Abby Watzke

Manager, Global Strategic Insights


Winner 2022

Abby Watzke

How did you get into social intelligence? What was your career path to your current position?

Digital marketing and consumer insights peaked my interest when I was studying Marketing at Miami of Ohio my junior year. I was ecstatic when I received a summer internship offer at Hyatt under their Masterbrand Marketing team. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, finished my senior year of school, and paved my way back to Hyatt via an intern to contractor position on the Global Social Media team. For 5+ years I dabbled in all elements of social media (social media marketing, social care, UGC, etc) and was involved in some really cool, disruptive projects (being in a pilot with 7 other brands to launch Facebook Messenger as a customer service channel, launching CSAT surveys via Twitter, etc). I really enjoyed the digital transformation element to my roles. Shortly after I started up social listening up at Hyatt, McDonald's had an opening on the Consumer and Business Insights team dedicated to social listening. It was the perfect opportunity to bring my digital transformation skills, while also diving into consumer insights.    

What's your proudest achievement of your career to date?

My social customer care experience at Hyatt is my proudest achievement in my career. It was the most challenging period in my career, but without that experience I would not be where I am today. There are many achievements I am proud of during that time, but one that comes to mind is getting the team's average response time down from over 2 days to under 15 minutes by building up the team's resources and creating efficiencies using improved technology and workflows.    

How is your organisation using social data to support business decision-making?

Social data is embedded throughout many customer-facing departments, depending on priorities and resources. My personal belief is that social listening is best used to identify blind spots and 'unknowns' and to approve or disprove hypotheses. Sometimes it acts as the standalone method and other times as an additional validatory method, that will help inform strategic decisions on the development and communication of products and customer experiences.    

Looking into 2022, what are your expectations for how social intelligence is going to support your organisation?

I anticipate that in addition to understanding current and past behavior from consumers, we will be continuing to try to move the needle with using social media as a predictor of foresight (to understand what consumers behavior will be in the future).    

What's your view on how to develop social intelligence and get organisational buy-in?

Link social listening strategy to business objectives. Have a vision and phases within that vision. Continue to advocate the importance of social media as a modern method of research. It can be quicker and cheaper if you invest in the upfront builds and resources. It does take time, effort, and initial money to build out, but it is worth it.    

What piece of advice would you give to others working within organisations doing social intelligence?

Push vendors to continue to adapt and create the best products that get us practitioners to better quality and a quantity of insights - and find them faster than can be found today. Also, push social media channels to open up their APIs to the social tool vendors we use today.    

Where would you like to see the discipline of social intelligence going in the future?

I would like to see more companies building in house capabilities under strategic insights (consumer and business insights teams). That means dedicated resources (plural) for social listening, or even better, multiple hybrid consumer insights + social intelligence roles.    

What would you say to business leaders about why they should be incorporating social intelligence into their growth strategies?

Social intelligence is a modern research method that scrapes social media channels for consumer conversation and serves it up in compelling visualizations full of insights. Once setup correctly (with the appropriate resources, strategy, and time), social intelligence can answer business questions with little hassle, little cost, and in little time.

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