Social media intelligence: an ally for the growth of your business

If you were thinking that just being on social media was enough to boost quality and dominate today’s market from a 2.0 angle, perhaps you haven’t yet heard about social media intelligence.

It’s a new direction in digital marketing, which fully exploits the potential of data present on social media and provides the most astute firms with a series of insights that are extraordinarily valuable for the development of their business.

If until now you just monitored the number of likes received by your content or check your positioning on the search engines, it’s time to step up and make the most of the wealth of information that’s within your reach by using social media intelligence.

What is social media intelligence, and what can it do for your business?

Imagine being in a car with the radio on: suddenly a song comes on that grabs your attention.

It’s really catchy and you start humming it vaguely while you’re looking for the address you need.

This is an ordinary approach to social listening: superficial and limited to the most immediate evidence.

But it’s only when you stop and listen to the song, turning the noise of the sound waves into a precise melody, focusing on the lyrics and the tune, that you begin to understand the meaning of the song.

And this is social media intelligence: really listening to the conversation happening on social media, and turning the data produced by users into accurate information for your business.

Why does a piece of content receive a lot of likes? What impact does it have on the web? Is the internet talking about me, and if so, what is it saying? Are there certain particularly hot topics in my sector on social media?

Only by monitoring the conversation on social media, observing users’ behaviour and analysing the data obtained it is possible to extract strategic plans for the success of your business and turn users into an invaluable source of information.

It’s an extraordinary monitoring task, potentially involving a social media population of 3 billion active users. Can you imagine a richer sample for examination?

Social media intelligence and successful cases

What are the potential applications of social media intelligence?

There are so many of them. A good social media intelligence strategy can allow you, for instance, to exploit the ideas of customers and users of your brand in order to get fresh insights.

Read more: Competitive analysis: the secret weapon of marketing

This is what General Electric did: in order to optimise the development of a new product, it appealed directly to its followers – focusing on a community of more than 90,000 users – through a Twitter campaign launched with the account @ecoimagination. GE promised big rewards, such as a series of Virgin Airlines flights, for the best suggestions.

The result? Within two hours the firm received thousands of tweets with countless fresh, innovative ideas from all around the world, ready to be discussed.

In other cases, social media intelligence can be used to forestall a potential crisis for a firm. Like when Kraft Foods noticed a negative feeling towards the use of hydrogenated fats just by listening to and analysing web and social media conversation around food.

The evidence led the firm to remove these ingredients from all its products, even without specific legal threats.

Conversely, ignoring the deep-seated opinion of the social media population can have negative consequences.

This was the case with French pharmaceutical company Servier, which manufactures Mediator, a well-known diabetes medication. From superficial listening to social media, there was nothing to hear: patients and the medical community valued the product and there were no dissenting voices or unusual views.

Except that in the undergrowth of social media, some users were adding to the conversation with an alternative use for the drug: Mediator was not only effective against diabetes, it also led to weight loss.

The news spread quickly on social media, but never to the extent that it came to the surface. Hence, for the manufacturer looking at the superficial evidence, there was still nothing unusual.

Until the issue came to the attention of the governing bodies, who rapidly withdrew the drug and slapped a massive fine on Servier.

The moral of the story? Social media intelligence would have allowed the firm to fully investigate the web evidence and discover the controversial claims well in advance, thus avoiding the debacle.

Isn’t prevention better than cure?