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What is social media intelligence?

What is social media intelligence?

It’s been said time and time again that organizations get incredible value from being active on social media and by investing into social media reporting, analysis, and data monitoring. Social media is changing the business world as we know it and altering the way companies are handling their digital marketing strategies. Because of this, social media intelligence has become invaluable in business decisions.

But does looking at a chart of fan growth, spikes in likes, or other basic metrics from your online presence benefit your social media intelligence?

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Table of contents

What’s social media intelligence?

Let’s start with the definition of social media intelligence.

With over 4.5 billion social media users around the world there are huge volumes of social media data produced and requested by companies across the world daily. Many of those companies monitor that data for information that makes a difference for them, like the amount of times their brand is mentioned or what the overall attitude is toward their brand. Keeping an eye on those metrics is important - but that’s monitoring, not intelligence. We're not just talking about a list of social media posts here, it's about what that data tells you.

Social media intelligence can help dig out data on your social media activity like the number of mentions you get, the engagement or potential reach.

Example of mentions, engagement and reach figures. Source: Talkwalker, Share of voice

Pulling data and doing some quick analysis as to why things are happening, is definitely not social intelligence. Using data to critically analyze why, is social intelligence. It’s way more than just pulling the numbers and taking note: social media intelligence exists to ask why.

Social media intelligence consists of the decisions and actions that come after your initial social media reporting. It allows you to act on your insights and work toward becoming a social data driven business based on the conclusions derived from your social media reporting.

While reporting and monitoring your social media stats is important, the next step is even more crucial. Looking toward tomorrow and deciding what choices you can make (based on your social media data) that can help benefit your business in the future. Social media intelligence helps you create a central intelligence zone that can reach its tentacles into every department of your company to help them make better and more beneficial decisions. Here are a few examples of different use cases:

  • Marketing: In its most common use, social intelligence can help track the performance of campaigns, figure out which type of content works best, detect existing influencers and ambassadors of your brand that you may not know of, track hashtags relevant to you, prevent potential PR crises, and more. Social intelligence allows you to tap into billions of online consumer conversations across social, blogs, forums, and news sites in order to monitor your brand mentions. Not only using text but also in image, video, and speech recognition.. Most platforms will also allow you to perform sentiment analysis around your brand. That means you get access to a new generation of consumer insights, where you access people’s emotions and feelings. What’s a better way to know if your marketing strategy is working or not?
  • R&D: The amount of time and resource put into human-led research can be colossal. Whether you are using surveys or focus groups, research initiatives are always costly, lengthy, and become outdated after a short period of time. Social intelligence helps follow the evolution of topics, separating fads from trends to find new market opportunities. It allows you to get the full picture and make informed business decisions based on real-time insights instead of data which can become out of date.
  • Sales: Social media intelligence makes it easier to find potential business opportunities. Specific boolean searches allow you to look for groups of consumers who are discussing the type of services or products you offer. Social intelligence also boosts your lead generation efforts by helping look for communities who are discussing your competitors or asking for recommendations. They represent a great pool of prospects as you already know they have a need you can fill.
  • Customer experience: Customer retention is vital to companies. Businesses can get closer to their customers with social intelligence by listening to online conversations. It allows you to set up alerts on certain topics to detect anomalies and complaints before they turn into a crisis. It’s also a good way to identify trending discussions to engage with, giving a voice to your brand and creating that closeness without having to rely on clients ‘@ mentioning’ you, and ending up missing a question or query.

The use cases for social media intelligence are almost endless, but these are some of the most common. There are many ways in which social intelligence can benefit your entire company.

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How do you gather social media intelligence?

Now that you understand what social media intelligence is, I know that you’d like to reap the benefits for your company. Which, leads us to the next question, how do you gather social media intelligence?

Reporting on your social media data is relatively easy, especially with a consumer intelligence platform like Talkwalker. But social media intelligence is taking it a step further. Adding value to your report by adding layers of intelligence begins with thinking and asking “why.”

To begin with, you need data collected by Web Crawlers and Application Protocol Interface tools (API, for short). As you already know, this is not on its own intelligence. By taking data that you’ve captured and overlaying it with other data points, you can merge metrics and use this comparison for data. If that sounds like a swirling tornado of social media jargon, I’ll lay it out step-by-step so you can understand how to begin gathering social media intelligence for your brand.

Phase One: Listen

  • This stage is about collecting your data and organizing it in a standardized, easy-to-digest way to ensure that its manageable. At this stage, it's likely that you're beginning to understand the potential of gathering social media intelligence, but you've not figured out how to track the sentiment and conversations surrounding your brand.

Example of Sentiment analysis on Talkwalker showing how social media intelligence can detect a positive or negative sentiment around product features or a brand: here the iPhone.

Example of sentiment and share of conversations for iPhone features. Source: Talkwalker, Quick Search

  • This is where you initiate brand awareness, such as figuring out how to track online mentions of your brand, industry keywords, and competitor analysis. The best way to do this is to figure out which dashboard you should use that can give you a broad overview of your online presence. Simple dashboards will highlight key metrics and familiarize you with social media key performance indicators and help you get more comfortable working with listening platforms.

With social media intelligence you can find the number of results over time for a brand on Talkwalker.

Example of the amount of mentions for the keyword "veganuary" on social media over time. Source: Talkwalker, Quick Search

Phase Two: Start analyzing

  • When you have a stronger understanding of what sort of data you should be collecting and how it can be analyzed, you’re ready for the second phase where you’ll use the collected data for a variety of functions. This stage requires a firm-grasp on social media awareness and analytics, with employees understanding social media analytics.
  • In this phase, you will learn how to use social data to track the performance of your campaigns online and across all your social channels. Additionally, you can establish your KPIs to act as benchmarks for previous and future campaigns.
  • Here, you can begin tracking keywords that represent reputational risks and set up intelligent alerts to make sure that you’re a few steps ahead of potential crises. Additionally, you can analyze topics that are trending or use filtering to critically examine specific discussions about your products and your market.
  • To get ready for the third stage, you can begin using more advanced filters, tools, and operators to improve your insight accuracy.

Phase Three: Advanced social media analytics

  • This is one of the most exciting stages in the social media intelligence gathering process – combining the systems you’ve set in place with analysis to find correlations between data sets, insights, and using those to make important decisions.
  • Here, your social media intelligence grows immensely. Instead of using it in a straightforward data manner where it’s isolated, you combine it with other data to do a multitude of things that can benefit your business. Think about the possibilities: you could predict inventory, determine customers’ opinions and tastes based on location, track valuable information, and determine clusters of customers’ conversations about your brand.
  • This level of data usage will require you to be an expert and perhaps form an analysis group so you can get the most out of your intelligence plans and turn that data into insights.