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Social Intelligence – Part 1: Business Intelligence Meets Social Media

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Published: August 29, 2011

So much social media data, so difficult to make sense of it.

Enter Social Media Intelligence—“the management and analysis of customer data from social sources, used to activate and recalibrate marketing or business programs,” according to Forrester Research.

But is the insight that social intelligence provides always actionable? If not, why not?

While monitoring a company’s online presence in the social sphere is the foundation of real-time competitive intelligence, monitoring is not actionable. It is the action you take in real-time based on knowledge that you understand to be true and accurate that will give you a competitive advantage.

A vast array of social intelligence information from online conversations about your company or brand can be extracted from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

• As of July 2011, Facebook has more than 750 million active users, according to the company.
• Facebook attracted 467 billion page views in June 2011, reports ComScore, which based its data on monitoring software from two million voluntary users
• Google’s DoubleClick AdPlanner system states that Facebook attracted one trillion page views from 870 million unique visitors in June, reaching almost 47 percent of Web surfers. Google’s figure comes from sample data from Google systems and third-party research.
• According to Facebook, 30 billion pieces of content (Web links, news blogs, etc.) are shared each month on the social network, with no sign of slowing.
• Twitter reports 200 million users as of 2011, generating more than 200 million tweets and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day.

But if all the knowledge that’s available isn’t ready be interpreted and immediately put into useful action leveraging the results for competitive advantage and driving essential business decisions, then your social intelligence gathering efforts can’t be effective in improving your business performance.

Most companies and organizations take a reactive approach to social media content monitoring. They watch for and respond to negative comments and complaints. While this is necessary, there is so much more that can be done.

Taking a proactive approach and using available tools to extract social intelligence can save time and money (and in some cases avoid a crisis), improve a business strategy or campaign, lessen the need for damage control, highlight product preference feedback, provide insight into industry trends, reveal what competitors are doing, or show how external forces (e.g., government and international trade) might influence the business.

Applied in the context of today’s business environment, a company’s deployment of social intelligence involves using social media channels to maintain meaningful, productive relationships with current and potential customers, employees, partners, and any other relevant group interacting with the organization and each other.

Social intelligence is based on the concept of informing marketing and business decisions with insights found in social media data.

To get there, industry analysts say, “the technology and analytics infrastructures that mine and analyze social media to deliver insight … become essential tools within the enterprise.”

Business Intelligence Meets Social Media

Social media intelligence has its roots in business intelligence (BI)—a broad range of applications and technologies used in the process of gathering information about a business and storing, analyzing and providing access to the data to help make business decisions.

BI systems take raw data and provide an organization with useful and relevant reports and graphs that management and decision-makers within the organization can make sense of—and then use—to analyze business trends to their advantage.

Historically, corporate databases have accumulated information about any aspect of a business from employment records to corporate supplies and sales records. BI is a mature set of technologies offering deeper understanding of such data. For example, such technologies inform analysts and executives not only that the volume of sales in a region is increasing or decreasing but also point to the reasons behind such changes.

Business intelligence software (also called BI software) is software that is designed specifically to analyze all of a company’s business data, through automated processes, in order to provide a better understanding of an organization’s strengths and weaknesses. It is the organization’s BI software that allows management to better see the relationship between different data for better decision-making and deployment of resources. BI software plays a key role in the strategic planning process of the corporation.

BI software is often referred to as BI tools, representing a number of software applications that integrate to provide the means to report, analyze and then present the data. BI tools are also designed to use data that is stored by the business in any type of data storage system or data warehouse.

The types of tools that make up a BI software application solution generally include tools for spreadsheets, operational dashboards, data mining, reporting, search (query), analytics processing (OLAP), content viewer, and other components of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Often, BI software may also integrate tools designed for specific verticals, such as retail, healthcare or education.

BI technologies and functionalities can be used to interpret the wealth of information that social media produces and can deliver data that differentiates businesses, adds value and creates agile business processes.

Social Intelligence Software Tools

Google searches for “social intelligence software” and “social intelligence tools” turn up familiar names like Omniture (www.omniture.com), Webtrends (www.webtrends.com) and NetSuite (www.netsuite.com), a leading vendor of cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) integrated business management software for mid-market enterprises and divisions of large companies.

In Nov. 2009, NetSuite launched InsideView for NetSuite, a product the company called the “first entry” into what it described as the “social intelligence software” market. InsideView pulled data from social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn into its CRM and ERP apps.

NetSuite said its tool led to social media-enabled ERP systems, which can monitor the financial health of customers and partners, gauge social media “buzz” on issues such as brand reputation and customer satisfaction, help sales professionals find new customer opportunities, and improve high-end selling through social and business connections to C-level executives.

A few less familiar names also show up on Google search for “social intelligence.”

Awareness (www.awarenessnetworks.com), a provider of on-demand social marketing management software (SMMS), markets The Social Intelligence Dashboard. This tool features report and dashboard templates that help you get started with sophisticated social marketing analysis. Simple drag-and-drop functionality allow you to manipulate data like a pro, with no coding required. It combines your social marketing data from the Social Hub with non-social channels such as Salesforce.com, Google Analytics and Omniture and gives you the ability to output reports in convenient formats like Excel, Word, PDF and Powerpoint.

Crimson Hexagon (www.crimsonhexagon.com), a social intelligence company supporting media, financial services, advertising, government and public affairs organizations, markets the ForSight™ platform. Powered by patent-pending technology developed at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science, the ForSight™ platform reportedly overcomes the limits of traditional market research by delivering a real-time view of how engaged online consumers truly think and feel about a brand or issue. Crimson Hexagon is currently indexing more than 150 million social media posts per day, 4 billion per month, with 48 billion to date and growing.

Claritics (http://claritics.com), a maker of cloud-based social analytics tools, recently launched a limited beta version of its suite of tools that can help social game and app developers analyze their data and reap more money from their efforts.

Meltwater Group (www.meltwater.com), a media monitoring software company, recently bought social media search engine provider IceRocket. IceRocket trawls millions of blogs, tweets, videos and social network postings to produce real-time search results. Meltwater will incorporate IceRocket into its Meltwater Buzz product, to create what it says will be “the most comprehensive and engaging social media intelligence platform on the market today.”

Infinigraph (www.infinigraph.com)–the Ultimate Source of Social Intelligence”—provides Web-based technology based on proprietary advanced marketing automation and social intelligence algorithms to produce ongoing social analysis, influencer ranking and affinity group segmentation relating to specific brands. Under the direction of founder Chase McMichael—the redoubtable guru of the Social Graph—InfiniGraph tracks social network use to measure the strength of user connections to brands, friends and followers, as well as to help brands identify and analyze influencer segmentation, brand affinity and social activity hubs. Central components of the system include a Content Consumption Graph (CCG) and Affinity Map.

In January 2011, Digital Eye Media client Golden Spoon ran a Facebook ad campaign the incorporated InfiniGraph’s Social Intelligence analysis capability to improve social targeting based on what consumers are connected to and most active around (i.e., brand affinity). The results exceeded client expectations and made them enthusiastic supporters of the tool.

Contact Digital Eye Media for information on how to Create and Manage your Social Media Marketing Campaigns: P: (949) 900-3017; sales@digitaleyemedia.com.