actionable intelligence

Insights into problems and opportunities in your competitive marketplace: a process

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Your entity owns an existing community of customers and stakeholders. OR, your entity wants to build such a community. In addition, a core aspect of your business model appears to be up-selling these stakeholders to a variety of solutions your organization also owns. The challenge before you is to refine this model where it currently functions and then expand the model across the world. The following document outlines the exact process to be performed by The Socializers for you in achieving this goal.

The most immediate action we can take for your organization: Audit and Analysis phases. The result of these phases will be:

1. Insights into problems and opportunities in your competitive marketplace AND in your current customer base.
2. Activation of further community building efforts, up-sell strategies and “how to make this thing run more efficiently” would emerge from these insights.


As an example, let us say that your goal is to up-sell 100% of the stakeholders in your communities into one of your alternative offerings. Our work would show you where this is not happening, why it is not happening and how to make it happen. In addition, we can work with you to realize this 100%.

As a second example, let us say your goal is to discover alternative opportunities for up-selling your current stakeholders and want an audit of their public conversations as part of a planning process. We would deliver to you a system for staying on top of “the conversation” in your communities. The insights from these conversations would point towards add’l up-sell opportunities.

An ideal sequence for discovering a community of influencers around a specific market niche and developing a related editorial calendar & media plan is as follows:

1. Gather the latest industry trade publications for your niche(s) and read these cover to cover. Discover these trade publications by interviewing a leader in the industry and through research.

2. Note down vendors, service providers, advertisers, authors, journalists, and products currently targeting your niche(s).

3. Look within these publications for a Top 100 list of companies, individuals and products/services (specifically targeting your niche(s), again).

4. Create a spreadsheet of these trade publications and Top 100 lists.

5. Discover the Twitter accounts of these Top 100 and other thought-leaders discovered in the trade publications. An easy way to do this is to type the name of the influencer + Twitter into Google. Or search in the Twitter search field. You can also go the websites of these entities and see if there is a Twitter link at the website.

6. Use a solution that delivers a spreadsheet of all followers of a specific Twitter user, such as Simply Measured or Social Bro. We will download the followers of every influencer we have identified in this initial research phase.

7. Use the Sort function in Excel to sort the list of followers by Klout or Kred.

8. Create a 2nd copy and sort by Listed.

9. Use the Filter function in Excel to further narrow these sheets by specific industry-related keywords within the Description (Bio) column.

10. Use the Filter function in Excel to narrow by Location.

11. Combine the filtered results from whatever setting is important to your research question from each sheet into one “Master” Excel workbook.

12. Rank the entities in this workbook by Klout/Kred AND by Listed to indicate global awareness and influence scoring.

13. Ideally, we will narrow this massive Master list to 1000 core influencers. Now, we will download the Simply Measured Klout Audience Analysis for every single one of these influencers (thought-leaders). Go through the exact same Sorting and Filtering process and combine into a second Master list (this will be much larger). Now we will have two concentric rings of influence we are able to connect to through content-marketing, direct-marketing or other selling strategies.

14. Take this work further by creating a data-set called “The Core List” in which we reveal core information for each of the 1000 core influencers: their bio from LinkedIn, all of their social links (find these through their Klout profile and further research, their top 100 influential followers within that specific market niche and their contact info (phone, email, address).

15. Now we are ready to study this core list and know who is leading the conversation in our market niche. Take the time we need to listen to each influencer and jot down observations on what they are saying and working on. Use a leading social monitoring tool, such as Brandwatch, Radian6 or Sysomos to augment your listening. Also, use SpotRight and Reunify technology to glean deep insight AND flesh out the very large prospect lists we develop.

16. Create a list of 10-20 questions for the top 1000 influencers in “The Core List” and send this to them via email. This is our focus group/survey for the market niche and will give you invaluable insight. (Ideally, we are looking for the key products, hooks and trends in what is guiding the stakeholders’ buying habits. We want to hook every single one of these stakeholders who HAVE NOT bought from us yet).

