Tag Archives: social media

What’s so special about the IBM + Twitter announcement?

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.

*10,000 apparently.

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Social Marketing Matters (Part 2 of 2)

So… the lessons from the IBM Marketing Matters event for local charities continue now (sorry for the delay to anyone who’s been waiting for this with bated breath).

tweet4To quote that BBC programme I’ve rather enjoyed lately – “The Honourable Woman” – who do you trust?  We do entrust (some of) our staff to talk to customers on the phone so why shouldn’t we trust them to tweet with them too?  It does depend on what you want to do of course.  You can have a twitter account for your organisation, and use that just to market to people with news of your events, fundraisers, products, and so on.  But it’s becoming clear that a twitter account that engages not just projects has more appeal.  It may feel like a risk, but it does add a human element, and can make you more approachable.  So, if someone asks you a question, or makes a comment about you on twitter it really is a good thing to reply with help or a comment or an opinion.

Going back to the risk element, it’s a good idea to have a set of policies or guidelines that such staff are trained in.  Way back when social media was starting to become popular – and before even I was on twitter – a group of IBMers took it upon themselves to create the IBM Social Computing Guidelines and these have become de facto in our organisation.  We’re all encouraged to use them, but anyone who is going to speak on behalf of IBM absolutely must stick by them, and we include that in the twitter bios for those accounts.  We always say, too, if you’re not sure how to respond to something, ask someone you trust (perhaps even a legal person) for some guidance.  I believe a quick reaction is always best, but far better a considered tweet which takes longer to send than a quick tweet, which will get you into a little bother in some way.  These guidelines apply to all social media; I happen to have talked more about Twitter here, but they apply to LinkedIn, Facebook, and many others you may choose to use.

Every employee can be a salesperson.  That is, I don’t tweet on behalf of IBM but I do choose to tweet about some of the more interesting things we do, some of our recent announcements, especially in the social business (not just social media) space.  And there are thousands of IBMers who do the same. So, it can be useful to have your staff discuss your organisation in social media from a personal perspective too.  As I mentioned above, it’s perhaps worth asking them to follow some guidelines too.  Just in case I do say something I haven’t exactly thought through, I make it clear in my Twitter bio that my opinions are mine, not IBM’s.  I should really change that, because sometimes I’m retweeting someone else’s opinion, which I may find interesting but may not share with them.  <Mental note: add to to do list.> 

tweet5

Work Life Balance? Firstly, from an organisational perspective, I’m going to go back to saying that in some channels – certainly Twitter – it can be useful to bring the human element to your interactions.  @HotChocoTrust was one of the attendees at our Marketing Matters workshop and I think the bio they crafted on the day is great.  

When it comes to tweeting as an individual, rather than on behalf of an organisation, I choose to mix work and pleasure in one twitter account because I think that makes me more human, and I prefer to follow others who do the same, but it’s not absolutely necessary.  In LinkedIn I’m far more likely to post about work-related things and to connect with people with whom I have some work experience. I keep Facebook for people who really are friends so those updates are usually more personal in nature.  For me Twitter combines the two (but with half an eye on making sure I don’t embarrass myself*).  This is not the rule by which you must stick, but I want to make it clear that is perfectly acceptable, probably even encouraged, to do this.

And there’s more.  Looking back at the day,there were lots of things I didn’t tweet about, such as having a plan for which social media channels to use, a strategy for who and how to engage using them, using tools such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to manage your channels from one place, and monitor interactions. 

As you become more mature in the use of social media there’s always the possibility of applying analytics to social media to get some actionable insight.  But that’s a blog post for another day.

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* Many years ago I used Twitter to complain about someone who was an hour and a half late to a meeting – his own meeting.  Several in the audience had managed to travel from Scotland to London and to be there on time, but he was coming from 10 minutes along the road.  I then followed the chap on Twitter.  This meant I drew his attention to my account, and to what I’d been saying.  We got an apology, which was nice, but it really wasn’t the cleverest thing I’d ever done.

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Social Marketing Matters (Part 1)

IBM’s a big fan of Corporate Social Responsibility (see our 2013 report) effots, but even if the company I work for wasn’t such a fan I still would be.

Yesterday we ran a social media workshop, called Marketing Matters, for charities local to Edinburgh.  It’s run in locations around the UK by various volunteers, and tends to get really positive feedback.  You can read more about it at the IBM website.  I was asked by a colleague if I would blog about the day, which I immediately agreed to, but on further contemplation it’s a whole day of learning so there could be a lot to include here: not so much a blog but a book!

So, I thought I’d blog based on the tweets I had chosen to post because I thought the points made were important.

About BrandWhat’s your brand?  We started by considering some famous brands, the enduring idea behind them, how they differentiate themselves, how their target demographic experiences that brand and what that demographic is.  The idea here is to start thinking more about how the volunteer, fundraiser, recipient, or other person experiences the charity.  Disney and Apple are two good brands to think about here; can you work out what their enduring ideas are?

