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Social business intelligence (BI) is data gleaned from social media and social networks. Traditional business intelligence is any business data, such as sales revenue or inventory turnover rates, that can be collected, analyzed, and used to drive decision-making. Social BI is a type of intelligence that focuses on information that can be gathered through the Internet-powered connections between businesses and the public. This data is processed using analytics and made user-friendly through Internet interfaces that gather and present information in real time.
The widespread use of the Internet and its rapid adoption as a primary means for social interaction has enabled businesses to interface with the public in new ways. Various social media and social networking websites have made it possible for businesses to gather an unprecedented amount of consumer feedback about how and why people engage with a brand or product. Social business intelligence is the process of collecting this new type of social data, analyzing it using tools that put the information into computer formats that are accessible over the Internet, and using the data to make business decisions.
Social media and social networks include Internet blogs, micro-blogs, forums, multimedia exhibitors, and community-based websites where people are able to express opinions and spread information. As these social outlets became popular, businesses seized the opportunity to interact directly with consumers but had few paradigms established to meaningfully process the wealth and quantity of feedback. Analysis primarily focused on the content of feedback and the quantity, but did not have an effective way for this information to drive decision-making. For example, a business would track the number of times customers hit a button indicating they like the company or its products on a popular social networking site but had no plan how best to use that information to drive planning.
Many businesses also find it hard to measure the exact impact of allocating marketing dollars to social media campaigns or Internet-based advertising. Social business intelligence is concerned with establishing a methodology so the data collected can prove or disprove this type of bottom-line impact. It uses Internet-based business analytics and other computerized methods of monitoring and mining the data provided by social media and networks to accomplish this goal. Developing software systems to collect and manage social BI has become a cottage industry within marketing.
Social business intelligence is an area of market intelligence that is still being defined. New ways of collecting and analyzing data are being discovered as quickly as new software and technologies galvanize the imagination of the public. The best use and rightful place of social BI in strategic business analysis is yet to be fully determined.