17. Create a two-page executive summary for leadership on our observations. Add, as an appendix, all of the data organized by location, relevant social links discovered via listening, and metrics/statistics for the industry. This report, if concisely written and properly documented using best-practice research techniques, will be THE most comprehensive ever done on social influencers guiding the buying choices of your niche(s). NOTE: numerous studies show that 70% of the buyer’s decision process is done through online and peer-to-peer research currently. We are studying what these stakeholders are looking at and where they are congregating…who is influencing them.

18. Upon discussing this report with leadership, create an Editorial Calendar with channel-specific ideas related to the industry. This Editorial Calendar ought to include specific marketing actions, online & offline channels for marketing and industry-specific publications in which to publish material.

19. In addition, create a Media Plan for targeting regions, online channels and audience sizes. This plan will inform our media spend.

20. Create ALL of the recommended content pieces (these content pieces are delivered into the social streams of our influencers and by direct contact on a daily and even hourly basis, so as to saturate our market with smart, insightful content “hooks”. We want to rule the content space. NOTE: many of these pieces will come through our brand ambassadors and influential allies).

21. Metrics on performance will be secured through online metric measurement tools.

22. Our success in the process above will inform how we utilize more sophisticated social graph technologies that we have access to. These technologies hover over complete national databases rich with data on our customer. We want to only use these tools AFTER performing the steps above so that our costs are kept down and so that efficiency is forefront.

How Analysts Deliver Meaningful Actions to Stakeholders

The following post was inspired by a recent day of meetings at a major FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) retailer in the United States. The post focuses on the use of market-related insights to deliver action-inducing stories to brand leadership and technical staff within the corporation.

THE “DEEP” ANALYST – A DEFINITION: A “deep” analyst chooses a psychological theme for analyzing a massive amount of data. For example, a “deep” analyst could apply an understanding of Jungian psychology to his/her analysis, focusing on classical Jungian therapeutic definitions as a guide for data segmentation. Such an analyst would seek to answer classical Jungian questions about an individual or group through his/her work with the data — for example, what “shadow” or unconscious elements of our corporation now animate our workforce? A corporate leader would want to know about these “hidden” animators of daily workforce behavior to better align manager actions and gain more precise results from staff.

(Summary: A researcher can study customer behavior and then tell corporate leadership what is secretly controlling staff and consumer actions.)

THE VALUE OF THE “DEEP” APPROACH: A significant value in the “deep” psychological approach to data is a wealth of short, yet powerful, anecdotes derived from research and “strung” along the path of a classical inner journey. When applied to a corporation, such stories offer tremendous value to stakeholders in making better decisions about a host of internal and external issues. As an example, what would happen if a major corporation studied Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, discovered where on that journey specific business units currently “walked”, and was better able to make decisions based upon this metaphor?

(Summary: A researcher can study customer behavior and then tell stories to corporate leadership as a means to inspiring specific helpful actions.)

THE ACTIONS OF A “DEEP” ANALYST WITHIN THE CORPORATION: The first action such a “deep” analyst takes within a corporate entity is to reveal the archetype at the brand core: that force in the unconscious of the company that is animating its stakeholders. The second action is to reveal who is consciously engaged with that archetype. The third is to influence, change and enhance the magnetism of the brand’s core so that customers and stakeholders are better served by a more inspired brand leadership.

(Summary: A researcher is curious about the main story of a brand or company. He/she is also interested in who else is aware of this story and what they do about this story on a regular basis. Finally, the researcher takes action to grow awareness of this story so that more people in a corporation will be helped/inspired and do a better job.)

RESULT #1 – INSPIRATION FOR TEAM LEADERS FROM INSIGHTS: Leadership will take insights gleaned by a “deep” analyst and engage more effectively with the core of the brand. A corporate leader must be steeped in the living and numinous entity that pulses at the center of the brand. Such devotion by the leader inspires stakeholders, merchant partners, employees and customers. You can tell when a corporate leader has become fully possessed by his/her brand…just take a look at Branson, Hsieh and Bezos. These are beings who enter regularly into the “fire” that burns at the core of their respective brands, emerging with powerful inspiration, drive and leadership for the entire corporate entity. The right set of stories derived through insights will ideally lift the “uninspired” leader to a new level of excitement about his/her business unit. In such cases, a single metaphor derived from insight can give birth to a greater level of passion in the leader and lift his/her staff up to a higher level of performance as a result.

