You Ask, I Answer: Social Media Failures and Company Impact?

Kat asks, “we hear all the time that when a company has a public misstep, that they will face impact them negatively, but there’s never been any type of relevant study that dives into this topic of social/digital reviews and brand impact/stock price/revenue. Have you seen anything?”

The challenge with using any public form of data, but especially stock price, is confounding data.

For example, a company that makes repeated social media faux pas also may not be well run, so the data point you’d calibrate on – stock price – may not provide any useful data.

That’s doubly true for brands in portfolios – Blizzard Entertainment routinely pisses off its player base, but the parent – Activision Blizzard – still notches up impressive results.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode cat asks, we hear all the time that when a company has a public misstep that they will face impact negatively.

But there’s never been any kind of relevant study that dives into this topic of social digital reviews and brand impact stock price or revenue.

Have you seen anything? So the challenge with using any kind of public data like this, especially stock price is confounding data.

confounding data is when you have multiple contributors to an outcome.

So there’s a lot that goes into a stock price.

There’s obviously the trading the buying and the selling, there is the investor sentiment, and there is very troublingly, the fact that the investors may not be the customers, right.

They may not have any connection to the customers they are trading simply on things like technicals.

They are trading on fundamentals, they are trading on all sorts of things that may not be connected to reality.

But the outside world, the stock market is actually a relatively poor indicator of a whole bunch of things, it is a good way to make some money, but it is not a good way to to try and ascertain the impact of what a company does other than on the basics like earnings.

And with the stock market, there are also all sorts of what are called shadow inputs or hidden inputs to the stock price.

So there can be you know, pools of trading, there can be institutional investing that is, is snapping up stocks, not necessarily even on you know, what the company means or even what the company does just the fact that it you know, makes a certain margin or a certain amount of return on investment.

And the stock market is also very much a lagging indicator.

And the lag can be sometimes substantial depending again on on who’s doing the investing.

A major portion of stock market investments are done by institutions, institutional investing, ETFs funds, hedge funds, all all these huge conglomerates.

And as a result, they may buy, you know, infrequently, sometimes months at a time, they’re looking at stuff to basically buy and hold and manage portfolio.

So, to try and calibrate social media on stock price is probably not going to yield anything useful.

For the majority of cases.

This is doubly true.

Because even if there was some impact, there are additional confounding variables.

So let’s say you have a company that has repeated public football, right, they just repeatedly stick their foot in their mouth all The time and they fess up the change their ways they clean house, you know, public resignations and all this stuff.

And what happens, the stock price might improve? Well, was social media, the driver of that? Or was the fact that the people running things might have just been really bad managers for a variety of reasons, and getting rid of them? improved things.

That is another example of a confounding variable where you just had a crappy manager, or crappy executive get rid of that person and it solves a whole bunch of problems.

Certainly, I remember my days working in, in the agency world, getting rid of one bad apple could change an entire offices performance and entire company’s performance.

So that’s a confounding variable as well.

Was social media responsible for the problem? No, it may have highlighted the problem but the ultimate problem was A bad apple in the bunch.

Then, to add more complexity on top of that, there’s the issue of portfolios.

portfolio companies.

A company may belong to a bigger holding company, and as a result, its performance may get masked.

So, for example, Blizzard Entertainment now is part of Activision Blizzard.

Blizzard itself does all sorts of things Pez users off all the time.

And they’ve made some pretty hilarious missteps.

The most recent Warcraft three reforged comes to mind as having the lowest game rating on Metacritic ever.

And it was because they made a bad product.

Does their stock price reflect that even though that was what, five or six months ago? Does their stock price reflect the fact that this game was a dud and then a whole bunch of people want their refunds and and eventually the company had to set up an automatic refund.

Fun process.

Now, in fact, the stocks doing better than ever.

Why? Because they’re part of a portfolio company, Activision Blizzard.

And there are so many other companies and games and franchises in this, that mask the performance of that one unit.

And even though there’s a tremendous amount of social media conversation, most of it negative about their stuff.

It doesn’t have an impact on the stock price.

Why? Well, we had to have this little pandemic we’re dealing with.

And as a result, a whole bunch of people have taken up playing all sorts of video games of every kind.

Every single gaming company has had massive growth in the last six months, for obvious reasons.

As a result, even if Activision Blizzard made, you know, crap.

In this entire time period, their stock performed really well their company performed really well because of external circumstances that really benefited them.

So we can’t use these data points to ascertain the impact of social media easily.

Could you assemble a data set of every publicly traded company and diagram out or mark in the data set those periods when there was a social media crisis, maybe an announcement like the seven days following? And could you then run something like a propensity score model on it? Absolutely.

You could.

I don’t know if anyone has done that either.

Because putting together that data set would be extremely laborious.

And I don’t know that you would find what you’re looking for.

Again, there’s too many confounding variables.

So if you wanted to prove the impact of social media, what could you do to understand it? One potential way would be studying organic search patterns.

for that company that are specific to purchase intent, so using, like an old fashion retailer kind of cold, right? They’ve had a variety of Foot and Mouth moments.

If you were to study the people who are searching with some level of intent like Kenneth Cole near me, you might be able to ascertain whether that has diminished over time as a result of repeated Foot and Mouth incidents.

But again, everything has changed since March 15 of this year, at least in the United States.

That’s what the timeline we’re using for that, for the pandemic.

You don’t search for that right now.

Because you can’t go to the store.

It’s not open or it’s it’s highly restricted.

So something like that, that is a that particular no physical location search intent would not work you’d have to do something else.

And then, again, run propensity to Score model, even a PSA multiple linear regression against that.

Those two things, the social media track record, and the search intent to see if it has diminished at all.

But with the understanding that even with that there’s a tremendous number of confounding variables, the amount of advertising you’re running, how good you are at SEO.

Other things, social media, very often does not have a huge role in a company’s results.

You could win over the data set down to those companies that are highly active.

But then you’re not going to necessarily prove that social media by itself does something so much as active social media companies behave differently be a different cohort.

So there’s a lot to dig into.

And I would certainly if you know of a data set or a peer reviewed study that has looked at this, please put it in the comments below along with your questions.

I’d love to read about it to your follow up questions again.

In the comments, subscribe to the YouTube channel in the newsletter, we’ll talk to you soon take care.

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