Social Data, Social Listening, Social Intelligence…. So What?

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Social Data, Social Listening, Social Intelligence…. So What?


Here at Synthesio, Social Listening and Intelligence is what we do and Enterprise Social Intelligence  is where we excel. What does this mean? And more importantly, what does this mean to you?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply,” said Stephen R Covey, best-selling author of a number of books on successful leadership and business methods. This rings true when approaching social programs, and brands have to take the first step towards successful social programs; Social Listening, specifically listening with the intent to understand and thus make smarter decisions with better data.

Social Intelligence, as a practice, means tying social data to business impact. We have been working with large, very successful brands for many years now who are using social data with different levels of success and sophistication. There is a common theme we see time and time again, the moment when they realize that they now have access to massive amounts of data, yet they are not sure what to do with it. Disillusionment and, perhaps, trepidation start to creep in once they are hit with what we call the “so what” moment.

Big brands and savvy marketers, at this point, understand that social data is critical to their business, and even more so that social listening is a must. For the purposes of clarity, Social Listening is defined as listening to your customers, and potential customers, unsolicited online. In practice, this means capturing mentions of your brand, interesting brand topics, competitors or really anything interesting to your brand found across the internet. This includes the obvious social sites, but also forums, blogs, etc. So people are gathering and listening to data, but now they are struggling to prove success to the their management and higher ups. With some, it has reached the point where top level management has really started to wonder if there is any value, and if it is time to put an end to the program in lieu of a new tactic. Social Listening… So What?!

Moving from Social Listening to Social Intelligence

This is where the movement to Social Intelligence becomes crucial, taking social listening and analyzing the data into meaningful insights that can be disseminated to the right parts of the organization to make smarter, business impactful decisions. Easy .. right? Well, not so much. It is certainly a progression path and it takes a team, and executive buy in. However, once you have it, it is a process of moving from a project to a program that is scalable and repeatable.

We see this progression, or the movement from Social Listening to Social Intelligence, as a maturity model that is often based on adoption through use cases, and can be used as a map for your program. Keep your eyes peeled for the 2nd installment in this series where we will dig much deeper into each use case, and how to best approach building each step of your program.


social listening

  1. Crisis: step one of almost every social listening program. Listen and monitor to detect potential fires before they arise, escalate issues to the right people in real-time to be addressed with background, and data. You can dig a little deeper here on building a crisis response strategy.
  2. Market Research: social media is the world’s largest focus group for businesses, use it as such to get answers to the questions you asked, but also to the ones you did not think to ask. The methods behind using social media in this way are getting closer and closer to traditional market research (audience segmentations, definition of panels, etc.), yet the trickiest aspect is insights, as there has to be a fine balance between monthly tactical insights and deep-dive research that drives strategic decisions. That said, all of this can be handled with a proper Social Intelligence tool.
  3. Campaign Management: Use data to conduct a thorough social analysis of your target markets, segments, consumers and past campaigns to drive the right messages to the right audiences. Then define true metrics to measure the success of campaigns that go beyond just volumes.
  4. Brand Health: track the long term positioning of your products and sub brands vs competitors, measure social reputation and satisfaction by audience.
  5. Integrations: a key step for success is to tie social feedback data to non-social data and make sure that social media does not live in its own silo. Integrations could be with your CRM and sales tools, with your BI platform, with your customer care platforms or with other social marketing platforms.


Once the siloed teams across your business are finally connected by data, people and systems, you’ll be able to use integrated tools and metrics to map value and drive smarter decisions. Understanding your goals and accessing the metrics of multiple practice areas throughout your company will allow your team to be able to fine-tune your social strategy and KPIs, ensuring you’re bringing valuable insights back to the organization. Always look beyond the “so what” of social data, and connect your efforts to business impact. The “So What..?” moment can be distressing, but once you follow the program through the stages and start mapping value back to the business, adoption will follow.

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