senti-

topic to the original topic.

First, historic data (2 to 3 years) on social-

ment SMR pressure is relatively large or

media activities were required. Leading

if it is rapidly growing even if it started

To keep the transformation process man-

social-media listening enterprises have

at a relatively small point. In this case,

ageable, the authors started the weighting

access to individual event-level social-

the ability to measure the sales effect

process by scoring each item at each step

media databases covering at least a 2-year

(using the method proposed in this

in the process on a three-point scale (small,

history.

study) is very important.

medium, large). After each social-media

All this historic data should be pro-

event was weighted according to the pro-

cessed at the level of the individual event

Reaction to the negative SMR could be

cedure articulated previously, it would

(Tweet, Facebook entry, etc.) to assign

chosen with very different implications to

register a score between a minimum value

weights following the proposed method-

the cost and effort this action requires.

of 1 (if factors 25 in the preceding list had

ology. This process can be automated, but

the small weight of 1) and a maximum

requires a significant set-up effort.

value for a single event (Tweet, Facebook

Subsequently,

these

variables

For example, if the negative social-media


pressure regarding Unilever personal-care

are

brands that use palm oil as an ingredient,

entry, etc.) of 81 (the maximum weight of 3

entered into a market mix response model

and the social-media campaign is about

to the power of 4having four weighting

to estimate the impact of these SMR on

rainforest destruction by large corpora-

factors in the system).

sales.

tions, the reaction would depend on the

Based on observed SMR time-series

sales impact of this particular SMR.

Step IV: Aggregation

trends and the sales responsiveness to the

If the sales impact is not large, the com-

In the final stage, the information gath-

specific SMR, companies have to decide

pany could choose to react by communi-

ered in the first three phases is aggregated.

how to act upon the social-media pres-

cation and explanation of the situation

Weighted scores of all events are aggre-

sure. Practically and economically, it is not

through proactive direct or viral social-

gated into SMR indicators for

possible to act indiscriminately upon

media communications or by dedicated

all raised SMR levels in all monitored

advertising activities. If the sales impact is

channels.

large, however, the company could choose

each analysis topic (in our example,


price, technology, product features, and
brand image), and
each sentiment (positive, neutral, and
negative).

At this point, the ability to measure the

to change the entire ingredient-sourcing

sales impact of SMR proposed in this arti-

strategy, which has much larger cost and

cle comes into play. Depending on both

effort implications. The ability to meas-

the SMR pressure level and the resulting

ure sales impact of user generated social-

The authors proposed 1 week as the unit

sales effect, a company may channel the

medial, therefore, is of vital importance to

of time in the proposed procedure.

response into a variety of directions:

companies.

Ignore: If the SMR pressure level and/

APPLICATION 1: FLAT SCREEN

The preceding examplewith four categories (topics) and three sentiments


would produce 12 individual weekly SMR

TELEVISIONS

or the sales effects are small.

time-series variables. Depending on the

Invigorate: If the SMR is positive and

To illustrate the methodology used to esti-

purpose of the analysis and the number of

has a positive sales effect. Invigoration

mate the impact of type 3 social-media

weekly data observations (i.e., degrees of

is performed by viral marketingseed-

activities on brand sales, the authors report

freedom), the number of category and sen-

ing a companys generated content into

on the products of a global manufacturer

timent variables can be further reduced. In

networks and chat rooms or by commu-

of electronic consumer goodsflat-screen

the most extreme case, phase 4 may result

nicating to opinion leaders on a given

televisionswith

December 2012 JOURNAL

prominent

market

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH 439

The Power of Evil

exposure in a major European country, to

macroeconomic factors, and seasonality

illustrate the methodology used to esti-

(Table 2).

mate the impact of type 3 social-media


activities on brand sales.

evision set) unit price paid by the con-

The marketing investments variables


are measured as follows (See Table 2):

sumer in Euros. (Source: retail panel


datainformation provided by third-

The criterion variable in the model is

party supplier that produces these data

unit retail sales of the brand of flat-screen

Retail: Weekly euro investment in retail

televisions. Explanatory variables cover

advertising, mostly circulars (Source:

the full spectrum of the manufacturers

Price: Average product (flat-screen tel-

based on in-store sales scanning data,


including online sales.)

