How MasterCard Tracks and Analyzes the Internet with Real-Time Monitoring: Social Media Showcase
FOR CORPORATE AND EXTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS
AT MASTERCARD WORLDWIDE
KM: Readers may be familiar with MasterCard from the card they carry in their wallets, but there is so much more to the company than people think. Could you introduce us to MasterCard?
First, MasterCard isn’t a credit card company. We don’t issue cards or credit. We don’t set interest rates or annual fees. MasterCard is a publicly traded technology company that makes payments happen. That’s why we’re constantly innovating and developing new technology and solutions that allow consumers, businesses and governments to use mobile phone technology, e-commerce applications, contactless payments and other tools in ways that are safer, easier to use, more affordable and more efficient than ever before.
Embedded in our cards and technologies is access to the global electronic payment network we built and are constantly improving. With it, our goal is to take the time, risk, expense and hassle out of people doing business together.
Consumers have the money. Banks issue credit and hold the money. Small businesses provide goods and services. MasterCard links them together instantaneously and seamlessly with an affordable, convenient and safe electronic payment network.
KM: MasterCard is undergoing a transformation from its traditional position as a B-to-B company to what CEO Ajay Banga describes as a “B-to-B-to-C” company. Could you describe what this transition entails?
Historically, MasterCard considered its customers to be banks and merchants. But in 2011, MasterCard’s focus expanded to include consumers. We recognized that while we have a clear understanding of what we do (and don’t do), market place confusion exists. But more importantly, the MasterCard brand represents a promise to all of our stakeholders, including those who carry the card. Our expanded market definition is well-represented in our planning and in our actions wherever and whenever MasterCard does business.
KM: How is corporate communications helping in MasterCard’s transition?
Our global corporate communications function is evolving from a broadcast model reliant on intermediaries to a direct, real-time communications ecosystem. We have established platforms and a global framework to listen to and engage consumers, merchants and influencers across online, social and traditional media while creating ways to derive meaningful insights and analysis that have the potential to improve products, customer care, brand loyalty and reputation.
MasterCard is beginning a social business transformation in which we are utilizing social media with many of our internal and external stakeholders in order to optimize our business. It begins with real-time social media listening and analysis in 43 markets and 26 languages conducted by a global communications team. Our platform allows for 24/7 monitoring and spans across such social media channels as Facebook, Twitter and Weibo.
Internally, we are contining to drive social media engagement among our employees and are preparing for the implementation of the SharePoint platform which will further enhance employee collaboration and engagement.
KM: The MasterCard Conversation Suite is the centerpiece representing the company’s new commitment to social media. How did it come to be?
Long gone are the days when companies could afford to ignore their key stakeholders on social media. The MasterCard Conversation Suite is our commitment to monitoring, analyzing and engaging in the more than 30 million monthly points of contact our brand has with people who are participating in social media globally.
This state-of-the-art technology, data analysis and web-based engagement platform is staffed by a cross-functional, global team made up of Communications, Digital Marketing, Product Marketing, Consumer Insights and Cardholder Services.
Our Purchase, NY, headquarters (and soon in Miami, Mexico, and Brazil) has physical Conversation Suites that serve as the most visible manifestation of our commitment to global engagement. Situated in the center of the building in a sun-filled atrium, it includes a massive LED display to showcase the conversation analysis, modular furniture to allow for large or small meeting groups, and state-of-the-art desks and PCs used by the cross-functional team.
In the United States alone, there are hundreds of purely automated monitoring and analytics tech solutions and perhaps a dozen media-monitoring and evaluation service providers who rely solely on human expertise. Purely automated solutions may be fast and consistent, but they tend to fall short on accuracy and insight. Human-based systems are insightful, but they tend to be slower. The MasterCard system, developed in partnership with PRIME Research in the United States, is unique because it marries talent with technology to create a single source that provides research-based intelligence with speed, accuracy and insight.
In terms of the uniqueness of the physical space: Every day, guests from many of the world’s most visible companies visit MasterCard and experience the Conversation Suite, and without exception, each recognizes the superiority of what we’ve developed. In fact, the founder of one of the world’s most popular social media sources stated that while he has seen hundreds of social media listening platforms, he’d never seen anything as comprehensive and impressive as what we’ve developed here at MasterCard.
KM: How is the Conversation Suite helping MasterCard make better corporate communications decisions?
Through the Command Center, we track social and traditional media with real-time feeds of prefiltered, relevant-only content. Our analytics provide evaluation and insight, which ultimately inform product development decisions, brand affinity and reputation drivers.
A recent example includes the launch of MasterCard’s PayPass Wallet in early May 2012. After analyzing the response in both PR and social media to a competitors’ launch of their digital wallet weeks earlier, we identified opportunities for our launch. In addition to a traditional press conference held at the New Orleans-based trade show where the announcement was made, we partnered with Mashable to stream the press event live in order to reach the thousands of stakeholders who were not able to attend.
Back in the Conversation Suite in New York, we had a team of Communications and Product Marketing representatives monitoring the conversation on social channels in real time, and they were able to identify consumer sentiment almost immediately and more importantly, they were able to respond. We then quickly filtered the analysis of the conversation back to the product team at the show, where we were able to make quick updates to communication on the basis of consumer reaction.
MasterCard’s buzz around the announcement dominated the competition. We commanded 80% of the industry’s conversation with 100% positive tonality over the several days following the announcement.
KM: How is it helping to make better business intelligence decisions?
Through the research and analysis conducted with the Conversation Suite, we have been able to identify four recurring themes among our key audiences. The primary themes include customer support, merchant value in accepting MasterCard, security concerns and our ever-popular “Priceless” campaign being used as an Internet meme. This level of business intelligence has allowed us to make sense of the millions of conversations about MasterCard we see every month and focus our efforts on the areas that are of most interest to our key stakeholders.
KM: What advice would you give to anyone considering a corporate communications transformation such as the one you are helping to lead at MasterCard?
People assume that what we’ve done at MasterCard is too complicated or too sophisticated for any company but the largest global institutions. They may be surprised to learn that while financial and technical resources are an asset, the most important contributor to our success was the collective vision, creativity and energy of the MasterCard team. With that in mind, my suggestion is to simply get started – everyone starts somewhere. Once the first steps are taken, the vision captures the imagination of those around you. Executives become invested. Employees get engaged. Partners grow motivated. From small beginnings come great achievements.
Interview conducted by Mark Weiner, CEO of PRIME Research. The MasterCard Conversation Suite and Command Center is designed, built and powered by PRIME.
This story appeared in the Fall issue of kommunicationsmanager, published by PRIME Research.