Audience Deep Dive — IBM vs Red Hat

Nov 7, 2018 | Insights

IBM very recently laid out the kingly sum of $33 billion dollars for the open source software solutions company, Red Hat.

Strategically, it’s a smart and natural move. Red Hat will expand Big Blue’s long-standing industry-leading reach, putting them at the forefront of those emerging technologies certain to be defining IT as we head into the years and decades ahead.

As an IBM spokesperson put it:

IBM has been investing to lead in the emerging, high value segments of the IT industry. Red Hat represents the latest and largest move as part of that high value strategy. Together, we become the world’s leading hybrid multi-cloud provider. This is a game-changer for the cloud industry.

Much has been written about what this acquisition might mean for both parties. The technological and business implications have been explored in depth. StatSocial, being who we are, and our platform doing what it does, and what only StatSocial can do on such a scale and with such incredible accuracy, we’ve decided to consider this exciting acquisition through the lens of the people — the customers/users/consumers/fans, if you will — that each company is bringing to the other’s table.

METHODOLOGY: Using the StatSocial social media audience insights engine, we located tens of thousands of the most active individuals in each company’s social media audience. From there, StatSocial extracted detailed lists of those audiences’ affinities — their interests, their loves — and demographics. The insights below are only the tip of the iceberg.

PLEASE NOTE: While many of the below topics feature top 10 lists, our taxonomies for these subjects — and a huge quantity of others not featured here — number in the thousands.




73.86% of IBM’s audience is male.

IBM’s audience is nearly three-quarters male, a proportion that exceeds the average American social media audience by approximately one-and-a-half times.

While IBM may in the minds of some be seen as a manufacturer of hardware, that accounts for a small portion of their frankly huge and diverse array of businesses. Big Blue is, as ever, a leader in all areas of the IT sector: infrastructure, mobile, security, cloud computing, A.I., and on and on.

While IBM’s CEO is the estimable Ginni Rometty — one of only 24 female CEOs to be found among the leaders of 2018’s Fortune 500 — as of 2018, under 20% of those employed in the tech sector are female. This is not a matter for us to tackle or analyze in this blog entry, but it is relevant to interpreting this statistic.

We also do not bring this up to definitively state that IBM’s audience consists only of those working in tech, but naturally it will be made up of those individuals most concerned with keeping up with the very latest developments within the various tech businesses. With that said, at 26.14%, the female portion of Big Blue’s audience comfortably outstrips women’s presence in the tech workforce.

As a relevant aside, over 30% of IBM’s employees are female, with women accounting for over 23% of the company’s executive population (as stated above, starting from the very top). We may be choosing not to address the gender disparity here in depth, but IBM has surely been addressing it in how it manages its businesses.

Red Hat

85.24% of Red Hat’s audience is male.

Red Hat, by its very nature as an open source technology company, is going to attract an audience of those especially engaged with tech. Their audience is more likely developers, coders, and those dealing with the nuts and bolts.

Red Hat is in the business of IT solutions. Among their chief functions is building IT infrastructures that are adaptable to the ever-evolving challenges that IT departments will be called upon to solve. In other words, while Red Hat has a sizable social media presence, and strong name recognition among a certain segment, that group is primarily comprised of those working in tech and, well, as stated above that population is overwhelmingly male.

The portion of this audience which is male is over 85%, which exceeds the presence of men among the average American social media audience by one-and-seven-tenths times.



Red Hat

The similarities in breakdown here are striking. While both audiences find the portion which is over-indexed in comparison to the average U.S. social media grouping to be those aged 35 to 54, those age brackets are represented among Red Hat’s audience to a degree that is 7.6% greater.

The distribution in ages among IBM’s audience is much closer — from bracket-to-bracket — to being in keeping with the baseline. The portion of IBM’s crowd who are of college and/or grad school age — those of the valuable ages of 18 to 24 — account for a portion of their audience exceeding those youngsters’ presence among Red Hat’s gang by 6%.

As explained above, given Red Hat’s collaborative core ethos, as well as the similar nature of the modern-day IBM, expanding the variety of imaginations of who will be joining the former’s community can only be a boon for all parties.



