5 areas of social intelligence digital marketers should know about

Sysomos, the Toronto-based social media analytics company, put the spotlight on the power of social networks to connect with online audiences at Social Media Week London.

The Sysomos team: Steven Read, Jason Harris and Lance Concannon
The Sysomos team: Steven Read, Jason Harris and Lance Concannon

Jason Harris, senior manager of community and evangelism at Sysomos, told the audience at Victoria House, London: "[Social networks have] provided brands access to conversations online. It’s important to talk back to consumers, but it’s only one part of the picture."

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Social intelligence looks at online conversations, users and their reactions towards certain topics, which helps brands and marketers to predict what’s going to happen in the future.

To help the industry to use these insights, Sysomos highlighted five key areas to watch.

1. Social listening

Lance Concannon, UK marketing manager at Sysomos, believes the industry has thought of social listening as just tracking what people are saying about a business and responding to complaints, for a long time.

He said: "We should be doing a lot more with the social data we have available, we can use it in intelligent ways to do interesting stuff."

As an example of what to do with social listening data, Concannon explained brands and marketers could use it to work out who to talk to. He said: "Using authority tools can allow you to identify key people to speak to."

2. Visual listening

Concannon noted this as a relatively new area, which the industry has been talking about over the past year.

He said: "Social is shifting towards being a more visual media. Most people would rather take a quick photo and share it online."

The problem is brands may not be able to adequately track this if pictures and videos haven’t been tagged correctly by the content creators.

But this is changing, as Concannon explained: "Algorithms are being developed to look at visual posts. Pretty soon we will be at a point when software can track all of this on social automatically, and we’ll be able to respond to it like we’re already doing with text-based posts.

"We need to be aware of this as it will have a huge impact on our industry."

3. Benchmarking

Steven Read, Sysomos' pre-sales product specialist, said brands and marketers should leverage historical data to benchmark events. Success criteria for future social campaigns should be set up, which will "help to quantify results of programming efforts with a relevant context."

4. Audience segmentation

The need to understand different groups within audiences will be imperative to brands looking to successfully engage with consumers and join in with the conversations they’re having on social.

Do this, Concannon explained, and communities will start to emerge. He said: "This gives brands the ability to dig deeper to look at who will actually influence groups and are genuinely interested in a certain topic."

5. Content discovery

It can be difficult for brands and agencies to manage numerous social media channels, but it’s even more difficult to keep track of the stream of content on these platforms.

Concannon said: "The industry is starting to build dashboards to see what’s going on across their networks, track the success of it and push it across other geographical territories.

"You can also track what competitors are doing and when things are going well for them, you can take inspiration from it and cash in on it."