Companies are increasingly finding that “Big Data” doesn’t mean “Smart Data.” And that difference is opening up a new business opportunity for software and consulting firms to turn big data into actionable and profitable insight.
One of those firms is 18-month-old Zoomph. Founder Ali R. Manouchehri says their platform turns “big data into little data” by enabling marketers to listen, curate, analyze, visualize and syndicate social media content in real time. With Zoomph, clients find the most relevant influencers, engage in real-time polls and create engaging and inspiring visualizations of social media content for their websites, mobile devices and other screens (e.g., football score boards, event displays and lobby screens).
Zoomph projects encompass a broad array. On one end is figuring out if social media conversations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram containing the term “pressure cooker” are about terrorism, bridal gifts or cooking. On the other end, Zoomph is increasing engagement of major league sports fans and sporting event participants. At the recent NYC Marathon, Zoomph pulled the most inspiring messages from 70,000 pieces of content captured over a few hours. These messages were shared real time with runners on nine screens located along the run. Zoomph also powers Manoucherehri’s “Iranian Voices,” a social media hub that tracked conversations around Iran’s June 2013 elections and now serves as a model for real-time social-media election polling, predictions and early detection of Internet censorship efforts.
Zoomph emerged from consulting assignments Manouchehri’s IT consulting company (MetroStar Systems) secured with the US Department of State to capture and analyze social media content related to Clinton’s Vietnam and Obama’s Indonesia speeches. Simply listening to social media was not enough; State wanted a tool to identify the most strategic — i.e., influential and relevant — social media followers before, during, and after the speeches and engage with them, whether their messages were positive or negative. The assignment produced a set of algorithms for ranking meaningful influence and a real-time content curator solution.
Zoomph’s ranking system, called Zoomph Scores, is key to turning big data into small data. What differentiates Zoomph from Klout and other influence-ranking systems is Zoomph’s ability to analyze the context of feeds the client is searching or tracking and provide real-time ranking based on relevancy and not merely reach. That means clients can use Zoomph Scores to find the best content and people to respond to, repost, etc. and which influencers to pursue for long-term relationships. Another Zoomph differentiator is the addition of visualization tools on client’s websites for sharing content and engaging in two-way conversations.
As with all start-ups in a dynamic industry, the biggest challenge Zoomph faces is “to evolve the platform as fast or faster than social media is changing,” according to Manouchehri. The Zoomph team continually refines its platforms and algorithms to further shorten the time it takes to identify the most inspiring, relevant and influential content and people. Doing so requires a flexible and adaptable culture and platform, Manouchehri shares.
I would add another challenge. As social media listening matures, it will become an inseparable part of the marketing mix. Marketers will need to decide between best-of-breed individual software solutions for marketing execution or one-stop solutions that integrate Customer Relationship Management and digital marketing strategies with social media listening. Salesforce.com’s purchase of Radian 6, IBM’s acquisition of Cognos, and Oracle’s acquisition of Vitrue social media solutions are testimony to customers wanting this integration.
Therefore, as great as Zoomph’s scoring and platform might be, the niche it plays in may weaken or disappear much as traditional advertising firms are capturing a greater share of the digital marketing niche. That means Zoomph should consider alternative futures, such as:
- Finding an acquisition partner such as IBM or a major advertising agency.
- Aiming to make its scoring system the system all social media solutions use by licensing its algorithm to others as it builds awareness and preference for Zoomph scoring among marketers.
- Picking one vertical, such as sports, and developing a more holistic solution that capitalizes on deep knowledge of the marketing in the vertical, not just social media.
All leaders must fight against letting day-to-day demands crowd out time spent envisioning the future of their category and its implications. Make sure your view of the future shapes your day-do-day decisions so that your business model remains aligned with emerging trends.