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Anna and Shaun

I recently sat down with NetBase senior product marketing manager, Anna Startseva for an ongoing conversation on the future of analytics. 

Sean: Looking back, what are your thoughts on how far social media analytics has come? What does this say for the future of the industry?

Anna: Social has come a long way from being a tool for technology-savvy students to connect with their classmates to now becoming one of the main modes of communication. There are over 2.3 billion people using social media today. That’s a third of the world’s population!

Sean: What are the hottest trends driving the industry today? What are some key use cases you’re seeing becoming more mainstream?

Anna: This is a very exciting time for social analytics. The industry is definitely maturing as more companies adopt social media programs to drive their business goals. We went from working with communications teams that thought in isolation about the value of social analytics in growing their communities, to now working with multiple departments in major global enterprises that leverage social analytics to guide multiple business objectives – including to build better products, understand consumer perceptions, inform marketing campaigns, address crisis situations, predict sales, and more.

I’d like to highlight two trends that I see in the market: One is getting all possible data; and two is presenting this data in a way that makes it actionable.

There’s a lot of value that companies can gain with image analysis. Did you know that about 80% of images that include a company’s logo don’t mention their brand in text? Imagine all the intelligence that companies are missing out on.

So think about the Olympics and sponsors like McDonald’s that are spending millions of dollars on marketing and sponsorships to stay top of mind for their consumers. They would certainly want to know how successful their campaigns are and if they got their media mix right. Now, McDonald’s can look at text and visual conversations about the brand coming from the Olympics stadiums only. This helps understand what is happening at the stadiums right now, how are people responding to the marketing assets, what user-generated content and photos are most engaging, and what could be changed on the fly to achieve better performance?

Once companies have access to all possible data, it’s important to digest this information for action. Many have already started incorporating social analytics as part of their business intelligence systems next to PR feeds, customer care responses, or stock price data. Moving social analytics from its silo in with other business metrics and seeing trends unfold in real-time helps business leaders gain the full picture of their business and gain predictive intelligence to address emerging issues fast. Take a peek at how Yum Brands used social listening to understand consumers on a global level and get an accurate picture of their audience.

Sean: What are some exciting new features or technologies customers can look forward to in the next 3 years?

Anna: Analytics providers will continue innovating with image analysis to help companies identify marketing engagement behavior, consumer emotions, new product ideas, competitive attributes, and more. Susan Etlinger from Altimeter has just published a fantastic paper on image intelligence where she describes some very exciting future capabilities for image analysis. A couple of ideas stuck with me. One is an ability to predict a home’s value based on attributes such as French windows displayed in real estate photos. Another is shoppable images where consumers would be able to buy products in an image directly from social media platforms.

Video is sure to follow image analysis so companies can keep up with consumer communication trends. Snapchat, Periscope and now Facebook live video have made communication easier and more fun with video. Now it’s time for social analytics technologies to step up their game and figure out how to help companies make sense of this data and make it valuable for the business.

The best example so far of how impactful video can be for business is the Facebook live post of a woman laughing hysterically in a Chewbacca mask. The video was watched 50 million times a day and the mask sold out immediately. That’s the power of social for you! Companies will want to tap into this to influence brand recognition and product sales.

Sean: Explain how the “day in the life” of a typical social media analytics expert 10 years from now will be different than it is today?

Anna: This may seem radical, but I don’t think there will be a social media analyst in 10 years. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be social media and mounds and mounds of data to analyze. But the role will become part of a business analyst role who is already responsible for business metrics. Social will come out of its silo and become incorporated with other metrics driving business performance.

Sean: Of future concepts being discussed today, which do you think are least likely to come to fruition? Why?

Anna: I think all the concepts discussed today are very much possible and companies like ours are already working to make it a reality. So stay tuned!

To ensure your brand’s future via social listening, get in touch for a demo of the NetBase platform.

E-Book: The Importance of Social Analytics for Consumer Insights

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