company internal financial records);

marketing investments, product pricing,

Internet: Weekly euro investment in

Generally, rising consumer confidence is

and factors capturing the macroeconomic

Internet advertisingmore precisely,

a precursor to higher consumer spending,

situation at the time and seasonality. To

Internet display advertising plus invest-

and consumer surveys produced a macro-

these traditional explanatory variables, the

ment in paid search (Source: media

economic consumer confidence index

authors add type 3 SMR variables derived

agency);

variable. For euro-zone countries, GfK

according to the methodology described


earlier.
Manufacturers marketing investments
include the following major channels:
retail investment,

Print: Weekly euro investment in print

provided a consumer confidence index

advertising, specifically magazines and

that measured the level of confidence

newspapers (Source: media agency);

among households in economic perfor-

Television: Weekly euro investment in

mance in each country. The GfK consumer

television advertising (Source: media

confidence barometer is closely watched

agency);

by economists and politicians. The index

Radio: Weekly euro investment in radio

television,
Internet,

advertising (Source: media agency);

is produced monthly based on 2,000 consumer surveys in each euro-zone country.

Outdoor: Weekly euro investment in

The model in the current study is

radio, and

outdoor advertising, including bill-

weekly, and the authors used the same

outdoor.

boards, posters, etc. (Source: media

monthly consumer confidence index in

agency); and

each week during each month.

print,

The consumer confidence index is the key


macroeconomic variable that has a significant impact on brand unit sales.
Within the category, the largest effect

Table 2
Descriptive Statistics of Model Variables

captured in the seasonality variable is the


sales increase from late November to the

Mean Units

Minimum
Units

Maximum
Units

Standard
Deviation

9,316

3,672

45,832

6,937

first week of January, capturing the typical

Sales Units

increase in television sales over the Christ-

Retail

486,748

31,235

1,671,086

369,207

mas/New Year holiday season.

Internet

445,222

3,374

898,531

292,601

Print

157,902

1,397,164

350,366

TV

411,208

2,933,487

662,219

Radio

41,941

455,241

115,273

SMR with positive sentiment,

Outdoor

12,724

450,266

66,113

SMR with neutral sentiment, and

Disposable Income

8,822

8,666

9,135

117

45

26

61

11

Price

739

600

854

52

performed to estimate the relationship

Positive Social Media

301

1,800

401

between the unit brand sales and explana-

Neutral Social Media

91

984

146

tory variables (as described earlier): mar-

Negative Social Media

68

589

316

The type 3 social-media impact is represented by three separate independent


SMR variables:

SMR with negative sentiment.


A multivariate time-series analysis was

keting activities, social-media activities,

440 JOURNAL

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OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH December 2012

The Power of Evil

Social-media variables (positive, neutral,

tried to maintain sales levels with signifi-

where

and negative) are type 3 SMR-calculated,

cant price reductionsconsiderations that

market: macroeconomic market vari-

according to the methodology presented

help explain the observed high correlation

in the previous section (See Table 2).

between the consumer confidence index

In all likelihood, the relatively high

ableconsumer confidence index,


marketing: product-marketing activity
and social-media rating (positive, nega-

and price.

tive, and neutral):

correlations between positive and neu-

The authors are less certain as to why,

tral social media were caused by the fact

in this example, positive social-media had

that social-media chatter often clusters

a relatively high correlation with radio.

around the same events (new product

It could be just a coincidencea com-

The macroeconomic market variable is

launch, big advertising campaign, etc.).

panys radio advertising campaign aired

modeled as having a linear effect on sales

Some consumers give positive comments,

during a period when increased positive

within the relevant range of the data obser-

some neutral. The cause events of this

social-media activity took place. Such

vations. Usually, there is no major varia-

social-media chatter are frequently the

correlations sometimes are observed dur-

tion in values of macroeconomic variable

same and, therefore, result in higher cor-

ing advertising-supported new product

over the relevant time period (See Table 2).

relation between these variables.

launches (Table 3).

