Lynne d Johnson



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10.02.13 01:23 PM

Moving Beyond Social Listening To Social Intelligence

[Image Source: Keepcon]

Before planning any communications strategy nowadays, it's very important to begin with true audience insights. While demographic data still proves useful in developing an overall strategy, it will be those rich, deep, and often even real-time insights that communications and marketing pros utilize to help their clients stick out from the pack and get heard in the never-ending sea of constant chatter. As consumers become more empowered by technological tools and social media platforms that enable them to insert themselves into the brand narrative and conversation, it is becoming increasingly important for brands to listen in.

Some brands are honing in on this fact. Dell launched its global command center as far back as 2010, as a means of monitoring the customer conversation and providing customer support globally through social media. What started out as brands simply monitoring conversations to track:

  • sentiment
  • share of voice
  • conversation mapping
  • volume/reach, and
  • influencer and advocate identification;

quickly turned into brands and companies like Gatorade using the real-time data they gather to adjust and optimize marketing tactics and surprise and delight fans by giving them something extra, like free music or real-time interaction with athletes. Other companies utilize the listening data to help shape messaging, like MasterCard did with its command suite and the announcement of its MasterPass digital wallet at Mobile World Congress, after learning that early adopters were frustrated by their point-of-sale experiences and perceived lack of customer support and non-adopters cited security and confusion as core concerns. And then there's Nike, a company that in the past has used social media to drive sales conversions and even build new products with consumers as co-creators, just recently bringing its listening and community management in house in order to gain a deeper understanding of its consumers. While the activities of social analytics and monitoring going in-house with brands taking fuller control of how their insights are gathered and used is on the rise, it's definitely not the norm.

Social listening and the road it paves to big data is now a core marketing activity, and with all of that activity the CMO is destined to outpace the CTO/CIO on IT spend in the coming years.

Before taking the dive though, it's important for brands to have a clearer sense of:

  • what are we listening for?
  • who are we listening to?
  • what is an insight?
  • where does listening belong (how do we staff for listening)?
  • how do we allocate resources to listening?
  • where is the statistical rigor (what is the difference between social media monitoring and social research?)

Social listening is about so much more than simply knowing what's being said and being able to listen, act, and engage to develop an effective strategy, you must know who these people active in the conversation are. Sure, it sounds like a daunting and fruitless exercise, but it's important to know who is shaping the conversation. In order for social media monitoring to move from simply listening to developing actionable insights, brands need to start integrating other data sets and layering them with social to get a fuller picture of their intended audiences.

If a brand wants to know if their followers are actually their intended market, and that they people talking about them are who they really want to reach, they'll be some additional demographic mapping necessary to get to a deeper level of understanding. Going beyond demographics, the "like" is now the new intent. As the hub of a consumer's interest graph, "likes" "ReTweets" and anything similar on social platforms offers insights into people's brand affiliations, interests, and most talked about topics. Building apps and programs that leverage this type of data will offer brands deeper insights. The next level, where we get on the road to social intelligence, is integrating social data with customer and transactional data to make a better correlation between social media behaviors and actions. And finally, all business units must work together to bring all of this understanding together so that the business is deriving the most value from the customer data.

posted by lynne | |


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