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The state of social intelligence: 2019 year in review

By Joe Rice
Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Chances are, your company or organization is already successfully tapping into social media to monitor your brand, run marketing campaigns and even manage customer service. But it’s when you start putting that social data to work to make better decisions, that you know that you have moved from social media management to social intelligence. That transition has been the focus of many conversations I’ve had with businesses during the past year, including a couple of social listening roundtables we’ve hosted here at Twitter. Here’s my summary of what those businesses are telling me:

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Social intelligence is on the rise

As previously mentioned, more companies are seeing Twitter and other social data as a valuable source of insight into the people and topics important to them. Businesses are realizing the uniqueness of social media in providing real-time, unprompted and authentic feedback and are starting to overlay this ‘voice of the customer’ data with other data sources to find correlation and causation.

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Insight is being “democratized”

Companies are in the midst of massive rollouts of dashboards and alerting capabilities to support the specific needs of various departments and regions. At the same time, analysis capabilities are being more centralized to support specialization and reduce duplication of effort. Social listening and analytics tools are supporting the former while business intelligence tools the latter. And to that point…

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DIY is happening

Some innovative organizations are applying their own models for text analysis to more accurately understand all this unstructured data. For this reason, they are either connecting directly to social APIs themselves or are using their social listening provider’s APIs to get social data into their business intelligence tools for further, deeper data analysis.

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Small is big

When taken as a whole, the sheer quantity of social data points can be impressive but quantity is not necessarily a requirement for success. Many companies are deriving immense value in surfacing small numbers (hundreds or even dozens) of highly relevant data points on very specific topics. For example, an analyst researching a topic such as yogurt might only find a couple of hundred mentions in a given month, but within that data set are valuable insights around flavor preferences, health benefits or usage trends.

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It’s not if, but when

Most organizations aren’t asking if social data like that from Twitter has value but when they should be utilizing it. Put another way, what questions is Twitter good at answering? How does social media data complement other data sources and/or research techniques? The answers might vary depending on industry, audience, and/or geography, but many organizations I’ve spoken with are getting immense value from social data at the beginning of their research, using it to understand market context and quickly (and cheaply) test assumptions.

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New innovators are emerging

Innovation has primarily been driven by social listening vendors over the past decade, however, we are starting to see some really interesting and innovative work coming from smaller digital agencies and data science shops connecting the social dots with other data sources. As mentioned, it’s this blending of data sources which will prove the value of social data for new use cases.

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As 2019 draws to a close and we look toward a new decade, what is the current state of social intelligence? To paraphrase Churchill, this is certainly not the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. And this stage should excite us. If you’re ready to start your move to social intelligence, get inspired at data.twitter.com.

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@josephlrice

Joe Rice

‎@josephlrice‎

Lead Product Solutions Sales Manager