What is social media intelligence & why should brands be using it?
Brands continue to invest millions on social media marketing — in 2019 Statista reckons social ad spending will reach US$92,931m, an increase of close on 37% year on year. But how can brand owners close the gap between the language of business - sales, new leads and ROI - and social, which has been more about just reach?
The short answer is Social Media Intelligence (SMI), which thanks to Artificial Intelligence [AI] is social analysis on steroids. The first iteration of social was all about Social Media Monitoring — counting clicks, retweets’ and ‘likes’. This gave marketers the first, broad metrics about how many humans social media reached.
But social monitoring doesn’t address the issue of customer-centricity on social, nor does it offer attitudinal or behavioural insights on your audience. AI has changed this. Like monitoring, SMI uses ‘Social Listening’ to collect data, but, unlike monitoring, machine learning and smart algorithms enable the grouping or segmentation of data in a myriad of meaningful ways.
Thanks to AI, SMI provides a wealth of information for the business — by segmenting data according to a brand’s very unique needs and specifications — rather than having segmentation models forced on them by Instagram or Facebook. This enables brands to access better data, a wider set of data points, and to look for trends and insights that will shift business metrics like sales or lead generation.
Moreso, AI and Social Media Intelligence allow businesses to iterate social — to gradually become smarter, build greater trust with audiences, and gain access to more data, which enables content and campaigns to be more relevant, hyper-personalised and carefully targeted.
It is machine learning that is driving the shift from shallow metrics like mere reach to the metrics favoured by business – which speak more to sales, lead generation and business performance.
What are some of the smart ways companies are using SMI?
Brand building. Once you know who your customers are, what they believe about your business and whether they are getting your message, it is important to adjust your messaging accordingly. Do you get better results from competitions or giveaways? Do your customers see you the way you want them to? How can you focus in on the influential people in your network, to leverage their influence? With AI you can use smarter segmentation that ensures customers to see only the brand pillars that appeal to them.
Brand management. The adage, ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity,’ is only true for actors, playboys and rock stars. In the real world, your reputation determines your true value in the market. When things go wrong you have to know exactly who is saying critical things, and respond quickly. Speed is of the essence, as it shows the customers that you do care, and want to make things better. Responding to queries quickly also keeps the customer engaged — you want to get them before they wander off to a competitor.
Get Influencers. Deep insight into your data will tell you who in your community is truly influential, in terms of the Velocity of Conversation — ie. how your message is being acted on by the people in your network: how much it is shared, how quickly it spreads, how much it inspires people to behave towards your brand. Who are your brand ambassadors, opinion leaders, and fans?
Measure effectiveness. Getting back to ROI — SMI tools can provide accurate insight into which influencers are having an effect, which audiences are interested in your message, and what content resonates with audiences. Smarter tools mean better engagement through smarter segmentation.
Discover emerging trends. A brand that listens to its audience can also speak more effectively to them. By identifying trending topics, it’s much easier to create content that engages that audience and to have conversations that matter and drive real behaviour shifts.
Better data collection has resulted in streams and ‘lakes’ of data — which can only be parsed by Artificial Intelligence, using smart algorithms. And this is, after all, the promise of ‘Big Data’ — to give us fine-grained insight into consumers’ behaviour and motivations. So that we can become better, more customer-centric marketers.