How social data is helping businesses make smarter decisions

Social Media Specialist, Big Data, SWG UKI, IBM

Friends have often asked me, “what does big data mean?” and, when I explain, I like to use Twitter as an example. Every tweet becomes a piece of data that adds to the data-sphere within Twitter. There are 500 million updates per day across the world on every topic imaginable. This is the kind of data companies can use to understand their customers better.

I had fantastic Twitter customer success a couple of years back when I tweeted at a supermarket, commenting that my housemates and I were disappointed that they had stopped selling salt flavored popcorn. After a brief conversation, during which I told them the store I was referring to, they promised to ensure it was back on the shelves. Sure enough, a week or so later it was.

Listening to your customers is an essential part of being a marketer, and the amount of data being made available is increasing daily with tweets, Facebook posts and blogs, just to name a few. That’s why it’s so exciting that the opportunity now exists for organizations to make business decisions using data derived from Twitter.

Combining Twitter data with information from other public data sources can help uncover correlations to drive actionable insights for businesses. I recently met a man who uses social listening in his business to mitigate risk and act accordingly if something goes wrong. That company can respond quickly and reduce potential negative brand impact. Another company in telecommunications was able to link bad weather to complaints on Twitter, and will use this insight to reduce customer churn.

What’s so great about Watson Analytics is that it’s easy to use and available for all. Pulling external data into the cloud-based platform allows the user to see trends and patterns internally, but also recognize what’s happening externally, which could impact results.

Chris Moody, VP of data strategy at Twitter, gave an example of how this might work, saying: "This relationship will enable IBM solutions—like the famous computer Watson—to access Twitter data as an input for multi-variable, pattern-dependent questions like 'What do customers like best about my products?' or 'Why are we growing quickly in Brazil?'"

In London on Wednesday, April 1, IBM will be demonstrating the value of external data within Watson Analytics and other innovative technologies. Speakers from both IBM and Twitter will be there to share their thoughts and plans for the coming months. Sign up to attend or listen in to the livestream and share your thoughts on Twitter (of course!) using #analyticsforall.