We’re moving on this week with a more traditional topic for the #SMXChat community: Data! You know why? Because data and information are the core of business decision-making. And we know that there is a trove of data out there in social networks. So how do organisations use it to their advantage?

It’s the topic of a four-year old  McKinsey Report article we found in our search about topics involving analysis of social data for business. Yes, four years old! And still not only applicable, but quite relevant to the topic and building this discussion for the #SMXChat community. This is a common theme for  our community, and as we researched and discussed it, we’ve found that it uncovers threads that run through many previous discussions we’ve had in #SMXChat – like creating a social business, engaging and utilising the C-Level in our social media efforts, and identifying/connecting with thought leaders and influencers.

Intelligently social is a blend of thought leadership, social media influence, subject matter expertise and data curation that uncovers real-time, actionable information that creates a competitive advantage.

Social intelligence is the action of utilising data gathered from social networks in detailed competitive analysis.

Together, the two create a unique opportunity. And to pull it off requires radically divergent thinking about how we source, accumulate, analyse and report intelligence. Are you beginning to think of some of the applications of these concepts in organizations?

The authors of the McKinsey Report article suggest a progressive approach of deploying social intelligence analysts across disciplines that might not traditionally be considered for such activity. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

“Curating a variety of perspectives from multiple social-media sources should help internal checks and balances play out more freely and, in some cases, lead to necessary whistle-blowing.”

And in most cases, break down information ‘silos’ in the organization that artificially narrow the breadth of sources for competitive information.Think of a network of analysts using a network of experts to glean real-time insights from your market.

“Companies will need to invest in the tools, such as network-mapping and influence-rating metrics, that analysts need to manage these new networks—for example, by helping to assess the expertise and relevance of community members.”

You may be wondering (because we are too) where do these tools and experts that provide these come from? What skills do they need? What skills do we have in our own teams that helps us to get there?

“Almost any user within a company can therefore create a personalized information dashboard, which “democratizes” intelligence and embeds relevant data deep within the organization.”

Well, there you go. Fairly simple and commercially available products (the authors suggested paper.li and flipboard) can become powerful curation tools that quickly and easily gather and disseminate information., making anyone from the C-level to the marketing intern a conduit of potentially valuable insights. ‘Socially astute analysts’, to use the authors’ words, reach out and connect into online communities to gather information that is neither discussed or published elsewhere. This social engagement is crucial to gaining access to experts’ and thought leaders’ timely impressions.

“Visual-mapping techniques also let analysts chart these new information flows, which may appear as nodes and connectors across a company’s geography. Such information maps highlight particularly strong knowledge relationships within companies and may provide clues for new organizational designs that optimize intelligence.”

Bam! Think about this. An important aspect of this principle is a diversity of sources other than the ‘usual suspects of Twitter and Facebook’  Organising the team on boundaries like products, markets. emerging technology, emerging markets that matter to the industry, vertical, community, or any other aspect that keeps your organisation competitively relevant.

Now over to you folks!


Q1: What kinds of ‘social data’ comes to mind for competitive analysis in an organization?

Q2: What do you see as the role of social engagement in hunting down data to gain insights into your market/competition?

Q3: What social or other platforms come to mind for analysing social data for business intelligence?

Q4: What kinds of social ‘cues’ are useful in gaining social insights about your business/market?

Q5: In what areas/’silos’ of an organization might social intelligence be useful?

Q6: Do you think distributing social intelligence among all areas and all ‘levels’ of the organization is useful? Why?


Harrysson, Martyn;  Metayer Estelle; and  Sarrazi, Hugo. How ‘social intelligence’ can guide decisions. McKinsey Quarterly, November 2012