The non-linear impact of marketing vari-

marketing j j = ii (marketing j )t i

ables is captured by two distinct effects:

Negative social-media comments usu-

The variables correlation matrix indi-

ally trigger additional discussions in social

cated no major multicollinearity problems

networks. This increases general chatter

for the estimation of the parameters of the

dynamic effects (lambda), and

on the subject. This phenomenon could

response function. A multivariate time-

diminishing returns to scale (omega).

be one explanation for the high correla-

series regression was used to estimate the

tion between negative and neutral social

relationship between sales and independ-

Dynamic effects refer to the fact that many

media.

ent variables (Equation 1; Corstjens etal.,

marketing activities still influence sales

2011):

after the activity itself has been completed;

The analysis period in the current study


included the economic downturn from

consumers remember the marketing activ-

Salest = 0 t + i market i

late 2008 to 2009, during which consumer

ity and act upon it in their future purchase

+ j (marketing j j ) j

confidence fell dramatically and retailers

(1)

decisions. This effect (lambda) is taken into

Table 3
Model Independent Variable Correlation Matrix

CCI
Price
Negative_Social_Media
Positive_Social_Media
Neutral_Social_Media
Radio
Print
Retail

CCI

Price

Negative
SM

Positive
SM

Neutral
SM

Radio

Print

Retail

Outdoor

Internet

TV

1.00

0.77

0.32

0.44

0.44

0.32

0.19

0.19

0.21

0.56

0.24

1.00

0.17

0.28

0.29

0.22

0.22

0.03

0.11

0.31

0.13

1.00

0.49

0.89

0.38

0.00

0.03

0.04

0.27

0.12

1.00

0.51

0.57

0.19

0.10

0.10

0.16

0.13

1.00

0.31

0.08

0.11

0.02

0.34

0.23

1.00

0.35

0.22

0.06

0.08

0.07

1.00

0.51

0.06

0.41

0.06

1.00

0.06

0.28

0.19

1.00

0.09

0.13

1.00

0.20

Outdoor
Internet
TV

0.65

Note: The variables correlation matrix indicated no major multicollinearity problems for the estimation of the parameters of the response function.

December 2012 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH 441

The Power of Evil

Sales typically respond non-linearly

meet face validity: for example, marketing

to the intensity of marketing activity: too

drivers should have a positive relationship

much investment pushes sales into dimin-

with sales; price should have a negative

Table 4
Key Statistical Results of
theSelected Estimation of the
Current Model

ishing returns (omega).

relationship with sales; and sales should

R-square

93%

Adjusted R-square

90%

DW

1.85

Normality p-value

0.06

Q-stat p-value

0.05

account by the traditional Koyck transfor-

automatically and systematically elimi-

mation approach.

nated all potential solutions that did not

The authors used a stochastic intercept


t, which is estimated over time using the

be non-zero when all marketing activities


are zero.

State Space or the Dynamic Linear Model-

For those solutions that passed the face-

ling approach (Kalman, 1969; Sriram and

validity test, a battery of statistical tests

Kalwani, 2007). This estimation process of

were used to select the best solutions.

the stochastic intercept t extracts most out

These included tests for autocorrelation,

of the available data by accounting for the

statistical significance of the estimated

significance at reasonable significance

parameters that influenced sales that were

parameters, and the overall goodness of fit

level.

not explicitly included in the parameteri-

(Table 4) provides key statistical results of

Results of the model in terms of the per-

zation of the market response function.

the selected estimation of the model. (For

centage contribution of each explanatory

a more detailed explanation of the estima-

variable to the modeled unit product sales,

tion procedure, see Corstjens et al., 2011.)

together with p-values of each explanatory

The authors also tested for halo and


cannibalisation effects: whether adver-

variable b coefficient estimate are shown

tising of other products under the same

The model results were satisfactory in

brand name influenced sales of the focal

terms of lack of autocorrelation and heter-

product. In the case of the current study,

oskadasticity, and all of the coefficients for

Of 12 explanatory variables, 11 proved

neither of these effects was statistically sig-

the explanatory variables had statistical

to be statistically significant in the model.

in Table 5.

nificant in the model.


The estimation of Equation 1 requires
simultaneous

estimation

of

multiple

parameters:

Table 5
Model Results and Statistics for Each Variable
Contri Contri
bution bution
Lambda
p-value
(%)
Omega (000) (%)

parameters for dynamic effects,


parameters for diminishing returns, and
estimates for the stochastic intercept.
Given the limited number of observations, the authors used a combination of
simulation and estimation to calibrate the

