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IBM’s analytics tech will let corporations raid social networks for followers

The clever company accounts that have managed to stand out in social media based purely on merits and well-directed wit may soon become a thing of the past if IBM has its way. One of the latest patent filings to have come out of its analytics business reveals a piece of software aimed at allowing marketers to capture followings using programmatic dragnets that coldly perform all of the work for them.

The company plans to expose the functionality through a natural-language interface with the ability to take plain inquiries as input and parse that request into criteria for the underlying social search algorithms to act upon. The person behind the screen will be able to automatically look for anything from people who share a certain interest to specific social circles.

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Filtering out everyone else will enable organizations to focus their efforts on only the users with the highest chance of caring about what they’re offering, which follows the same basic idea as existing social networking tools. Where IBM’s system starts to deviate from the beaten track is in the way those users are handled once they’ve already been caught in the dragnet.

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The fact that its search algorithms operate based upon general criteria means that marketers don’t have to bother much with the individual people who make up their lead pools. If, for example, a certain person is followed because they’re in a position of influence at a company that might be interested in buying one of your products, their name will be automatically be removed from the list in the event that they quit.

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Likewise, users who suddenly start talking about that offering on social networks  will be picked up by the same algorithms and added to the lead pool.  With all potential targets automatically brought into their sights, it becomes a much simpler matter for companies get their message to the right ears, whatever it happens to be. 

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