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Five Ways That Advanced Social Intelligence Helps Marketers

by Mark Harrington  |  
April 26, 2013

Within the tsunami of social network and open channel commentary lies a wealth of intelligence, rich in deep insight and free from disruptive bias seen with traditional surveys and focus groups. Leading companies are using streaming Big Data solutions and complex conceptual modeling to go well beyond superficial buzz and sentiment to achieve actionable understanding of their markets, consumers, products, influencers, and competitors.

Advanced social intelligence has a wide array of powerful marketing and product applications strategically driving innovation and decision-making. The true resulting power comes from the unsolicited---and unbiased---insight that can be acquired across billions of comments from millions of consumers on million of open online sources, including, but not limited to, social networks. Companies are using this insight as next-generation market research, which allows them to see their markets with greater clarity.

No longer do Marketing, Brand, and Product teams have to cautiously rely on biased results extracted from limited populations of surveys and focus groups. Rather they can now access expansive genuine consumer opinion across massive market segments. Essentially, the ability to understand the billions of social comments broadcasted by consumers daily provides smart companies access to the world’s largest focus group without having to ever ask a consumer a specific question.

It’s that insight that is transforming how businesses across a myriad of industries---such as food and beverage, media, consumer packaged goods, and pharmaceuticals---develop and execute their strategic marketing.

Here are five ways advanced social intelligence is already revolutionizing marketing.

1. Purchase Path

Advanced social intelligence facilitates deeper understanding of specific consumer decision points that ultimately drive consumers toward a purchase decision. From this, a product or service’s path-to-purchase can be constructed, helping the Marketing and Product teams understand and influence these decision triggers. That results in smarter, more effective marketing in terms of message, channel, and audience. The results can be very specific and reveal valuable insight into barriers impacting a products sales growth.

2. Consumer Insights

Aside from understanding the decisions and paths consumers take to purchase a product or service, advanced social intelligence also provides clarity on the detailed personas within consumer segments. Again, those are constructed based on unsolicited, unbiased likes, dislikes, interests, actions, attitudes, and beliefs of consumers on an aggregate basis. That not only helps Marketing, Brand, and Product Teams to understand how and where to message these consumers but can also identify key consumer segments that were previously unknown. Many times, those newly identified personas drive an added dimension to the organization’s marketing strategy, which allows them to potentially find significant untapped markets.

3. Product Development

Many companies are already using advanced social intelligence to clearly understand markets they may enter. That insight helps product groups understand the competitive landscape, players, products and feature sets, consumer attitudes and behaviors, unmet consumer needs, and decision points to aid in their product development. That mitigates many risks in the process and provides a deeper understanding to effectively drive innovation based on understanding of genuine consumer feedback.

4. Competitive Analysis

One of the fastest-growing strategic areas advanced social intelligence is being used for is with competitive analysis. Companies can now gain powerful insight on the competition based on consumer behavior, product usage, and more. Companies can now understand their competitors often better than they understand themselves. That knowledge delivers great power to set and execute strategy on a wide array of fronts.

5. Media Planning

Marketing teams are starting to understand consumers beyond the interactions with their products or services. Using advanced social intelligence, those companies are now able to delve into understanding consumer likes, interests, hobbies, and media consumption to provide efficacy with their own media planning. That helps with identifying channels and developing messaging for greater audience impact.

The Bottom Line

To take advantage of the wealth of insight from social network and open-source commentary and achieve advanced social intelligence, many organizations are relying on turnkey solutions. However, simplistic keyword tools typically will only provide "noisy" results focused on “buzz” that cannot be strategically acted upon. Given the sheer amount of content (billions of daily comments) out there, more organizations are realizing they need a streaming Big Data solution to keep pace with the volume, velocity, and variety of the social data.

Aside from this, companies are also realizing they need expertise on the social intelligence front to track and analyze the findings.

The simplistic, true value of advanced social intelligence is within the ability to clearly understand consumers, prospects, influencers, and competitors within billions of daily comments, across tens of millions of individuals, on millions of social and open-source channels. Disappearing are the days in which marketers have to rely on biased results from limited sample focus groups and surveys.

The key to achieving this advanced social intelligence is to go beyond the traditional buzz and sentiment, which is typically inaccurate and often not actionable. To achieve this intelligence, companies are realizing they need powerful streaming Big Data processing, complex concept modeling beyond simply keyword lists, and often specialized expertise.

These capabilities exist and are being used today by leading corporations on a variety or fronts by their Marketing, Brand, Product, Consumer Insights, and Innovation teams. Aside from serving an integral role with marketing strategy, product development, innovation and overall decision-making, advanced intelligence is transforming the basic understanding marketing organizations have of their markets, delivering an understanding clearer than ever.

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Mark Harrington is vice-president of Marketing at Clutch.

LinkedIn: Mark Harrington

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  • by Mark Harrington Tue Apr 30, 2013 via blog

    FOLLOW-UP: Our team did a follow-up sit down interview on this piece with me focused on the specific marketing benefits of social consumer insights, for those interested:

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