How do Red Bull, the Hershey Company and Intel turn big data into competitive advantage?



Yesterday the Newhouse public relations department, W2O Group Center for Social Commerce, SU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, and Hill Communications welcomed Chuck Hemann, group director of analytics for WCG, to Newhouse for a presentation on big data and competitive advantage.  The talk was a part of the Newhouse-W2O Group Social Commerce Days.  Hemann’s presentation was a success, filling the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium and trending nationally via #NewhouseGLDSM.

Prior to working with WCG Digital, Hemann was the vice president of digital analytics for Edelman Digital and the vice president of digital strategy and analytics for Ogilvy Public Relations.  He is the co-author of Digital Marketing Analytics: Making Sense of Consumer Data in a Digital World, set to come out in May 2013.  He wrote the book with Ken Burbary, chief digital officer at Campbell Ewald.  Hemann said they wanted to give marketers and communicators more of a digital analytics roadmap.  The entirety of the proceeds from the book are going to two charities, including Superhero Kids, who provide funding for the Children’s Blood and Cancer Center of Central Texas and enhance the quality of life for patients and their families during treatment, and the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association (RSDSA), whose mission is to provide support, education, and hope to everyone affected by CRPS/RSD while they drive research to develop better treatment and a cure.

We had the chance to sit down with Hemann before his presentation and discuss big data and competitive advantage in more detail.

Q: What is social commerce?02f0ff5

A: Definitely not selling over Facebook, Twitter, or any other social channel.  It is really about informing people as they are becoming aware of a product or brand.  It is “being in their face” when they are making the assessment, being present when they are making the action, and developing ambassadors.  If you are representing a large brand, there is no way you can possibly interact with everyone involved.  You have to deploy ambassadors. 

Q: In a few words, how do Red Bull, the Hershey Company and Intel turn big data into competitive advantage?

A: Basically what I do is understand how consumers behave.  I am trying to help them understand how consumers talk, interact with each other, what kind of keywords they use, etc.  Communications and market research are changing, but at the end of the day, nothing is different from what we have always done.  We are trying to understand behavior to influence and change behavior. We have more data now than we have ever had, and this makes communications decisions a lot easier.

Q: Where do you see social media going in the next few years?

A: I’d probably see it as pretty similar to today, but there will be more tools that emerge in the landscape, as well as some tools that will disappear.  The importance of social is not changing at all.  It is becoming more important as it becomes more mainstream.

Q: How far do you think communications professionals should take their education in social media?

Not far.  It is more important to know the basics in social media. The best communicators are business people that landed in marketing or communications.  Understand the business end, and it transcends into social media.  99 percent of your job is coaching clients on and coming up with content, and interfacing on so many different levels of the company that communicators never really dealt with before.  Be a businessperson first and a communicator second.  It is easy enough to learn how to post on Facebook, but knowing the business as well as you can is extremely important.

Q: What do you hope students take away from your presentation?

A: 1. They have the ability to target communications better than they have ever been able to before.  Students are missing a golden opportunity if they don’t take advantage of that data.

2.  Use the tools, know how to manipulate the data and present and work with it outside your four-wall cube.

3. You have to know how to interface with the data and insights.

Q: Do you have any advice for Newhouse students?

A: Please send me your résumé.  But in all seriousness, school teaches you a lot.  The more practical experiences you have, the better.  If you don’t have that, it makes it very difficult.