IBM Starts Unit to Help Clients Develop Facebook Marketing
International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) is unveiling new software and services that help customers market and sell their products, aiming to mine a $70 billion market opportunity.
The new division, Smarter Commerce, features services such as using analysis to tailor marketing and brand assessment on Facebook Inc. or Twitter Inc. in real time, Craig Hayman, a general manager in the IBM software unit, said in a telephone interview last week.
Companies seeking the best ways to market and sell to customers are using more social media and mobile devices, Hayman said. Hardware, software and services that help companies do that will be a $70 billion market opportunity this year, he said.
“It gives you a view on your products and services and how your spend in social media -- whether that’s Facebook or Twitter or any other social media engine -- is resonating,” Hayman said.
The division will be part of the Armonk, New York-based company’s Smarter Planet initiative, which uses technology to monitor anything from cities to hospitals to make them more efficient. IBM expects the program to be a $10 billion business in 2015.
The services help companies analyze who views their social media efforts, by using Web browsing history and other information to give a picture of customers and how they behave.
“Say I have a Facebook page. What are the dynamics of the customers coming into Facebook? How many of them are buying? How old are they?” Hayman said.
IBM worked with one college that was trying to boost its global presence with social media. After analyzing the campaign with IBM, they learned people from only two zip codes were viewing the pages.
Last Mothers’ Day, IBM helped a North American retailer track who was buying its products and how. A trend popped up: Of customers buying from a mobile device, most -- and the biggest spenders -- were using Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad.
“It shows you iPad users think of their mothers quite a bit,” Hayman said. “We also could tell who was thinking of them late, tracking it hour by hour.”
The company is also working with 1-800-Flowers.com Inc. (FLWS), helping the flower-and-gift retailer track their customers’ use of the site. The service can show whether they’re looking for birthday flowers, how often they visit the site and how much they spend.
“We’ll be able to categorize all of our customers into buckets,” Chief Information Officer Steve Bozzo said in a phone interview last week. “We may actually have different promotions for the good customers.”
IBM fell $1.04 to $161.39 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have climbed 10 percent this year.
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