Foresight: 3 Big Things in the Future of Social Intelligence

willmcinnes
Will McInnes Chief Marketing Officer, Brandwatch

Posted on August 4th 2014

Foresight: 3 Big Things in the Future of Social Intelligence

Intelligence is one of those words so widely used that its meaning can often be somewhat vague. In fact, the definition is quite simple.

Intelligence (n.): The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

I believe that social media analytics is only as useful as the action it elicits.

What good is it knowing all about the customer that’s complaining about an internet outage, unless you also engage with that person, execute technical staff to address the problem, and update the customer when the issue is sorted out? Indeed, knowing someone is suffering and doing nothing to help is even illegal in some countries.

If you want to keep your brand out of prison, organizations need to use social media to be continuously intelligent, not only by listening, monitoring and analyzing, but by applying that knowledge gained from data into actionable strategies and tactics.

I’m going to take you through three topics: how I see the  social intelligence industry evolving right now, how to transform social data insights into actionable tactics, and talk about what the very near future holds.

1) Social data influences our biggest decisions.

In just the last 20 years, the world has changed a staggering amount in all areas - politics, business, globalization, technology, and education.

Think about it for a second. Innovative endeavours like Wikipedia, smartphones, social networks, the Khan Academy and other online learning communities in the last decade have made information sharing and peer education not just prevalent, but completely indispensable.

When searching for a new restaurant, scouring for the latest flight deals, and uncovering the truth about hotels, we instantly hit the search button. This is our due diligence. We trust the masses and their star-ratings, detailed reviews, RTs and favorites of major trending issues and stories.

Given our tendency to share our opinions online, and  “Yelp” everything, and give and receive LinkedIn endorsements, soon what people say about us will be more important than what we do.

It’s official: strangers are now influencing some of our biggest life decisions.

2) Social media crystal ball.

In just the last few years, social media has become a key pillar of brand customer service, as well as PR and marketing efforts.

But it’s not enough to know what consumers, the media, and the public have said about your brand. If it’s been three hours since they tweeted, they may have likely moved on to another gripe, topic, or pop culture phenomenon. Real-time listening and responding will only get you so far. It’s all about predicting the future.

The brands and individuals that will come out on top are the ones that use analytics and insights to see where the light lands, and not just the source and its trajectory.

Social intelligence provides the opportunity to get ahead. We need to move toward a predictive minded strategy to use analytics and data to determine “what is going to happen.”

3) Tapping into white space.

Volume, demographics, geo-location, influence. Social listening is the first step in revamping a brand’s social intelligence, but passive data needs to be read, analyzed, and understood so that it can be easily transformed into actionable physical insights that spark an action, a response, a story.

Imagine grasping opportunities on social from conversations that, while relevant to your industry, have nothing to do with your brand.

Social data analytics offers a chance for marketing and other professionals to tap into “white space conversations.” These are the industry-related online chats that don’t mention your brand or your competitors.

If a travel brand only follows mentions directly about them and their competitors, they are missing out on all of the conversations that happen about wanting to travel, the latest trends in travel whether it’s eco-tourism or treehouse vacations, and general grumblings, rantings and praise about topics related directly to their business.

The key is understanding what your audience is not only saying, but also what they might say. Using analytics to determine opportunities within online conversations can lead to a converted customer, a new business venture, or making headlines with a news story.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The development of new data technology is going to be groundbreaking in the coming year. Creating valuable new ways to look at data, compare and analyze campaigns, and providing speedy, affordable data are paramount to surviving in this aggressively competitive industry.

At Brandwatch, we’ve just launched Twitter Hindsight. This new product offering is more than just a way to provide our customers with access to public Tweets all the way back to Twitter’s inception in 2006. It’s a new resource for the tech team to play, hack, tweak and create new technologies. Social data tech companies - the game is on!

What you need to remember:

  • Social value has more and more clout; what strangers say about a brand means more than what the company says about itself

  • Tap into your inner psychic - predicting what will happen is the only way to stay ahead of the curve

  • Look at white space conversations to make the most of the millions (if not billions) of online conversations

  • Technology in social data is moving faster than ever - use it to your advantage

It’s not enough to listen. It’s not even enough to analyze insights. Be bold, be predictive, and join the race. Do it now.

willmcinnes

Will McInnes

Chief Marketing Officer, Brandwatch

Will McInnes is the CMO at Brandwatch, a leading social media analytics tech company. With offices in New York, San Francisco, Berlin and Brighton, Brandwatch provides advanced social media listening and analytics platforms for global brands including British Airways, Digitas, Whirlpool, Dell, PepsiCo and Monster.

Regularly speaking at key industry events, most recently at TEDx, Will is a frequent presence on the world stage speaking to audiences of all sizes. He is a passionate pundit on 21st century business and how the Internet is radically changing our personal behavior, our organizations and our society. His book Culture Shock, published by Wiley in August 2012, describes this emerging revolution.

Prior to joining the Brandwatch team, Will was founder and Managing Director of NixonMcInnes, an agency, which provided strategic social media consultancy to major brands across Europe including Barclays, Cisco, First Group, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Telefonica O2, and WWF.

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