Where Social Analytics and AI Converge

Niraj Sharma |
 06/27/19 |
4 min read

social media icons and AI converging

Social analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are converging in exciting new ways, offering amped up predictive capabilities that make brand marketing more powerful than ever. The two have morphed into one intuitive offering that creates exciting possibilities for brands. Let’s dig in and explore!

Predictive Marketing by Any Other Name . . .

First, we need some definitions to make sure we’re all on the same page – because you can be certain that some tools like to toss around buzzwords and confuse things to give an appearance of agility. Intentionally confusing clients is something we actively push back against though, so here’s some key info to start us off.

Two terms that can be confusing/conflated at times are predictive marketing and predictive analytics. One does not follow the other, not in a straight path at least.

Less than a decade ago, predictive marketing didn’t really exist – not in its current form. Could a brand be relatively certain a customer would come back to purchase propriety products or services? Sure, as long as someone else didn’t offer it cheaper and customer service stayed on-point.

So, creating offers around holidays and peak purchase times was a given. Brands could predict (somewhat) how their ebbs and flows would go, based on previous years and planning for modest market growth.

But then things got fuzzy, as business became increasingly global thanks to online. And brands experienced category disruptions from new competitors and ever-increasing options. Consumers didn’t really become any less predictable, but they came to realize their power online and demanded more for their money.

Their needs and wants became difficult to differentiate and, both consumer groups and their corresponding desires, experienced shifts much faster than many brands could keep up with. The cacophony of voices on social sites and the potential PR crises caused chaos and brands staged a steady retreat.

Capturing the Unknown

Predictive marketing changed as a result, and shifted focus from relying on what companies knew to discovering what they didn’t. And it has been making great efforts toward bridging that gap between the known and unknown.

For example, brands need to know what conversations are trending in their vertical, with whom, and what is driving those conversations:

aggregating top shares and trending conversations

And they should also understand what their most engaging content is and if it relates to these conversations, and if so – what’s the connection? If not, what are they missing?

most engaging online posts in a category

Today, it’s much more complicated (predictive marketing), but also less of a roll of the dice, as it can offer extremely well-informed, niche “predictions.”

Wondering what is on a consumer segments’ wish list is entirely unnecessary today, as there are tools to help businesses pinpoint precisely what their current and potential customers want.

And those tools offer brands predictive analytics.

Predictive Analytics Will Always Be Amazing

Predictive analytics, the forebear of AI, has been around in one form or another since the 1940s – though it was largely aspirational back then.

It combines the best of online, the wealth of consumer data and sentiment it offers, with powerful processing capabilities, and analyzes this structured and unstructured data alike.

The result? Brands have exceptional, impactful insight at their fingertips. They’re able to create campaigns that speak to both small and large consumer segments – and identify previously undiscovered, global markets. And sometimes that market research bubbles up a $100 million dollar idea.

Although AI really is still in its infancy, it’s a powerful bit of business – one that once unleashed and combined with social analytics, has made the “predictive” part almost a misnomer as the level of accuracy it offers is truly amazing.

How effective has it been? Social analytics that’s powered by AI tells us a story that enhances the predictive marketing narrative, filling in holes in the plot to transform your basic marketing persona story arc into a Stephen King novel that leaves target audiences clamoring for more. Yes, it’s really that good (when It’s actually that good – more on that in a second).

Next Generation AI Brings It

AI-informed analytics can be “that good” when accuracy is equally top-notch. Accuracy is the social analytics differentiator and analytics tool credibility killer. It separates tools that offer relevant and powerful, actionable insight from those offering the moon and stars with little space exploration capability to back their claims up.

Brands need to be able to accurately analyze millions of conversations at the push of a button; recognize patterns in human emotions, behaviors and sentiment drivers; reveal trending conversations and issues; and, analyze by domain, gender, influencer, geo-location, and more.

Any tool can claim to offer a piece of the AI puzzle, but upon close examination they fall short. A robust offering, a true Next Generation AI offering, combines best in class machine learning, deep learning and expert systems for intelligent processing and analysis of social media and unstructured data at scale.

It’s parsing emotions, behaviors, attributes, objects, hashtags, people and brands to create a complete picture of what your brand needs to know about data that’s relevant to your brand in real-time.

AI contextualizing language in online posts.

AI Studio Offers Even More

AND, we’ve recently raised the bar beyond that to further advance this powerful AI and analytics combo with AI Studio, the first auto-discovery insights solution in the social analytics market, enabling real-time discovery and the fastest time to insights for ideation and innovation.

Yes, brands can now anticipate consumer needs, with smart processing that’s capable of functioning without human intervention. We’ve come that far.

Gartner anticipates that traditional marketing strategies are at risk, and that in the near future content creators will produce more than 30% of their digital content with artificial intelligence. It certainly something to consider – and prepare for, as that estimate feels conservative.

The audience understanding AI-powered social analytics offers is there for the taking – for brands ready to use this technology, that is! While other “first generation” tools are figuring out next steps, we’re charging forward, happy to have them follow our lead.

Reach out and we’ll be even happier to show you how to come along for the ride!


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