Watson is back. And this time he’s analyzing your writing to uncover information about your personality. The results may change how you build strategies for tech B2B marketing.
When you last heard about Watson, IBM’s cognitive technology that processes information more like a human than a computer, it was probably 2011 and he had just triumphed over humans on the TV quiz show Jeopardy!
After defeating these mere mortals, Watson moved on. In 2013, IBM announced the first commercial application written for Watson software, and released an API for building apps and services that are embedded with Watson's capabilities.
Which brings us to the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and a new generation of genius-level cognitive apps and services. One of these, called Personality Insights, “uses linguistic analytics to infer cognitive and social characteristics […] from communications that the user makes available, such as email, text messages, tweets, forum posts, and more.” From these samples of writing the Personality Insights service intuits “cognitive and social preferences,” which help “users to understand, connect to, and communicate with other people on a more personalized level.”
Roughly translated, this means anyone seeking to learn about your cognitive and social preferences and who has access to some of your written communication can use Watson to learn ways to communicate with you on a more personalized level. In other words, anyone who has a handful of your emails or tweets can analyze samples of your writing to market to you in a more targeted manner.
As they say at Personality Insights, the service “enables deeper understanding of people's personality characteristics, needs, and values to help engage users on their own terms.”
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Let’s try it out! All you need to do is load up the live demo with a piece of your writing (or someone else’s, if you’re feeling intrusive—for best results, the sample should contain at least 1000 words) and tell Watson to analyze it. Up will pop a short summary of your cognitive and social characteristics, along with some 50 metrics that measure your personality traits, needs and values. Best of all, you’ll also get a visualization that captures these results in a colorful if confusing multi-ringed graph.
I decided to give it a test run. I ran an analysis on a rather long personal letter that I had written to a friend, filled with news of family and shared acquaintances.
Here’s what Watson had to say about me, based on an analysis of my written communication in this letter:
Here is the visualization associated with these results:
So then I wondered, if Watson is so smart, could he still identify me if I was “in disguise?” As part of my job at McBru, I regularly write materials for client personas, the online identities that represent our clients in the realm of social media.
This time, I loaded up the Personality Insights live demo with a blog I had written for a client in his voice as an IT expert at a semiconductor company. I hit analyze and thus spake Watson:
Hmm. Seems like I may have successfully tricked Watson with my persona writing—or else he’s uncovered evidence that I posses a serious multiple personality disorder.
So get ready: Technology is ready to mine your social media posts, movement, conversations, and now your writing samples to market to you in a more personalized manner. Next time you feel your cognitive and social preferences getting tickled by a marketing pitch, you may have Watson to thank.
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