Amber Sandall

Director of Client Services

Campus Sonar

Winner 2022

Amber Sandall

What was your journey/career path to your current position?

I spent the first five years of my career in marketing roles, honing my professional skills in writing during this time across many industries and styles. Always in the back of my mind, however, was a desire to know how is this all connected? Who is it for? And why does it matter?    

In each of the positions I held early in my career, I gravitated toward building the skills that would help me answer those questions, and that's where I find the most reward and purpose. I loved interviewing clients and analyzing qualitative data I gathered to inform my copy. I thoroughly enjoyed noticing the patterns across data and clients and building a process for my work that gave meaning for me and my colleagues. I found great satisfaction in coaching and collaborating with team members to learn and share expertise. I delighted in synthesizing data, developing recommendations, and identifying the best way to communicate complex information.    

Almost five years ago, I reached out to my colleague, Dr. Liz Gross, to learn more about the social intelligence efforts she established at our prior employer. This led to an opportunity where I led a social intelligence study identifying multiple reasons why students drop out of higher education institutions - some of which were not identified by the concurrent traditional research study conducted via surveys and focus groups. After that, I accepted a full-time position with Campus Sonar, a social intelligence agency, where I put my qualitative and customer focus, collaborative nature, and data synthesis and communication skills to use every day.    

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

Hiring and coaching individuals as social intelligence analysts at Campus Sonar. After starting their social intelligence journey at Campus Sonar, two of our alumni have continued their careers in social intelligence outside of the agency.    

What does social intelligence mean to you?

Social intelligence is an opportunity for organizations to better understand and connect with their community in a way that is measurable and actionable.    

What's been the biggest challenge you've faced while trying to get brands to integrate social intelligence within their growth strategy?

This has been twofold. On one hand, it's important that the individual collecting, validating, and analyzing social data does so critically and intentionally to avoid cherry picking data and to successfully identify meaning amidst noise. On the other, while meaning can be identified, it has to align with the organization's current state and ability to integrate and act on social intelligence. Often, scaling actionable social intelligence insights as clients increase buy-in for social data and advocating for the appropriate people and processes in place to act on social intelligence is required.    

What do you think is the biggest missed opportunity for social intelligence?

Today, we still find ourselves battling whether engaging and understanding your online community is valuable and a responsibility of a seasoned professional or simply the job of an underpaid, junior employee to make memes.    

To the contrary, social intelligence should be approached intentionally and strategically with measurable KPIs for the purpose of contributing to business goals. To ignore the value of understanding online trends about your brand or organization ignores the voice and behavior of your customers.    

What's on the cards for you and your team/organisation in 2022?

In 2022, Campus Sonar's Client Services team of strategists and analysts are continuing to enhance our approach to understanding client goals and their business landscape. Deepening our understanding of our client‚Äôs needs and environment helps us tailor our approach to social intelligence by client. No client is the same - their social data isn't either.    

How do you see social intelligence and its use evolving?

In the coming years, we'll see more professionals specializing in social intelligence, which is critical to the adoption of it as an accepted source of business intelligence. As we grow our body of knowledge around social listening best practices and approaches, it will align with a similar evolution in technology. Whether we're developing a mixed method approach that uses social intelligence or creating training datasets for machine learning, there is much opportunity in the social intelligence industry in the coming years.

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