Get ’em while they’re hot!

Now what I am going to say next is going to sound really opportunistic, possibly exploitative, and most definitely calculating, which has me on the fence as to whether I should continue. Call it my Irish Catholic upbringing, guilt is built into our fabric :-)

But what the heck! Social media is all about giving people want they want even if they don’t really want it (in fact you could argue that’s what fuels capitalism) so what I am going to discuss next should fit right in! Ok, now what do I mean by “Get ’em while they’re hot!”.

Well, I was reading about a project that IBM was doing with USC Annenberg (University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Journalism) around analyzing social media associated with sports event (“IBM and USC Annenberg Using Analytics to Catch Major League Baseball Fan Sentiment on Social Media”) and it got me thinking about ways that you might monetize these insights.

Could real-time analytics of events be used to provide targeted selling?

In this scenario the critical aspect is the real-time component and this is where the “Get ’em while they’re hot” comes from. In today’s mobile world people are now able to acquire products on-the-spot in a few seconds with the tap of a finger. Therefore identifying someone’s state of mind at a single point of time presents a sales opportunity that may only last for a few minutes. For example; in the USC/IBM project the analysis uncovered sentiment around Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter and David Freese, maybe there was an opportunity at that point in time to suggest appropriate merchandising to the people in question while they were in this euphoric state. Now this is where I start to feel a little uncomfortable since this does start to look like taking advantage of someone’s emotional state to allow them to make an impulse buy.

So while real-time analytics does present some really interesting retail opportunities — a whole new approach to selling? — it would also require an element of responsibility on the part of the sellers and maturity on the part of the buyers. Otherwise we will have lots of unwanted Chris Carpenter and David Freese t-shirts out there :-)

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