A brief description of Social Business Intelligence

WHAT IS SOCIAL BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE: The basic concept behind the term “social intelligence” is to derive customer, competitive and market intelligence via data scanned in social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

THE NET RESULT OF A SOCIAL BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE PROJECT (WHAT YOU GET FROM A S.I. PROJECT): The value of a social intelligence project is manifold, including the following benefits:

• discovery of warm leads related to psychographics and demographics from a customer’s current database.

• discovery of current trends and developments in a market sector that could lead to product/service innovation.

• discovery of a competitor’s activities that may aid one’s sales efforts.

• discovery of what your customers talk about, leading to product/service innovation and changes in marketing/sales strategy/tactics.

• discovery of new regions where your product/service is being discussed and your competitors are making money.

• discovery of upcoming events where you could generate awareness and sales.

• discovery of new pools of customers in digital networks. You may not have been aware of these pools of customers and their interests.

• discovery of conversations that social marketers and community managers can enter and utilize for higher brand awareness and sales.

• discovery of vendors and employees via professional networks like LinkedIn or the European Women’s Professional Network.


WHO: Gathering social intelligence is best performed by someone trained in research. Although a great amount of data may be aggregated automatically during a social intelligence project, it takes a human being to segment and make sense of this data and create insights related to the data.

HOW: There are many tools used to gather social data. Some of the best are expensive and require additional training to master. One of the best ways for a novice to begin is to use Twitter and LinkedIn. After setting up accounts in both social properties, use the free tool Listorious to research lists of influencers surrounding specific keywords in Twitter. Be sure to sign up for an Executive Account in LinkedIn so you can use all of the features in the Advanced Search tool.

WHICH TOOLS: More advanced social intelligence tools include Radian6, Sysomos, BrandWatch, PeopleBrowsr, Crimson Hexagon, Recorded Future and Trackur. A comprehensive list of these and other social intelligence tools may be found here.

Business Intelligence via Social Media Data – Presented March 22, 2011 Athens, Greece

SUMMARY: In all fields of business, there are varying levels of sophistication. The small business owner juggles bookkeeping, rent, vendors and customers and, if he is lucky, has time left over to take his original business plan one step further via Marketing and Sales activities. The medium and enterprise level businesses have a responsibility to analyze their markets through best-practice business intelligence and innovate. Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to unknown. The open seas that enterprise-level businesses chart require captains and admirals who can judge when and how to take such risk.

THE VALUE OF SCOUTS: New technologies aid such leaders in their future plans. The most important members of the team in this respect are the SCOUTS. In the world of social media marketing, the scouts are social intelligence providers, experts in predictive analytics, text analytics, cluster analysis and sentiment trending. It is the responsibility of these scouts to discover the VERY BEST sources of intelligence in a specific vertical or world region. As the founder of Klout says, “Targeting the few key influencers who have authority around a given topic and allowing 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.” It is important to note that social media monitoring tools come in all shapes and sizes with varying angles on what is and is not important.

Highlighted in an article by Brian Solis,Ray Wang writes, “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.”

REGIONAL PROVIDERS: (In the following paragraph, I mix some of my thoughts with Mr. Wang’s observations to deepen the observation). “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.”

LOCAL ANALYSTS: 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.

MERGING OF SOCIAL INTEL AND SOCIAL ACTION TOOLS: 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.

THE BUSINESS INTEL CUSTOMER: The sophisticated customer of social monitoring intelligence wants his provider to develop insights and action-steps from the masses of data that come through a WOMMA-ethics-level tool…that is, a tool that includes total, or near, access to firehoses from “walled-gardens” like Facebook or the giant Amazonian rivers of Twitter. He then wants that provider to write up a brand booklet complete with a few neat charts and a storyline of how the brand may utilize the current economic climate for maximum growth.

LIVING INFOGRAPHICS: To go further, the Business Unit Manager of the marketing agency working with this enterprise-level customer may want the intelligence provider to produce an interactive infographic that gathers intel AND grows customer equity all at once. Great example of this is JESS3’s APTA project.

BUSINESS PLAN: In an A+ scenario, the Business Unit Manager from the agency provides the Brand Manager with a comprehensive plan that charts the growth of the brand over the coming year, its relative competitive weaknesses and advantages (SWOT style or another scenario planner) and a few preliminary creative mock-ups of the customer-facing solution. For internal business solutions, the Business Unit Manager recommends a few choice third-party vendors to come alongside the team for sCRM, a possible re-vamping of how collaboration takes place in the organization and re-vitalized, efficient HR.

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS ANSWERED: Important questions answered through social intelligence projects include:

• Buzz in broadcast and social media: what is the volume of mentions?
• General topics and impact: which news, headlines and developing stories influence my brand?
• Special topics and impact: which hidden parameters influence my brand?
• Opinion mining: do people think positively or negatively about my brand?
• Mood analysis: do people express pleasure about my brand? Are they calm/relaxed or alert?
• Seasonality and time-of-day: when do people discuss my brand and topics of interest?
• Named entities graph: who am I connected to?
• Influencer detection: who do we recommend as influencers in regards to my brand?
• Meme detection: how do ideas spread throughout the population?
• Visualization: how can I represent information by combining insights and graphics?

“ON THE FLY” COMMUNITIES: But the MOST important fruit of business intelligence derived from social media data is an on the fly community. Non-branded aggregations in Twitter of Key Influencers in the form of lists OR Twitter accounts filled with Key Influencers around a specific topic are a very powerful means to accessing a customer base quickly. TO REPEAT: Non-branded, on-the-fly Communities aggregating Key Influencers are a far better fruit of business intelligence than “snap-shot” insights. The social eco-system is fluid and Brand Managers want something of real value from BI projects that can be used RIGHT NOW. Using tools like PeopleBrowsr one may assemble such “on-the-fly” communities quickly and accurately. Check out this video of Jodee Rich, CEO and founder of PeopleBrowsr, talking about the solution:

WITHIN THE ENTERPRISE: The happy Brand Manager gets to go to her Marketing Manager and GM and show off a plan for her brand(s) that will elevate business by a nice percentage, decrease overall internal costs, address any outstanding PR and Customer-Service related issues and foster a glowing relationship with the community in her region through a customer-centric ad/marketing campaign. And, due to the entire solution being driven through social business, she has decreased the ad spend by 60%, saving money in the process. Finally, through deeper business intelligence, the enterprise may find ways to economize and grow hitherto unseen: