CMO View: On Enterprise Social Intelligence and What it Means

Enterprise social intelligence. This is an important three word sentence to us at Brandwatch.

But what does it mean? I’m going to start with the main anchor word – social – and expand from there.


I find it hard to imagine a world without social networks, which is really what we’re talking about when we say ‘social’.

And it amuses me when intelligent, worldly people I respect question whether we’ve moved past ‘social’. That maybe that’s done now, they propose.

I mean, really? I don’t think so at all.

As I have said before, I feel that treasures like Wikipedia or Yelp or WeChat, which have created so much value for so many people, are just really early prototypes, clumsy (if I might say that) glimpses of what is to come.

That Facebook or Line or Snapchat are just early first, second, maybe third generation pioneers.

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I could make automotive or telecommunications comparisons, but it’s a little clichéd. You can find your own precedents of technological and cultural evolution.

In terms of business value of social I see real progress, and I’ve been at this for a while.

In picking apart that ‘real progress’ in our work, we see brands and agencies really starting to do two things with social that are newer:

Operating at scale – ‘Enterprise’

Operating with intelligence – ‘Intelligence.’


A banking client has 250 internal consumers of social insights from us.

A FMCG brand client has 2,000.

A retail client supplies over 200 product managers – ranging from paint to patio furniture – with bespoke social insights on a daily basis.

An agency has over 200 logins a day across four continents – many teams, many clients, one enterprise platform.

Put simply, this is much more mainstream now and it is happening at an organizational scale – across multiple lines of business, streaming into the hands of real decision makers, not just some social campaign activation afterthought done by the kids in the corner.

It does vary by industry. It does vary by brand and agency.

But broadly I would argue (and show data and lots of examples) that the value of social insights has moved out of Gartner’s ‘peak of expectations’ and ‘trough of disillusionment’ and we are now climbing the grassy slopes of the ‘plateau of productivity’.


Real work is getting done.

Real value is being created.

At enterprise scale.


When it comes to Intelligence, our industry has been defined by some fairly well-established concepts:

  • Social Media Monitoring
  • Social Listening
  • Social Data
  • Social Analytics

These are great. They are foundational. And they remain as important use cases or assets.

But it genuinely would undersell the work of the tens of thousands of practitioners in the workplaces of the world to leave the outcomes they generate under these headings.

Monitoring and Listening are essentially passive activities. They are about knowing.

It is where most of us started and it still where most of us should begin.

But we have moved on from here.

What is much more exciting to me is the proactively seeking of useful answers that inform business decisions. As I outlined in a previous post, the value lies in what happens next.

And the most intelligent work we are seeing in this domain is really, ummm, intelligent.

It typically blends social data with other business and third-party data.

It typically identifies just one or two areas of real leverage – a bit like this idea from Dave Trott, the most powerful outtake can just be a single insight that drives a single decision or campaign.

It increasingly informs decisions outside of marketing – in sales strategy, distribution, supply chain risk, product R&D, customer experience. It really does. This isn’t me reeling off buzzwords. It’s a fact. Talk to us or our competitors if you want to get closer to those examples.

Putting it all together

So this is what we mean when we talk about Enterprise Social Intelligence at Brandwatch.

It happens at scale, and way beyond just the marketing department.

It derives insight from social but blends it with other data.

And it answers important questions that equip decision makers with the intelligence and confidence to make better decisions.

Simple, really.

Brandwatch Analytics

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