I have had a unique opportunity to see the Digital Brand Index from 2 vastly different perspectives – I saw DBI 1.0 while I was in my earlier organization. And now, for DBI 2.0, I’m in Edelman India and being a part of the team that is driving this initiative, the perspectives are vastly different.

The former was extra critical, to be honest. That is natural, but I did admire the initiative back then and had made some  critical notes on what could be done better. One thing that changed back then, within the scope of such criticism, was the nagging feeling that the ‘study’ and its ‘findings’ did not seem to be completely fool-proof or comprehensive. I learnt that when I managed the India part of a bloggers’ survey in my earlier organization. The ‘need-pinch-of-salt’ syndrome is essential in dealing with all such studies due to the approximations they demand…in order to reveal a larger-picture set of findings.

That said, such posturing exercises are quite common and are even necessary for agencies – not just to showcase that ‘they know’ (or, ‘we know…’) from a client (new/ prospective) point of view, but also to gain acceptance amongst fellow social media agencies and digital marketing agencies.

Such feedback and acceptance is absolutely essential, in reality, even if we’re all competing for the same pie. I bump into assorted agency folks during pitches and industry gatherings…the same folks I chat up on Twitter or LinkedIn! While we all have our unique methods that we think is the right way for our clients, there is a common thread binding us all – we’re actively constructing the ecosystem that can help sustain the spread of social media adoption in the country. Its a great opportunity to start and seed something new in a country, even if its seen as old-hat in the West (not necessarily true, that, however!).

So, here’s what I think are the key takeaways from DBI 2.0:

  1. This may sound like a far-fetched insight, but from what we’ve seen, consumer’ish tech brands like Dell, Samsung, Sony and Apple, among others, had a massive spike in conversations in the Indian online space. The usual caveat remains – about the number of brands we scanned conversations for…the number of channels we covered etc., but at least based on the range and scope of our study, we found that this leads to an insight that states that India may be aligning to the global norm for holiday and gifting season – December. We found that there was 13% more conversation around these brands in December, compared to October and November (2009).
  2. Twitter was no doubt the buzziest channel among all that we tracked, but here’s what we found analyzing the timing of conversations across channels and not just on Twitter – they tend to grow gradually over the start of the week (perhaps because of the shit load of work that falls upon us, on any given Monday!), peak mid-week on a Wednesday and taper towards the weekend. For brands that are planning a specific campaign and are looking at more value for the time they spend online, this has valid implications. The campaign execution needs to be planned to take into account such spikes for best results.
  3. B2B Vs. B2C brands online – this is an age-old discussion, but here’s what we found. Even brands that are predominantly B2B’ish (like IBM, Oracle and Adobe) contribute to considerable chatter online – sometimes, even with routine, otherwise-non-newsy topics. Oracle, for instance, gets tons of chatter for DBA jobs and seems to be first choice across forums!
  4. There was a strong correlation between real world news and online chatter. For instance, Bharti Airtel! A telecommunication brand like Airtel was not the first Indian player to announce per-second billing or reduction in mobile roaming charges – but, based on sheer size, even when they followed other players with such benefits, the chatter online proved that it was a much expected move and was almost universally lauded! Another example if Yahoo, which did not have much of news, but that front-full-page advertisement announcing their new campaign generated phenomenal buzz not just on Twitter but even blog posts were dedicated to talking for and against the theme and campaign itself.

Take a look at the release and the fact sheet that we’ve created to communicate DBI 2.0.

Do share your feedback. It would no doubt help us do better…change some our opinions or start thinking along a new path!



2 thoughts on “Deciphering Edelman’s Digital Brand Index 2.0 findings

  1. Always good to cast a critical eye over things Karthik – good post. The only thing that I’d add to what you note is:

    – Everyone talks about ‘listening to the conversation,’ but very few people make the tools and charts of ‘real data’ freely and openly available. Any firm that is paying for the insight is keeping it well behind the firewall.

    – If you’re a tech firm, you can have access to up to 1.5 million conversations across 8 markets and a comparative for your industry, for free.

    – The Indexes are an attempt to get people to think past volume rankings. Again, analysis of online conversations are much too about ‘Top of the Pops.’ When thought through, the DBI provides an opportunity for brands to discuss what’s more important. Is it volume, is it engagement, is it channel programming.

    You’re absolutely right that it’s not perfect (e.g. tracking brand names v products) – all research needs to be customised to be really useful. But for the size of dataset on offer and freely available, if you’re trying to understand or sell the value on online intelligence internally, this is about as good a start-point as you can get.

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