Beyond “Buzz”: Five Key Social Business Intelligence Considerations

Posted on March 22nd 2013

Beyond “Buzz”: Five Key Social Business Intelligence Considerations

social buzz business intelligenceWith the exponential growth of social networks, an increasing number of smart businesses are recognizing that the value of social and open source commentary is multi-dimensional, extending beyond basic broadcast channels to simply shout out promotions and advertisements. Rather, these networks are robust, sophisticated intelligence sources delivering rich perspectives on a company’s consumers, markets, products, brands, industries, issues, threats, opportunities and even competitors.

The never-ending onslaught of social commentary on a business delivers a continual, complex and daunting matrix of views, opinions, attacks, praises and influence which, if captured in an accurate and timely manner, can deliver unprecedented insight across the enterprise, benefitting Risk, Legal, Corporate Communications, Marketing, Product, Brand, Insights and Innovation Teams. This intelligence delivers real-time identification and response to risks and threats, engagement of revenue opportunities and deep understanding that can drive strategy, innovation and product development for the corporation.

Organizations are also realizing that narrow, first-generation Boolean keyword-based solutions that deliver basic “buzz” or simple sentiment may tell you if your brand is “liked,” but will not typically deliver strategic insight that is actionable to innovate, grow and protect your business.

Commentary from social networks and open source channels is among the world’s biggest, fastest and ugliest streams of unstructured data. As such, enterprises serious about extracting the wealth of relevant insight from it need an adequate streaming big data solution that can handle the volume, velocity, variety and complexity of in real-time. This means having the ability to process potentially millions upon millions of comments relevant to a brand, product or business.

To ensure the efficacy of your social business intelligence (SBI) solution here are five key decision criteria businesses should seriously consider:

1. Quality: The first key decision point for an SBI solution to deliver valuable insight to your organization is to ensure the relevancy of the data; in other words, filter out the noise, spam and irrelevancy resulting in a clean stream of data. For years this has been a major focus when it comes to email, but most simple social monitoring solutions skip this step and end up processing massive amounts of irrelevant spam and noise, wasting money, time and resources, ultimately deteriorating the value of the results. In fact traditional keywords often provide results with upwards of 90% noise and 10% signal. Advancements with sophisticated multi-dimensional filter and classifier concept models have inverted this to deliver 90% signal and 10% noise, immediately increasing the quality and relevancy of the intelligence delivered. It’s the old adage of quality input results in quality output.

2. Action: The value of intelligence is greatly diminished if it’s not actionable. Relying on keyword “buzz” or sentiment to gauge markets, products or competitors from social media does not deliver the insight to impact or influence because it is not specific or actionable. You may be able to tell whether you or your competitor would win a popularity contest, but so what? It’s irrelevant if you’re unable to determine why or how the organization can actually impact the outcome. Given the variety and constant nature of social media, companies need deep insight, which is, above all else, actionable so the organization can understand specific trends and tipping points and react strategically. To gain actionable insight you need deeper, immediate inspection of the relevant social universe from advanced streaming big data technology and versatile multi-dimensional filter and classifier model networks.

3. Complexity: Today, companies need to ask incredibly complex questions to find very specific answers from social and open source commentary related to their markets, products, consumers, prospects and competitors.

“Why are consumers buying my product?”

“What decisions do they make on the path-to-purchase?”

“What do consumers like about my competitors’ products?”

“What needs in the market are being unmet?”

The variety, volume and velocity of the social commentary results in countless ways for consumers to essentially answer the same question. Although these answers may be identical in spirit, the responses can vary by age, gender, geography, ethnicity, etc. Keywords are unable to keep up with the complexity of the data give their linear nature. Companies need a complex, conceptual solution to extract answers from the complex data. The advancement of concept models allows for practically any complex question to be answered and understood in real time.

