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Exploiting Value via Social Analytics & Intelligence Tools Converting Contextual to Actionable = Customer Engagement

Originally published July 11, 2012

Creating social intelligence out of social media analysis tools takes a village. A mere youngster in comparison to more mature technology relatives such as search, text analytics, and data mining tools, social analytics is a highly fragmented emerging software category that has rapidly developed alongside consumer adoption of social communication vehicles such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Businesses that market to these consumers want to know more about them. How old are they, where do they live, what sites are grabbing their attention and why? What products, services and content interest them, and most importantly, what influences them to purchase or recommend certain products or brands?

Driven by high volumes of online user-generated content, social analytics is actually an exploding category. There is no dearth of software and service vendors offering sentiment analysis, Twitter analytics, content analytics, and speech analytics tools. Each offers dashboards, drill-downs, graphs or other types of visualization that illustrate metrics for online sentiment analysis (positive, neutral, mixed or negative), such as influencer or net-promoter scores, share of voice, volume, product quality issues, crisis management, share price cause and effect or media and brand reach.

Challenges: What Organizations Seek and Require

With more than 100 social analytics vendors to choose from, organizations seek to understand which selection criteria are most critical in making the right investment for their organization. At present, some vendors offer analysis of either Twitter and/or Facebook. Others focus on analysis of blogs, RSS feeds, and/or certain media outlets, while the most sophisticated literally “drink from the fire hose” in analyzing all online sources of user-generated content.

Metrics, trend analysis, and/or key performance indicators available through dashboards, visualization or other types of reporting are another area companies struggle to assess. Our research found most fall into one or more of the following maturity levels:

  • Clients know they need metrics but are uncertain as to what to use in order to be effective;
  • Clients expect vendors to provide them with a menu of available metrics or KPIs to choose from;
  • Clients know precisely which metrics they want for each of their business objectives.

Estimating total ROI eludes many organizations. More than 50% of all companies reported not tracking return on investment from in SA&I. On the other hand, 5% overall reported getting an ROI of at least 1% of their annual marketing budget from social analytics and intelligence (SA&I) investments.

Nevertheless, companies plan to invest in social analytics as a method of measuring, if not justifying, growing expenditures in social business initiatives. Early adopters have jumped on social analytics for measuring tactical or operational metrics. In 2013, nearly 60% plan to invest between 1-2.9% of their annual marketing budget; another 52% will invest between 3-4.9% of their annual marketing budget; and 39.5% will invest more than 5% of their annual marketing budgets. Presumably, all of this investment will occur after figuring out:

  • What business application to apply social analytics to
  • What social processes to redesign or improve
  • What metrics to measure
  • Who will be accountable for creating and applying metrics to take action
  • When and what types of actions to take based on the creation of social intelligence

Figure 1:
Company Investment in Social Analytics Forecast to Grow: 2012-2013
Source: ©2012 Hypatia Research Group. All Rights Reserved

Business Use Cases: Taking Action on Social Intelligence

Not surprisingly, analysis of social media can be applied toward multiple business initiatives such as:
  • Brand reputation, brand leadership and crisis management
  • Product innovation, ideation and product design quality
  • Sales and marketing 
  • Customer service and support
  • Business process improvement 
  • Competitive intelligence

If these business initiatives seem similar to those for Voice of the Customer (VOC), they should. In the first industry analyst authored primary research study written on VOC, Hypatia Research Group1 identified integrated VOC technologies as encompassing and combining the analysis of both structured (data) and unstructured (contextual) information. In short, social media analytics and intelligence business processes and enabling technologies should be viewed as a subset of voice of the customer – a rapidly growing piece of the customer intelligence pie due to the recent explosion in user-generated content.

Hypatia Research Group defines social analytics and intelligence technologies as enabling the monitoring, filtering, categorization, sentiment and trend analysis, text analysis, correlation discovery and root-cause analysis of all types of unstructured social media and/or user-generated content from multiple sources, both private and public. In short, social media analysis helps organizations discover actionable signals within the noise of more than 50 million conversations per day and use this customer intelligence for guidance, decision support and/or corrective action deemed most advantageous in meeting business objectives and/or corporate goals.

Ideally, social analytics software tools should help organizations measure the effectiveness of social media on business – but, insofar as measuring a tangible ROI, software alone is just a major part of an overall strategy, operational plan and solution. 

Guidance for End-Users of Technology: Galaxy Leaders, Satellite Competitors and Nebulae Contenders

Our illustrative chart (in Chapter 2 of the report) utilizes a data-driven methodology to evaluate and place vendors on an X/Y axis corresponding to dimensional measurements of maturity and vision. (See our complete primary research study "Social Analytics & Intelligence: Converting Contextual to Actionable " to view vendors evaluated in Hypatia's 2012 Social Analytics & Intelligence study).

Vendors evaluated as Galaxy Leaders evidenced the most comprehensive offerings, exhibited a roadmap with innovative new product or feature releases, a clearly defined product methodology and vision for SA&I services inclusive of strategic, operational and technical services, as well as integration partnerships. Integration is key for many, but not all, vendors in order to take action (execute) on social intelligence through complementary enabling technologies such as customer interaction and relationship management, or marketing automation. Weighted modeling ensures that only the top 15% of vendors place in Hypatia’s Galaxy. We recommend that organizations shortlist all Galaxy vendors for consideration and consider Satellite Competitors before making a final selection.

Hypatia’s Assessment

Insofar as converting context into actionable insight, the majority of organizations are currently in the early adopter stage for social media analytics and intelligence. Companies are eager to monitor and/or explore trends, as well as to benchmark the rise in positive or negative sentiment against public relations communications, customer service or product quality issues, product launches or share of brand voice. However, our assessment is it will take time for organizations to fully process what is feasible in regard to capturing, managing, analyzing and, above all, creating social intelligence in order to take action on this user-generated content.

In the chapters of our complete primary research study Social Analytics & Intelligence: Converting Contextual to Actionable, our research and market analysis of over 500 global end-user organizations will demonstrate:

  • How organizations set goals and objectives for investment in social analytics and intelligence initiatives.

  • Which role(s) are primarily accountable for these programs and, moreover, how these teams should be structured organizationally.

  • Return on investment benchmarks by geography, industry, maturity level and size.

  • Maturity levels for social analytics and intelligence: What differentiates beginners from the more sophisticated practitioners?

  • How organizations are harmonizing customers’ online interactional information with transactional data stored within legacy systems such as CRM, marketing databases or data warehouses

  • Best practices or lessons learned from other organizations’ effective social analytics and intelligence initiatives might benefit my organization


  1. Operationalizing Voice of the Customer: Benchmarks, Best Practices and Maturity Models, ©2010, Hypatia Research Group

  • Leslie AmentLeslie Ament

    Leslie Ament, Senior Vice President and Principal Analyst at Hypatia Research Group is a customer intelligence management thought-leader and industry analyst who focuses on the business value of technology in regards to how organizations capture, manage, analyze and apply actionable customer insight to improve customer management techniques, reduce operating expenses and to accelerate corporate growth. Her research and advisory services include: Customer Analytics & Interaction, Advanced Analytics, Business Intelligence and Big Data Analytics, Social Media Intelligence/Text Analytics, CRM, Digital Marketing Automation, Customer Data Management/Data Quality and Governance, Risk & Compliance.

    Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Leslie Ament's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel on Customer Analytics & Insight. Be sure to visit today!

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