February 15th, 2012

5 Things You Need to Know About Social Business Intelligence

Social media engagement is all the rage. Almost every business has big plans in 2012 to jump into social media and start engaging with their customers via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ , YouTube, blogging and numerous other platforms.  In fact, social media engagement is the most exciting digital opportunity for global marketers this year, cited by 54% of company respondents to a survey [download page] released in February 2012 by Econsultancy, in partnership with Adobe. This is great news because we all recognize how important it is to engage with customers. I hear terms thrown out by agencies such as social engagement, social media strategy, mobile marketing, content optimization and viral marketing. Again, these are all important parts ofdigital/online marketing.

Terms I don’t hear agencies, gurus or experts using are social analytics or social business intelligence (SBI). These terms aren’t sexy or cool, but they are important. Dare I say it…social analytics and SBI are just as important as social media engagement. So what is SBI? Simply put, it’s the collection and interpretation of social media data. This data provides invaluable analyses and insight to companies who want to know what everyone says, thinks, believes and feels about them — and — most importantly - how that affects what they do. For an in depth look at SBI, download the free whitepaper from one of my clients, ListenLogic, here. This whitepaper focuses on large enterprises, but SBI is important to all businesses. Below are 5 basic things every business should know about itself by listening and monitoring social media:

  1. Demographic Segmentation – You need to know the basic breakdown of your fans, likes and followers including gender, age group and ethnicity. It’s also important to know the demographic breakdown of the people talking about your products and services outside your core group of fans, likes and followers. How does this information match up with your traditional marketing research?
  2. Geographic information – Where are your core social media fans, likes, followers from? How about the other people that are talking about you online? Does it match your current sales information? If not, why?
  3. Sentiment Trends – You need to track the tone of what’s being said about your products and services. Listen carefully for shifts in opinion. When the talk turns negative, you need to be alerted and react swiftly.
  4. Competitive Analysis – Know what your competition is doing. What is there current campaign, sweepstakes, sale or offer? Is it working? If not, how can my business capitalize on it? If your competitions customers aren’t happy, you need to know why and react accordingly.
  5. Engagement Opportunities – Ah yes, here’s the engagement everyone is talking about. We always want to engage with customers and listening enables your business to engage more efficiently. Flag, assign and engage with customers and potential customers by looking for tone and influence and acting appropriately.   

So how does your business gather this information? The best way is to use a social media monitoring system (SMMS). There are hundreds of options out there and like any other product or software; it depends on your budget. The more sophisticated and detailed the information, the more expensive it becomes. For most small businesses, you can begin collecting “sample” data relatively cheaply. I stress sample data, because in order to collect all the data in the social media fire hose, you have to pay a premium. Very few companies can afford such services at this point and even fewer offer it.

At the end of the day, social business intelligence comes down to listening. Know what to listen for and what to do with the information you hear. SBI will not only help you clarify your offline and online business strategy but understand and identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your competition.

Does your business use social business intelligence? If so, how do you gather it and implement what you find? 

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I blog about my passions, social media, public relations, sports and media.

I have over 19 years of public relations and marketing experience developing and directing a wide variety of communication, social media, media relations and marketing programs. This experience includes marrying traditional marketing tactics with social media tools.