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API Economy Use Case Categories: #2 - Social

By Alan Glickenhouse posted Thu August 31, 2017 01:05 AM

Continuing the API Economy Business Drivers and Use Case Categories series the focus here is use cases related to Social media.  I will focus on the methodology I use to identify API use cases so you can apply this to your specific business.  As a reminder you can find industry examples for APIs across the use case categories linked here.

Social media is accessed more through their APIs than they are through their user interfaces.  Whenever you see something asking you to “like this on Facebook” or “tweet this”, behind these buttons is an API.  We also see lots of advertising on many of the social media sites and these are also placed via APIs.


As with all the use case categories we should be thinking about the consumer perspective for any APIs we identify.  The consumer for the social media APIs is typically an internal to your company team looking to take advantage of social media for your business.  Looking across all of the Social media scenarios the developer will either be taking information from Social media into the enterprise, pushing information from the enterprise out to social media, or in many cases doing both.  Once again, the key question to ask as you are thinking about APIs is: “what do they (the API Consumer) want?”  Let’s look at some scenarios for social media to help identify the use cases.


Low hanging fruit

The easiest situations and probably the ones you want to start with are when your company name is mentioned on social media.  If someone mentions your company on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., you probably want to react.  If the mention was positive, you may want to re-tweet the comment or share it further to spread the positive comment.  If the mention is negative, then you probably want to react to handle a dissatisfied customer and turn them into a proponent through your great service.  In these examples you will employ the social media provided APIs to search for your company name combined with some internal analytics or possibly Watson cognitive APIs such as natural language understanding to understand the comment.  Following the analysis, the actions may include routing the notification to the appropriate employee to handle the situation or perhaps an automated response invoked by an API.  APIs for mobile or other social APIs might be used to notify employees to take action.


Beyond reacting to what others do on social media, it can also be a conduit for you to reach out beyond your typical customer audience.  Many businesses are exposing their offerings, messages, incentives, etc. on social media sites.  Allowing the business to rapidly build social solutions and create a social presence is extremely valuable and can be facilitated through APIs that access existing enterprise systems for information.


Businesses are also using social media to become social in their communities.  Businesses can interact in communities where they do business so that they are viewed as a participating community member.


A little effort goes a long way

The next logical step is to look for mentions of your competitors.  Someone commenting on a competitor may be an opportunity for you to market your offerings.  And, adding to this list of potential items to watch for is someone mentioning for your product/offering or type of product/offering.  Any of these can trigger the same analytics scenario mentioned above.


As you no doubt have seen, companies are using your search data to advertise to you.  Because of my role related to API Economy, I see advertising on social media sites from every API vendor when I access my personal social media accounts.


Your business may already be taking some of these actions to advertise on social media.  Many certainly are.  The use of APIs beyond those that access the social media sites to quickly build new social media solutions combining this with your internal systems of record for client history, analytics and Watson, and driving action is the enhanced capability available through the use of your own API solutions.  By integrating with your systems of record you can provide a more effective response to a social interaction with quicker and at less cost.


More advanced scenarios

A few weeks ago as part of this series I covered the API business driver called “reach”.  This is about reaching new customers and new markets.  Social media is one of the use case categories that align with this business driver.  Social can enable you to reach out to potential customers who have not directly come to you.  In that blog I mentioned a concept I call the “business next door” (see the blog for an explanation).  In addition to the previously identified scenarios, you might also look for “business next door” scenarios.  For example, if you are a bank you might be interested in people who are socializing about buying a car, a home, moving to a new city, etc. because these people may need a car loan or mortgage.  Think about your “business next door” opportunities and add these to your potential targets for social engagement.


Social media shows no signs of slowing down.  Providing APIs to enable your business to build social solutions quickly (speed) and obtain new customers (reach) is a major use case category for many businesses as they progress in their API initiatives.  Next up in the Use Case Category series – “Data”.


To understand more about IBM’s thoughts on the API Economy visit the IBM API Economy website.  IBM API Connect is IBM’s complete foundation to Create, Run, Manage, and Secure APIs.  You can find more information about IBM API Connect at the API Connect website.  And you can also experience a trial version of API Connect.


If you have questions, please let me know.  Connect with me through comments here or via twitter @Arglick to continue the discussion.