Language is the holy grail of artificial intelligence. When we imagine sharing a world with smart machines, we don’t think about logic, or problem solving, or winning at chess. We hear HAL-9000 declining to open the pod bay doors, and the Terminator saying he’ll be baaack. Researchers have been working on building computers we can talk to for 60 years; in the 1990s, Bill Gates predicted that speech would soon be “a primary way of interacting with the machine”. So why aren’t we talking to our computers yet ….Or are we? Thanks to new developments in human language technology (also known as “natural language processing”) and text analytics, computers are analyzing everything from e-mail and tweets to clinical records and and speed-date conversations. How does the technology work, when does it work well (and when not), what’s it doing for us, and where is it headed.
Our senior data scientist, Jason Baldridge will be presenting.
Here are three ways to create differentiated and compelling content, that you won’t find mentioned in blogs about content marketing:
1. Web Apps
Build a unique and compelling web application to drive ongoing, evergreen traffic to your property. Common examples include a dealer locator on the web site of a tire manufacturer, but that is somewhat obvious. If you really want to differentiate your brand, create an application that no competing brands offer, like, oh… I don’t know… maybe an online database of social media policies — a simple example, but that page has generated thousands of visits per day for three years.
What kind of web app could you create to give your customers something of value, establish a relationship based on trust, and keep them coming back? Bonus points if you build it atop an asset that your competitors do not possess.
Do you know the attributes of your content that generate the greatest engagement or sharing? Most brands don’t. Most brands outside of the media industry don’t think about it at the level required to optimize content development at large scale.
3. Intent Research
When your marketers, or SMEs, or agency staff are writing content for the brand, they should have ready access to the latest search trends and conversation insights to understand the language that online audiences are using at that time.
Most use cases do not require the information in real-time, up-to-the-moment, but many campaigns would benefit from daily updates, if not weekly or monthly. When was the last time you wrote a press release whose keywords were informed by SEO and SEM goals, and the latest search volumes on those keywords? These tools and approaches iare growing more widely understood and blogged about, but almost no large brand is executing it with consistency.
Chris Boudreaux leads Converseon’s Strategy and Measurement practice, which designs and delivers social and digital measurement and content optimization services to global brands. Follow Chris on Twitter, or email Chris to continue the conversation.
2011 was a whirlwind here at Converseon. After more than doubling in size in 2010, our mission in 2011 was to focus on stabilizing and evolving new “socially-intelligent” solutions — products and services — that will come to market in 2012. In fact, we nearly doubled our technology spend in 2011 purposefully to build the robust infrastructure and technologies needed to help brands leverage social media to meet business objectives. Some of these are now in beta and others will be coming soon. On the services side, we doubled down on our talent and solutions — and expanded our offerings especially in the area of creative and social CRM consulting. In short, it was a time of great metamorphosis as we again challenged ourselves to evolve ahead of the marketplace and meet the needs of market as we move into 2012.
In fact, while we celebrated our ten year anniversary — and was cited by Shel Israel as the industry’s first pure play social media agency — we believe 2011 represented some of our most significant evolution internally. We did so because we see 2012 as the year of “social rigor” and have evolved our technologies and solutions in a manner to uniquely meet these market demands.
What is “social rigor?” In our experience, 2007-2011 represented a time significant experimentation at brands in social. The approach was often to seed the garden, see what took root, and let it grow, pilot, evolve and do so again. The result for some is messy gardens and far too unclear, in many cases, impact on business outcomes. This isn’t surprising, as it mirrors very much the earlier days of digital. But those days are coming to an end, quickly.
Santa’s bag is going to be full of iPhones and iPads this year, judging from the products people mention in tweets with the #DearSanta hashtag. Converseon pulled all of the tweets between 12/5 and 12/12 for a total of 10,680 messages. In these tweets, 25% mention a specific product by name in a positive manner for a total of 2,670 free consumer endorsements. Electronics was the most frequently mentioned product category, and Apple was the most frequently mentioned brand.
- Microsoft Xbox was the most frequently mentioned video game system, and Microsoft the second most frequently mentioned brand.
- Samsung’s Galaxy tab also had a strong showing, appearing in around 4% of #DearSanta tweets — this is the same number of tweets that mention the iPad.
- 40% of #DearSanta product tweets mentioned electronics products.
- Around 20% of #DearSanta product tweets mentioned apparel products.
- Shoes were the most frequently mentioned product type in the apparel category.
n = 800, confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of +/- 4%
Customers are normally the best sources of product and marketing ideas*, and social media are perfect for harvesting those ideas, every day. In fact, one Converseon client recently used our social media research to dramatically improve campaign performance, simply by understanding how customers wished they could use the product.
Simply stated, they recognized a trend in real — and imagined — product usage, then tailored their marketing messages to fit customer beliefs and needs, in real time.
For example, see the following chart, which summarizes disguised conversation data pertaining to a technology server product shortly after its release to market:
At product launch, the server’s manufacturer promoted the server’s superior performance in business applications, such as retail analytics and cloud computing. During the campaign, our research found that customers were attracted to the server’s role in cloud computing, but expressed less interest in retail analytical applications. Instead, many conversations focused on the server’s reliability in data protection.