Base

VIF

1,383

51.9

0.002

1.2

Seasonality

84

3.2

<0.0001

1.4

Consumer Confidence Index

19

0.7

0.002

3.5

49

1.8

0.004

4.0

Price

Lag

response function. The estimation pro-

Negative Social Media

20

0.2

184

6.9

0.050

2.1

cedure systematically tested the entire

Positive Social Media

20

0.8

186

7.0

0.018

1.4

multi-dimensional surface of potential

Neutral Social Media

10

0.8

14

0.5

<0.0001

1.9

Radio

50

0.5

153

5.7

0.049

2.2

Print

0.8

184

6.9

0.001

2.7

cient associated with each marketing vari-

Retail

0.8

307

11.5

0.045

2.1

able (beta) and the stochastic intercept t

Outdoor

0.2

71

2.7

0.016

1.1

using the State Space technique. This com-

Internet

20

0.8

311

11.6

0.050

2.0

TV

60

0.8

188

7.0

0.016

2.3

transformation parameters with small


regular increments. Simultaneously, the
procedure then estimated the linear coeffi-

plex tailor-made estimation methodology


requires high computer processing power
and usually takes multiple hours.
The methodology in the current study

442 JOURNAL

Note: Results of the model in terms of the percentage contribution of each explanatory variable to the modeled unit product
sales, together with p-values of each explanatory variable b coefficient estimate.

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH December 2012

The Power of Evil

(Disposable Income was not statistically

why the authors chose this product cat-

It is important to note that the relative

significant.) Analysis was a relatively

egory for this illustration. Also, the impact

SMR pressures for positive, neutral, and

slow-moving variable and usually lagged

of social media (not only company's)

negative sentiments over the analysis

the weekly action in the marketplace.

advertising was included in the incremen-

period were very different. The authors

tal sales performance, making the increase

observed 14.8k positive, 4.5k neutral and

look relatively large.

only 3.3k negative SMR pressures over the

During the economic downturn of


20082009, consumers became cautious
about making relatively large purchases

Social media were modeled as separate

(such as flat-screen televisions) much

effects from positive, negative, and neutral

At the same time, the respective impact

faster than the decline of their real dispos-

sentiments. As shown by p-values statis-

on sales of these three sentiments was +7.0

able incomes that showed up in statistics

tics, all three types of social-media vari-

percent, +0.5 percent, and 6.9 percent,

would have suggested. The consumer

ables were statistically significant in the

respectively. Each thousand negative-

confidence index, therefore, picked up this

model (See Table 5).

sentiment SMR generated 4.42 times more

aspect of consumer behavior better than


the disposable income variable.

period of analysis (Table 6).

Positive SMR incrementally generated

negative sales impact than a thousand

7.0 percent sales of the product, and the

positive-sentiment SMR. Neutral SMR

For established products, the base typi-

confidence level of this estimate is very

generated even less impact from each

cally accounts for 80 percent to 90 per-

strong. Neutral SMR showed 0.5 percent

SMRonly one-fourth of the level gener-

cent (or even more) of the variation in

incremental sales generated, with very

ated by the positive sentiment per unit of

volume. The situation usually is differ-

strong p-value. Negative SMR is shown

SMR (Figure 4).

ent for new innovative products (in the

to be causing a 6.9 percent sales decline,

current study case, flat-screen televisions

with statistically significant presence in

with light emitting diodes technology that

the model.

The authors also estimated the model


without social-media variables (Table 7).

were introduced just before the modeling


period). The new technology generated a
much better television picture, consumes
significantly less power, and is much flatter and lighter than previous televisions.

Table 6
SMR Market Pressures and Incremental Sales per Unit of SMR
Relative to the Positive SMR Impact
Positive SM

Neutral SM

Negative SM

Total Social Media Ratings (SMR)

14,762

4,457

3,320

Sales uplift generated (% of total sales)

7.0%

0.5%

6.9%

not know anything about the new product,

Sales uplift per thousand SMR

0.47%

0.12%

2.08%

both the purchase volume and the base

Relative uplift per SMR point (Positive = 1)

1.00

0.25

4.42

In this study, the brand owners communication of these features was a critical
part of the appeal of the new technology
by consumers. When consumers still did

were zero. Once the brand owner started


to communicate benefits of the new product, the sales started picking upin fact,

Social Media Rating (SMR)

most of the increase could be attributed


to

being

incremental-communications-

driven volume.
Only after some time was the base

Positive
Neutral
Negative

established at levels close to more mature


products. Therefore, new-products marketing (including the push in retail channels, which is part of the incremental in
the current example) generated a portion

Time

of sales larger than for mature products.