4. Speed: Getting the right answer too late is worthless. The value of intelligence is held within the speed of getting answers to countless complex questions. At the incredible pace social media moves, corporations are realizing they need answers instantly – within milliseconds. Few technology platforms today can handle the complexity of the questions corporations need answers to, let alone getting them instantly. Streaming big data hypercomputing is critical to this. With billions and billions of daily posts from social media businesses need to go beyond basic sampling to get a complete, accurate view of the relevant social universe. To do this you need a solution that can process hundreds of millions (if not a billion in the case of ListenLogic) of Streaming Classification Operations Per Second (SCOPS).

5. Expertise: Despite all the technology advancements, companies still need to consider partnering with experts who can inspect, analyze and understand the intelligence to help extract the value to a corporation. Self-service tools backed by limited capabilities will provide the “buzz,” but not the continuous, actionable insight needed to make real-time decisions or set strategy. Expert analysts also provide insight of trends, shifts and responses across other industries they are involved in to provide additional perspective to a company related to the risks and opportunities delivered to them from their social business intelligence output. This expertise serves as a valuable extension of the corporate team delivering insight, perspective and guidance.

Simply put, the flood of social and open source commentary is unstructured, streaming big data. Focusing on old-school “buzz” simply ignores the true value of actionable insight across the constant flow of consumer discussions and ultimately does the organization a disservice or even damages it with weak results. As such, companies need a robust solution that delivers immediate, actionable, expert insight from complex questions to unlock the true value of social business intelligence. Traditional keywords and narrow sample sizes are simply unable to keep up with the big data speed, amount and complexity of social media.

More and more companies are realizing that first generation “buzz” measurement tools can’t keep up and cannot deliver the actionable intelligence they need to recognize threats to and opportunities for their business. They understand that they need a solution that can keep up with the speed and complexity of social commentary to provide immediate insight with the expertise to help drive actionable, effective response.


Mark Harrington

CMO, ListenLogic

Mark Harrington is CMO of ListenLogic which delivers advanced social intelligence and threat detection to protect and grow many of the world's leading brands.

He's co-author of Social Business Intelligence: Reducing Risk, Building Brands & Driving Growth with Social Media and Avoiding #FAIL: Mitigating Risk, Managing Threats and Protecting the Corporation in the Age of Social Media.

Mark's unique expertise spans publishing to payments and education to ecommerce. He's excelled in Inc 500s like, Ecount and Infonautics and Fortune 500s like eBay, Citi and Pearson and been instrumental in landmark exits worth over a half billion dollars. You can follow him on Twitter at @mark_harrington.

See Full Profile >


Posted on March 22nd 2013 at 2:11PM

FOLLOW-UP: Is your organization leveraging social business intelligence to drive marketing, product development, innovation, etc.?

If so, what consideration factors were most important in your selected solution?

If not, why?

Very interested in your responses. Thanks.



Posted on March 25th 2013 at 12:57PM

Wonderful article, Mark. There's really no going back from social media - it's either you keep up or you lose. If you think you're doing good at the moment, don't slack off and be complacent; you have to be updated with the current trends and definitely use tools that allow you to analyze your competitor's strategy. Thanks for this great read!

Posted on March 26th 2013 at 8:05PM

Thanks Coffy.

You're right, the sheer exponential growth of open-source commentary makes it very easy for businesses to fall behind...and many are already behind because they are either ignoring what their market is telling them (intentionally or not) or only superficially listening to "buzz."

This ultimately does their business a great disservice.



inSegment Internet Marketing
Posted on July 22nd 2013 at 4:21PM

Comprehensive analytics are so important when trying to see the full picture of how your brand is perceived and discussed in social media conversations. I like the point you made about actionable insights; the ideal solution would be an analytics tool to not just present data points, but to also be intellegent enough to present opportunites and threats based on the collected data.

Posted on October 16th 2013 at 8:05PM

Apologies for the delayed response to this. Insights are really inconsequential if they are not actionable. That's the primary issue with "buzz." The ability to go deeper and have an impact on your strategy, decision-making and innovation provides incredible value.

Thanks for the comment.