Red Hat

The proportion of each audience earning under $50k a year is basically precisely the same. Being nearly 19%, it is a portion of each audience of note, but in the grand scheme of U.S. social media audiences falls short of the norm by three-fifths times.

Nearly a full quarter of IBM’s audience earns over $100k a year, a proportion exceeding that same bracket within Red Hat’s audience by nearly 4%. The quantity of those earning six figures or more among the Big Blue throngs exceed the baseline by one-and-four-fifths times.


Our demographic stats are distinct, as they deal with the social media audience under analysis in its entirety, both the portion who are engaged and vocal, and those who are lurking and/or are more subtle in exhibiting their affinities. StatSocial calculates its insights based on information from throughout the social media sphere.

To start, let’s see for which influencers each audience displays the strongest affinities. Here we can see how StatSocial can detect nuance. We know we’re likely dealing with similar audiences, in terms of the types of their general interests, backgrounds, and the industries with which they’re involved. But they’re decidedly not the same audience. Our insights can mean the difference between hitting, or at getting somewhat near, the target — maybe, and after releasing a whole bunch of arrows — or hitting the bullseye on the first shot.

Let us proceed.


We see a lot of CEOs (or former CEOs) on this list, from the tech and related sectors. Jeff Weiner — CEO of the western world’s king of the business-focused social media site mountain, LinkedIn — finds supporters among this audience to a degree exceeding the baseline by 17 ¼ times.

Red Hat

The world’s richest man, and the king of online retail, as well as a competitor of Big Blue’s as they try to up their presence in the cloud computing sector with the acquisition that has inspired this entry. This audience displays affinity for Mr. Bezos to a degree exceeding the baseline by what’s very nearly 10 times.

The contrast here is interesting, though. Prominent scientists — some perhaps more “pop scientists” than others — such as Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye pop up. but also the Dalai Lama.

Not a stark contrast from IBM’s list, but quite decidedly less “all business,” and more oriented toward tech and science.



The list features an interesting combination of businesses. The brands for which this audience exhibits the strongest affinities are company’s with which IBM has had long-standing and fruitful partnerships. Computer tech giant, Oracle, finds fans here to a degree exceeding the baseline by 81 ½ times. Digital tech consulting leader, Accenture, finds favor with this bunch to a degree exceeding the baseline by 53 ⅕ times.

As you scan down, the stalwart British accounting firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers, the consultancy arm of which was acquired by IBM — and spun off as an independent company, with its own CEO, etc. — in 2002.

Another British-based, global accounting giant — also partnered with IBM — Ernst & Young finishes off the list, sharing fans with Big Blue to an extent nearly 12 times greater than the average.

One thing that this list suggests is that when joining IBM’s sizable family of partners and subsidiaries, a company does gain the attentions and affections of those attached to their Big Blue parent.

Red Hat

As it’s pretty well established by now that Red Hat crowd is more dedicatedly and specifically of developer/programmer/coder sorts, it is unsurprising that the top brand here is GitHub, and online hosting service employed primarily to share source code. Over 30% of Red Hat’s audience favor the service, which is a proportion nearly 70 times greater than what you’d find among the average U.S. social media bunch.

Numerous partners of Big Blue are to found peppered throughout the list, but IBM itself finding favor with the group to a degree exceeding the baseline by over 50 ½ times.



While IBM is old school as a company. The establishment against which a certain competitor once positioned themselves as the rebellion, the fact is they are very in tune with technology’s cutting edge and those in Big Blue’s fan base would not be removed at all from the worlds of incubators, startups, VCs, and massive tech behemoths portrayed on HBO’s brilliant, Mike Judge created comedy series, ‘Silicon Valley.’ It is not surprising to find that a proportion of its fans exceeding the average U.S. social media bunch by nine-and-a-half times are roaming around amongst the IBM audience.

