br_guageHow are your social media and content marketing efforts performing? What activities are “moving the needle”? How are you doing against your competitors? Are there any predictive insights that can be distilled from another’s activities?

 

These and a host of other questions continue to be wrestled with by almost every type of business and industry. There is no shortage of industry gurus and pundits pushing out the “top 10” things to do, shouldn’t do, and so on. Social media and content marketing are here to stay. Getting clarity and actionable insights is becoming more critical than ever.

 

If we were to step out of the digital marketing space, we can see that there are numerous performance, behavioral and predictive “indicators” applied to consumers and businesses. In the consumer world, there are such “indicators” as an individual’s credit score or Nielsen ratings that determine the audience size and individual makeup of those watching television programming. For businesses we see the Dow Jones Index or the Case-Shiller Index to characterize the housing market. These indices process and elevate key insights from a vast array of data. They help us quickly understand the state of certain activities, direction, and emerging trends. They help us develop an “apples to apples” understanding. They help us make decisions.

So how about an index to characterize a company’s social media and content marketing activities?

What would this look like? What would the basis for such an index be? An individual’s credit score is comprised of 5 key indicators of financial management and behavior. Both the Dow Jones and the Nielsen ratings consider an empirical collection of numbers. The Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Index leverages multiple data sources to develop an interpretation of industry insights and trends.

 

I recently sat in on a presentation by Dun and Bradstreet (D&B). One of the objectives communicated was an interest to predict a company’s “financial viability”. They have come up with what they call FiDex. FiDex “assesses the current financial standing of a business, whether or not financials have been reported to us.” WOW … how cool, but how can we assess the performance of a company’s social media and content marketing efforts if we can’t see their budgets, marketing plans or actual results?

 

D&B uses something they term the “look-alike” model. That is, can you observe certain behaviors that reflect such activities as “spend”, credit inquiries and economic trends and translate them into financial viability? Valid concept. So likewise … is it possible to observe manifestations for digital marketing behavior? If a company posts a regular stream of content, but the ratio of engagers-to-followers is low, that my say something about the quality of the content being developed. Or what if all of a sudden posts dramatically fall off. If you are running a business, where do you make cuts if you saw tough times emerging? Would the fall-off in content production suggest budget and/or financial constraints?

 

From a perspective of businesses, the activities of social media and content marketing are executed within a series of processes and activities. Of course, the degree to which these are fulfilled can vary from organization to organization. None-the-less there is an underlying process, and these processes produce evidence or markers.

 

Assessing and interpreting the various manifestations of these processes are therefore the basis for the Content Marketing Index™ (CMI). Moreover, the CMI also produces the Social Business Predictor (SBP) score. The latter provides insights that infer a company’s budgetary direction for their social media and content marketing efforts.

 

As a result, the Content Marketing Index is a data-driven, evidence-based, social business barometer of a company’s social media and content marketing activities. It is based on the principle that the manifestations of an organization’s content marketing lifecycle activities can be observed, measured and translated into actionable and predictive insights.

 

By applying common criteria, the Content Marketing Index™ performs as a “yard stick” that can be used to support various activities such as data-driven marketing, benchmarking, comparative analysis, and even purchasing. Additionally, the nature of the index suggests that even as it evolves, is changed and/or refined, all organizations to which the Index is applied are measured by the same standards and criteria.

 

This nine (9) part series is written and published by Batavia Research, the originators of the CMI and SBP concepts. The series examines the basis for the indices, how they are interpreted and ultimately how the index is calculated. In brief, the basis for the indices is represented by the content marketing lifecycle. Social media and content marketing activities can be modeled and their manifestations can be observed. The content marketing lifecycle processes that are considered are reflected in the diagram below.

 

Content-Marketing-Lifecycle

 

Each part of the series will be published weekly. The last part in the series (part 9) will be used to bring it all together. Our hope is to activate discussions and perspectives. Embracing an index such as the CMI will only come with acceptance of its value and credibility. We invite you to participate by raising questions, concerns, skepticisms and affirmations.