Bold Brands

Ana Talavera

Social Intelligence Specialist


Winner 2024

Ana Talavera

What is your job title? How do you use social listening in your work?

As a Social Intelligence Specialist in the financial sector, my role is crucial in deploying social listening to decode themes and territories relevant to our brand. This strategy is integral for understanding the cultural journey of our audience and adapting to market dynamics. By analyzing online conversations and trends, we gain insights into consumer behavior and sentiments that influence decision-making. This is facilitated by developing indicators to monitor conversation health, which allows us to measure engagement and sentiment effectively. Our objective is to enhance strategic management and ensure our communications resonate with our audience's values and expectations. This insight is key to anticipating market movements and uncovering opportunities that inform strategic decisions. It also improves customer engagement by enabling proactive responses to feedback, thus improving service quality and building trust. This approach helps us maintain a competitive edge and foster a trust-based relationship with our customers, essential in the financial sector where perceptions and needs constantly evolve. 

What’s your background? How did you get into social listening?

Born to a Math teacher and a Psychologist, I've always had a keen interest in the nexus of data and human behavior. My career began in advertising account management, evolving into strategic planning with a focus on understanding consumer and cultural shifts to seize real-time opportunities. This journey through different sectors nurtured my quest for deeper insights, leading me to specialize in digital data marketing, neuroscience, and applied psychology. The transition to social data insights was a natural progression, aiming to harness consumer insights and digital trends for strategic decision-making. At Stilingue, Brazil's premier social monitoring tool, I spearheaded the Professional Insights Services department, refining my capability to construct detailed boolean queries for in-depth social listening and measurement methods. My subsequent role at Meta introduced a challenging yet enriching phase, leading social intelligence efforts across LATAM. This responsibility entailed transforming complex data into actionable insights, directly impacting strategic decisions across diverse markets. This path has been driven by a passion for asking the right questions and a commitment to leveraging digital trends and consumer insights, reflecting my dedication to navigating the intricate landscape of social intelligence and driving meaningful business strategies.

What has been your biggest achievement?

I'm deeply honored by the recognition as a Social Intelligence Insider 50 in 2024, a milestone that acknowledges my contributions to social intelligence beyond Latin America. Being part of Itaú as it celebrates a century of legacy deeply resonates with my journey in this dynamic field. Another significant achievement was the special invitation I received to mentor within the Rede Mulher Empreendedora and Google's "Grow with Google" program during the pandemic in Brazil. It was especially fulfilling to guide women on their digital business journeys during such challenging times. This opportunity extended beyond working with major brands, allowing me to connect with real stories and experiences, thereby making a tangible difference in the lives of female entrepreneurs.

What’s the boldest mistake you’ve made? What did you learn from it?

One significant oversight early in my transition to social data insights was undervaluing the importance of collaboration, partnership, and relationship-building between teams. Initially focused on the technical aspects, I overlooked that transforming a culture to be data-driven is as much about these soft skills as it is about the hard data. This mindset led me to miss out on rich opportunities for exchange and mutual growth. My perspective shifted dramatically upon stepping into a leadership role, where I realized the process is often more crucial than the end result, and there's always room for improvement. Emphasizing the human side of data, I learned that fostering a supportive environment, where team members feel valued and included, significantly enhances our ability to achieve collective goals. This is a process I continue to actively practice and refine, recognizing that the journey towards a truly collaborative and data-informed culture is ongoing and always evolving.

What would be your dream project to work on? 

My dream project would be to delve into the integration of speech analytics with the power of generative AI, coupled with qualitative methodologies. This unique blend would allow us to understand not just what people are saying, but how they're saying it, capturing the nuances of human emotion and intent that traditional data sources might miss. By combining the precision of AI with the depth of qualitative analysis, we could unlock a new dimension of consumer insights, providing a fuller, more nuanced view of customer needs and behaviors. This project would not only push the boundaries of current social intelligence practices but also offer a more holistic understanding of the customer journey, enhancing our ability to create truly customer-centric strategies and solutions.

Do you think there’s a right way and a wrong way to use social data?

Navigating the use of social data effectively means adopting an open-minded approach, where clear and unbiased objectives pave the way for insights. This method entails a readiness to adapt strategies in response to data-driven revelations, even when they diverge from preconceived notions. My thesis, developed during my specialization in neuroscience and applied psychology, aimed at mitigating confirmation bias in interpreting marketing data. This work underlines the significance of eschewing the temptation to use data as a means to validate existing hypotheses, a common misstep known as "retroplanning." The misuse of social data often stems from an intent to substantiate a pre-selected narrative, leading to distorted interpretations and overlooked opportunities for true connection and progress. Conversely, the proper utilization of social data is rooted in allowing discoveries to inform and sometimes alter our strategic direction, championing the principle that the true value of social data is not in affirming our presuppositions but in revealing insights that compel us to reconsider and evolve our strategies. This approach demands a dedication to continual learning and flexibility, acknowledging that the journey of understanding social data is one of perpetual practice in the ever-evolving landscape of social intelligence.

Are there areas where you think you should be using social data for but aren’t currently?

In financial corporations, enhancing data literacy and fostering a data-driven culture are essential. Every department stands to benefit from social data insights, offering a direct connection to customer sentiments and preferences. This method extends beyond improving customer service or refining marketing strategies; it incorporates real-time customer feedback into every aspect of business operations. Leveraging social data can be particularly impactful in aligning with (ESG) initiatives. As consumer expectations shift towards sustainability and ethical practices, social data provides invaluable insights into these changing attitudes, enabling companies to align their business objectives with societal values more effectively. By broadening the application of social data across various business functions, companies can revolutionize decision-making, product development, risk management, and more. This proactive approach to trends like ESG embeds customer-centric insights into strategic planning, keeping businesses relevant and competitive while enhancing customer engagement and loyalty. 

What’s your favourite data source to use and why?

My preferred data sources extend beyond numerical analysis to understand the fabric of human connections and behaviors. Particularly, I find the exploration of private and conversational data, such as direct messages, group interactions, and forum discussions on platforms like Reddit, deeply revealing. These sources, where the public persona often fades, unveil more genuine expressions and concerns. Additionally, I appreciate the value of search listening tools like Google Trends in conjunction with conversational data. This blend allows for a comprehensive understanding of human behavior, combining the what (search queries) with the how and why (conversational contexts). It's fascinating to see how people engage differently in perceived private spaces, offering authentic glimpses into their interests, concerns, and desires. This approach has significantly informed my work, enabling a holistic understanding of consumer behavior that resonates on a personal and impactful level.

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