Social CMO to social CMI: the insight-driven evolution in the enterprise

Social data’s not just for marketing anymore, argues contributor Will McInnes. The insights derived from it can be applied to customer service, product development and all across the enterprise.


Earlier this year, we discussed the importance of leveraging social data to impact your organization’s marketing efforts. We focused on the importance of having a data-driven chief marketing officer (CMO) gathering data from social platforms, extracting actionable insights from them and proving to other C-levels how useful social data can be. And we alluded to what I believe will be the next step in social’s evolution in the enterprise: blending social data with other business and third-party data — cross-pollinating for hybrid vigor, or richer data, if you will.

With just under 80 days until the New Year, it seems early to make predictions, but we’re hedging our bets on a new power position within the enterprise that will drive home that last point: the social consumer market insights professional.

Forming social consumer insights teams

It’s still absolutely vital to use social data for marketing efforts: to track campaigns, check in on brand health and uncover new audiences, to name a few specific examples. But social data is so valuable that the importance of sharing it across other departments is becoming more and more clear.

Social consumer market insights (social CMI) derived from market research and consumer insights teams are designed to support every team outside of the boardroom — including customer service, product development, human resources and beyond. Isolating social listening inside one department — usually marketing — is an outdated practice.

Through the use of this social data, consumer insights analysts and department heads are advancing customer journey propositions that not only address the desires of new and existing customers but also anticipate future needs.

The value of analyzing social CMI is that it gives you the key to the coveted inner workings of the consumer psyche. And it goes further than traditional monitoring for marketing ever has. These insights from advanced data analytics can be revelatory breakthroughs, not just minor findings affecting one department. Smart teams are putting their social data to work alongside conventional, and frankly siloed, methods of discovering consumer information — including passive social listening, traditional surveys and focus groups.

The social CMI professional is tasked with getting the complete view on the voice of the customer. Their approach has to include collecting various data sets, then blending it, for a truer and more complete look at their consumers. Just one or two sets of data won’t suffice.

Your data sources must be varied

The extraction of highly refined and well-organized consumer market insights must come from the right mix of data sources. The ideal mix for you will depend on your business objectives and brand needs. We all know customer-relationship management (CRM) software data is a strong place to start, but just blending social data with CRM data won’t do the trick. CMI professionals need to tap into everything, including search data, in-store sales, web traffic stats, and even weather data. And that’s just the beginning.

Today’s market research directors and VPs of consumer insights are so much more than their titles. They need to be social CMI professionals, because they have important responsibilities. It’s an ambitious role — high-level and demanding, with the potential for a strong business impact far beyond the walls of marketing.

Uncovering the true voice of the customer

At our company, Brandwatch, we hosted a discussion forum for CMI leaders in May, and one concept was a prominent theme for all of our attendees: social data reveals the true voice of the customer.

Social consumer market insights provide organizations with a deeper understanding of the market. There is a massive ocean of unsolicited, unfiltered conversations that reveal which brands and products consumers and communities are talking about, but that’s just the first layer of available insights. CMI leaders can also uncover interests and passions, demographics like location and profession, social metrics, and even sentiment data.

This social data can then help highlight opportunities for product development, catch service issues before they get out of hand and provide insights into the feature updates that consumers want and need.

Long gone are the days of assumption and guesswork. The power is in the data, and the data is an incredibly affordable and easy method that’s just within our reach.

Moving from antiquated methods to the new smart tactics

This social CMI conversation revealed how consumer insights professionals are seeing the industry change from slow-moving, antiquated methods to the smart tactics that utilize every data resource available.

Here’s a quick summary of the changes we’re seeing:

  • Social data allows businesses to work smarter; brands can identify trends and jump on opportunities before the competition if they implement an ongoing social listening and analytics program.
  • Traditional market research surveys continue to be important, but in this culture of faster, better, sooner, survey findings are frankly just not enough. Consumer insights and marketing departments must analyze traditional market research data blended with, or compared to, social data to evaluate campaign effectiveness and brand reputation, and even to set success KPIs.
  • Social CMI has the power to influence business success well beyond the borders of marketing and consumer insights teams; product development, customer service, and even HR departments can learn from and activate vital social data insights to deliver products and services to their customers.
  • Social CMI can also be applied to incredibly specific questions that wouldn’t justify a survey or other customer contact. Because it is quick and cost-effective, it allows researchers to uncover rich insights about these niche topics — tapping directly into consumers’ thinking.

A successful social CMI professional must be highly visible and should have the power to affect change across a variety of business units. You may be market research director or perhaps VP of consumer insights, but you can bring valuable perspective to nearly every company initiative. And companies that employ social CMI professionals will be the best positioned to meet customer expectations and achieve solid success.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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