RESULT #2 – WHAT A “DEEP” INSIGHT REVEALS: A deep insight reveals what animates a corporate entity, identifies the lenses within leadership upon company events and is a story of consequences (both “good” and “bad”). A deep insight inspires a bevy of possible actions and conceives strategies that will best serve current initiatives, stakeholders and customers. A deep insight will chart a path for brand leadership in winning on all levels. A deep insight contains the voices of a Critic AND a Creative, doing their duet. In this song, the Critic refines the Creative’s gift and the Creative ends up delivering happiness to the Critic: a win-win. Key: A deep insight provides a host of windows for times when doors seem to be closing.

THE FMCG EXAMPLE – HOW INSIGHTS BECOME PRACTICAL AND ACTION-INDUCING: Let us take, for instance, a leading FMCG entity with one foot in “flesh-retail” and one foot in the digital realm. This entity has an opportunity to weave flesh and digital with such elegance, such precision, that a customer hardly has to think when being served by one or the other. Deep insights will deliver tech so deeply embedded into the customer experience that the tech disappears…the customer makes his/her use of the tech a daily, even hourly, action.

Let us say, for instance, that this FMCG entity has created an app that delivers daily personalized discounts based on the customer’s past purchases, current financial “reality” and publicly expressed wishes. What a win for everyone! The customer wins because every time he/she steps into the retail or digital outlet, a discount on his/her faves is given (plus a whole lot more, in the ideal scenario). The resulting love affair influences the customer’s friends to participate and the merchants serving this FMCG are glowing with happiness as sales go up. The resulting community is a truly potent entity, able to extend seemingly un-ending generosity within itself and to its greater community. Everyone wants a piece of the action in such a scenario.

SUMMARY: An analyst focused on “deep” insights will evangelize the power of such intelligence throughout the corporate entity, throughout the brand organism. Such an analyst will educate every silo on how to use insights from intelligence for daily wins: within internal focus groups, (solving previously “un-solveable” issues), within customer focus groups, (solving those daily headaches that slow down the purchase cycle), within competitive situations, (revealing collaborative possibilities). A deep insight is the “A-ha!”, the “Eureka!”…and with the depth of data currently available, the market intelligence analyst working within a corporate entity has abundant and daily opportunities to make this exclamation and deliver powerful actions to every silo, every leader, every employee and, ultimately, to every customer.

Insight-driven Action and Customer-Centric Operatives

Insight-driven action in a data-flooded age must be heart-centered. The most important segment of the customer-experience cycle is post-conversion (something was bought), pre-evangelization (the customer tells his/her friends). In that sweet spot, brands must engage the user in dialogue, be open to education BY the customer and take action based on opportunity occurring in the present.

A core list of key influencers drops one very quickly into mine-able territory for content, business connections, tools, and relationship. Useable social intelligence delivers punchy actions with targeted influencer graphs in which to carry out those actions. Chris Ramsey, EVP BizDev, Radian6, writes, “Social media is a two-way communication platform, not a broadcast platform, and it’s all about engagement and relationships.” Amber Naslund, Director of Strategy for Radian6 writes, “Social media marketing is contextually appropriate, just-in-time marketing where you find a chance to engage authentically, and you take it.”

Companies ought to consider the benefit of having in-house curators and/or relationships with 3rd party curators of vertical-specific content. In this way, they will own verticals and niches and be seen as authorities in both the internal development AND in listening to the customer of this niche. Those brands who rule niches through curation will be seen as thought-leaders. And the only way to be a true thought-leader is to spend plenty of time listening. We derive powerful insights and even more powerful action by listening.

Klout CEO and co-founder Joe Fernandez writes, “…target the few key influencers who have authority around a given topic and allow them to tell the story. The message is then amplified up through the network to reach a large engaged audience that trusts the message sender. We’ve basically flipped the funnel upside down.” The weaving of reflection AND action within such an approach is masterful and demonstrates the ideal ethos of actionable intelligence. Creativity around one conversation, one circle of influencers, one city can lead to immense opportunities. Product-centric thinkers are second to customer-centric action-agents. It is simply more practical to be relational vs. transactional in today’s business climate.

