IBM: Create, Listen, Interact, Measure

Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010 at 10:22 am by Engine Communications recently featured an interview with Ed Linde II about How IBM uncovered “Millions of Dollars” Worth of Sales Leads with Social Media. It was a great interview, and I think that considering a few of Linde’s comments in more depth will add even more value to the interview.

Based on my reading of Linde’s respondes, I’ve extrapolated a lot about how one should be spending time in social media for maximum profit results.  It is important to note that taking this type of content strategy would definitely take more than one person on a social media team.

Content Creation

Linde made an interesting distinction between social media marketing for companies who are B2B or B2C. He mentioned that for B2C, as a marketer you are looking to stimulate interaction and collaboration between participating individuals.  A perfect example of this is the Doritos contest, for which the organization encouraged input from consumers in their creation of a new mystery flavour.

With B2B, on the other hand, you want to create “subject-matter experts”.  These experts provide information in a particular area that people are eager to learn more about, and this knowledge becomes the foundation for making educated business decisions.  A case in point is this blog!

It is crucial to learn how to create web content that adds value to people’s lives.  Ed Linde II’s advice helps those new to this medium to visualize their ideal end goals, but getting there isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers. It takes a lot of thought and time to create a space where people are interested in constantly coming back and interacting.
You may be surprised, but this is not even where you should be spending most of your time!


A key element to Linde’s strategy is listening. In fact, listening should take up most of your time. It can help you get a grasp on the current buzz, lead/sales generation, benchmarking your competition, customer service, or even a potential crisis.

For example, IBM created a program called “Listening for Leads”, in which they assigned volunteer “seekers” to listen to conversations on particular social media sites in order to determine whether there were potential sales opportunities.

Linde stated that the “seekers” are always looking for comments like, “I’m looking to replace my old server” or “Does anyone have any recommendations on what kind of storage device will work in this in type of situation?” or “I’m about to issue a RFP; does anyone have a sample RFP I could work from?”

If you are thinking about adding Listening to your social media strategy, here are some places to start:

Possible Listening Solutions:

Google Alerts: Gives you insight into the latest results discovered by Google over a variety of channels.  You can keep tabs on key words found in the news, blogs, web pages, comments, Google Groups, etc. Basically, when Google Search knows, you’ll know.

Technorati: As far as blogs go, I wouldn’t say Google Alerts is perfect. Technorati is a blogosphere search engine that can definitely give you insight to what opinion leaders are saying about you.

Twitter Search:  You can find a ton of leads on people discussing your area of interest. The trick is to search and monitor the right key words.

Radian6: Is without a doubt the most powerful social media monitoring tool on the market. The tool provides information from a plethora of social media channels including blogs, forums and social networking sites. It uses your keyword searched information and assesses it through powerful analytics and graphical representations. This is a great solution for larger companies; the price tag may be a little high for small businesses.

Trackur: I am not too familiar with this tool but at a price under $200 a month, the tool provides insight on dozens of social media channels. It seems relatively simple to understand.


A good chunk of time in social media will be taken initiating and responding to people on a variety of social networks including your blog, twitter, facebook fanpages, etc. For these responses to be effective, it is important that your “content expert” not act like a salesperson. Linde concurs by saying that, “Most people go to these sites and want the expert to be like a professor and to be as unbiased and antiseptic as possible.”


You will want to spend the remainder of your time tracking and measuring your social media initiatives, for which there are a variety of soft and hard metrics.  Take a look at your objectives and choose a metric that will be useful for measuring your successes.
IBM used sales leads identified.

“We measure against number of sales leads identified. And we rate the lead value from those leads. Then the win revenue and win rate. So there are four key metrics—number of leads created, lead value, win revenue and win rate.”

What are your thoughts about breaking your time down into these four sub-sections?

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