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3/25/2011
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IBM Intros Social Media Analytics

The cloud-based Coremetrics Social and Unica email optimization suite help businesses assess the impact of social marketing initiatives.

IBM is looking to help marketers gain insight from the treasure trove of data strewn across social networks with its release, on Thursday, of two cloud-based applications.

IBM Coremetrics Social is designed to aid companies in their analysis of the business impact of their social marketing initiatives. The software uses information that is publicly available on sites such as Facebook and Twitter to enable companies to determine the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns based on social media buzz, retweets, and other online chatter.

Also released on Thursday, IBM Unica Pivotal Veracity Email Optimization Suite analyzes email links that are shared across social media platforms, giving marketers the ability to leverage opportunities across multiple communications channels, according to IBM.

"IBM's approach to social media analytics is based on the understanding that people interact with an organization's brand in a number of ways -- including email, social networking sites, and company websites -- and the true measure of business impact demands a fully integrated view of the interaction with these resources," said John Squire, chief strategy officer, IBM Coremetrics, in a statement. "The new social media analytics software unveiled [on Thursday] will help marketers develop more targeted, highly measurable, and effective social media marketing campaigns."

Measuring the ROI of social media remains a challenge for many organizations. Although almost two-thirds of 2,100 companies polled either were currently using social media channels or have plans to do so, only 12% of respondents said they felt they were effective users of social media, according to a study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, in partnership with SAS, released in December.

"Most organizations are in discovery mode when it comes to social media," said Alex Clemente, managing director of HBR Analytic Services, in a statement at the time. "But the significant participation in the survey of more than 2,000 senior executives demonstrates how important the topic is -- and it's one they are working hard to figure out. Many executives are keen to learn best practices in a fast emerging field that represents a new paradigm."

Like its competitors, IBM is looking to dominate this emerging field, and recently formed a consulting practice to focus on "Smarter Commerce," designed to help clients address today's digital marketplace -- which IBM estimates to be a $70-billion opportunity. The new practice offers cloud analytics software that lets businesses monitor their brand's social media presence in real-time, and adapt marketing campaigns or create promotions based on consumers' responses, IBM said.

Coremetrics Social is based on IBM's Coremetrics Continuous Optimization Platform and its suite of marketing software, which uses a unified infrastructure and set of tags to support all of a company's marketing applications, reducing the management complexities generally found when dealing with multiple vendors' products, IBM said. With its cross-channel reporting and benchmark capabilities that track social marketing campaigns, Coremetrics Social lets brands evaluate their marketing initiatives' effectiveness and compare them to competitors' campaigns, according to IBM.

For example, businesses can measure how often their promotions -- and those of similar companies -- are shared via social networks, the developer said. Well-known brands can expect up to 38% of their special offer email links to be shared via social media, IBM said, with an average of 28% of these links then "liked" or commented on.

For its part, the Unica Pivotal Veracity Email suite tracks and analyzes email links as users share them across networks, giving companies the ability to identify, track, and boost consumers' perception of their brand, IBM said.

IBM announced in August it would acquire Unica, a move that was part of IBM's strategy of integrating Web analytics across channels, said Yuchon Lee, VP and general manager of IBM Enterprise Marketing Management Group and co-founder of Unica, during a keynote at OMMA Metrics in New York on Wednesday.

Marketers want integrated tools, he said. In fact, 87% of marketing professionals agree marketing departments need an integrated application suite, said Lee, citing Forrester Research information.

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