We live in times when independent operatives, moving swift and fast, have become more successful than giant entities, moving like cruise ships. Such operatives have an idea, angel-fund the idea and balloon the idea into a global community. Or such operatives provide specialized deliverables like comprehensive social intelligence reports (Business Intelligence), Community Manager training/supervision and Social-Action tools training.

Social Analytics in 2011

After reading a recent excellent blogpost by Brian Solis on the future of research, I took some time to expand the input of one contributor, Mr. Ray Wang.

Here’s an outlook on social analytics for 2011 by myself and Mr. Ray Wang:

Overall, on a global scale, social analytics will evolve in 2011 from ad-hoc experiments into refined information services. Enterprise-level organizations should continue with experimenting in listening services that filter out noise from the social sphere, identify trends that deliver insight, and create models that support prediction.

Regionally, it is recommended to identify LOCAL providers who have a deep understanding of the local language and customs. As algorithms increase in complexity, global tools will have to adapt to these regional and cultural differences, as well as requiring greater vertical specialization. The global tools like Sysomos, while very good, will no longer be able to support in house efforts due to the volume of demand and that may effect quality. A new breed of LOCAL information brokers will aid global intel providers in delivering social analytics at a scale and specificity that will support the challenges of big data in heterogeneous systems. Expect vendors such as Sysomos, Alterian, Attensity, Buzzmetrics, Cymfony, IBM, Radian6, SAS, Scoutlabs, Telligent, and Visible to shift their business models from software vendors to information brokers.

Regional Business Intelligence providers with LOCAL vendors trained in Predictive Analytics, Semantic Analysis, Cluster Analysis, and active in hands-on solutions analyzing the local language are important allies/partners to these global tools. This is clearly seen upon going into the representation of the data by these global social media intelligence providers with LOCAL analysts. Refinement of the data MUST be accomplished by native speakers. It is advised that the global tools identify regional managers to (a) make sales (b) identify local highly trained analysts who speak the language natively and ( c ) shift their identity from a tools centered approach to human-refined intelligence provision.

Finally, the leaders in the field will form alliances with social action tools like Hoot Suite and Buddy Media to mutually enhance value proposition. M&A in this area is an important evolutionary step for those organizations keen to the benefit of actionable intelligence. Brands want punchy insights, smart recommendations based on these insights along with actions that may be measured.

Next week: I will compare a study/intel panel creation I did for a major global food brand using various intelligence tools (both local to a country and global) TO a study/intel panel creation just completed for a major foreign bank. I will also include what worked and what didn’t work as part of this blogpost.

Your social network is a symphony just waiting to happen!

The music of teamwork is what the world needs now. Your social network is a symphony just waiting to happen! One tweet, one FB status, one posted video, one posted presentation is all it takes to activate the song d’jour, the solution of a lifetime, or the love you seek! Good social networking and business acknowledges the power of the connections you have to get what you need and want done! Power in the new realm of business has to do with leveraging the crowd and your relationships FOR THE BEST AND HIGHEST OF ALL!

1. CREATE your offering. Get encouragement here: Also, you can re-purpose your
current content as the type of content used in social networks in the form of tweets, FB status updates, blog posts, videos, recorded information, presentations, etc.

2. LISTEN to the network in order to find where others resonate with that offering. Use keywords from your content and social monitoring tools for your listening project.

3. RESERVE your social properties at KnowEm.

4. CONSTRUCT the microsite using blog software (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Posterous, Moveable Type, and the social footprint in reserved social properties.

5. BRAND and POPULATE your social footrprint with graphics/images/text. ACTIVATE desired functionality (shopping, forums, blogs, chat, social plugins, widgets).

6. SOCIALIZE the microsite and social footprint through campaigns, friending projects and scheduled updates.

7. GET INTIMATE your network and tribe through meaningful conversation, dialogue and contribution. Every individual in your network is a galaxy unto themselves and represents a rainbow of opportunity.

8. SHIP YOUR OFFERING! If you have a product/service that you want the world to know about, then let them KNOW! Tell them about it, tell them that you told them, tell them what you told them and then tell them again! Seth Godin’s little pamphlet ShipIt is EXCELLENT as a 30 minute path to realizing movement in any project!