One of my favorite parts of working in social media is identifying insights via social listening data to help our clients drive real business decisions that will help propel their brands toward their goals.
Last week, I attended a session called “Using Social Listening in Business” at Social Media Week NYC, hosted by the CMO of Brandwatch, Will McInnes. He made some solid predictions as he discussed the future of social data, which I found to be both very interesting and also parallel to the way we’re thinking about data within our agency. It was a great session to sit in as we’re constantly looking for ways to optimize our social listening strategies and tactics for our clients.
McInnes summed up the future of social data into four categories:
- Predictive: We are getting closer to predicting what will happen to consumer behavior, business, or to content based on the data from the past. How will we get even better at it?
- Blended: How can we better blend multiple sources of data and research from a business and various sources to help get us closer to real predictions and successes?
- Physical: How do we get all of the amazing data we’re finding in the social space to the front lines of a business?
- Visual: How can we better and more accurately measure visual user content that may not have keyword branding and is harder to track?
The two ideas I found the most interesting were “Blended” and “Physical.”
The “Blended “ idea makes a lot of sense. As social media becomes more understood in organizations, it becomes an integral part in key brand activations and campaigns. This is resulting in a spike in curiosity about measurement within these organizations, whose marketers are now asking questions about the data and how we can use it more than ever before. The social listening and measurement tools we now have access to provide us with amazing data that can help guide business decisions on their own – but layer that onto sales data, CRM systems, web site and behavioral analytics, search trends, seasonality, and you have a much better picture of the insights. The reality is, this type of collaboration will take buy-in from a variety of stakeholders in an organization, but the ones who do it first will have an edge on the rest.
The “Physical” point also really struck me. As social media strategists, we often are not in the picture when insights found in social data are filtered back out to the physical space (if they are at all). We may help shape recommendations and decks – but they usually are specific to content. McInnes makes the point that the future of social data will include much more than strategic content marketing recommendations based on social, which can create changes in the physical way a business is run, by effecting change in-store, on packaging, in sales messaging, and more.
Overall, a key thing to think about here is expanding social insights and learnings beyond just the digital space.