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The future of social media intelligence

In today’s social media-saturated world, relying solely on internal data is like driving a car while looking in the rear-view mirror. Internal data reflects the past, because by definition, it is historical; it can also be biased by an organisation’s internal staff or system limitations.

By also looking outside at the world around your business, you are looking ahead through the windshield to see what is coming, giving you a chance to respond, manage the situation and make timely informed decisions.

With social media continuing to grow, business strategies will be increasingly shaped by insights from online data, and getting valuable insights requires looking outside, beyond internal reporting systems, to data found outside the firewall.

Social media intelligence solutions, therefore, should have the ability to leverage the power of big data to process billions of online media documents to uncover and present what is happening outside the company in real-time. By doing this, businesses can then extract and leverage relevant insights to manage their brands, understand the competition and stay on top of industry trends.

The objective of an effective social media intelligence tool is to help measure performance, analyse trends, identify influencers and drive strategy within an organisation. The tool should have the abilities to:

  1. Create a compelling and user-friendly interface that makes it easy to understand the world around your business.
  2. Provide an engaging and efficient user experience with powerful data search tools that can uncover unique insights.
  3. Give decision-makers access to real-time data and insights that enable them to stay connected and responsive to the market or influencers.

There is a persistent need for businesses to derive a specific set of industry insights from global media to support various business functions such as decision-making and risk assessment.

Consequently, social media intelligence tools should have the ability to generate highly focused and customised data analysis – the kind of precise, tangible insights gleaned from a broad data set. In other words, the tool should help its user find and profile that “needle in the haystack” that is important to the business.

A fresh perspective of what the future would look like

Organisations nowadays are using social media intelligence tools for many cases that industry players did not expect. For example, firms in the mining industry are using such tools to analyse and assess infrastructure risk to their global operations. Pharmaceutical companies are using it to analyse public perception of chemical compounds to derive insights for product development. Specialised business services providers such as a security services firm are using these tools to identify and respond to events that represent new sales opportunities.

As organisations begin to explore and use new ways to retrieve and analyse data, the next-generation social media intelligence tool should be built from the ground up to serve a wide variety of user needs for global market insights and media analytics.

It needs to be highly customisable and interactive to create the type of user experience people are accustomed to with business intelligence (BI) tools. The product should also have the capacity to leverage best-in-class data science to add value, meaning and context to the media content as well as draw out important voices and influencers in the market.

Equally important, it needs to be built on modern, highly scalable big data technology to allow users to fully blend not only today’s media such as news, blogs, social media, but be flexible to add whole new classes of data easily in the future.

The marketplace is undergoing a big shift that will increasingly make traditional models less effective in delivering true value to an organisation. Businesses will continue to have their pick of social media intelligence tools to choose from, but the key is selecting the right one.

The writer is John Box, executive director of Meltwater’s Asia Pacific (APAC) division.

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