[Guide] The Social Media Management Maturity Model

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Maturing from social listening to digital consumer intelligence

A practical guide to levelling up how consumer insights are used across your organization

GUIDEMaturing from social listening to digital consumer intelligence

Consumer insights are the lifeblood of your organization. If communication channels are blocked, or if data isn't flowing in the right directions, there are going to be problems – misalignment between teams, disconnection from customers, and mismatching initiatives across the business. Ultimately, this is how organizations die.

Many teams are making great progress in bringing the voice of the consumer into their work through social listening, but it would be wrong to rest on their laurels. One data source can only tell one side of a story, after all. The most robust insights are formed from combining data sources.

To truly compete in the digital era, it’s time to level up the quality and flow of consumer insights in your organization. In this guide we’ll show you how, with example challenges and the opportunities that come with them.

Creating communication streams that leverage all insights

Questions to ask of your organization:

  • Where are insights generated, and how are they distributed?
  • Who are the key insights champions in your business?
  • How could the teams and champions that hold valuable data sources and insights be empowered to make changes beyond their own teams or workloads?

Every team in a business will have a different perspective on the role of data and insights. After all, distinct teams serve distinct functions, and the information they use to perform those functions and measure their success will often be processed in ways unique to that team.

There may be partnerships across teams, through which select data and insights are routinely shared (for example, sales and marketing teams will find it useful to share information on lead generation and the rate at which those leads are followed up on. This allows the teams to identify problems on either side, and to hold each other to account).

This is an example of a traditional two-way data flow that’s mutually beneficial. But there are a whole bunch of non-traditional multi-directional data flows that aren’t taken advantage of, even in today’s data abundant world.

Example challenge: Bottlenecks and blockers

SaaS company X has a long-established social media insights team who are savvy with their analytics. At the end of each week, they compile a report detailing the top praise, complaints, and requests each of the company’s major products has received on social media, and send it as a slide deck to the CEO, CPO, and CTO.

The time short C-suite are appreciative of the emails, but have a habit of skimming over them.

Over in the product team, the social insights sitting in the CPO’s inbox are rarely acted upon. However, the team have noticed that the Net Promoter Score survey in the corner of the product log in pages are seeing worse and worse results. They’ve set up processes to quickly respond to complaints that come through customer service channels, but no matter how quickly they make fixes and improvements the score doesn’t seem to climb.

Opportunity: Opening up channels

If the social insights could be communicated widely, and systematically connected to customer support tickets and NPS results, the business would have a better idea of what fixes and suggestions need prioritization. At the moment, useful customer feedback is only coming in through one channel.

In the above example, the data champions in the social team are showing a clear willingness to make a difference across the organization, but the potential is lost in communication. Identifying these data champions and their potential, then elevating what they have to say, means insights can flow more freely between teams. That’s one part of moving towards digital consumer intelligence.

Finding the right data sources to add to the mix, and the right tools to process them

Questions to ask of your organization:

  • Thinking about ways to improve the business, what data sources could contribute to understanding these opportunities better?
  • Is the business, and teams within it, paying attention to different kinds of data?
  • Are there reservations about particular sources or types?

Understanding consumers’ wants and needs is key to business survival. But, with so much opportunity to listen to what consumers are saying in our developing field, it’s easy for things to be overlooked.

Digital consumer intelligence can come from all manner of forms.

By combining different types of data sources, and going beyond social listening, organizations can be more confident in their insights and unveil new opportunities.

The data from different sources won’t always match, and that’s OK. For example, a survey of individual existing customers might reveal the want for one new product feature, while posts on a forum where people are evaluating different options might suggest a greater need for a different feature. Each different source can give a new perspective, and the more you can bring in the better when it comes to making high stakes decisions on the direction of your company.

As we said above, digital consumer intelligence is an emerging field. It encompasses all sorts of data sources that aren’t always well known outside of analyst circles. A degree of skepticism around the outcomes of analysis around these sources is to be expected, but a few wins based on these insights can help show the value and get beyond that.

Example challenge: A problem best tackled with insights from multiple data sources

Publishing company Y runs an annual conference with a number of high profile speakers. Your insights team has been challenged to find a speaker that will get people excited on social media, to boost the chance of the conference trending, but who also fits in with the overall theme of the conference and the interests of attendees.

The insights team starts by searching for influencers in the publishing industry, with impressive reach metrics and good track records for speaking at big events. They have their list.

They also opt to run a short survey with a selection of those signed up to attend to see what kinds of topics they’re most interested in. Would attendees prefer to hear case studies from established publishers, the stories of newcomers to the industry with new approaches, or inspirational talks from well-known authors?

Opportunity: Finding just the right fit

Armed with their list of influencers and survey results, they can present multiple options to the events team – all of which are likely to create a buzz on social and fit perfectly with the interests of attendees.

In this example, the insights team started with a clear question. They knew which data sources to combine to come to a better decision, and exactly which tools they could use to get that data (in this case a social media analytics tool and a survey tool).

Levelling up the size of the impact: Action from digital consumer intelligence

Questions to ask of your organization

  • Are the insights being generated leading to actual outcomes?
  • What kind of action are insights driving across the business?
  • How quickly is this being done? Or, in other words, how agile is your business when it comes to actioning insights?

The aim of digital consumer intelligence is to give organizations the big picture, that goes beyond simple social listening and single data sources. The point of it is to drive the kind of large-scale action that helps businesses win.

We’ve talked about opening up channels to allow for the free flow of information and insights across departments. We’ve also spoken about the importance of combining multiple datasets to create that bigger picture understanding and to make better decisions. With the right structure, data, and tools in place, everything is in place for achieving more with digital consumer intelligence.

The only thing missing is urgency – consumer insights come in fast (often in real time). The ability of a company to act quickly, confidently, and decisively on those insights is what will decide the business landscape in coming years. We’re already seeing it happen across many industries, with disruptors able to move quickly and poach large chunks of their more established competitors’ customers.

Example challenge: A cunning competitor

International E-scooter rental company Z sees that a new competitor has just joined the market in Germany.

The team notice that positive social conversation and press coverage around their competitor is rising quickly, and they’ve already seen a decline in scooter rentals in cities where the competitor operates. The competitor is proving popular because of its easy-to-use app and the discounts it offers riders for fast food chains.

Opportunity: Beating them at their own game

Aside from improving app UX, company Z can look at the interests of their followers on social media, as well as the locations their scooters are often left at. This will give them a good idea of the businesses or products their customers are most interested in, and can help them make similar offers that will be more tempting than that of their competitor.

Since they’re a global team, they can do this across all the countries they operate in to ensure no other company can get this competitive advantage against them elsewhere.

A competitive market like e-scooters is a good example of one where fortune seems to favor the quick-to-adapt. If the company notices that a competitor is getting the upper hand, they can use their own data prowess to understand how to draw customers back in with superior offers or experiences.


Final questions to ask of your organization:

  • If you could wipe the slate clean, and work out the information that’s needed, how it ought to flow through the business, and how it could best work to make every function better optimized for customer wants and needs, how would it look?
  • What steps can you take now to work towards that?

Levelling up the quality and availability of consumer insights across the organization is the way to win in a rapidly changing digital world. This is achieved by embedding the ethos of digital consumer intelligence at the heart of the organization and bringing that full picture understanding so that every team can work towards a common goal.

The core ingredients are simply:

  • The structure that allows for the flow of information and insights
  • The right kinds and combinations of data
  • The tools to properly handle that data and answer business-critical questions
  • The urgency that must be embedded at the very heart of an organization

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