I confess that when the IBM + Twitter partnership was announced a few weeks ago I wasn’t quite sure what was new. We’ve been talking to clients for a while now about the value of social media data and using Twitter as a data source. But after a call with the IBM lead for said partnership it’s all a lot clearer.
A brief discussion on social media analytics
Many organisations, including IBM, will talk about social media maturity in the context of analysing social media data. (There’s also maturity in terms of sending and replying but that’s a different subject.) The starting point is to listen: looking for mentions in social media about brand, competitors, products, and so on. That’s the sort of thing that perhaps something like Hootsuite or even Tweetdeck can be useful for.
Next there’s thinking: analysing the data you captured in listening. And for some this will be purely understanding sentiment about brand, product and service. And there are lots of tools out there that can help you with this, although – perhaps unsurprisingly – I believe the IBM set is probably the most advanced, especially when you consider the sophistication of our analytics, and the ability to find insight that is statistically relevant. (If you have time take a look at IBM Social Media Analytics.)
This leads nicely to the last phase of acting/doing: using your thinking to define actions such as changing product or services, or perhaps marketing strategy as a result. For me it’s the application of advanced analytics technologies – such as Hadoop (IBM BigInsights), predictive analytics, and so on – that uncovers some very interesting insight, and identify necessary actions. I’ve used a lot of buzzwords there, let me make it real. So, for example, we worked with one client to help them understand how to grow their food attach rates and coffee sales. We helped one client understand that to keep their investors happy they had to focus on their R&D mix, not their stock price as they had expected. Another client was able to increase their cross- and up-sell opportunities by understanding upcoming life events such as marriage, birth and retirement.
So, why IBM + Twitter?
Our technologies have been able to take social media data feeds from Twitter and many other networks, blogs and forums for a while. In a way there’s nothing entirely new there.
This partnership is different because of what’s available to test our theories out. That is, not everyone is sure that social media data really can be a useful source of information to them. Hopefully some of the examples I’ve given suggest to you that it does have a variety of uses that lead to financial benefit – and customer satisfaction and loyalty and so on – but I suspect this blog is rarely enough to convince! So, IBM will usually start with running a proof of concept (POC) project together with a client, to prove the value of the analysis, likely with the analytics technologies set up as a cloud service. In this agreement with Twitter IBM has access to the full firehose of Twitter data, there is no limitation on what IBM will get, and it will include new tweets, as well as old ones. This ensures that IBM can more accurately demonstrate value of the analytics to our clients. There’s no guessing or caveats about what we found because of a restricted data set, or old data. When we run such a POC we, of course, leave the insight with the client. (But not the Twitter data.)
This is the only such agreement that has been made with Twitter and means IBM will also be training up an army* of consultants to be experts on the Twitter platform.
Lastly, Twitter data will be offered in IBM Watson Analytics, the new cognitive service that brings intuitive visualisation and predictive analytics to every business user, and Twitter data will be available to integrate with IBM DataWorks.
If you want to know more the IBM press release is a good place to start.