New products usually also generate more
social-media chatterone reason, in fact,

Figure 4SMR of All Three Sentiments over Time


December 2012 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH 443

The Power of Evil

Table 7
Model Results with Social-Media Variables Removed
Lambda
(%)
Omega

Type

Contri
bution
Lag (000)

Base

Contri
bution
(%)

social-media activities, pricing, promotions, and seasonality.


Table 2 summarizes the descriptive statistics of the variables used in the model.
p-value

VIF

The dependent variable (customer acquisitions) is the weekly number of customers

1,632

51.7

0.000

1.3

Seasonality

83

2.6

<0.0001

1.4

product. Acquisition numbers also include

Consumer Confidence Index

38

1.2

0.000

3.5

subscription renewals of customers who

45

1.4

0.001

2.5

Price
Radio

50

0.5

118

3.7

0.050

2.3

Print

0.8

168

5.3

0.005

2.3

Retail

0.8

274

8.7

0.030

1.9

Outdoor

0.2

65

2.0

0.050

1.1

Internet

20

0.8

403

12.8

0.020

1.7

TV

70

0.6

422

13.4

0.023

3.5

Note: R-square 85%; Adjusted R-square 83%; DW 1.63; Normality p-value 0.01; Q-stat p-value 0.05

subscribing to the companys broadband

previously had used this service. The marketing investments variables are measured
as follows:
Television: Weekly GRP in television
advertising (Source: media agency);
Print: Weekly impressions in print
advertising:

general

content

maga-

zines and computer magazines (Source:


media agency);
Online Display: Weekly online display
advertising impressions (Source: digital

As the results demonstrate, with-

The criterion variable in the model is

out social-media variables, the models

customer acquisitions (i.e., the number of

Online Affiliates: Weekly online affili-

explanatory power was reduced. Most

broadband service customers who sub-

ates impressions. Affiliates is a rented

notably, the p-value of television advertis-

scribe or renew the broadband services

advertising space (banners, etc.) on

ing increased from 0.016 if social-media

provided by this particular company).

other companies Web sites; the adver-

agency);

variables were included, to the 0.061 when

Explanatory variables cover the full

tiser pays the Web site owner for each

social-media variables are excluded from

spectrum of the manufacturers marketing

click on the advertisement (Source: digi-

the set of explanatory variables.

investmentsboth traditional televi-

tal agency);

Without social-media variables, the

sion advertising and print advertising, and

Price: Average subscription price paid

robustness of the model was reduced: the

digitalonline displays and affiliates.

by the consumer in euros (Source: com-

absence of the significant sales stimuli

Explanatory variables also cover product

data regarding social media made the

pricing, promotions, and seasonality.

model incomplete.

panys internal records); and


Promotions:

Weekly

promotions:

To these traditional explanatory varia-

reduced price subscription to the ser-

bles, the authors add type 3 SMR variables

vice. In the current sample, the authors

APPLICATION 2: BROADBAND

derived according to the methodology

had three separate weeks of such weekly

SERVICES

described in Methodology section, using

promotional events (Source: companys

To further test the efficacy and impact

three separate independent variables:

internal records).

of social media, the authors considered

SMR with positive sentiment, SMR with

the performance of a broadband-services

neutral sentiment, and SMR with negative

Social-media variables (positive, neutral,

provider in a major European country. To

sentiment

and negative) are type 3 SMR calculated

examine the robustness of their model, the

A multivariate time-series analysis,

authors used the same approach in this

similar to the one used in the flat-screen

application as they did in the flat-screen-

television application, is performed to esti-

The relatively high negative correla-

television application. The analysis in the

mate the relationship between customer

tion of 0.63 between online display and

broadband services industry was based on

acquisitions and explanatory variables,

online affiliates is caused by the fact

60 weekly observations.

as described earlier: marketing activities,

that these two activities have been

444 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH December 2012

according to the methodology presented


in the previous section (Table 8).

The Power of Evil

Table 8
Descriptive Statistics of Model Variables; Broadband Application
Mean
Acquisitions

Minimum

Maximum

Standard
Deviation

application was used to estimate the relationship between sales and independent
variables (Equation 1), and provide key
statistical results of the selected estimation
of the model (Table 10).

