Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 9.21.41 PM

If 2015 is the year of Big Data, then 2016 will be the year of exceptional insight – the year when companies finally learn how to derive real business value from this sea of big data. We can hope so, at least, because many companies certainly aren’t hitting this mark.

Big data “has been hot for 100 years and the challenges to see it and understand it are fundamentally the same,” quips Computer World. And it certainly feels that way, doesn’t it? Data collection is happening at every level and area of your organization and has lots of potential. Huge potential. But you’re likely not seeing this potential in action – and you should be.

Analytics offers answers

If there’s an area that holds promise to make sense of anything Big Data can offer, it would be social analytics.

Enterprises are spending major resources – time, money and executive focus – on wrangling big data, but its business value is murky. Social analytics can inform the collection, sorting and mining of social data to ensure that next year will be the year your investment pays off. The first step, though, is understanding what you need.

And you can do that by observing those achieving successful social analytics outcomes.

Knowing what you need

Companies successfully leveraging and making sense of social media – and the corresponding tools to facilitate each, should base their criteria on three key metrics: social customer care, social intelligence, and social media marketing. And Trust Radius has captured in-depth end-user reviews and vendor data to help you make sense of each. Here’s why you’ll want to pay attention to it:

Customer care on social is an important new channel businesses can’t ignore – monitoring mentions and responding in real-time is key. Measuring that response time and your success rate doing so is important too. Do you know where you stand on either standard?

Social intelligence is how brands take analytics beyond “mentions.” Understanding consumer sentiment and passion – and being able to automatically tune sentiment for specific topics is an enterprise “must have.” How are you measuring brand sentiment today? You can’t measure success if you don’t have a starting point.

Beyond that, your data analysis should be monitoring your target audience in real-time so you can jump on trends or manage crises, as they emerge. Your enterprise command center should offer live monitors and visualizations – available to all business functions, including the CEO – for these in-the-moment decisions. Does it? And if not, how fast is your reaction time these days?

Social media marketing is important too, of course – and likely where your efforts are presently focused. A robust platform will offer access to a wide range of channels and their APIs, so you can pull data directly from each source. Merely having access and the ability to schedule posts is no longer enough, particularly as most sites offer a free scheduling option anyway.

Advanced analytics in action

Deeper social intelligence, based on consumer emotions and behaviors, is what powers the most effective social media marketing. Advanced audience identification and segmentation offers the ability to personalize your approach at scale and reach audiences you never would have considered otherwise.

But seeing it in action always speaks louder. We’ve seen businesses accomplish the following, thanks to social analytics:

  • Successfully handled crisis events, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in PR and marketing agency bills as well as avoiding the business cost/fallout from “kneejerk reactions” by using social to inform real-time responses.
  • Enhanced product launches, with better than average results and “outpacing industry performance.”
  • Improved “insight-driven” consumer engagement at the speed of social, with a cost avoidance too large to ignore: “would have cost $5-7M to undo damage from a flawed advertising campaign.”
  • Experienced a real connection between intelligent deployment of social analytics to their bottom line – one “grew PR agency revenue year-over-year by 266%.”
  • Rebranded tired corporate images, winning back clients or regaining status as market leaders.

These use cases are far from unique, but they also aren’t happening for everyone – because everyone isn’t leveraging social analytics the way they could, and should, be.

Understanding ways to measure and quantify social data well beyond “Likes” and “Followers” offers marketing professionals and data analysts the information they need to justify social analytics investments – and their jobs.

After all, social data really isn’t an intelligible white noise. It’s more like a symphony hidden in a cacophony, just waiting for you to sort it out.

Feel free to reach out with your thoughts and questions, or comment below to continue the conversation.

Image from Frederik Magle Music