Marketing Strategy

When BI Harry Met SM Sally–Why Business Intelligence Needs Social Media?

It’s a classical marketing conundrum when the logical, left-brained, structured, quantitative world of business intelligence (BI) clashes with the creative, right-brained, random, qualitative world of social media (SM).  Some BI purists believe that 80% of SM data is chaff and should not even make it inside the corporate firewall.  Most SM aficionados are adamant that a broader collaboration is the future of the social enterprise.

At the outset, it’s important to understand the difference between social media intelligence or social intelligence vs. social media integrated business intelligence.  Zach Hofer-Shall of Forrester Research defines social intelligence as

“the management and analysis of customer data from social sources, used to activate and recalibrate marketing or business programs.”

So it is apparent that to develop social intelligence, an enterprise needs to monitor social media in real time for mentions of or references to–not only its own, but also its competitors’–brands, products, services and assorted related topics. It must simultaneously collect this data and analyze it for both quantitative and qualitative insights so that it can make informed decisions relating to its marketing and business performance.

So what is the difference then from traditional BI? BI also incorporates computer-based systems and tools that allow a company to collect, store, extract, access and analyze business data to aid in decision-making.  However, BI activities such as data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting typically use corporate data not only on a much larger scale, but also more securely inside the firewall–social media data from the public internet has until recently been excluded from BI.

The great Yogi Berra once said, “You can see a lot by just looking.”  And, he was “clearly” right!  In today’s social media world you can learn a lot by just listening to all the various sources of chatter relating to your company.  You can then collate, categorize and analyze that data into valuable information that affects not only your marketing mix–product, pricing, placement, promotion; but also your competitors, customers, influencers, prospects, et al.  This is what standalone social analytics provides today via the practice of, what has come to be known in the business as, “social monitoring.”

But the real value add is in integrating this social intelligence into your company’s business intelligence–“Harry met Sally” is no longer sufficient–it is absolutely necessary for the enterprise to “connect the dots” and use its integrated intelligence in a more effective manner.  BI Harry and SM Sally must come together so corporate performance can be better managed in any number of ways, such as using:

  1. Sally’s sentiment analysis to validate variations in customer service traffic on Harry’s operations dashboard.
  2. Sally’s conversation volume analytics to track sales fluctuations on Harry’s sales dashboard.
  3. Sally’s applause rate (e.g. Facebook Likes) to quantify gains in brand equity on Harry’s marketing dashboard.
  4. Sally’s amplification rate (e.g. Twitter Retweets) to manage media expectations on Harry’s CXO dashboard.
  5. Sally’s engagement volume (e.g. blog comments) to justify product roadmaps on Harry’s engineering dashboard.

These are just a few examples of how social media data can enhance the quality of typical business intelligence used by the enterprise today.  Again, it seems like social media integrated BI will probably be first adopted largely by the B2C domain, where social media has had much more of a positive impact on the revenue cycle.  Nonetheless, it is only a matter of time before social media integrated BI will penetrate the B2B world as well.  Those that choose to lead in this regard will be what The Marketing Id has previously referred to as the social enterprise that conforms to our E=MC5 theory of connectivity.  This is simply because an E=MC5 enterprise already has the infrastructure in place to ensure that BI Harry meets SM Sally more than half way!