You all know them: people who won’t let you eat until they’ve Instagrammed their meal, pedestrians who’ve walked into you because they’re staring at their phones and scrolling through Facebook. Our society is immersed in social media- and the numbers and expectations are growing. In fact, only 28% of the online US population spurns social interactions with companies.

The pervasive use of social channels made marketers hungry for insights and feedback coming directly from the consumer’s mouths and social is one of the cheapest and best ways to do that. But social listening has been around for years, what’s so different about it now?

The gears are turning- and social listening is turning to social intelligence (finally). In the last couple of years, social listening platforms have doubled down on analytics to keep pace with the needs of customers and prove their worth for use across the enterprise by enabling insights to action. In our recent Forrester Wave™ report, we evaluated 12 vendors (Brandwatch, Cision, Clarabridge, Crimson Hexagon, NetBase, Networked Insights, Oracle, Prime Research, Salesforce, Sprinklr, Synthesio, and Sysomos) along 30 criteria that measured their abilities to:

·        Integrate with other marketing and business tools. Social maturity involves tying social metrics to business objectives. Marketers in search of a social platform should include in their critical selection criteria the ease of integration with their existing CRM, customer analytics tools, or voice-of-the-customer (VoC) tools.

·        Surface insights for action across the enterprise. Social listening tools enable you to parse out influencers and audiences that matter most to cut through the noise, bubble up insights, and take action across the enterprise. Several vendors have dashboards that track predefined key performance indicators (KPIs) like "intent to buy" to help surface the most valuable insights. Data visualization features (like topic maps) have also become valuable tools.

·        Measure the intangible and inspire new ideas. Social listening platform vendors are beginning to understand that there's much more to be done with sentiment than just tracking an overall positive or negative tone for a specific product, campaign, or brand. Vendors are leveraging text analysis methodologies overlaid with audience or topic analyses to find relationships between the two to help clients better understand their customers.

To achieve social intelligence, you have to power your social strategy with a purpose, the right people, a fitting platform, and proper processes. Read our report to find new inspirations to catalyze social intelligence and help guide you through evaluating a platform for enterprise needs. Download the interactive wave tool and tailor it to your company’s requirements. In the age of the customer, you can’t afford to not understand them.