Every business out there aspires to be a “data-driven company.” No one disputes whether this is a goal worth pursuing.  The steps required to take to become a data-driven company, however, is a topic filled with varying opinions and covered by hundreds, if not thousands, of books and blogs. A crucial subtopic, yet less discussed in the business world, is how organizations can use social intelligence/social data to make data-driven, consumer-centric decisions.

This blog discusses how organizations can establish social-data-driven cultures and decision-making. We will cover (1) what makes social data/intelligence unique and challenging, and (2) what to consider when instituting a culture that makes decisions based on social insights.

We all know that Culture’s favorite breakfast is strategy.

Becoming a data-driven company: What is unique and challenging about social data?

A true data-driven company acknowledges that not all data is the same. Intuitively, most professionals can envision how a business can use inventory and shipping data to improve supply chain outcomes. Likewise, most professionals understand how marketing departments use search and web data to improve conversions.  Social data, on the other hand, is unique. Business professionals are less clear on how such data can positively impact business outcomes. As a social data evangelist, this is your task. You will need to coach your company on practical use-cases where social data can improve business outcomes (more on this below). Knowledge is power.  

Even if you succeed in articulating compelling and clear business cases for using social intelligence, there’s another, perhaps more challenging, factor awaiting you. Put simply, your organization might be suspicious of all things related to social media and social intelligence. Despite your best effort, some may think social is trivial and one of many fads. Others are afraid to confront something they do not quite understand. There’s no single antidote for combating this cultural bias, but below we provide our two cents.

So, in summary, there are two primary challenges you’ll encounter. The first challenge is related to knowledge, and the second challenge is related to culture. 

Data-Driven Company: Tips for establishing a social-data-driven culture

Working off of the two above challenges, let’s discuss some practical steps for establishing a social-data-driven culture.

Tip 1: Form A Social Intelligence Committee

Ok, let’s assume you’ve gone ahead and purchased a social intelligence solution on behalf of your organization. It’s now time to think of yourself as the Chief Social Evangelist (CSE). As the newly appointed CSE, you need to identify people in your organization who understand and are intrigued by the power of social. While you can see all the possibilities, do not assume the rest in your organization can. Ultimately, in most cases, you will be serving internal clients, handing them social insights that they will then need to drive towards action. By identifying and grooming social evangelists – let’s say a Product colleague as an example – you increase the odds that social insights are acted upon once you hand them off to the responsible business team. 

Beyond grooming individuals on a one-on-one basis, you should also consider forming a social intelligence committee. This committee should include representatives from various business groups. Each member should share opportunities and challenges they are experiencing when it comes to turning social insights and social media insights into business outcomes.

An example of what a Chief Social Evangelist looks like at a data-driven company.

Tip 2: Provide Clear Examples

As we mentioned, knowledge is power. Your colleagues need clear, specific, and contextualized examples of how social insights can positively impact business outcomes. Specific and contextualized are the operative words here. Most colleagues will intellectually understand how social intelligence impacts crisis mitigation, content development, and product innovation. However, the goal is not only to help them understand; the goal is to help them turn insights into action. It will require some deep thinking on your part

If you can articulate clear and contextualized examples, the more likely it is that your colleagues will believe in and take actions based on social intelligence data. Let’s try an example.

Rather than saying social intelligence can help us with audience development, be more specific and cite a historical example when relevant. It could look like this: “Remember when we stumbled upon that niche group of consumers for ‘product A’ in 2019? It took us six months to discover and validate that audience, and we lucked into it. Using social intelligence, we’ll be able to keep our ears attuned to where and how niche groups are talking about our market and products. With social intelligence software, we’ll be able to make quicker decisions and gain market share before our competitors do. I think it will be highly relevant for the launch of ‘product b.'” Hopefully, you get the gist.

Be specific and contextualize your examples to current business priorities.

Tip 3: Combating Cultural Bias

What about combating that cultural bias we talked about earlier? Make no mistake; this one is tough. The quickest solution to this challenge is to get executive sponsorship. When your CEO is championing social intelligence, most of your colleagues and teams will fall in line. If not, however, you’ll have to do some selling. While internal and specific examples are the answers to the knowledge issue, external and broad examples are the best approaches to defeating your organization’s cultural bias. Why is that?

Provide External Case Studies

When someone doubts your practical business cases one by one, they don’t necessarily doubt you or your logic. Instead, what they are challenging are your premises. You can almost imagine them discussing it in their heads, “That sounds great and all, but it doesn’t apply to us. We are different. It won’t catch on the way you think.” So, to combat this, you need to appeal to broad, structural shifts happening across industries and consumers. Here are some examples of what we mean:

    • 69 percent of UK shoppers distrust traditional advertising (Ipsos)
    • Two-thirds of US Consumers believe their words can influence the actions of a brand (Accenture)
    • Chinese consumers’ purchase decisions are influenced most by the opinions of key opinion leaders (KOL). Chinese consumers are influenced more by KOLs than price discounts (Westwin).
    • According to Facebook, after Sephora launched its appointment schedule service via Messenger, its in-store makeover bookings increased by 11%. (Ipsos).
    • Peloton’s advertisement fiasco cost the company a 10 percent drop in valuation (Forbes).
    • Insight-driven companies grew 8X that of global GDP growth (Forrester).

Of course, no single statistic or commentary will flip your organization’s thinking.  Becoming a data-driven company is hard work. Instead, these insights illustrate the kind of examples you should cite on a weekly, if not daily, basis. To summarize, your examples should ideally be from a third party, undeniable, and pointing towards a significant shift in your industry, the economy, or consumer behavior.

Tip 4: Share Your Findings

Last, but certainly not least, there’s the practical side of ensuring that social insights are shared across your team. You need to make sure social data and insights are broadly accessible to all in your organization.

At Synthesio, we’ve been working hard to create features and products that do precisely that. Our new Sharing capabilities will help organizations like yours establish data-backed and consumer-driven thinking by ensuring that social insights are current, understandable, and at the forefront of your team’s thinking. That’s the other half of this battle you are fighting. With Share, you will be able to send to your colleagues one-off or recurring emails of your Reports pages. You will be able to add your company logo and text captions that explain what each chart is capturing and indicating.


Especially for passive consumers of social data – for example, your CMO – these features will ensure that social insights don’t fall to the wayside. Our new Sharing capability ensures that insights are fresh, available, understood, and ultimately leading your organization down a path of data-driven decision making.


While there’s plenty to discuss with regards to establishing social-data-driven thinking, we hope this article provided you with some of the big elements to consider. We hope to share more social listening insights with you in the future!