The Mini Cooper Effect

Mini CooperEveryone loves Mini Coopers. Even among the most jaded consumers, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who actively hates Minis. So it will come as little surprise to anyone that social sentiment surrounding the Mini Cooper will be overwhelmingly positive. That said, Mini is not the best-selling car. While everyone loves them and has glowing praise for the Mini, they account for just 0.5% of US auto sales.

What value then, do the comments of non-purchasers have when monitoring conversations? With several thousand followers on Twitter and a reasonable Klout score, I could be said to be somewhat influential—and I am highly positive toward Mini Cooper, yet I have no intention of purchasing one. Are my comments about Mini useful or merely interesting?

In my opinion, these comments are interesting in the aggregate, but useless when determining ROI or intent to purchase. The Mini Cooper Effect is a phrase I coined a while back to describe this phenomenon in conversational monitoring. Tools like Radian6 and Sysomos compile tens of thousands of these comments on a local, national and global scale, but it takes a skilled, patient analyst to sift through them for the gems. No matter how good your keyword set is, or how many parameters you filter by, you won’t get over the Mini Cooper Effect of interesting but useless comments. [DISCLAIMER: Campbell Ewald is a customer of both Radian6 and Sysomos]

Recently, I received a call from Barb Morgen at ValueVine to discuss their new Connect tool. It too monitors social conversations, but with a distinct and important twist: conversational monitoring is targeted to the building level. As I am to understand it, a client enters the addresses of all their retail locations. Connect then pulls conversations about and within those buildings and only there. If consumers check in to that location using Foursquare, Loopt, Gowalla, etc., their comments are only counted if they include a comment. Comments on other platforms about those locations are also counted, but not general comments. Only comments from consumers who have entered these locations will be tallied. The Mini Cooper Effect is effectively nullified.

I have not tried this tool (yet), but it gives me hope that (at least some of) the limitations of social media monitoring can be addressed in the coming year by new technologies like this. What are your thoughts? Have you tried Connect? How does it compare to other tools?

Photo CC 2007 The Pug Father