What can we tell about the health of a company from social media?

sinking_ship-1Like most technically savvy people today, I have accounts on most of the major social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time over the past few years in my technical marketing and competitive analyst role at IBM trying to assess the relative strengths, weaknesses, market penetration, etc… of the key companies we compete against in the highly competitive data warehouse , analytics, and “big data” space.

Standard sources of information — websites, press releases, analyst reports, webinars, etc… — provide one view of an organization.  This is a carefully crafted publicly visible view of an organization.  I guarantee that most of this information is heavily reviewed and vetted by any of these organization’s senior level executives, product management and product marketing folks.  In other words, they don’t tell the whole story.

Over the course of my professional career, I’ve both observed and participated in another phenomenon.  High functioning teams of employees and respected peer groups often migrate from company to company in groups.   Often, this starts as a trickle and becomes a flood.   And if there are significant issues with, let’s call it the “source organization,” these early trickles of employee exoduses can serve as an early warning for those tuned in and looking for it.

In the old days, it didn’t matter so much; today, however, lots of people post enthusiastically about starting a new job at a new company, and as our social networks mature, it’s becoming easier to detect patterns.

I was struck by this this week when a handful of people I’ve worked with in the past left one organization and landed at another.   Putting on my competitive analyst hat, and correlating this with recent information I have on how one of these organizations has performed in POC activity, I suspect either product issues or company issues with the source organization.  In short, the sales engineers aren’t making money and the support folks are frustrated.

The real question is, how to use this in my own competitive marketing efforts.  And the other real question is, how can I turn this into a cool “health-o-meter” app…