12,904

9,867

24,017

2,465

The model results were satisfactory in

85

263

68

terms of lack of autocorrelation and hetero

Print

3.88

18.01

3.88

skadasticity, and all of the coefficients

Display

96.9

436.1

107.9

Affiliates

8.53

38.54

10.86

18.44

15.99

23.41

1.97

Results of the model in terms of the percentage contribution of each explanatory

TV

Price
Promotions

0.02

1.00

0.13

Positive Social Media

299

120

520

107

Neutral Social Media

818

160

2,035

472

1,097

280

1,720

287

Negative Social Media

Note: Social-media variables (positive, neutral, and negative) are Type 3 SMR calculated according to the methodology
presented in the previous section.

for the explanatory variables had statistical significance at a reasonable significance level.

Table 10
Key Model Statistics:
Broadband Application
R-square

93%

Adjusted R-square

90%

planned interchangeably with each other.

major

Display and affiliates by nature are very

the explanatory variables in the model

DW

2.01

similar online activities and, when one

(Table 9).

Normality p-value

0.05

Q-stat p-value

0.05

correlations

surfaced

between

type by the marketing planners is used,

The same type multivariate time-series

the other is not, and vice versa. No other

regression as in the flat-screen-television

Table 9
The Variables Correlation Matrix, Indicating No Major Multicollinearity Problems for the Estimation
of the Parameters of the Response Function

Acquisitions
TV
Print
Display
Affiliates
Price
Promotions
Positive Social Media

Neutral
Social
Media

Negative
Social
Media

Affiliates

Price

Promotions

Positive
Social
Media

0.29 0.27

0.48

0.18

0.19

0.28

0.26

0.14

0.24 0.20

0.36

0.06 0.10

0.19

0.10

0.04

1.00 0.03

0.06

0.10

0.05

0.19

0.11

0.18

1.00

0.63

0.32 0.05

0.10

0.33

0.37

1.00

0.55

0.08

0.34

0.22

0.11

1.00

0.02

0.14

0.15

0.11

1.00

0.08

0.12

0.15

1.00

0.26

0.01

1.00

0.01

Acquisitions

TV

Print

1.00

0.43
1.00

Display

Neutral Social Media


Negative Social Media

1.00

Note: The variables correlation matrix, indicating no major multicollinearity problems for the estimation of the parameters of the response function.

December 2012 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH 445

The Power of Evil

variable to the modeled unit product sales,


together with p-values of each explanatory
variable b coefficient estimate, are shown
in Table 11.

Table 11
Model Results and Statistics for Each Variable; Broadband
Application

In the broadband-services provider

Lambda
(%)

Contribution Contri
(000)
bution (%)

p-value

Base

235

29.1

<0.0001

Seasonality

13

1.6

0.0052

Price

230

28.5

<0.0001

example, the authors built a model based


on the number of new subscriptions and
service renewals, not on the total number of subscribers using the service every
week. The service was based on a single

Omega

Lag

duration, 24-month contract. The sup-

Promotion

0.5

16

2.0

0.0017

plier providing this service was an entrant

Negative Social Media

35

0.3

82

10.2

0.0152

carving out market share in an existing

TV

87

0.7

197

24.4

0.0004

market with aggressive pricing and adver-

Print

45

0.7

58

7.2

0.0511

Online Display

10

0.3

55

6.8

0.0004

Online Affiliates

0.4

111

13.8

<0.0001

tising. This strategy may explain why


the base was at a much lower level compared to typically observed values in other
industries/companies.
Moreover, broadband service is a com-

Note: Results of the model in terms of the percentage contribution of each explanatory variable to the modelled unit product
sales, together with p-values of each explanatory variable b coefficient estimate.

modity and does not command high customer loyalty levels. The results of the

something is not working properly, frus-

current study showed that the aggressive

tration is communicated via social media

current models explanatory power was

pricing and advertising pressure had a

that results in negative impact on poten-

reduced. Estimates of the contributions of

strong impact on securing new subscrip-

tial customer acquisitions among the peo-

marketing vehicles also changed; especially

tions and renewals. Although price had

ple reading these negative messages.

estimated contributions of pricing, televi-

Without

social-media

variables,

the

a negative impact on new subscriptions

The authors also estimated the model

sion, and base change compared to a model

and renewals, the contribution of the price

without social-media variables across the

wherein the social-media component is inte-

variable in the current model was positive

broadband application (Table 12).

grated amongst the explanatory variables.

because, over the authors period of observation, prices came down, thereby having
a positive effect on the new subscriptions
and renewals.
Of the tested three types of social-media
messages, only the negative-sentiment

Table 12
Model Results with Social-Media Variables Removed; Broadband
Application

social media was significant in the model.

