Facebook is releasing the hounds. Those consumers who wish to share whatever it is they are doing, when they are doing it will be able to do so – as long as the appropriate verbs can be properly conjugated and developers promise to publish actions that are ‘simple, genuine and non-abusive’. Facebook also published guidelines of what they are looking for as well as what they’re are not very fond of, which is a way of saying what will not be allowed in the approved verb list.
CMOs and marketers will want to look at these types of actions and apps on Facebook, and determine which of them are precursors to buying behavior. They’ll want to make sure that the organization is able to leverage consumer intent, which is another fast growing area.
Sentiment, Tone & Intent
When we began writing ‘ROI of Social Media’ in 2009, we spoke with Radian6 and Alterian, then leaders in the social monitoring space, and learned that detecting sentiment and tone were admittedly hard to do. Fast forward to today and talk of ‘intent engines’ that can provide automation that will look at a stream, assess the conversations and then present the most relevant ones for human assessment and intervention.
What’s also coming out of some of the latest work is an understanding that intent can be segmented into specific applications – some easier to develop than others. Intent analysis in a setting of support and service delivery is one thing, intent in consumer purchase behavior is quite another.
Intent Engines applied
The activity is migrating to one of two camps – intent for support / service and intent in sales / marketing. The Intent Engine in Service and Support provides a management tool that a manager can use to understand how the line team is doing and what commitments are being made. From that perspective, the data can be managed to provide insight on what needs the customer or client is expressing, what commitments are being made and how well follow-up is being executed. These systems will work in real time and provide relevant content quickly, holding only stats for reporting over time. The technology is coming (or is here) that will make this task pretty straight forward – I’ve seen it work and I think that service and support organizations that use the web will find the technology very useful.
Intent Engine for Marketing and Sales is a still ahead of us – maybe this year, but more likely in the next few years. The requirement in this application is to handle a broader data stream from multiple platforms and to provide a more persistent data store for the data being assessed. Multiple data streams because consumers are using multiple platforms to express their intent with textual, image and video content and persistent because in order to uncover the KPIs and expressions that lead to a revenue relationship occur over time. In order to understand the data and behavior, we need to be able to connect one comment with another during the consumers purchasing process, which may take only a few minutes in lower value goods to many months for higher value, hard goods in a B2B scenario.
From low hanging fruit to hard work
If tone and sentiment for marketing was hard, intent is going to be hugely hard. Early on we can expect the use of the Facebook verbs as an early indicator. I predict we’ll see dozens of Intent Engine providers racing to support Facebook verbs, but that’s the low-hanging fruit for an Intent Engine – the real challenge will come in the work to provide a deeper level of analysis that considers time, actions and the object of that action. Initially we’ll see broad term Intent Engines that cover non-specific jargon and popular colloquialisms. These early engines will give way to niche engines that cater to industries that have the capital to support them – energy, financial and CPG/FMCG will be likely early adopters.
Intent Engines then are coming and service and support organizations will find that the technology will greatly simplify their world and help manage commitments and resources. I’m very excited about what the sales and marketing engines will look like – that’s where the gold is I think. Once we can identify consumers on a path to purchase by their social presence, marketing organizations will the find funding that can be shown to impact the top and bottom line.