Don't be left behindDon’t Get Left Behind.  When we started to think more about demographics, the people we want to engage using social media, there was a lot of discussion about who is on twitter and other social networks.  My gran is 91 and she uses facebook because it’s a great way for her to keep up to date with the family, so we can’t necessarily make too many assumptions about who does use social media.  I was about to type “there will always be people who shy away from twitter” but that may be a little too assumptive.  However, it is probably quite likely.  There will be some people who choose not to use certain social networks, but the world is increasingly moving towards them.  These people can be a great source of funding – as per the bare-faced selfie for Cancer Research, and the ice bucket challenge for ALS (MND) – and it would be a shame to miss them.  But we also talked about one target audience of volunteers likely being recent retirees who may have some time on their hands.  Perhaps LinkedIn would be a good place to find them given in recent years a large number of people have signed up to that social network for business purposes.

Follow, Listen, Act

Follow, Listen, Act.  Getting started in social media was a bit daunting for one or two in the room, and certainly experience varied across the different social networks.  We discussed that there is often nothing wrong with getting set up and, certainly from a twitter or instagram perspective, just starting to follow people or organisations we think could be interested in our own charity, have similar purposes, and so on.   “Listen” – which is really “read” – for a while and take in what is being said.  But don’t let that “while” be too long.  Start posting updates about what you are doing, start retweeting salient tweets, replying with an opinion.

Time constraints mean I have to continue this later… watch this space!

 

 

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Social is Changing the Future

The believers will read this blog post title and respond “well, duh” and the cynics will say “really? Are you sure?”

Yes, I’m sure.

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of blog posts recently, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk about how Social is Changing the Future to an audience made up mostly of students at the TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde back in May.  What bemused me is that underlying all our talks – without any of us conferring in advance – were principles of social.

After a brief introduction about social not going away I focus on how social enables hypersonalisation so that we are sold to (putting it bluntly) in a much more relevant way.  I then follow up with how social behaviours are now enabling a new approach to trying out new ideas, and that failure may be an option in a way we perhaps had not predicted.  The whole thing is about 10 minutes long.

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Making Wimbledon Relevant

In a previous post I was thinking about some of the exciting things we do with Wimbledon, and I thought it might be useful to add some practical applications of social and analytics in other industries.

I’m not going to talk about Big Data. If I’m honest I don’t really like the term. To me there’s just data. And there’s an abundance of it, some of it we own, some of it we don’t but we do have access to, some of it is highly accurate, some more questionable. There are many types we can make use of, from a variety of sources, in many shapes and sizes.  And a lot of that data can be from social media and from social business platforms – that is, from systems of engagement.

When that data is analysed it can allow you to do something you were already doing but do it better – because you have a better understanding.

It can allow you do something you weren’t doing but is related to a strategic objective such as understanding customer sentiment to become more customer centric.

It can even allow you to do something truly transformative such as real time traffic flow optimisation, as is  done in Dublin.

There the city uses data to identify and solve the root causes of traffic congestion in its public transport network. This means they improve traffic flow and provide better mobility for commuters. Data is taken from a citywide network of sensors, bus timetables, cctv and combined with geospatial data and the gps updates transmitted by the city’s 1000 buses every 20 seconds. Using this, the traffic can be monitored and managed in real time by those who have the responsibility in the city.

Based on the success we are now working on projects with Dublin and our Research organisation to add meteorological data into the traffic control centre so actions can be taken to reduce the impact of severe weather on commuters. We are also developing a predictive analytics solution which will combine the city’s tram network with electronic docks for Dublin’s free bicycle scheme.

We tend to divide analytics into three categories although there are other ways to do it. Those are descriptive – what happened, predictive – what is likely to happen – and prescriptive which not only anticipates what will happen and when it will happen, but also why it will happen, and suggests decision options to take advantage of the predictions.

I see a lot of organisations do the descriptive analytics, whether using more intuitive and interactive dashbords or just, dare I say, excel spreadsheets. Fewer are taking advantage of predictive, and even fewer prescriptive.

So, with the right type of analytics there all sorts of things one could do:

  • We can predict and act on the intent to purchase. It’s possible to identify what customers are researching and send this information to human and online channels. The SlamTracker keys to the Wimbledon game are based on prior player performance, and we can similarly understand customer behaviour and predict likely purchases.
  • We can truly personalise our interactions with the customer.  System U within Watson – needs just 200 tweets to understand an individual’s wants, needs, psychological profile, emotional style, and so on, and this – combined with any other data we may have about a customer – can allow us to tailor the right message for the right customer at the right time.  I talked about this at the TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde recently.
  • IBM helps Thames Water analyse a range of social media channels including blogs, online forums and Twitter to create real-time public opinion snapshots, identifying trends and usage behaviour while understanding how consumers feel towards the brand. But we are taking that analysis one step further and working with other water companies around the world to determine where there is a leak in the infrastructure using social media as a feed.
  • In Toulouse they use social media analytics <French site> to understand where they have a problem with their road infrastructure – pot holes to you and me – and they’ve cut response times down from 15 days to 1.
  • In the Netherlands and the US we’ve applied analytics to social media to understand the likely success of programme and film launches, and to take direct action to change the outcomes.

For Wimbledon data and insight is crucial to the fan experience.  The same can be said of all business, replacing the word “fan” appropriately – “employee”, “consumer”, “citizen”, and so on.

IBMslamtracker

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