Social Listening and Why It’s So Important: IBM Interview with Bryan Kramer
In early September at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Orlando, Bryan was interviewed by Scott: Langingham, Producer and Host of the developerWorks podcast show and Todd “Turbo” Watson from IBM about Social Listening. According to Todd’s blog, Bryan discusses “the value social listening can bring to your efforts and some of the tools you need to make it more effective; he thinks of social listening as the largest, greatest focus group in the world.”
Following is a transcript of the video interview. Find Bryan on Twitter at @BryanKramer
Scott: Scott Langingham, back at the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Orlando with Todd Watson. Our guest right now is Bryan Kramer, who is President and CEO of PureMatter, who consults with their clients on effective brand marketing and interactive strategy and social media, right?
Bryan: That’s right.
Scott: All the big things we’re talking about here at the Smarter Commerce Global Summit. Good to have you, Bryan.
Bryan: Thanks for having me.
Scott: Now I know some of our viewers are going to be familiar with you because you blog on the Smarter Commerce blog?
Bryan: That’s right. Yeah, leading up to the conference I blogged for the last five or six weeks.
Scott: Very cool. And we want to hear about your background at PureMatter, but I wonder if you can talk just a second about what your strategy was around that, that’s interesting.
Bryan: You know, I wish it was a deep strategy… they asked, and I said yes.
Scott: Okay, there you go. It’s simple. Crisp.
Bryan: And you’ll find that most of my answers will be that straight forward.
Scott: Wel, tell us about your background in starting PureMatter and what’s going on there.
Bryan: Yeah, sure. I started PureMatter with my co-owner Courtney Smith. We merged the agency as a traditional and interactive agency. I brought up the interactive side and she brought the traditional side in, and we built the agency with this new media model. So we’re in our 10th year of business, celebrating our anniversary here this year.
Todd Watson: Congratulations.
Bryan: Thank you. And we’re looking forward to now building in this new piece and growing with social media as part of the agency endeavors.
Scott: So it’s really grown up in this fertile soil of social media, social business, new media, all of that.
Bryan: That’s right, that’s correct.
Scott: Okay, so you’ve come right out of that.
Bryan: It’s been a lot of fun.
Todd: Well, I’m really glad you’re here because you talk to a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, which is social listening. So for a lot of people who may not be familiar with that term or with that idea, I was wondering if we could just do a quick 101 from your perspective on what social listening is and the value that it can bring.
Bryan: Yeah, absolutely. Social listening is the kind of thing that you really get out of it as much as you put into it. It’s not unlike listening to anybody in person and looking for answers as you’re discussing anything in person, or in a focus group situation where you’re trying to understand what direction a company or product or service is going ahead. It’s the greatest, biggest focus group now that I think we all have access to. The social media landscape’s allowing us to dig into anything that we want, find out what we want, and make sure that it’s achieving really one of three different things:
It could be social CRM: the whole social sales perspective and support. It could be predictive modeling: understanding what’s coming, how it’s going to work. Or just looking at engagement and saying that you really want to get some brand awareness out of it. Those are really the three primary reasons that you’re going to use social listening. And if you can figure out the objective ahead of time and really figure out then what you want to get out of social listening, it’s going to be that much better.
Todd: Okay, now having participated in, and driven some of IBM’s own efforts in this space, I can certainly attest to the fact that it changes, near daily, maybe sometimes even hourly, you’ve probably seen this as well. I mean a few years ago, the likes of you and I were probably using Google news alerts and NetVibes, and some of the early tools because it allowed us to do what we needed to do. But now we have enterprise wide social listening dashboards and engagement systems so, and I want to come back to the tools, but first I’d be interested in hearing from you, and in your discussions with clients, what’s an appropriate strategic framework for social listening to help people out there just want to get started in social listening?
Bryan: Yeah, I think the first thing is really to remain agnostic, and try to stay away from one tool or one social network that you’re going to like too much, because it’s all changing so fast, and it’s going to change again. It’s kind of like your golf swing, you want to get your golf swing down, you just get it down and then it’s time to change the grip again. The same thing’s happening with social media – where you’re looking at one thing and then something else like Pinterest takes off. So really start by using something that you can learn on, listen on…
Todd: Or walk away from if you need to!
Bryan: Whether it’s Facebook, or it’s Twitter, but eventually stay agnostic.
