What is Social Intelligence & Why Does it Matter?

What is Social Intelligence & Why Does it Matter?

Defining what is social intelligence is key to understand the conversations and trends of specific audiences, markets and media trends.

By: Michael Brito

Category: Influencer Marketing

What is social intelligence? Why does it even matter?

In this video I talk through the social intelligence industry and define the key differences between that and other forms of data insights. Please enjoy the video below and subscribe to my Youtube channel to be the notified when new videos are added.


Hey welcome to this weekly blog series, this is something I’ve been wanting to do for many years and I’ve always been afraid to do it because I hate myself being on video and I think I sound like an idiot. But i always wondered “what is social intelligence” and why it mattered.

So here I am in 2020, I’ll be doing this every week providing a quick hot take on something in the industry spending 5 min giving my perspective, context and sometimes correction on that topic and then opening it up for dialogue on other platforms so thank you again and here we go jumping into our first topic.

Alright my first topic this week is going to be talking about the differences between social intelligence and audience intelligence. They are both equally important but many people and folks in the industry are using the term synonymous and they are not the same.

Now back in the day I used to call it social listening and I think many of us who are either watching this video or have been around the block a few times have called it social listening or online monitoring; and that was important and its still important today and now we call it social intelligence.

What is social intelligence?

What it does is it give you a quick snapshot into the market — what is the market saying about a topic, and that topic could be AI, it could be Blockchain, it could be fashion,  it could be travel, it could be beer.

Whatever it is you are looking to do, whatever it is you are looking to analyze, social intelligence can give you that option.

Now I call it social intelligence mainly because when I think about social listening, it really is like taking a shower without using soap. Right, you are going to get wet, you might get some sweat and dirt off but you’re not going to get clean.

With social intelligence it requires you to use some some soap and maybe a scrub brush, or whatever it is you use to clean yourself with  and actually get the grime and dirt off, and you usually smell better when you do.

And so, that in itself, is one way to delineate the differences between social intelligence and social listening.

Now with social intelligence, in general, as I mentioned a second ago,  it gives you a snapshot into the market and what they are saying. So you go to a platform like Brandwatch, you determine what content sources you want to look at — is it Reddit, is it the News Media, is it blogs, is it forums, is it, you know social.

And … you type in a very complicated boolean query in  to really narrow down that content,  you don’t just want to type in Apple, because you are going to get Apple product and Apple the fruit.

And so it requires you to create very complex boolean logic, in order to eliminate the spam and get the true conversation. So to understand what is social intelligence requires you to leverage software platforms like Brandwatch.

So, social intelligence, again its important, people do it, I do it. It’s great if you work in an agency for new business, and sometimes if you are working on the brand side, it’s great to just measure the volume of your brand name being used across the industry.

Alright let’s talk now about audience intelligence and what that means. It requires a different way of thinking because the first thing you have to do is build an audience and then listen to their conversations.

And so how do you build an audience, well, its difficult but it can be done.

In B2B it’s actually much easier because most of those work in B2B like CIOs or the the C-suite, or developers and engineers and IT decision makers — they like to see identify. They like to tell the world who they are, and where they work and what technology they are interested in.

And so on the consumer side it’s a little bit more difficult. It’s difficult to find millennials in Portland who wear Birkenstocks and drink IPA.

Its not impossible but it’s not that easy.

And so just to give you a quick example of how this works, let’s just take the developer community because I have done a lot of work in B2B and I know a lot about developers in general.

And so imagine being able to pull in to a database like Brandwatch as an example, um puling in 15- 20 thousand self-identified developers.

Can you imagine what that means because you’re able to understand exactly what this audience is saying in real-time.

Are they talking about Docker (and not the pants either), are they talking about Blockchain, are they talking about AI,  are they talking about you know music – what types of music do the share and listen to?

Understanding what media they are referencing when they are talking about those technologies – are they referencing ZDNet, are they talking about or sharing Forbes content, are they sharing content from Medium or LinkedIn?

So that type of intelligence is great because you can give those insights to your marketing team, you can give those insights to your PR teams because if you work in marketing like I do, you know that you have to be relevant to audiences at all times.

And relevancy changes almost instantly, right, everyday is different and so what was relevant to developers yesterday may not be relevant today.

And so with audience intelligence, you can listen to those real-time conversations to see what is top of mind for that group today and then be able to create pieces of content in order to and certainly in alignment with your business and brand and then is also relevant to your audience and begin to drive engagement and drive relevancy with the developer audience in real-time.

On the PR side, imagine you have a launch and you have a news release going out and you are trying determine who is the right media you want to pitch this to and who is the right exclusive partner, if you understand what developers are reading as I mentioned a minute ago – ZDNet – perhaps you was want to focus your efforts there.

If you don’t have a relationship with a journalist who writes for ZDNet, then that means you should probably go find and build one.

So again, to recap social intelligence you determine your content sources, you write your Boolean logic and you listen to the world. It’s a snapshot of the market.

With audience intelligence, it’s focused. You’re listening to a finite group of people.

Even though this data is focused on audiences and social media, it can be used a variety of different ways especially when building a multi segment marketing strategy from the ground up. This approach ensures that your foundation starts with data.

There are several audience intelligence platforms out there that allow you to build audiences. I use a platform called Audiense — very innovative platform, they are continuously working on it and making it better and integrating it with other social intelligence platforms.

The social intelligence market is changing and evolving. They are now incorporating audiences because of its power to understand consumer behavior and track conversations. So when looking to hire a social intelligence agency, it’s critical that they are using the right software for pulling data.

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