May 17, 2023

Vox Pop: “I’ll know social intelligence has come of age when…”

Date & Time (GMT):
May 17, 2023 12:47 PM
Date & Time (EST):
May 17, 2023 12:47 PM

We asked some senor industry players to tell us when they believe the field of social intelligence and social data research will move into the mainstream of business thinking. Here is a selection of the best responses…

Nayeli Tusche, Senior Innovation Researcher & Service Designer, HYVE

Firstly, when the qualitative part and the quantitative part of social media/data research become equally important in the minds of data analysts, data scientists, market researchers, innovation managers, and senior managers. These stakeholders need to acknowledge, research and use qualitative insights from social sources instead of only focusing on quantitative results and keyword stats…because fresh, non-obvious and actionable insights rarely come from sophisticated metrics, graphs, curves, diagrams, bars or statistics…

Secondly, when the incorporation of social-data-driven insights into the innovation process of each company has become common practice. Like…you wash your hands before meals, right? Of course! You fasten your seat belt when you get into a car? Naturally! Well, the time will come when corporations and entrepreneurs alike will always and systematically include social-data-driven research results into their innovation process but also before making any user-centric decisions.

Finally, when there is a global consensus on ethics concerning social media research among business-, scientific-, academic- and hobby-practitioners as well as data protection officers, critical minds, philosophers, journalists, and the law. (Thank you to my brilliant colleague Aurelie Jamard for chatting this topic through with me.).

Anna Zaikina, Head of Social Media Insights, DMS

...when it is part of an integrated business strategy with the data-driven mindset at its core. By that I mean social data insight being embedded into existing workflows or being the basis for creating a new one.

Implementing a process in which there is a suitable technical solution and integration with other data sources, the analytical expertise with an in-depth understanding of the business to interpret and present findings, and visibility amongst the key stakeholders is when social data gets to a point of making a true impact. I have worked with multiple clients within the film industry that have recognized the power of social data as a key informer of their strategic, creative and financial decisions which has been extremely rewarding.

Jim Reynolds, Head of Global Alliances, Socialgist

Though this will likely come off as a rant, I’ll know social intelligence has come of age when we stop using word clouds! They suck, they will always suck, so please just stop. It’s a standard feature in every single tool I’ve seen, usually displaying the words in some horrid comic sans font and a range of pastel colors. Counting words without drawing any real correlation of time-based engagements does nothing of value for anyone. Innovative: NO. Unique: NO. Lazy: YES. <end rant>

Jeremy Hollow, Founder & MD, Listen & Learn Research

1. ... when social data is no longer seen as only 'belonging' to social media. There's a tendency to think of social data as only being useful for understanding social activity. I think this has come from the brand/agency imperative to measure where the money's going and to watch their reflection in social.

This misses a fairly big point. If we think of social media as a connector and enabler of human interaction, why should this conversation be any different? Social is a place for people to talk amongst themselves, about themselves. If you're looking for human truth, it's a good place to start. It offers a rare opportunity to see what people actually care enough about to share it with others. It should be one of many tools Insight, Research and Strategy teams use to understand their markets and their audiences.

2. ...when the capabilities and limitations of social listening platforms are fully known and understood. Social listening is an input, not an outcome, so it needs to behave like one. The smoke and mirrors about how good the data quality and coverage need to go. We've all heard about your 'special relationship' with Facebook and your unique coverage of Twitter, oh, and the indexing +150m sites. A more mature market for social data would see buyers able to make more informed choices about which vendor best suits their needs.

3. ...when social insight is seen as an equally valid and useful tool for those wanting to better understand people (alongside more traditional forms of consumer research).

Nisa Bayindir, Consumer Psychologist and Strategy Director, Consultant

…when it’s no longer widely and primarily used for brands’ treadmill of campaign effectiveness and/or success stories. When social intelligence becomes more about genuine consumer intelligence rather than actions and hard metrics, it will override globally accepted profiling methods with the rich and powerful data it offers.

Today, social intelligence is still in its comfort zone, we’re working with the tip of the iceberg that comes with channel-specific metrics that are crafted to tell positive brand stories - and this causes relativity in interpretation, application and credibility of social intelligence. True intelligence will come about when there is universal metrics across social channels that standardize the definition and experience of engagement, albeit at varying depths. With this, we will have the headspace (and professional space) to immerse ourselves in more stories about consumers themselves, which will allow brands to really relate to the consumers and their expectations.

Considering the increased scrutiny that data and privacy issues brought on to social media in general, social intelligence’s futureproofing lies not in simply facilitating more targeted communications, but more in providing intelligence around consumer experience and psychology for brands to use as the foundation for long-term and robust connections with their consumers.

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