Social media has made anyone and everyone a virtual broadcaster, delivering incredible reach to individuals and their messages like never before, regardless of the number of “friends” or “followers” they may have. With billions and billions of messages getting delivered across the Internet and social networks everyday, companies need to become more sophisticated and vigilant in their listening and understanding of these messages and how they can harm or help their business.

What many don’t seem to understand is that open social commentary has expanded exponentially to the point that its billions and billions of daily comments now constitute streaming big data. This unstructured data is not only big, but also fast and requires supercomputing process speed and sophisticated concept modeling to distill the relevant information and discover the true insight in real-time. ListenLogic’s Social Listening Intelligence Center (pictured right), for example, processes over one billion streaming operations per second, allowing the system to identify corporate threats and opportunities within the billions of social discussions within mere seconds.

Conversely, first generation tactics like data samples and keyword lists are simply obsolete given that these cannot keep up with the volume, velocity, variety or complexity of social media.

Having said this, it’s never been more critical for companies to listen to the countless individuals and groups consistently broadcasting about their business, solutions, service, employees, decisions and brand.

Here are five major reasons why corporations need to incorporate advanced social intelligence (ASI) into their strategies:

1. A Streaming World

 It’s a streaming world that sees billions upon billions of real-time comments and conversations everyday from your customers, employees, leaders, shareholders, suppliers, prospects, competitors, unions, protestors, advocates, industry influencers, politicians, regulators and journalists, among many others, from all corners of the Internet. Ignoring the relevant messages and corresponding influence within this intelligence is no longer a luxury for businesses given the wealth of insight it delivers to helping understand the current and coming forces, positive and negative, impacting on your business.

The biggest issue for corporate strategy within the streaming world is that most businesses continue to use traditional static frameworks that assume stationary aspects and slow-moving forces to develop their strategies. Whether using traditional frameworks like Sheth Matrix or SWOT or Value Net or even more current approaches like Blue Ocean, most frameworks do not adequately incorporate direct, real-time intelligence, threats and opportunities that markets, consumers, competitors and industry influencers are broadcasting about your business. Incorporating advanced social intelligence into an organization’s strategic planning framework opens up real-time, dynamic, multi-dimensional insight to build and optimize your corporate and product strategies as markets and landscapes shift in a streaming world.

2. Deep, Genuine Market Insight

For years companies have relied on fabricated intelligence through surveys and focus groups, building the strategies for millions on the opinions of dozens. Given the sterile approach, inherent bias and common compensation flaws with these approaches, many businesses have made bad decisions and developed poor strategies because of a lack of genuine market insight available to them.

This is no longer the case for businesses today. Companies have available to them a wealth of intelligence about their industries, markets, products and competitors if they are merely willing to listen. No longer is there a need for the flawed approach of building a strategy based on the opinions of a few customers. Today, businesses can gain a deep, robust understanding of complex markets and sophisticated consumers by listening to millions of unsolicited conversations on your products, services, brand and competitors, delivering genuine market insight like never before. The key to this is to have the ability to get answers to incredibly complex questions, in real-time. The technology to do this exists and is being used by leading organizations on both tactical and strategic levels – to find exactly when a consumer enters the market for a company’s product or to identify a potential product issue, boycott or protest or to understand market shifts, consumer trends, product share and path-to-purchase to adequately shape strategies based on millions of consumers rather than dozens.

Regardless of the insight an organization is looking to gain from ASI, adding it to the planning process helps develop a multi-dimensional, actionable strategy based on deep, genuine market insight.

3. Ever-Expanding Threats

Now that every individual has the ability to broadcast messages in real-time, threats to businesses are expanding at an incredible rate, from the disgruntled employee posting about tainting your product to irate consumers broadcasting about their poor service experience to the individual contemplating a lawsuit against your company. Today, most companies have adopted social media as a promotional broadcast tool, but few are truly listening to the real-time threats, risks and attacks on their businesses. And these are not only coming from irate customers or disgruntled employees, they can be coming from activist organizations, consumer groups and even unions in the form of boycotts, protests, misinformation campaigns, lawsuits or even lobbying against your industry, company and products.

More and more companies across industries are recognizing the legitimacy and severity of these threats and are taking their impact seriously by leveraging ASI within their Corporate Communication strategies and groups to gain insight and alerts and develop strategic response plans to protect their business against ever-expanding threats.

4. The Constant Knock of Opportunity

Not all is grim within social media though. Aside from identifying these mounting threats leveraging ASI can also deliver insight on expanding and enhancing your business. From identifying consumers the moment they enter the market for your product to understanding the decision points that influence consumer purchase decisions to knowing the strong and weak points of your service, advanced social intelligence is helping businesses strategically strengthen grow their market share and influence decisions.

This intelligence takes shape in a variety of ways, from path-to-purchase analysis, which details the decision process consumers go through on a product purchase to “next gen” CRM, which delivers real-time engagement opportunities with consumers to consumer segment understanding to better understand purchase motivations. These strategic initiatives provide actionable insight to leading companies across industries such as pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, food and beverage and media, delivering incredible competitive advantages to those answering the constant knock of opportunity.

5. Beating the Competition

Aside from a deeper understanding of your markets, consumers and products,  ASI can drive your strategy with competitors both on deep inspection and real-time basis. Your business can know your competitors better than they know themselves by understanding the issues, concerns, successes, flaws, strengths, weaknesses and decisions impacting both their and your business, products and customers. Companies receiving this intelligence are using it to shape their strategic decision-making and tactical execution on a daily basis.

If your competition is not going to listen to what the market is saying about them, then your business should seize that opportunity. This not only helps your organization gain a strategic upper hand with greater, more widespread market understanding, but also helps to shape your own decisions in beating the competition.

The Bottom Line

There is a wealth of genuine market intelligence on your business, products, services, consumers, markets, industries and competitors that comes from streaming social media. Smart companies are already leveraging this intelligence to gain a competitive advantage like never before with deeper understanding of their business, markets, consumers and competitors and the positive and negative forces impacting these to set their strategy and execute their tactics.

The key to achieving this is to realize that social media is actually streaming big data and to leverage a streaming big data solution that has hypercomputing capabilities to process the speed and volume of the real-time content and sophisticated modeling to find answers to the complex questions your company needs answers to. That technology exists today and is being used by many leading companies today.