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Social Media – What Is It Good For?!

December 5, 2012

If you are reading this blog, chances are you aren’t one of those executives who is still in denial about the power of social media. But you might be wondering what social media has to do with big data and how social media and big data solutions can enhance your bottom line.

Let me share a personal example. Blackberry faced a serious outage when millions of subscribers faced sporadic outages for three days. At that time, I tried powering my Blackberry off and on because I wasn’t sure whether it was my device or the service provider. It never occurred to me that the outage could be at the Blackberry server itself. When I called my service provider, they were not aware of the problem.

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I started to become curious. So I turned to a social media source: Twitter. Sure enough, I found information about the Blackberry outage on Twitter. Not only was the problem discussed, but customer sentiment, mostly negative, was flying freely at light speed around the globe, and some of it was misdirected toward the service providers. Was the customer sentiment captured and analyzed? Should service providers continually monitor and quickly respond to social media feedback?

The point is that social media is an enormous source of data that cannot be ignored. When captured and analyzed, it offers a wealth of information and opportunity.

Service providers can leverage big data analytics tools to quickly track and analyze customer responses and sentiment from social media sources such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, message boards and other online locations where consumers chat and post opinions. This data can be integrated with the company’s customer service call notes and email exchanges with customers. This capability helps service providers:

  • Evaluate more quickly how new advertising campaigns, products and services are resonating
  • Determine the geography and demographics of consumers who are reacting positively, negatively or not at all
  • Leverage that information to help increase sales or reduce negative reactions.

Traditionally, service providers have monitored and analyzed this data manually in-house or outsourced the task to a third party. Both options are expensive and do not provide actionable information quickly. Today, companies are using big data analytics tools to create a centralized command center where social media and other unstructured content for the entire company can be rapidly collected, tracked and analyzed in hours instead of days.

Service providers will benefit from centralizing and standardizing the monitoring and analysis of social media and other unstructured data. It will enable them to quickly detect qualitative consumer sentiments and gain timely insights about brand, product, services and advertising/media campaigns. These insights will increase revenues, reduce costs and protect the brand, while ensuring that customer data is protected and that the service providers are in compliance with privacy regulations.

More often than not, we think about Twitter and Facebook when we talk about social media. But a recent conversation with a service provider helped me understand that a more comprehensive view is necessary. They (service providers) are focused on providing digital voice, TV and high-speed Internet services for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB)  They want to focus on LinkedIn as the primary source of customer feedback about their products. They found that SMB clients provided excellent feedback at multiple LinkedIn communities regarding which services faired well with the subscribers and which did not. Also, with LinkedIn they knew more information about the customers, making segment level analysis much easier.

Let’s face it. Today’s world is social. A comprehensive business strategy must give serious consideration to the volume and velocity of data coming in from social media channels.

IBM has big data workshops specifically designed to help service providers advance their strategies to realize business value from the big data coming through social media channels. These workshops were developed through extensive experience helping our service provider clients meet ever-increasing data challenges.

Think BIG, and good luck with your journey to leverage data in your organization! We look forward to talking with you.

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