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Beyond listening: Shifting focus to the business of social

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Business Analytics Global Research Leader for the IBM Institute for Business Value, IBM

Social data’s impact can extend far beyond marketing and brand management—and that’s just the short version of what I learned after spending the better part of 2015 reviewing case studies and interviewing clients with the Twitter data team out of Boulder (formerly Gnip). For the long version, take a look at our findings, which we published in the IBM Institute for Business Value expert perspective Beyond listening: Shifting focus to the business of social.

Reimagining the customer experience

Our research confirmed that conventional marketing department approaches only scratch the surface of how to leverage social interactive data. Leading-edge organizations constantly seek to combine social information with existing proprietary enterprise data and other external information, hoping to uncover insights that can help transform capabilities across the organization.

As pioneering organizations embrace social data’s expanding sphere of influence on their operations, they are combining data from social platforms with internal and external data to reimagine business processes. In doing so, they drive innovation by creating immersive experiences made possible by the interactive nature of such platforms. Accordingly, such companies are able to create competitive differentiation for themselves while crafting groundbreaking new business models.

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Interactive social platforms are valuable because of their ability to expose the worlds of buyers, sellers and competitors in real time using a publicly accessible platform. By doing so, they allow organizations to reach constituents father up and farther down the value chain, uncovering previously inaccessible insights in the process. All this is made possible by the authenticity of the signals emanating from social interactive platforms, which give snapshots of the daily lives of more than 1 billion individuals and organizations around the globe, including not only their needs, but also their desires and concerns.

https://kapost-files-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/direct/1447798323-46-1713/BeyondListening_embed.gifPlanting the seeds of success

Take, for example, Monsanto, a global agricultural company based in the United States. Less than 10 years ago, Monsanto thought little about consumers; its customers were farmers and growers. Eventually, however, Monsanto began monitoring retail reports about what consumers were buying, as well as when and where they bought it. But the company wanted to become better at forecasting consumer trends as well—a paramount concern considering that the seed development cycle can take as long as 15 years.

So Monsanto decided to look at Twitter data—not to find out what people were saying about Monsanto, but to find out what people were saying about food. And when it did, words such as “convenience,” “portability,” “snackability” and “healthy” sprang to the forefront. Even more important, Monsanto analysts found they could see signs of emerging dietary trends as many as four years before such trends hit the mainstream. Accordingly, Monsanto is expanding its use of social data, with a particular focus on understanding the wants and needs of 20-somethings and young mothers—those who will be shaping food trends in 10 to 15 years.

Many organizations that use social data in truly innovative ways are not yet ready to share their new “secret sauce”—the competitive advantage it brings them is simply too great. But even the sampling of case studies presented in our report can help you begin using social data to empower your company to succeed. As you read them, consider how your own organization can take advantage of social data to start preparing for tomorrow’s success today.

Learn more about how you can use Twitter data to unlock social insights.