Good Vibes from Social Networking

According to a report by the IBM Center for Applied Insights, Marketing Science: From descriptive to prescriptive, marketers use systematic observation, testing and measurement to study broad behavioral patterns to drill down from the aggregate to the individual, and produce new insights that can improve business outcomes. Marketers want to paint a predictive picture of each customer as an individual – on a massive scale. To do this, they will have to gather the right data about each customer by connecting social media data, transaction data and other information for this vivid picture of how to best-serve each customer.

Better Digital Marketing

Traditional mass media advertisement campaigns cost significant time and money. On the other hand, digital marketing is more cost effective and can be rolled out easily, but targeting is a challenge.

Vibes helps find that right audience by interconnecting the social networking information of those who use and talk about a brand.
Natwar Modani
Natwar Modani, a scientist at IBM Research – India has been studying social networks and social media for the last few years to put an end to this “new marketing mystery,” as he calls it. The result of his work is a tool called Vibes that empowers Chief Marketing Officers with insights derived from analyzing social interaction patterns.

Vibes helping business leaders

Vibes, an enterprise software solution still in pilot phase, helps a CMO narrow down business targets to communities that care about and participate in their industry. The individual targets in these communities are then found by analyzing their interaction on social networks, and then cross-referenced with their purchase history with the company, or information about their interests based on other social networking activity. For example, a retailer could find out past purchases of its Facebook fans to better-determine what special offers to make to them.

These online communities (such as Facebook groups) have the unique characteristic in that they have well-connected members with similar tastes. Such communities provide an alternative to the traditional micro-segments of age, gender, location or other profile attributes, (or even purchase history based micro-segments), with the added power of strong social interaction.

Vibes has the ability to optimize target selection within a community for marketing campaigns. It is important to strike the right balance in choosing influential individuals but still ensuring that the collective reach of the chosen community members is maximized. This way, the “word of mouth” effect can spread the adoption of the promoted product across the entire community and beyond.

Vibes also helps identify the right set of candidates to promote a product to increase its penetration. For example, consider a product that is already in the market and which has been bought by some members of a target community. Vibes can help a marketer find members who have not purchased the product and offer them a discount or other special offer. Also, Vibes can provide event-driven recommendations, so anyone connected to where the brand is discussed could receive recommendations at the appropriate time.

An old concept made new

Finding like-minded communities in social networks is a fairly novel concept. Ask any marketer about segmentation and they will talk about the challenge of efficacy. When talking about social networks, there is no structured approach to finding like-minded communities. Vibes finds these like-minded communities by analyzing social interactions and cross-references available member purchase history to make the perfect offer to the right person at the right time.

Natwar and his team are now running proof of concepts with leading telecom operators in India. “Marketers are looking at ways to improve business outcomes with the availability of unparalleled amount of data emerging through new devices and channels. Vibes presents a systematic way to capture and analyze this data creating a broader scope of impact. More importantly, it allows CMOs to be more prescriptive in their approach,” Natwar Modani said.

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