Big Data and Content Engagement – a TCBY Case Study

A lot of talk about Big Data this year and for sure, in 2013, probably a good deal of it being hyped.  Yet, Obama did win last week and it’s partly due to Big Data according to reports that have come out of Chicago.

After all, according to IDC by 2016 Big Data Analytics will be a 51 Billion dollar Industry.  It’s all fine to talk about Big Data in 2016 where adoption will have spread to many, many businesses and enterprises, but what about Big Data now – for use by us to solve our current problems?


There’s nothing like actually doing something that needs Big Data (like increasing Facebook Engagement on my new Facebook Page for Social Media for the Arts that I teach at Rutgers University) and finding out there’s Big Data tools now (even if they aren’t called by that name) that have been proven to increase “engagement” by several hundred percent.

And that’s just what happened with the Infinigraph platform and TCBY (see chart below).

Lets not kid ourselves about this 400% gain, it is repeatable and was generated mainly by picking just the right content by subject area, content type (photo, video, text, etc) and the best times to post the content for the brand/business/industry – and all that information comes with the Competitive Brand Intelligence reports that Infinigraph produces from several brands that make up an Industry segment.

The list covers several industry classifications – for example if I sold cookies and I wanted to know who else was doing well in this area I would looking to Oreo, because they got the most bang for the buck according to Infinigraph’s CBE report.  Next, you can look at the stories that got the most attention from fans as well as the other locations on Facebook and Twitter they tend to go (the Big Data part of the service – based entirely on fan behavior pulled from public API’s and processed in the Amazon Cloud).

So how would it work for you (or me)?

“…“Most young designers don’t have the resources to hire high-powered PRs or have access to important editors and stylists,” said Philip Oh, a street photographer, “so lending their clothes to friends and supporters who will get photographed is a great way to get noticed by both the industry and consumers.”

Infinigraph doesn’t have a category yet specifically devoted to the Arts, but they do have a Fashion category and many of my students are involved with some aspect of Fashion Design.

In fact, while creating my course I that Fashion Bloggers had the best opportunities of almost anyone in Social Media, as they get invited to The Runway quite a bit, and Fashion Bloggers are becoming the connoisseurs and deciders of taste.  So having competitive intelligence in the Fashion Industry, based on Big Data,  might be very useful to some people who would know how to use it, how the leverage it.

After all, take a look at this excerpt from the New York Times article on the Secrets of a Fashion Blogger.

“…. Was it only a couple of years ago that these showily outfitted swans — stylists, bloggers, fashion editors and style-struck students — click-clacked on the pavements, showing off a mash-up of vintage clothes, fast fashion and high-end labels in what used to be seen as a commerce-free zone?

Today many of them are Web icons, trotting out their finery for scores of fans. But what they are parading as street style — once fashion’s last stronghold of true indie spirit — has lately been breached, infiltrated by tides of marketers, branding consultants and public relations gurus, all intent on persuading those women to step out in their wares.”


So how could a Fashion Blogger (the type my class at Rutgers might help encourage or create) benefit from Infinigraph?  There’s two ways I can think of off the bat.


  1. Find out what content on Fashion dresses or accessories are trending and if I liked that style, try to go and wear it (or get the manufacturer to let it be worn by the blogger).
  2. Be hired to create a trend for a piece of clothing or accessory (this would come after the Fashion Blogger built their own following, first).
  3. For Fashion Designers and Bloggers to see what’s trending and designing off of similar styles and ideas – you have to move very quickly to create one-off improvements and modifications, since fashion styles change every season and determining what is trending right now, with current technology, can be quickly acted on.
I don’t recommend doing anything not in keeping with the ideas of what Fashion Bloggers would actually like (social media is all about transparency anyway), but I do think it’s possible to use sites like Infinigraph (and in another way, Pinterest) to determine where the popular sentiments are in Social Media related to what one is interested in (in this case, certain types of Fashion Designs).
So, my point here is that Big Data can optimize the processes that are already happening – sure Bloggers in this case are wearing fashion designs of Fashion Brands they like on the streets of Manhattan – but the ability to chose just the right one(s) or “create the trend” and ride the wave of it, is part Art, and part Science – the kind I teach my students at Rutgers and where we’ll even bring into the discussion tools like Infinigraph, which can aid both the Designer and Blogger when the platform can be used intelligently.
 For example, a brand like H&M that has almost 13 million fans on Facebook will tend to get certain posts about clothing liked quite a lot.  Once can either create the wave (get the right bloggers to wear the clothing), or ride it and amplify it via Social Media and Advertising – but Big Data can help be telling you what people want to see and wear – and that data is very valuable.
To end this long post – what we’ve seen with Social Media and Barack Obama’s campaign this year was the Optimization of Big Data – that Team Obama stumbled onto Social Media in 2008 and used it intelligently then, but in 2012, decided that much that was done in the past was inefficient and could be made much better,and that’s what they did.   I see the same patterns with Social Media in toto, and with platforms like Infinigraph in particular.
If the last year or two was about learning what is out there that we can use to improve a Brand awareness and following in Social Media, in 2012 and especially in 2013 it will be about seriously leveraging Big Data and Social Media, and combining Art and Science, much as we’re doing at Rutgers, in my course – where the two come together as one. 
And lets also not forget about the Social Media Measurement course at UC Irvine that will run at the same time and where NetBase is used and given to the students for free for two months.
Perhaps I’ll see you or someone that you know in one of these courses in the future.

5 thoughts on “Big Data and Content Engagement – a TCBY Case Study”

  1. Thanks Brian – how’d you come up with this site – what a find!    I’ll add it to my course next semester at Rutgers.    Fantastic idea that is implemented nicely too.

  2. Marshall great post and thank you! Please take a moment and watch this videos.   Its a real eye opener on how we approach content marketing intelligence and demonstrates its  Dr. Natalie Petouhoff talking about using data to drive content planning and strategy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>