Lambda
(%)

Contribution Contri
(000)
bution (%)

p-value

Base

220

27.3

<0.0001

Seasonality

11

1.4

0.0259

Price

185

22.9

<0.0001

Broadband servicelike electricity and


gasis a low-involvement product and
causes customer reaction only if something is not working as expected. Using
the electricity analogy: customers do not

Omega

Lag

Tweet to their followers their excitement

Promotion

0.5

15

1.8

0.0022

if they turn on an electricity switch and a

TV

88

0.7

186

23.1

0.0028

light comes on. If the light does not come

Print

45

0.7

60

7.5

0.0810

on, however, the customer is frustrated

Online Display

12

0.3

49

6.1

0.0019

Online Affiliates

0.5

102

12.6

<0.0001

and will complain bitterly.


Similar effects are in play in our
broadband service application. When

446 JOURNAL

Note: R-square 91%; Adjusted R-square 87%; DW 1.79; Normality p-value 0.07; Q-stat p-value 0.06

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH December 2012

The Power of Evil

From the results of the current study,


the

authors

observed

that

negative

social media seemed to reduce substantially (10 percent) the companys


new-subscriptions and renewals rates.
Clearly, the services supplier needed

The effect of social media on brand sales


depends on the type of product category and
the competitive landscape of the industry.

to address this issue. More specifically,


it needs to investigate what the negative social-media contributors complain

In the television application, the posi-

about. And, based on this assessment,

tive social-media sentiments contributed

it needs to plan how to fix the problems

incremental 7 percent to sales. At the

Social media have given customers a

that generate this negative chatter and esti-

same time, negative social media caused

voice. These customers are no longer just

mate how much this adjustment will cost.

a 6.9-percent sales decrease. As expected,

targetsa concept that still prevails

neutral sentiment social media contrib-

among marketing practitionersfor com-

uted a much smaller 0.5 percent to sales.

panies to talk down to. Successful compa-

MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS

shortcoming, and the problem of such


neglect will grow in future.

As shown by two applications from

These three social-media types, how-

nies are changing their one-way targeting

very different industriesflat-screen tel-

ever, had different levels of SMR pressure

approach to two-way communications.

evisions and broadband servicestype 3

in the marketplace. Per comparable unit

In an era when an unhappy society can

social media have a distinct and measur-

of SMR pressure, negative social media

use social media to topple a government,

able impact on brand sales.

caused 4.4 times more sales decline than

brand owners should be ready for the

Managing the negative social-media

a unit of positive SMR. Neutral social

social mediainduced paradigm shift in

sentiment is crucial for many industries.

media, conversely, had only one-fourth of

marketing.

Alternatively, positive social-media senti-

the sales contribution (per unit of SMR)

ments and threadsif boosted and rein-

delivered by a unit of positive SMR.

vigoratedcan have a significant positive


impact on sales and profits.

When building a social-media cap


ability,the first step for a company is to

These results confirm previous findings

understand what impact social media

about the asymmetric impact of positive

have had on product/brand sales so that

In summary, the current model enabled

and negative messages and the dominant

company managers know where out-

the authors to distinguish three major

impact of negative messages (Reichelt,

bound social-media activities should be

brand sales components:

2003; Ferguson, 2005; Park and Lee, 2009).

concentrated.

The relatively higher impact of negative-

It is no easy task to build an outbound

sales not directly driven by market

sentiment social media also was observed

social-media

activities: these consist of base sales,

in the broadband-services application,

one-way

seasonality, consumer confidence, and

showing a major detrimental effect of 10

30-second advertisement is produced

other exogenous factors depending on

percent to new subscriptions and renew-

in a multi-month cycle by teams of

the industry;

als. In this case, positive and neutral social

creative people working on the con-

media did not have a detectable effect on

tent, with multiple approvals required at

business outcomes.

different

paid-for media and marketing stimuli:


television,

Internet,

outdoor,

retail,

capability.

customer

stages.

