TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

New Tool Tackles Analytics of Your Competitor's Social Media

Social media analytics is an incredibly powerful tool for marketing. Believing that is easy. Making good on it is something else entirely.

Say it with us: Social media is a powerful tool for marketing. Analytics is a powerful tool for marketing. Social media analytics is an extra powerful tool for marketing.

Saying it's the easy part. Making good on it is something else entirely.

Adhark, a Boston-based streaming marketing start-up, claims it has just the thing: Cuckoo, a free "task advisor" for marketing professionals. What's a task advisor? Adhark founder and CEO Jehan Hamedi describes it as an interactive tool companies can use to fine-tune their digital marketing efforts -- particularly their social media marketing.

"We're kind of solving a few different problems [with Cuckoo], but fundamentally the impetus here was that there's no easy way to figure out what you should change about your [social media] marketing," says Hamedi. "I've been thinking about this problem for a while, and it seems to me that the best strategy is to use publicly available consumer data to get marketing answers from the very people you're trying to reach. The concept of a 'task advisor' was born out of this."

An organization of any size can use Cuckoo to identify, refine, and reach a target market segment.

Here's a hypothetical example: a regional,craft soda company -- let's call it Carbondale Soda Works and say it's based in Carbondale, PA -- decides it wants to establish or broaden a foothold in the Midwest.

Thanks to the prevalence of e-commerce, it's easier than ever for Carbondale Soda Works to ship product anywhere in the contiguous United States. Marketing is the hard part. Social media has the potential to do for marketing -- especially digital marketing -- what e-commerce did for business, but most small and midsized companies will probably need more than a little help.

Enter Cuckoo. A marketing analyst with Carbondale Soda Works only has to point it at a rival company's social media presence (on Twitter, Facebook, and in other contexts) and let it do its thing.

Cuckoo's "thing" involves sucking up and analyzing everything that (in this case) a dominant regional soda company does on social media. Based on Cuckoo's analysis of, say, Chicago-based rival Naperville Nectar, it will recommend tactics -- keywords, key influencers, even color schemes -- that Carbondale Soda Works can use to maximize its engagement with Naperville Nectar's audience.

Hamedi explains, "It's looking at what they're saying, how often they're saying it, even what images they're using. I've built some visual analytics [into Cuckoo] so that it can detect the kinds of colors [a competitor is] using. If you want to go after a more outdoors-y segment [of a market], you can augment [your analysis] by using REI as a proxy."

In other words, you can use Cuckoo not only to figure out what your competitors are doing on social media, but to target specific segments of a potential market: in this case, by analyzing the social media presence of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI). Maybe Naperville Nectar isn't even targeting outdoors-y types, but Carbondale Soda Works' market research says they should be.

Under the covers, Hamedi continues, Cuckoo is performing behavioral analytics, image recognition and analysis, and text analytics, as well as "some network analytics." Over time he says Adhark plans to incorporate decision-tree and machine learning algorithms into Cuckoo, too.

"What we're doing is we're aggregating and analyzing public consumer data around the user accounts and the behaviors of their audiences," Hamedi explains. "Once we ... harvest a bunch of information about the users who are following and interacting with [the target soda company], we're running our algorithms on top of the social data ... and then we're also explicitly tailoring our recommendations to optimize for what will generate the highest 'social value.'"

"Social value," he explains, is Cuckoo's measurement of your popularity. "It's based on the success of your recent posts and the quality of your other content that's shared by your target audience," he explains. "One of the most powerful things about social media is that it's hands down the best tactical way to reach any targeted audience. In many respects, however, social media has an image problem -- it's 'too hard,' it's 'something only millennials can use.'

"From my perspective, that's not true. Social is a marketing channel for everybody. Not only that, it's something that levels the playing field. Smaller companies have access to the same consumer data that the larger companies have access to. They just need help making use of it."

Right now, Cuckoo is available free, albeit with some restrictions. "As far as the free product is concerned, one of the things that we have limited is the number of targeted audiences you can request per day. It's limited to three in the free version," Hamedi explains.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at evets@alwaysbedisrupting.com.


TDWI Membership

Accelerate Your Projects,
and Your Career

TDWI Members have access to exclusive research reports, publications, communities and training.

Individual, Student, & Team memberships available.