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02.08.2014
Average Social Media Intelligence Analyst salaries for job postings in Conshohocken, PA are 4% higher than average Social Media Intelligence Analyst salaries for job postings nationwide. In many companies, marketers have been first movers in social media, tapping into it for insights on how consumers think and behave. Today, many people who have expert knowledge and shape perceptions about markets are freely exchanging data and viewpoints through social platforms.
This isn’t to suggest that “social” will entirely displace current methods of intelligence gathering.
In this article, we explore four distinct ways social technologies can augment the intelligence-gathering approaches of companies. The analysis in this article relies in part upon data and research provided by NM Incite, a joint venture between Nielsen and McKinsey. The case of Mediator, while perhaps extreme, hints at structural constraints that lurk within many organizations and hinder efforts to identify or act on key information—particularly when it runs against the organizational grain. As companies make such moves, they will probably need to update the profiles of their competitive-intelligence analysts. Analysts typically spend 80 percent of their time gathering information before they begin to analyze it. A word or phrase used in microblogging and social-networking services, such as Twitter, that is preceded by a hash mark (#) and identifies a category of interest and facilitates a search for it.
Social media can also provide windows into the plans of competitors, suppliers, and customers. Few analysts deploy tools robust enough to draw useful insights from the turbulent new streams of social data. Yet the availability of vast quantities of social-media data points has spawned an array of new analytic methods that can structure and derive insight from complex information. As this list indicates, the range of analytical techniques has exploded, and to stay ahead of the game companies must tap new areas of expertise. One complaint we often hear from analysts is that senior managers don’t act on the information channeled their way.
By contrast, new social software now on the market lets companies rapidly, even automatically, curate highly pertinent information—from news sources, Web discussions by experts and influencers, freshly minted market data, and customer feedback.
The Desjardins experience underscores the leverage companies gain when they distribute intelligence socially. Looking forward, more sophisticated users of social media, such as Desjardins, should be able to rate the relevance of information they receive, by using Web conventions such as “liking” or “+1 ing.” That permits analysts to track the ripple effects of information bursts as individuals virally propagate those they find most useful. April 2012—As the marketing power of social media grows, it no longer makes sense to treat it as an experiment.


As social technologies mature and organizations become convinced of their power, we believe they will take on a broader role: informing competitive strategy. By identifying and engaging these players, employing potent Web-focused analytics to draw strategic meaning from social-media data, and channeling this information to people within the organization who need and want it, companies can develop a “social intelligence” that is forward looking, global in scope, and capable of playing out in real time. As Exhibit 1 makes clear, social media has little effect on some aspects of the intelligence cycle—in particular, the need to identify priorities for exploration and decision making over the next 6 to 12 months, as well as the use of assembled information to make unbiased decisions. Competitive analysts today differentiate between primary sources of information (from experts, competitors, employees, and suppliers), on the one hand, and secondary sources (such as published data, articles, and market research), on the other. Intelligence analysts often report exclusively to a single department, such as communications, marketing, or strategy. Recruitment from outside the company or even the industry can improve the odds that analysts will pick up a variety of signals that now may be missed. Consider, for example, how competitive analysts from one organization used LinkedIn to piece together, virtually, an advanced look at new features a major technology company was planning as part of a product upgrade. But socially astute analysts will need more, such as the ability to manage and engage an online community of trend spotters and, above all, the curiosity to reach out for novel sources of expertise.
Even analysts who have dipped in the waters of social media often find themselves swimming upstream. Earlier this year, executives at a major telecom company launched a social-research effort to get a detailed picture of consumer conversations about the company on social media.
Some may have to seek talented people from outside the organization who are familiar with the new methods or to invest heavily in upgrading the skills of current intelligence analysts. There are good reasons for this inattention: intelligence reports often are formal documents sent by e-mail, broadcast by corporate newsletters, or posted on intranets.
To do so, analysts at the company first identify online curators—experts, from outside the company, who are rated highly for their ability to scan and interpret information on financial services and financial technology. Often, we find, one analyst within a company can identify a network of experts and curators. Visual-mapping techniques also let analysts chart these new information flows, which may appear as nodes and connectors across a company’s geography. In particular, social media should help companies overcome some limits of old-school intelligence gathering, which typically involves collecting information from a range of public and proprietary sources, distilling insights using time-tested analytic methods, and creating reports for internal company “clients” often “siloed” by function or business unit. As it does, social-intelligence literacy will become a critical asset for C-level executives and board members seeking the best possible basis for their decisions. But social technologies can play a surprisingly central role in how information is sourced, collected, analyzed, and distributed.1 1. Social intelligence operates on a different plane, identifying people and their conversations in social spaces.


That can make analysts gravitate toward the approved pattern of thinking within their function, potentially limiting the breadth of insight they distill and sometimes even interfering with their judgment. Numerous tools allow analysts to create dynamic maps that pinpoint where information and expertise reside and to track new data in real time. With this model in place, companies in effect “outsource” their data gathering—freeing up intelligence resources for other tasks, such as comprehensive data analysis and trend mapping. Such information maps highlight particularly strong knowledge relationships within companies and may provide clues for new organizational designs that optimize intelligence.The information that companies need to meet competitive challenges is moving quickly from published and proprietary sources to the open, chaotic world of social platforms. Curating a variety of perspectives from multiple social-media sources should help internal checks and balances play out more freely and, in some cases, lead to necessary whistle-blowing. Companies will need to invest in the tools, such as network-mapping and influence-rating metrics, that analysts need to manage these new networks—for example, by helping to assess the expertise and relevance of community members. Almost any user within a company can therefore create a personalized information dashboard, which “democratizes” intelligence and embeds relevant data deep within the organization.
To support an effort to enhance the customer experience, for example, a team of analysts could expand the network of experts to include people with best-practice knowledge outside the financial-services industry. The organization’s information base becomes ever more granular as more and more committed executives learn social data skills.
Navigating this new environment effectively will require new skills and a willingness to engage in social conversations rather than merely assemble information.
For years after Mediator’s launch, in 1976, there had been little news in the press, let alone medical data, that pointed to problems.
To reinforce this diversity of thought, companies can embed analysts across the organization in functions ranging from strategic planning and product development to R&D, customer service, and M&A planning.
Next steps at Desjardins include moving beyond curation to a more targeted and structured analysis of competitors by deploying advanced tools to crunch the company’s increasingly granular social data. These early signals were too weak for traditional Web analysis to spot by simple keyword scanning.
But if the analysis had shifted to deeper “argument mining,” diabetes-related conversations among experts would have appeared, perhaps prompting action by the company. A retrospective analysis from French social-media researchers found that by 2006 the conversations mapped through argument mining had shifted heavily to discussions of the drug’s risks.2 2.



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