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Published April 8th 2016

Brian Solis and Nathalie Nahai on the Human Side of Social Analytics

Social listening, or social intelligence, can often feel like it’s all about numbers.

In fact, for most people working with digital more broadly, the proliferation of available data and tools with which to analyze it has largely been a movement towards quantitative-driven work.

The rise of the data scientist and infinitely optimized campaigns have been fantastic for brands and agencies everywhere, but have we sacrificed the human element of social media?

At Now You Know this May, the world’s largest assembly of social intelligence practitioners will be looking more closely at the evolution of social analytics.

Among them will be keynote speakers Brian Solis and Nathalie Nahai, both of whom will offer a unique perspective on the more human side of social data.

How we behave online

Nahai is arguably the most renowned name in web psychology, and her talk will see her explore the things that the data can sometimes miss.

Although social has presented a bountiful new opportunity for brands to find meaning in the statistics, and even provide a platform with which to generate more business, what can be said for the emotional side of this space?

“Trying to influence people’s decisions in an ethical way (as opposed to tricking them into unwanted actions) can be a fine line to tread. When you’ve got an unrealistic sales target and a numbers-focussed manager breathing down your neck, it’s easy to think “Well, why bother?”


Nathalie Nahai, web psychologist and NYK keynote speaker

For Nathalie, it’s about reframing the conversation to be more about what it’s like to be a human on the internet.

So instead of thinking what a brand can do to extract value from values on a dashboard, it’s a case of really examining how the brand can act to empower its customers to achieve their objectives, not just the business’s goals.

With so much of the work in social media focused on gathering numbers to put into spreadsheets, even with verbatim excerpts of real customer comments, are there ways that we as an industry can move towards a more human-centric approach?

We hope that NYK attendees will walk away with a renewed appreciation for getting insights into real human behaviour, and rethink their own practices regarding the quantitative side of social analytics.

A human experience

Brian Solis, a huge name in the digital domain, will be sharing his thoughts on the topic too, but presenting from the other side of the same coin.

Elaborating upon the insights published in his 2015 book “X: The Experience When Business Meets Design”, Solis will be considering the increasing role that customer experience is playing across the marketing mix.


Essentially, marketing has become a commodity – anyone can do it. Customer experience, on the other hand, is remarkably difficult to get right.

Maintaining excellence across brand touchpoints with a digital-first approach means adopting storytelling best practices and a deep understanding of how to spark conversations with customers and audiences in ways that lead to meaningful engagement.

Empathy is a central concept to many of the ideas that Nathalie focuses on with regard to the human experience of using social media, and for Solis it’s no different.

Describing empathy as ‘the secret ingredient’ for creating rich customer experiences.

“Seeing the world through the eyes of others gives you a competitive advantage because so few businesses have a disciplined method for doing so.” 


Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group and NYK keynote speaker

By adopting a human-centered approach to design in relation to digital brand experiences, Solis distills sometimes overly complex methodologies into accessible, practical and applicable insights for brands of all sizes and scales.

A coherent theme across the talks held at NYK will surely be one of humanity, and how we really behave online.

Nathalie will be exploring this from the individual’s point of view, and with Brian we’ll get further insight from the perspective of a business.

Together, we know that by attending you’ll gain a rekindled appreciation of new insights into how people behave online, and why that matters for everyone.

Now You Know tickets are available here.


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