Talkability Index

"Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?"

This is the question the queen is asks the magical mirror every day. She is looking for an answer that will please her, but the mirror, eventually, gives her an honest one, and so the queen threatens to destroy it...

Like the magical mirror, social media also reflects an honest truth, whether you like it or not…

Social media as a looking glass

Social media is the buzzword today. While many companies understand they can't ignore it and even integrate social media activity into their marketing plans, few are using it to understand consumers' thinking and implement crowd knowledge in their day-to-day business decisions.

The magic of social media is in its unprecedented access to the man in the street. While reading what people are writing, you can imagine their whole lifestyle, where they live, how they look, what they like to eat, where they hang out and more - this is because people are involving others in their lives and not just writing sterile statements with no context.

This sharing allows us to understand how consumers really think – as opposed to getting an answer for specific questions – and understand their way of thinking, what drives them to do this and not that, how they talk, what expressions they use and finally helps us to understand their influence on the way in which a brand/product is perceived.


Today, social media is the it girl. Everyone in marketing knows they must understand it and be more involved in it. Social media is still in the adoption phase but it is finally reaching a critical mass of representation.

But as we know, it girls either reach fully fledged celebrity or fade away. If this vast river of information does not provide methods that show how social media insights can be used in daily business decision processes, it will dissipate and be just another passing fad.

So, the bursting river will just go to waste, unless we know how to use it and derive measurable insights. And that would really be a shame, as social media is changing the way we look at market research. No more asking questions regarding what we think is important, but giving more respect to the consumers, and just listening to what they have to say.

Listening is important, but deriving insights is crucial

More and more companies understand the importance of listening, but don’t really know how to do it. (Listening is also what some people call Brand Monitoring – but while monitoring is more of a quantitative approach, listening implies really hearing what the consumer has to say.)

Listening enables companies to get indications on what's happening in the consumer arena, staying connected to the source. You can do some things with listening – for example identifying threats or opportunities and responding immediately. However, you can't reach a deep understanding of your brand perception or awareness in consumers' mind, or identify drivers for positive or negative sentiment through listening in itself. Basically, it allows you to get a hunch or gut feeling, indicating that something is happening, but that’s about it. It's difficult to use these indications without verification of who are they representing, is it a trend or something new we should follow? At the end of the day, companies don’t make business decisions based on gut feelings but on facts and insights, backed up by data.

What is Talkability?

And this leads me to our main course – introducing a way to understand social media insights and use them in the business process – the talkability analysis method, which is transforming social media insights into operational actions.

The essence of talkability is to understand the drivers that influence conversations - what drives us up in consumers' perception and what drives us down.

Talkability is a parameter which is indicative to the level of engagement and its content.

More precisely, Talkability is a direct function of the level of sentiment and the volume of conversations:

Talkability(z)=f{Sentiment(y), Volume(x)}

We believe that these are the two vectors that most influence brand perception: Conversation means level of engagement and the more involved the consumer is in positive conversation the better. Basically what we usually want is for our brand to be talked about, by many people and in a positive way – and that's why you want to have a high and positive talkability score.

Once we define criteria and a way to measure social media insights, it makes them much easier to use:

  1. Understand the current situation of your brand (or any other defined subject) – is it being talked about, how much, positive\negative – how can you participate in the conversation and what needs to be done?
  2. Where is the brand in the competitive landscape?
  3. What are the drivers, forces that got the brand to the place it's at in consumer perception? What topics or audiences drove it up or down and why, what were the most influential websites in the conversation?
  4. Identify the potential – good and bad – for an increase\decrease in Talkability.

Talkability is a parameter reflecting a function of volume and sentiment: the function is based on the indifference curves model familiar from economic theory.

This kind of analysis presents, through clear visualization, the drivers\vectors in the conversation and as such allows us to plan our approach. As part of the process, it disassembles the dot on the map into its vectors so we can handle each separately and in a more accurate way.

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