Scott: What drives that? And as you look at that, clearly the users jump around based on what’s hot, what’s a new technology, right? But I guess you’re pulling back and you’re seeing this bigger picture of what? I mean, why is there so much swift movement from this platform to that platform, I mean clearly there’s innovation constantly going on, but for people to feel like they always need to jump to the new platform, is it just a herd mentality and you’re just trying to be aware and realize that the herd’s being driven by new things, so don’t get all stuck with one of these platforms because they’re going to keep moving. As they eat this grass down they’re going to go find more grass?
Bryan: That’s right, I think it’s the latter, I think that everybody’s going to follow what really makes the most sense, that makes it more fun, engaging, and a better experience overall. I think that new networks and new ways of engaging, the social networks are starting to figure out what the consumer wants, and that’s really the point, the consumer’s driving the change, and we’re all changing over to something that makes sense to us, not what the social network’s saying that you have to have.
Scott: And it’s going to get familiar, so just be prepared, it’s just going change again.
Bryan: That’s right.
Todd: Speaking of grass, whenever I’m talking to my own internal clients at IBM, I usually use this analogy of using every part of the buffalo, meaning that social listening, I think, can provide a lot of value to a wide variety of constituents in an organization; it could be marketing, public relations, customer service, and support and so on. But it does require some operationalization to make that a reality. And I’m curious how you would advise IBM clients who are listening out there, or perspective clients, how they can make the most of their social listening opportunity.
Bryan: Absolutely, I could go on about this topic for an hour, but we don’t have enough time, so I’ll try to encapsulate it into really more of a concentration or focus in your governance model and looking at different steps within that.
Todd: Okay, and that’s what I’m getting at.
Bryan: Okay, so as you’re going through your governance model, the one thing I think you could probably focus on the most, that you’ll get the most benefit out of, is figuring out what the team’s going to do and how they’re going to stay integrated. So what’s your listening strategy and what’s your engagement strategy, and how can the two work best together? What’s your response strategy within engagement, what are the rules of engagement: what can you say, what can’t you say? And then how are you going to humanize the whole experience so that it’s still staying as a human experience, because we all want authenticity as we go through and work through social media. So what part of that governance plan is going to allow people to stay authentic and stay real.
Todd: Okay, great.
Scott: What are your favorite tools? I mean I know we’re talking about don’t focus on the tools, but platforms, whatever. What are you most jazzed about and where do you think the next innovation’s going to come? Thinking about that?
Bryan: That’s a great question. I don’t think that there’s a tool out there yet that does what I want it to do. So unfortunately we’re not there yet, but I think there’s going to be some key players to watch in this space that are going to definitely take point; they’re working their way there. Just IBM in what they’re trying to do and are doing with Smarter Commerce, and where they’re going to start integrating social media into their marketing products that they now have. I think that’s exactly what we’re going to see now as they move forward.
Todd: Integration, consolidation.
Scott: Do you think we’re going to have big insights, and you know deep analytical tools integrated with the actual social platforms themselves? Do you think that’s kind of where it’s headed?
Bryan: Absolutely! Yeah, it’s social 360, it’s the entire path that you really need to follow across the entire web. It’s not even just social media, it’s wherever somebody’s mentioned, where they’re talking, what they’re blogging about, what they’re listening on, what they’re posting pictures about on Flickr, there’s all kinds of media out there that’s not related to just a conversation on Facebook. And so as you look at these different tool sets that are allowing you different integrations into all these different APIs that are opening up, that’s really where I see the future is what software piece out there can integrate the best into all these APIs that are out there, and then be able to drive better analytics reporting to you.
Scott: And then even though we know someone else will invent the next cool thing, that won’t stop, it won’t be this constant shifting target, it will be about integrating it into a platform that’s more consistent.
Bryan: That’s right, and always changing.
Scott: Bryan, great stuff man!
Bryan: Thank you.
Scott: And we should do this again because like you said, there’s a good hour more of conversation here to be had.
Bryan: Thank you very much. And thanks for having me here, appreciate it.
Scott: Bryan Kramer here from PureMatter. And PureMatter.com, is that how you have it?
Bryan: PureMatter.com or @BryanKramer.
Scott: Alright. Todd Watson and Scott Langingham at SmarterCommerce Global Summit, we’ll be right back.