It could be contended, though, that while satirical ‘Silicon’ is also a show that celebrates the entrepreneur. ‘Shark Tank’ is a show that does more than merely celebrate entrepreneurs, it quite literally rewards them. The latter finds fans here to a degree over six times in excess of the baseline

Red Hat

A certain profile is suggested by this mix of shows, most of which are well regarded some of which are exceedingly long-running. The top show — which stars Rami Malek, who is currently winning raves, and garnering Oscar buzz for his performance as Freddie Mercury in the unexpected hit, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ — is about hackers, and “hacktivism.” A show both sort of about, and appealing to the Guy Fawkes mask crowd. Fans of USA Network’s ‘Mr. Robot’ are in the Red Hat audience to an extent exceeding the baseline by nearly 16 ⅔ times.



Red Hat

Here, analyzing the general interests of these two audiences, we see again how they are more alike right off the bat than one might guess. The IBM crowd’s interest in Java, Linux, Databases, Big Data, and Cloud Computing show where the hearts of both of these audiences lie. Data,how to more efficiently and openly share it, secure it, store it, and add to it.

Data — to the dreamer, to the artist, to the entrepreneur, to everyone — is the most powerful resource we have. The audiences of Red Hat and IBM, right off the bat, seem in sync when it comes to this understanding.



Red Hat

Again, StatSocial’s ability to sniff out the subtleties that make an audience tick precisely as it does are brought to forefront here. Very similar interests at passing glance, but the IBM crowd’s greater interest in the business of tech as opposed to Red Hat’s interest in, well, the tech of tech is again made evident.



A touch of science, much more than a smattering of news, and matters concerning business and finance — with just a smidge of science — make-up the active (by the looks of it) podcasting interests of the Big Blue set.

Red Hat

Political stereotyping is officially made an impossibility as Ben Shapiro’s and Rachel Maddow’s podcasts seem to find equivalent favor here. The two most prominent podcasts on this list relate to science, which surely seems to conform to the general understanding this initial data dive has revealed about the Red Hat audience.

PERSONALITIES (courtesy of IBM Watson™ Personality Insights)

In discussing this exciting acquisition, we’d be remiss were we to not include one of the greatest fruits of our proud partnership with IBM Watson™.

Among the vast many audience insights uncovered in every StatSocial report is an analysis of the personality types most prevalent among that group. The ability to derive these spectacularly useful and unique insights from our audience data comes via the above-referenced partnership with IBM Watson™ and our integration of their Personality Insights tool into our reporting.

Personality Insights, in the case of its application to StatSocial, processes all the public online writings — on social media, blogs, message boards, comments threads, and so forth — of those comprising the audience being analyzed. Using sophisticated linguistic analytics, Personality Insights infers the characteristics of each audience member. Starting with the widely applied Big Five taxonomy of personality traits and psyche. From there Watson™ analyzes further, uncovering needs, values, and more.

Visit the IBM Watson™ Personality Insights website for more in depth explanations.


Four of the most highly indexed personality types to be found among the IBM audience fall under the Big Five category of Openness. Characterized in the context of the Big Five as an “appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience.”

The personality traits under the Openness banner that are most predominant are Intellect, Adventurousness, Imagination, and Liberalism. In this context the first three mean what you’d probably guess, the third in the context of IBM Watson™ Personality Insights, though, does not relate to an overtly political stance or ideology. It means liberalism in the more classical sense of questioning authority and seeking freedom.

Red Hat

Based in proportions, again, the shades of the differences in priorities are detectable here. As you might guess, free thinking and individualism seem to be valued among each audience. You can’t break it down into simple “well one is more right-brain oriented, and the other more left-brained” sort of analyses. The differences are detectable throughout all of the insights we’ve provided here (a drop in the bucket in comparison to those available).

The IBM audience is creative, intuitive, disciplined, and technologically minded, but there’s a slant toward the business of it all. Managing the talent and generating the capital necessary to facilitate the innovation. The Red Hat audience seems more primarily focused on the innovation itself. This, incidentally, is why they were almost certainly worth every penny IBM laid out for them.

A more detailed explanation the personalities on the above list, and examples of how these personality traits can be translated into practical marketing applications, are viewable at the IBM Watson™ website which you can visit by clicking here.

Armed with these insights — as with all other StatSocial insights — you can ascertain to what degree your message is already reaching your desired consumer type, whether or not you’d like to be reaching a different or additional audience, and finally where in the wilds of social media that audience-type — be they more of who is already connecting with your brand, or those you’d like to sway to your brand’s favor — can be found.

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