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The use of data from large social business platforms

I was working on some data analysis for a client, pulling out swathes of CSV from Facebook and using it to create insights around the demographics and behaviour of a specific audience. Aside from having some gender stereotypes re-affirmed, we found some interesting nuggets such as 4PM being the most Facebook intensive time of the day for the audience in question.

We bounced around ideas about how far we could push this data, what we could do by combining it with commercial data etc, but a recent post I read about social enterprise apps was front of mind and so I started imagining the data analysis potential within an organisation:

"By gaining deeper insights into customer and market trends and employees’ sentiment over social networking platforms both internally and externally, businesses can uncover critical patterns to not only react swiftly to market shifts, but predict the effect of future actions"

Say for example you work for a large multinational organisation, you’ve got 50,000 employees across a broad geographic spread, and you operate in a fairly regulated industry such as finance, you could quickly imagine a variety of reasons not to adopt a social business platform; fear of change, too many legacy systems to integrate, too many potential providers offering overlapping solutions, etc etc. However, while i’m obviously far from the first person who has considered the potential for internal data analysis, I wanted to explore a few potential positive outcomes that you could use to persuade the doubters.

Identify patterns and hotspots

Imagine you’ve implemented a new Jive social intranet and you’d like to know more than the standard dashboards will allow. Like all good platforms Jive has an extensive list of APIs and documentation on how best to use them, so the world of data is your oyster. Why not:

- Work out what time of the day is busiest, and what time is quietist, and use this information to plan future internal comms.
- See which individuals are the most important nodes within the network – who holds power and sway over others? Chances are it won’t reflect traditional hierarchy.

Predict future behaviours

Given that credit card companies can allegedly use purchasing decision data to predict a divorce two years in advance, could you use internal social data to predict significant life events that may affect employees. Obviously this is tricky ground with a slew of ethical considerations, but could HR teams use data to spot employees who may be in need of help by detecting a dip in activity, or recognise workplace bullying?

Make the data public and allow customers to view it

Large organisations have never faced such scrutiny and mistrust, so why not remove one more barrier and allow them in, let them see where time is being spent and what ideas are being discussed? If the customers of a failing FMCG brand could see that the innovation team were creating, debating and investing time in new ideas, could this offset negative reactions that would normally linger. Or imagine the CEO who was able to show that he/she welcomed ideas from across the organisation – what this might do for public perception?

Make the data easily accessible and digestible by the employees themselves

Rather than do the above just for the benefit of the leadership team or internal comms, give everybody access and present the data in an easy-to-understand format. If large groups of employees feel powerless, present the data that suggests why? Are they sharing the information they need to? Are they working in imaginary silo’s?Who are the nodes and what are the patterns that they can use to their advantage?

I would be interested in other potential uses that you might see, or challenges? Let me know in the comments.



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Social Banks

Social Banks is a group that aims to discuss trends and debate as the financial services take their first steps into social media. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc..debate all here.

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