social listening

The Advent of Machine Learning as related to Social Listening

The advent of #MachineLearning as related to social listening precipitates a lot of honest-to-God hard work during a transition from human-led to machine-led insights. This will happen because many humans will be needed to create custom attributes and custom classifiers for the machine to use in the new upcoming #AI driven insights industry. Humans teaching the machine to think like we do, to analyze like we do, to understand nuance, culture and the evolution of language (keep in mind, social tech experts, I am referring to a truly global machine analyzing the languages of the world…not just English).

Since there are many gaps in social data, we face an uphill in pairing other data sources to the snippets we get from public sources of conversations. The key to a complete “AI Social Data Intelligence Machine” will be sources such as Axciom, census data, background check sources, private networks like Doximity/A Small World and finally, if possible, the nexus of data from Facebook and Amazon. This particular nexus is a kind of holy grail that the leading machine intelligence experts will eventually open to brand leadership. But previous to such events, we have a grueling journey as analysts, insights researchers and programmers to “teach the machine how to be a human”.

One of the most exciting branches of this “teaching” will be a self-aware machine, an artificial mind that will begin to offer recommendations…and then may decide to act upon these recommendations.

The Power of the Listening Hub for the Enterprise

The purpose of this post is to outline a few best-practice actions as related to set-up and the early months of running a Social Media Command Center (SMCC) within a major brand headquarters. Such pilot programs demonstrate the types of insights and recommendations possible through the implementation of a SMCC.

First, let’s start with some definitions:

DEFINITIONS:

Social Media Command Center (SMCC) – A centrally located space where monitors (or signage screens), PCs and desks are configured for research of social data (and other data as prescribed) by in-house employees and 3rd party vendors. The SMCC provides a way to visualize data in various configurations relative to the needs of the corporation. The focus of research at a SMCC is social data.

The phrase “command center” has become common due to the central data research function relative to a brand’s outlets or regional offices. Insights and recommendations relative to past events, current initiatives and/or future opportunities are distributed from the command center.

A SMCC can be used for actions by various silos (upon approval). Such actions can include Marketing Campaign planning & engagement, PR response, HR discovery, Sales prospecting, Customer Service, Call Center integration, Competitive Intelligence, Customer Intelligence, company overview for the C-Suite and much more.

A fully realized SMCC is more than just a research center. The SMCC can be populated by representatives from each silo/department. The representatives can be authorized to take immediate action on critical issues. Policies can be put into place that give these representatives acceptable parameters for action and response.

For example, Customer Service representatives present within the early-stage SMCC can demonstrate an enhanced response time to resolving customer needs. Other names for a SMCC include Social Listening Center, Listening Center, Social Analytics Research Facility, Web Intelligence Center and Data Research Facility.

Social Data – Data specifically derived from the Internet and social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Slideshare, Instagram, blogs, online forums, websites, and other online communities/networks. The data is public information, meaning it can be accessed by anyone.

VALUE:
The value of a SMCC to a brand or corporation includes:

– provides the possibility to view all mentions of the brand online
– provides the possibility to view all mentions of competitors online
– provides the possibility to discover key influencers as related to the brand, market space and competitors
– provides the possibility to monitor actions by competitors online
– provides customer insights based on conversations online
– provides recommendations for action to be taken in multiple silos at the brand/corporation
– provides recommendations for research projects related to customers, competitors and corporate initiatives

SAMPLE RESEARCH PROJECT SUMMARIES:
The following sample projects demonstrate just a few types of research possible through the use of a SMCC.

Brand Audit – An overview of mentions and sentiment related to the brand. An overview related to brand initiatives using specific search terms. A comprehensive audit of where the brand is being mentioned and by whom. Discovery of key influencers driving opinion about the brand, the maret segment and competitors. A study of competitors’ to the brand and a comparison of mention volume, sentiment and other factors.

Product Launches – As specific new product lines are launched, the SMCC staff can provide key internal decision makers with valuable insights based on mentions.

Marketing Planning Projects – Planning as related to marketing can be enhanced through the use of a SMCC. Specific marketing projects can be created as a result of listening to customer and competitor conversations and noting trending topics. Creatives from the brand & third-party agencies can collaborate in a SMCC while viewing visualizations of mentions and complex query results.

