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Understand how consumers are responding.


Published August 3rd 2016

Social Intelligence and Marketing Tips From Experts at Toshiba, Bank of America, the BBC & More

Forget self-proclaimed gurus, we regularly interview leading brands on how they use social intelligence and have collected their best marketing tips here.

Many of the marketing tips I read online include statements like ‘post more videos to your Facebook wall’ or ‘ask a question on Twitter’. In interviewing people working with social data, we’ve heard many marketing pearls of wisdom that go beyond this simple advice.

Thanks to our interview series, we have a library of marketing tips from experts in their field. I’m not talking about self-proclaimed gurus and mavens on twitter, but real experts working at some of the best, most forward-thinking companies in the world.

As Dan Skeggs, Information Security Consultant said to us in one interview,

Information is everywhere, but it’s how you enrich that information for it to become intelligence. That’s the key goal.

So how do you turn that information into intelligence? And how do you turn that intelligence into insights?

We’ve pulled together a collection of marketing tips and advice from some of our interviewees in their own words.

Social media

While some of our interviews have only covered the more recent and mature uses of social data in marketing, others have covered its development. Social media marketing might start with chasing followers and likes, but it’s important that it soon moves beyond these metrics.

I think at the start, like many other brands, Facebook was a race for likes and growing your followers as quickly as possible. Of course, you need a critical mass of followers otherwise it’s a bit like shouting into an empty room, but the landscape has changed more recently and engagement is now more important for us.

Sarah Dickinson, Head of PR and Internal Communications for Europe, Toshiba



Consumer marketing tips

In order to earn that engagement, you need to understand your audience and deliver the most relevant and appealing content. Anya Saunders, Lead Producer for the Digital Storytelling team at the BBC, highlights understanding your audience as her marketing tip.

You have to have a really, really strong relationship with your audience, whatever you’re making – TV, radio, online. You have to know your audience, what makes them tick, what tone of voice they like you to talk to them in, what information they want, what they aspire to.

Deeper research into your audience not only provides its own insights but can also help with legitimizing social across your business.

In our GPG interview, Managing Director of Research Jason Boxt told us that many people outside his team only think of social in terms of volume and sentiment, but that approach is “skimming rocks off the surface”.

I think the challenge for us as a sophisticated research unit is getting others to understand that there is a level of analysis that goes deeper than basic monitoring and listening. That’s where we as a research team offer the best bang for buck.


It’s not necessarily fast, but it really does help them understand and solve their problems. What we can do with these platforms is more sophisticated and less obvious than many of our colleagues often see.

Knowing your audience and allowing time for more sophisticated uses allows for consumer insights to be surfaced. Social intelligence can complement the more established methods.

marketing tips on consumer insights

For John Trenholm, Director of Consumer Insights at Toys “R” Us, social intelligence forms just one part of the methodology, albeit a major part.

We use quantitative and qualitative methods, predominantly online but also phone, in person and in market interviews.  We let the consumer tell us when and how they want to give us feedback.


There are positives to social and positives to traditional. They get me to the end result with the same quality, but in different ways. It’s a great problem to have… two great ways to answer questions and both are safe choices.

Crisis monitoring

One of the areas where social has overtaken older methods is in crisis monitoring. The nature of online gossip and outrage mean that stories can develop very quickly online, and social can often be the best place to look for impending problems.

A lot of things that end up in traditional media start in social. You can use social intelligence to predict headline risk, by evaluating the topics that consumers tweet about to the media.

Tracy Bell – Bank Of America


By having intelligent alerts set up, you can ensure you are able to respond to every mention that requires your attention.

Missing just one thing said about you by an influencer can really impact people’s perception of you.

Rebecca Watts, head of brand and employee communications at the Financial Times (FT)


storm clouds gathering - crisis monitoring expert marketing tips

Furthermore, being able to monitor those events in real time can make all the difference between a crisis averted and reputational damage.

What is a risk at one minute can turn into a crisis the next, but it’s that moving picture…social data can be the most up-to-date, accurate picture or reflection of what’s happening. The time to respond can have a real impact on the damage to your reputation

Dan Skeggs, Information Security Consultant

Competitor monitoring

Our next marketing tip comes from Chris Tilsed, Content and Social Media Manager at restaurant booking platform Bookatable. Chris values the real-time alerts of social intelligence to stay ahead of the competition, allowing him to jump into relevant conversations.

As soon as something relevant is tweeted, I get an email. It’s the real-time aspect of someone saying something relevant and being able to jump on it.


I remember once I got an alert with someone looking for a restaurant. They had actually mentioned our competitor, but because I got an email I was able to jump on it before they were.

chess board representing expert marketing tips on competitor monitoring

Troy Pfeffer, Intelligence Director at Cintas, gains competitor insights in a different way: using social intelligence and primary research to learn from competitor mistakes.

We want to see what the customer base is saying about the competition to see what mistakes they might be making, using social and primary research. This is then allowing us to learn from those mistakes.

These are just a tiny sample of the interesting and insightful ways our interviewees are using social intelligence to boost their operations. For more cutting edge marketing tips from the front line, keep an eye on our interview series, which is updated weekly.

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Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.