Marketing disruption 4/7: Cross-industry benchmarking model to measure social media intelligence maturity

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This blog describes the application of a cross-industry benchmarking model to measure social media intelligence maturity, summarizes the results of an empirical study of 150 participating firms, and offers five recommendations for marketing managers.

For successful brand management, firms have started to realize the need to analyze data resulting from product reviews (on review portals), product discussions (on fora), or product mentions (in social networks). Firms have understood the value of social analytics and hope to achieve better market orientation thanks to the gained insights. Moreover, real-time eWoM data is relatively cheap and quick to gather and can enrich internal CRM customer data and traditional market research insights.

Social media intelligence

In order to benefit from eWoM data, firms have to do more than just monitor and listen to what customers say about their brands on social channels. The advanced level of social analytics is social media intelligence (SMI). SMI is a firm’s ability to capture, process, and fully integrate conclusive social insights into long-term corporate strategies to proactively foresee and manage market changes. Many firms, however, lack crucial technological (“how technically rigorous is the SMI tool?”), personnel (“how analytical is the staff?”), and organizational (“which processes are in place to disseminate intelligence for quicker market responsiveness?”) capabilities.

Benchmarking model for social media intelligence maturity

In this blog, I will reflect on the necessary capabilities and introduce a cross-industry benchmarking model to measure firms’ SMI maturity. Based on an empirical study* with 150 participating German firms, we analyzed the status quo across industries and firm sizes and built segments according to their maturity level. Overall, we found that more mature firms have a higher brand success than their competitors. Marketing managers can use the maturity model to benchmark their firm against their key competitors and to receive relevant implications.

Figure: 10 dimensions to measure your social media intelligence maturity

Results of the study

Moreover, the German industry is not using the full potential of SMI to deploy market-oriented resources. Predominantly, companies lack organizational capabilities that are necessary to process eWoM insights throughout the organization and transform them into strategic decision making. Most participating firms show a low SMI maturity and use simple quantitative KPIs (reach, likes, followers, etc.) whereas more complex analyses (qualitative sentiment analyses) are much more insightful. Nearly 50% do not use social analytics tools at all.

Yet firms should take advantage of that potential, since those with a more mature SMI will have better financial performance results, higher service quality, and more successful new product introductions compared to lower mature firms. More mature firms have technically advanced social analytics tools, derive strategic implications from SMI data, and employ at least four dedicated employees to manage SMI data. Across industries, insurance and telecommunication firms exhibit highest the SMI maturity.

Implications for marketing managers

Marketing managers can use the key findings of our study to improve their firm’s overall market orientation.

  1. Get active on social channels and monitor what customers say about your brands
    For companies to be able to react and act on market dynamics, they must be present on social channels where brand-related chatter takes place. This requires active participation and distinct social strategies per channel. For instance, when negative brand mentions are spotted, firms can only proactively react if they have the experience that comes from having a firm account.
  2. Disseminate social intelligence across all divisions along the value chain
    Any division should have access to the centrally managed SMI data so that it can generate a holistic view of the customer along the value chain of the organization, ensure increased transparency within the entire organization, and enhance strategic collaborations across silos to react to relevant consumer topics.
  3. Link SMI data with relevant performance KPIs to generate truly valuable insights
    One-fifth of participating firms fail to link their social activities to measurable KPIs. Therefore, firms should improve their efforts to link the externally assessed SMI KPIs with internal organizational data streams via shared data management and business intelligence platforms.
  4. Establish processes to enable a companywide market orientation
    In order to transform eWoM insights into strategic decision-making, firms have to install processes and cross-divisional role responsibilities to efficiently disseminate SMI along the value chain. If a problem is identified through SMI, those processes help the management quickly inform the responsible division and act immediately.
  5. Strengthen your talent pool with analytical and strategic capabilities
    A clear hiring strategy for analytical talent will help ensure the success of implementing SMI within the firm. Firms should hire sufficient hybrid talent with both SMI and business analysis skills to generate true impact from SMI insights and satisfy the needs the dynamic market environment.

In the next article, my colleague Sophia Kühner will analyze the extent to which customers agree to firms analyzing and strategically utilizing their data and discuss how marketing managers should deal with it.

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