Category Archives: social-analytics

Does your brand have a social command center?

There’s a lot of social networks out there. There are a lot of folks both inside and outside your organization creating digital content. How do you track all of this so you can know what’s being said and be a part of the conversation?

At IBM Pulse this week just gone, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager for Ecosystem Development and Social Business Evangelist, ran a session sharing her top trends in social right now. She answered the question directly using the example of the American Airlines social command center.

The airline industry typically generate a lot of social media activity: for instance American Airlines is mentioned about 42K times a week on Twitter alone! So how does American keep on top of all of this activity? Using a Social Command Center from IBM Business Partner MutualMind:

Mutual Mind AA Social Command Center

The solution has two key components: deep analytics in order to be able to hone in on the content that matters, and pointed visualizations including content tag clouds and heatmaps.

As Jonathan Pierce, American Airlines Director of Social Communications, points out, the Social Command Center instantly spots breaking trends, tracks social mentions and images, and monitors global geographic regions.

It’s one thing having a tool to monitor social trends, but you need the right team ready to respond. American Airlines has a social team that engages customers directly and can engage cross-functional customer care teams. It monitors sentiment and interestingly also monitors the overall effectiveness of American’s customer service.

So, as you refine your social strategy, are you developing a Social Command Center that can help forge stronger customer relationships?

At IBM, we are working with MutualMind to provide an engagement center during the upcoming SXSW Interactive in Austin, TX. Come along and check us out in the Convention Center!

The roots of social business (short animated presentation)

How do social networks effect the way in which we conduct business?

I’ve had the opportunity to discuss this question with industry experts, academics and (thankfully) students over the last year or so. I’ve boiled the results down into this short presentation on social business:

Key points:

Scaling the conversational nature of business
In the pre-industrial era, business was localized, customized and highly conversational. Think of the way commerce happened in a small village. Stories would be shared over the sale of a loaf of bread at the bakery. Village folk would talk and trade recommendations.

Then came the industrial era and the imperative to realize economies of scales and produce goods for large global markets. The transactional process was optimized for efficiency (think supermarket checkout lines).

Social networking has brought back the potential for business processes to become more conversational, albeit on a larger scale to what was previously possible.

More customer-focused business
In the field of marketing and communications, we’re seeing chinks in the traditional broadcast model that was ushered in by the rise of mass media. The idea that it is the role of the company to create messages and broadcast those out with the intent of creating demand is being challenged.

Social media are creating forums for discussion with open dialogue occurring between companies (theoretically any employee), prospects and customers.

Increased workforce productivity
Social networking within the enterprise allows for the freer flow of knowledge across teams and departments leading to less information silos and more efficient internal processes for instance by allowing expertise to be more effectively sourced.

The pivotal role of analytics
Social analytics is necessary to uncover the business value of using social networking. This applies at many different levels across the whole enterprise. For instance, monitoring customer feedback following a product launch, determining which employees are the most effective networkers or helping key influencers extend their reach.

Look for further videos in this series which will look more specifically at how social networking is transforming different areas of business.

More introductory information on the nature of social business:

Resources from the MIT Sloan School of Business

Forrester blog posts on social business

IBM on social business

Dachis Group on social business



From content to service: the role of social analytics

I recently had the opportunity to record a presentation Graham Mackintosh, an IBM social analytics expert, gave to business students at the end of last year.

One of the points that really resonated was the idea that web publishers can use social data to move from being content creators to service providers. Why did this resonate? I think one of the reasons is that thinking of the client experience is so ‘en-vogue’ (to borrow the phrase from Luis Suarez). Areas such as social business and ecommerce are strongly focused on optimizing the client experience right now. Furthermore, in management theory, we’re seeing the emergence of service science as a discipline. 

Where does social analytics fit in?

Graham talks about the way in which publishers can look at social intelligence, whether this be sentiment analysis, keyword analysis or other social data produced by their target audience, and use this to develop a content strategy. A tough pill to swallow, I’m sure, for content creators who have been taught the inviolable nature of the creation process. However, when practiced most effectively, analytics does not negate creativity, but rather guide it in a direction closer to the end user. One example Graham suggests is looking at fan sentiment to determine content for a sports site.

Other key points from the presentation:

  • Social media generates human telemetry that can be used to solve some of the world’s most intractable problems
  • Social analytics can uncover useful insights in particularly fickle industries like fashion
  • The industry is moving from monitoring to management where more and more systems are allowing actions to be taken or workflows launched directly from the reporting dashboard

View the first and second part of Graham Mackintosh’s Social Analytics presentation

More on IBM Social Analytics

Google: social analytics is a key differentiator

According to a recent article in Advertising Age, Google’s social strategy does not involve building social networks to compete with Facebook but rather it is focusing on using social data to build better applications:

“As an example of the current strategy, [Eric] Schmidt talked about getting more information from YouTube users in order to offer more targeted video.”

YouTube already has a fairly robust recommendation engine:

but from Schmidt’s comments, development around this area of exposing social analytics is where they see real business value. This is backed up by moves such as YouTube’s purchase of movie recommendation site Fflick.

How can analytics be used to derive value?

For instance, predictive analytics solutions (like IBM SPSS) can traverse a large inventory of content and make associations based on a visitor’s past behavior and the behavior of their friends in the network. Match this with sentiment analysis, which can be used to look at the conversation around a video to determine whether it is loved or loathed (or somewhere in-between), and suddenly you have a more immersive viewing experience.

This doesn’t just apply to Google and video. Foursquare is apparently taking this approach to differentiate itself as Facebook encroaches into its space with its Places offering.

Whilst analytics can offer differentiation in a hotly-contested area, the issue of privacy has to be addressed. The interfaces can get so good at offering recommendations that they border on being plain creepy. Couple this with the growing paranoia around the extent to which our digital lives are tracked, and suddenly these interfaces appear more Big Brother rather than benevolent Jeeves. One way to address this issue is to be as transparent as possible when exposing social analytics.

So if Eric Schmidt’s comment can be taken at face value, I’d suggest it’s in the context of a growing trend in looking to maximize the value in existing networks rather than racing to build new ones. Social analytics, when handled deftly, can unlock this latent value in social data.

Do you agree?