In

traditional

communication,

With

social

media,

radio, price, and other endogenous

In the authors examples, the type 3

companies need large teams of skilled

factors depending on the industry;

social-media effects had lesser effect on

people to get involved on a daily basis

and

brand sales than the exogenous factors or

in a vast volume of customer communi-

type 3 social mediapositive, neutral,

the paid-for marketing activities. With-

cations. There is no time for crafting and

and negative social mediahave a sig-

out a doubt, the impact of social media

refining the message or for multi-layer

nificant effect on brand sales.

will grow as more and more customers

approvals.

spend more and more time in social-media


The effect of social media on brand sales

environments.

A companys ability to measure the


impact of social media on sales, therefore,

depends on the type of product category and

Neglecting the type 3 social-media

will become vital for marshalling scarce

the competitive landscape of the industry.

impact on brand sales is already a major

and expensive social-media management

December 2012 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH 447

The Power of Evil

When building a social-media capability, the first

online panel data in parallel with social-

step for a company is to understand what impact

online panel which percentage of friends

social media have had on product/brand sales so

where the message is published. This

that company managers know where outbound

of the entire population can be used to

social-media activities should be concentrated.

communications.

media listening. One should check on the


and/or followers is assessing the URL
percentage from a representative sample
estimate the actual reach of social-media
Leading companies are setting up dedicated capabilities to monitor and actively
manage social-media conversations. To

resources to the right products and con-

Automatic message filtering by senti-

be effective means understanding which

versation topics.

ment is a relatively complex area. Ran-

social-media activities to respond to from

A word of caution: as with any new

dom checks of social-media messages

the multi-million activities out there, and

approach, the early user has to be sensi-

filtered as negative by automated filtering

developing triage capabilities to deter-

tive to a number of potential limitations in

methods sometimes reveal that there

mine the relevant response: ignore; stop;

using the proposed methodology to iden-

could be a word in the message with a

perform damage limitation; boost; reinvig-

tify the sales effect of social media. In the

negative connotation, but this negativ-

orate; and so on.

current study:

ity is not directed toward the brand, and

The social-media impact-measurement

the message is wrongly classified as a

method described in this study is able to

If the sales effect does not exist, it can-

negative sentiment. Therefore, state-of-

account for the sales impact of different

not be measured. Intuitively, it would

the-art

should

social-media categories and topics such

seem that, for low-involvement prod-

be

wrong

as pricing, product quality, service levels,

uct category brands such as detergents,

classifications.

linguistic

used

to

algorithms

minimize

such

ethical sourcing, etc. By better understand-

household products, some commodity

Linguistic filtering problems could be

ing the sales impact of each social-media

food categories, and the like, there is not

caused by names with identical spelling

category/topic, companies will be able to

enough consumer emotional involve-

but different meaning. For example, the

direct social-media management resources

ment to generate significant chatter in

authors attempt to filter social-media

toward those with the greatest impact on

social media to distinguish a detectable

messages regarding the credit-card com-

sales and profits.

effect on sales.

pany Visa ran into difficulties because

This ability also is vital for the measure-

visa also means a document to allow

ment of the impact of a companys out-

entry into a foreign country.

going social-media messages to enable

The authors examination of social


medias impact on a broadband-services
application, however, showed that even

continuous improvement of its social-

in some low-involvement product cat-

There is also a challenge to assess accu-

egories, the impact of social media

rately the reach of each message in

especially negative messagesshould

social media.

be analyzed carefully.

media management capability.


Marcel Corstjens is the Unilever Professor of Marketing
at Insead. His research focuses on economics and

Social-media listening engines know how

marketing science modeling approaches in the areas of

Few existing social-media listening

many friends on Facebook or how many

communication, distribution channels, and retailing.

engines have appropriate linguistic

followers on Twitter each originator of a

algorithms to divide social-media mes-

message has. Not all friends and follow-

Andris Umblijs is senior expert at McKinsey. Before that,

sages correctly into positive, neutral,

ers, however, read all messages. This dif-

he was at Accenture, where he led development of

and negative. The large number of mes-

ficulty is overcome by simultaneously

marketing analytics offerings and managed key client

sages that need to be classified means

assessing what percentage of friends or

projects in fact-based marketing-decision support across

that manual filtering can be time con-

followers actually reads the message.

multiple industries.

suming and expensive.

This assessment is performed by using

448 JOURNAL

OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH December 2012

The Power of Evil

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