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Date:23/06/11

Social network data mining yields worrying results for traditional media

Data mining of social media results is overturning some of the established truths about addressing an online audience, and showing a need for greater cooperation between IT and marketing.
According to data from Accenture's newly released Social Media Engagement Manager software, which measures activity and engagement on sites like Facebook and Twitter, internet users are much less likely to respond to broadcast marketing, rather than via social networking engagement - provided it is done properly. "When you take a traditional media item, like a link to a Superbowl commercial, then feedback from TV viewers is very high, so the cost of the advert is high," Kelly Dempski, director of Accenture Technology Labs told V3.co.uk. "But if that ad is posted on social media then response rates are much lower than if you asked readers a simple question. We still have the mindset that the stuff we understand is broadcast media, which shouts at you, but people like to talk and engage online."
The science of engaging with customers via social media is still in its infancy he said, the equivalent to website analytics a decade ago, and much closer cooperation between chef information officers and chief marketing officers was needed to make modern social media strategies work. Marketing needs to craft message he said, but IT needs to advise on the mechanics of delivering it.
For example, he found in many companies that the person representing the firm on social media had little training or guidance, and put out posts as and when it suited them. By using data mining to analyse the results from earlier messages, Accenture's software can now advise on the best format to reach a target audience, when they are most active and how to stimulate a response.Applications have proved the most effective form of analytics tool. With Facebook, very few potential customers make their profile public, and even if someone is a fan of your page there is still limited information that can be gathered. But is the user allows an application access to their account, then the data that can be harvested is very rich he said.
At the same time the costs of using social media are very low, and this allows companies to reach a broad range of people and engage them without major spending on traditional media campaigns. If done correctly, social network marketing can be highly effective he said, and people generally didn't find it invasive."There are a lot of headlines about Facebook and privacy, but half a billion people don't seem to care," Dempski explained."There's a vast difference between the buzz about social networking privacy and what people actually do."
The Accenture software can be augmented with Twitter feeds, but looking ahead additional modules for forums such as LinkedIn could be added. Machine language recognition was however a step too far at present he said. While language recognition in software was progressing, it can't as yet beat the human brain.



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