Example: Monitor conversations during brand campaign launches and create on-the-fly sub-marketing campaigns for specific regions/cities based upon mentions. Discover influential voices online (individuals and/or specific sites) that are either detracting or celebrating the brand.

Sales Prospecting Projects – Sales directors can discover prospects for sales teams, along with detailed on these prospects. A SMCC can be used by sales strategists to created finely segmented lists of prospects. The SMCC can also be used to gather and append valuable contact and demographic data to each individual prospect.

Example: Monitor specific regions and deliver B2B prospect lists to enterprise sales staff in those regions. This is based on conversations in those regions by ideal B2B prospects. Deliverable includes a list of B2B prospects in a region with appended contact/social data and intelligence on each prospect (why this is a good prospect for brand business services in that region, along with suggested ways to gain advantage with specific example). The ultimate goal with this project is to demonstrate the efficacy of social data in helping sales leaders close deals for brand Business Services.

Human Resources Discovery – Human Resources can quickly discover ideal candidates for positions within the corporation. Insights on employee sentiment within the brand can be delivered to HR from SMCC analysts. Insights on sentiment of employees at competitors can be delivered to HR also with the SMCC program.

Example: Identify lists of ideal prospects for specific positions at brand and/or brand franchises. Demonstrate how social data can yield ideal prospects for HR purposes. Monitor employee sentiment related to specific initiatives, discover ratings by ex-employees or current staff at sites like Glassdoor.com and LinkedIn.com. Monitor employee sentiment at competitors and discover opportunity for recruitment/head hunting/competitive intelligence. Monitor partners and vendors. Discover core differences between existing partners/vendors and their competitors.

PR Response – Analysts at the SMCC can provide valuable and quick insight into mentions of the brand online. Response times to positive or negative mentions online can be greatly reduced by having one central research hub. In addition, the ability to quickly visualize threats/opportunities, along with ability to append valuable conversation and contact data, will greatly enhance critical PR efficiency. Monitor “watchdog” reports related to specific products at brand.

Example: Monitor specific regions and/or franchisee locations for mentions and sentiment. Develop insights for these regions/franchisees on what customers/local inhabitants are saying about those store locations. Monitor global sentiment relative to competitors – what PR issues are our competitors dealing with. Discover specific threats to the brand. Discover specific social proof (positive trends & mentions) related to the brand.

Customer Service – Customer Service is perhaps the most valuable action within the SMCC. The ability to aggregate/analyze customer sentiment as demonstrated in online conversation and respond quickly to the needs of one’s customers is greatly enhanced in the context of the SMCC. Again, a fully realized SMCC is more than just a research center. The SMCC can be populated by representatives from each silo/department. The representatives can be authorized to take immediate action on critical issues. Policies can be put into place that give these representatives acceptable parameters for action and response. The Customer Service representatives present within the early-stage SMCC can demonstrate an enhanced response time to resolving customer needs.

Example: Monitor specific regions and/or locations for mentions and sentiment. Develop insights for these regions/franchisees on what customers/local inhabitants are saying about those store locations. Monitor mentions related to specific brand products and competitors’ products. Discover venues for providing swifter service, product complaints and other online arenas where brand brand word of mouth is spreading. Recommend specific programs or amendments to existing programs at the brand.

Competitive Intelligence – The SMCC can provide insights related to activities by competitors online, and also to the customers, vendors and employees of these competitors. As a sub-set of this research, we can monitor partners and vendors.

Transmedia, OnDemand and the power of listening to audiences

By Nathaniel Hansen, CEO, The Socializers

If more Marketing Managers at Fortune 500 companies/major media companies truly understood the potential of future media delivery channels like GoogleTV PAIRED WITH “content-informing-intelligence”, there would be a mass re-organization of dinosaur-age ad/marketing agencies whose teams have yet to even train in social monitoring/intelligence tools AND have none of the talent-identification capabilities that a CAA or William Morris has. Those same Marketing Managers would then turn to social business agencies for the following process:

(a) pre-product dev intelligence gathering/listening,
(b) demographic-savvy content/product design RELATED TO what is discovered/analyzed from conversations in the social fabric of the internet,
(c) Relationship Architecting with related Social Strategy to identify ideal Key Influencers (and their content), thus paving the way for seamless and swift introduction of said content into the fabric of communities hungry for it,
(d) on-going listening that creates a virtuous cycle of this process.

