Beyond Predictive Analytics (aka: Rockwell was right).
I was twittered (tweaked? twitted?) last week by a couple of people I don’t know. That happens to me frequently on Facebook, and I usually disregard those invitations so the person in question never gets to see my profile. But Twitter is different; since it allows people to follow you just by choosing to do so, the onus is on you (or me in this case) to block your ‘follower’ after the fact. Fascinating stuff, really.
I kind of like it. Who, I wonder, are these people and what about me makes them want to follow me? Is it something I said? (Err, actually, yeah…it usually is). So I typically look up their profiles to see if they look like people I want to connect with.
One of the people following me turned out to be a young entrepreneur, co-founder of a leading edge Social Media Strategy company. What, exactly is Social Media Strategy? I’m glad you asked!
Let’s put it this way: remember the 1980’s one-hit-wonder Rockwell, and his catchy tune “I always feel like…there’s someone watching me…?” Even if you don’t know the song, you still get the point, which is: social media is watching you. Blogs, newsgroups, podcasts, social networks, forums, feeds…it’s all public information and market research folks are sitting behind the scenes in dimly lit rooms eerily reminiscent of the matrix, searching for trends and anomalies!
Ok, I admit that I’m exaggerating. They actually sit in ergonomic Aeron chairs with natural lighting provided by soft-LED solar powered devices, all the while surrounded by cans of Mountain Dew and bags of Fritos.
But really, I’ve seen this in action and I’ll get into more of the details in just a bit. First, let me explain more about the entrepreneur in question.
I was curious to know how this guy found me, so I Twittered him and asked, “How did you find me?” Or to be completely honest, I looked up his profile and company then (after feeling sufficiently impressed) Twittered him and said, “Cool company! How did you find me?” I know that seems like a trivial detail, but it is actually absolutely essential. Why? Because online networking is empowering connections that are completely re-inventing the way relationships are formed and business is done.
Ten minutes after exchanging Tweets we were on the phone together, recognizing our common interests (mine in communications strategies and his in business development) and I agreed to prepare an introductory consultation on his company’s position in the market. That led to my weekend deep dive into the wonderful world of Predictive Analytics, Business Intelligence and the emerging field of Social Media Strategy. So here we go…
(Digression: if you are not truly interested in a behind the scenes look at the way social media is shaping product, service and strategy development please don’t read any further than the next paragraph. Especially if you are driving. Because you’ll fall asleep at the wheel. I’ll save you from that fate and spill the beans ahead of time out of compassion – and the fear of a lawsuit):
Everything you do online is being watched and analyzed. Marketers search feeds for buzzwords, trend the data historically and in real-time, look at the most active conversations and specifically target you with their messages based on your seemingly private communication patterns.
Psst…social marketing folks: are the other readers gone yet? If so, then I can get more detailed and tell you (as you already know) that not everything is being watched and analyzed (Facebook, for example, restricts its feeds from these kinds of services). But I had to get the point across and had limited time to do it. Thanks for sticking with me. Here’s the real deal:
The platform I evaluated represents a new frontier of business intelligence. Converging web analytics, predictive analysis, social media feeds and advanced 3D modeling tools, it evolves traditional metrics into meta-feedback gyres.
Forward-thinking companies are already using assessment tools to data mine stored information about existing customers. The compiled data is sorted and assigned weighted variables, then marketing, sales and even product development strategies are derived from the statistical findings. This approach is intended to increase brand loyalty (and revenue) and has in fact proven to be effective at demographic segmentation and risk/reward calculation, but it is limited in several significant ways. Emerging platforms address these limitations as follow:
1. Utilizing the entire web as the world’s largest focus group, new reports draw from social media, feeds, news, forums and blogs in order to identify real-time trends and key influencers. Your team can see what’s happening as it takes place in order to adapt at a rapid pace.
2. Results are both qualitative and quantitative. Compiling the macro-level trends then diving down into specific microanalysis exponentially increases your access to view points of existing and potential customers.
3. The external infrastructure allows you to immediately recognize the impact of both universal trends and customized, targeted queries. You can compare, for example, macro-economic influence on purchases in a particular market vs. response to your company’s most recent product or promotion.
This is about differentiation: with many competing products and services built similarly, your business process itself becomes a distinguishing characteristic of success or failure.
Most importantly, the platform I reviewed would allow you to discover things that are impossible to discern from historical data alone, uncover essential knowledge that your customers (and prospects) won’t necessarily tell you, determine who the key influencers are, deploy the information in an advanced 3D relational model and become a key component of your development, communication and social media strategies.
I have to admit that my eyes opened widely as I realized the full advantages available to companies using this tool. It is remarkably affordable and enables complete ROI calculation, while dramatically expanding the ways in which marketing, sales and public relations can be leveraged.
I have seen the future, and I am not afraid!