Recognizing the conversational trend, the brand adapted its marketing messages with significant improvement in the performance of the campaign.
In addition to improving campaign performance, social media research has helped brands understand how product applications evolve over time, as input into product development.
Learn how to use social media research to improve campaign performance or generate new insights for product development.
* “Re-invention”, as coined by social scientist Everett M. Rogers in his book, Diffusion of Innovations.
A company’s social media policy should support the unique qualities that make the company successful. In fact, the elements of a successful social media policy must exist in concert with the unique culture and business context of any organization.
In Apple’s case, secrecy has been a critical key to success. While many social media pundits claim that Apple should be more open, very few of those people are running billion-dollar corporations, and the notion that all companies should apply the same level of “open-ness” is, at best, over-simplified.
Comparisons to other technology companies abound, but that just makes no sense. Those companies and Apple take completely different approaches to differentiation, which has led them to create very different cultures. They also rely on different business processes to create growth and value. Many are well-run and highly successful, but for very different reasons.
And those differences are the keys to understanding why they use different social media policies.
The chart above shows the business factors that companies should consider when developing an effective social media policy (which I published in The Social Media Management Handbook earlier this year).
Chris Boudreaux leads the Strategy and Measurement practice at Converseon and created SocialMediaGovernance.com to help companies govern social media, including the largest online database of social media policies. You can Contact Chris on his web site, or by email: cboudreaux [at] converseon-dot-com.
On November 9, Converseon’s lead scientist keynoted the Sentiment Analysis Symposium in San Francisco. It was my first Symposium event organized by Seth Grimes, and I was impressed with the quality of speakers and content. It was one of those that effectively bridged academia with practical business applications.
While we talk a lot about how to make social media drive business results in our communications and white papers, we have not often dwelled deeply into the science behind our social intelligence technology, Conversation Miner. Behind the scenes we have had a team of PHDs, including Dr Resnik, when he’s not attending to his professorial duties at the University of Maryland working hard on these problems.
As a wide range of academics, researchers and forward leaning brands discussed at the conference, the challenge of how to understand this vast unstructured social conversation to finding meaning and insight is one of the great technical challenges of our time. It is also perhaps one of the most profound. The implications of not just capturing — but understanding — this conversation for brand management, advertising, customer service, R&D and more is only now starting to become realized.
In a webcast yesterday with Bulldog Reporter’s PR University, my fellow presenters and I discussed interesting ways that brands should consider using Google+ today. It was an engaging and educational session with social media practitioners of different backgrounds giving their two cents on Google+, including the following five tactics I suggest brands consider today:
- Reach new audiences
- Create content experiences
- Position yourself as thought leader or trusted advisor
- Improve your SEO
1. Reach New Audiences
Users don’t need to bring their friends to enjoy Google+. On Google+, users can seek out topics and then discover interesting conversations among strangers with similar interests. In that respect, it is more like Twitter than Facebook: Facebook has no value without your friends. Therefore, Google+ should be a good place to find and engage new audiences who may not know about you today.
2. Create Content Experiences
People who use Google+ are not looking for an alternative to Facebook. They want a better experience on Google properties. Create more content that engages and facilitate conversations around your content.
For this year’s Video Music Awards and Emmys, online conversation volumes predicted the winners for 4 of 7 VMAs and 6 of 14 Emmys. Converseon monitored online mentions of each nominee from the time nominations were announced to the day of the award ceremonies, then looked for correlations between conversation mentions and awards.
MTV Video Music Awards
Social media volume correctly predicted (1) Video of the Year, (2) Best Male Video, (3) Best Female Video and (4) Best Pop Video.
Of the top fourteen awards, social media volume correctly predicted (1) Outstanding Drama Series, (2) Outstanding Comedy Series, (3) Outstanding Reality Program, (4) Best Actress in a Comedy, (5) Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, and (6) Best Director of a Drama.
In addition, Converseon researchers have also developed a methodology for measuring customer satisfaction through online conversation mining.
Google announced today that searches by logged-in users will be securely sent over SSL encryption. Therefore, Google will no longer send the query terms in the referrer data to analytics tools that analysts use to understand the keywords sending traffic to their site. If you’re not using Google Webmaster Tools, you will no longer know all of the keywords bringing people to your website from searchers who are logged into Google when they search. This is potentially a big problem for folks relying solely on enterprise analytics solutions.
While Google says they are focused on protecting user privacy, the change clearly forces everyone to use Webmaster Tools and decreases the value of paid analytics solutions because they will no longer be able to collect as much data as they did before.
If you have not verified your website through Webmaster Tools, do it now.
It is only a matter of time before Google incorporates Webmaster Tools directly into Analytics. Until then, marketers will have to pull a portion of their search performance reports from Webmaster Tools.
Now that Google, Twitter and Facebook implemented SSL this year, privacy advocates will likely expect the same from Bing and Yahoo.