The future leaders of transmedia will use the process above as just one of their approaches in expanding possibility for those who interact with media, advertisers, media/content producers AND communications entities. Transmedia and the associated processes that will bring this fabulous new way of interactive relationship to programming IS the future of CONTENT IDENTIFICATION AND PRODUCTION.

Colin Donald of FUTURESCAPE.TV says it best in the following comment on an article entitled Struggling for control: The humble channel-zapper is evolving in ways that will shape television’s futurein a recent edition of The Economist magazine:

“Internet-connected TVs lead to massively increased choice and require next-generation EPGs to help viewers navigate the wealth of content.

One solution backed by many in the industry, like Rovi, is to develop social EPGs that let friends recommend TV shows and videos to each other, via social networks or via systems which use data from social networks.
However, the implications are even more radical than your article suggests.

When Futurescape.TV recently researched this nascent social TV sector, we concluded that Facebook and Twitter are already battling for key roles in the TV industry as Internet-connected televisions transform TV into a social medium.

The two social networks have an actual or potential commercial role across the entire TV value chain.

For instance:
Global pay-TV, estimated at $250bn in 2014, needs social recommendation and discovery services because these encourage viewers to subscribe to more expensive packages and buy more video-on-demand – Facebook and Twitter are both major providers of social data.

Facebook in particular has a highly developed social graph of people’s relationship with entertainment content, from the ubiquitous Like button, integrated into many broadcasters’ Web sites. Both it and Twitter own considerable, detailed data about people’s behaviour, such as discussing TV shows and sharing links to videos.

As your article described, set-top box middleware and EPG providers similarly need social network data for recommendation and discovery – the European EPG market alone will be worth $555m by 2014.

TV manufacturers’ strategy to provide video-on-demand direct to viewers also requires social recommendation, while their connected TV apps enable viewers to interact with Facebook and Twitter on home TV sets. Facebook aims to tap the $180bn worldwide TV ad market, competing with broadcasters for brand advertising – Google TV and similar Web-on-TV systems will put Facebook and Twitter targeted ads on TV screens.

Facebook and Twitter buzz affects TV ratings, while broadcasters that use the social networks for viewer engagement are effectively sharing their audiences with them.

The social networks know in real time how people react to TV programming – this is an essential supplement to Nielsen-type viewing data.

Integrating social networks with EPGs is only one manifestation of a profound and permanent change in the television industry, a change through which Facebook and Twitter are positioning themselves as major industry players.”

The teams working on Oprah’s new cable channel and on eBook sales strategy at Bertelsmann’s Random House are contending with issues related to the new possibilities in transmedia and how to make content delivery platforms lucrative for their shareholders WHILE giving users the most flexibility in interacting with their portfolios of content. Those media publishers who acknowledge the value in being customer-centric vs. product-centric in their offering AND develop platforms that allow maximum interactivity WILL win!

To quote Ali Valdez, a senior Microsoft sales leader, “Their customers will be their marketers. Their customers’ social network friends will be their new customers. Full transparency, good and bad, will drive innovation and competitive pricing. The consumer will win. Those brands that enable consumer victory will share in the bounty.”

TO SUM UP: Combining research from tools like Recorded Future, the world’s first temporal analytics engine (a video intro to Recorded Future here), and Radian6, a leading social media/network monitoring solution, media companies now have the opportunity to LISTEN to audiences that have OPTED OUT of traditional marketing channels and are OPTING INTO new, socially chosen/recommended channels. They then are able to match valuable information from conversations within the social fabric of the internet WITH market trends and probable future events to create product/service/content offerings with previously un-paralleled precision. Existing portfolios of content may be re-purposed into countless monetizable and USER-GENERATED interactive communities.

Understanding the future requires observation and listening and it is a Chief Customer Officer who will teach this to marketing staff, brand managers and community managers.