YouGov SoMA, the first social media audience measurement tool, reveals some extremely interesting findings about how much Twitter storms can impact audiences and affect perception of brands.
SoMA measures how many and what sort of people are hearing messages about brands on social media.
The first example is of investment bank Goldman Sachs, which follows the pattern that you might expect. On the day of Greg Smith’s notorious resignation letter in the New York Times back in March, tweets about the bank were up approximately 60 times the usual amount.
And more than four in ten UK Twitter users were exposed to tweets about Goldman Sachs – against a normal level of 1%.
But the chart for burger chain McDonald’s tells a much more interesting story because it shows that a leap in mentions (in this case four times the average) does not always lead to an increase in reach.
There was a rumour in March that McDonald’s planned to stop serving under 18s. This caused many additional tweets but a much smaller increase in reach (up to 12%) – certainly a rise, but nothing compared to what you might have expected for a trending topic.
Moving to the real world, YouGov's public perception tracking tool BrandIndex shows that the Goldman story did translate beyond social media, with its Index score falling from -6 to -13 over the course of a week. The McDonald’s rumour, however, had no impact on the perception of its brand.
To understand the influence of social media you need to go beyond mentions and take two more steps – ascertain how those mentions translate into reach, and figure out how the impact in the social media world leads to changes in perception and behaviour in the real world.