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How to Leverage Social Media Intelligence for Brand Protection


What is Social Media Intelligence?

Social media intelligence (SMI or SOCMINT) describes the technology solutions and tools that allows organizations to monitor and gather social media data, and then synthesize that information into actionable insights.

Intelligence can be gathered through intrusive or non-intrusive means, from open and closed social networks. The term was coined in 2012 by Sir David Omand, Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller in a paper written for the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, which leads the study of how the rise of the digital world affects politics, policy and decision-making. This fairly young branch of intelligence gathering coincides with the growing number of extremist groups spreading their beliefs and ideologies on social media platforms and forums. A study by The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) showed that a majority of extremist individuals used social media to disseminate content (e.g. share or spread content) and participate in extremist dialogues. With that in mind, brands have to ensure that damaging narratives aren’t being spread about their company or leaders. 

Social intelligence tools help businesses get ahead of viral conversations that impact their brand value. Publicly available data found on social networking sites can help businesses gain valuable insights on public perception and the narratives that are driving their consumer’s conversations. Social media intelligence allows businesses to:

  • Monitor social and fringe channels and conversations
  • Utilize the intelligence gathered to address specific business initiatives
  • Confidently and effectively protect their brand’s image

Social Media Intelligence vs. Social Listening vs. Media Monitoring

Social Intelligence

Social media intelligence fills critical gaps left behind by social listening and media monitoring, but they do not mean the same thing. Social media listening and monitoring allow businesses to better monitor and listen to audiences and analyze conversations around their brand and their industry, but they do not provide businesses with the necessary context to take actionable steps to proactively protect their brand’s identity or optimize their marketing and communications strategies.

Social Listening

Social listening is the process of evaluating and monitoring the online conversation about a business or brand, as well as its products, services, and competitive keywords. Social listening tools alert businesses when a term they are tracking is trending across social media. Without social intelligence, businesses relying only on social listening are learning about a narrative that is already spreading. With no visibility into emerging trends (and the forces driving them), they have no context or time to prepare to take action.

Media Monitoring

Media monitoring can help you measure a brand’s visibility and monitor how many times their business and products are being mentioned in order to determine share of voice in traditional and digital media outlets. However, it does not allow businesses to get context around why their brand is making headlines and how influential groups online may have influenced those headlines.

How Social Media Intelligence Stacks Up Against Social Listening & Monitoring

Social Media IntelligenceSocial ListeningMedia Monitoring
Understand conversationsListen to conversationsMonitor conversations
Analyze sentiment & metricsTrack sentimentTrack metrics
Uncovers proactive opportunities to influence a conversationReports on narratives that are already trending onlineKeeps track of brand mentions

How Can Social Media Intelligence Protect My Brand?

#1: You need to monitor fringe networks.

Traditional social analytics tools don’t monitor accounts or collect posts from fringe networks like Reddit, 4chan, Telegram, etc. where much of what ends up going viral gets started. These tools don’t send alerts on conversations that may be low on volume but are high on impact — failing to flag this before it becomes a problem or a missed opportunity for your brand. 

#2: You need to know narrative origin & trajectory.

Social listening and media monitoring tools can tell you what’s trending, but they don’t help you understand how narratives spread. These tools can’t detect narratives in their earliest stages and they can’t determine whether these narratives will remain stuck within an echo chamber, enter the mainstream, or re-emerge as so many often do.

#3: You need to know who has influence online.

Traditionally, brands have used online influencer metrics like “followers” and “engagement” to track an influencer’s impact. But those metrics have become more fragile, easier to game, and not really a signal for what will impact your brand. From QAnon to Lifestyle Blogger Moms, the more information you have about how to identify factions, the sooner you can take proactive steps to protect and grow your brand.

#4: You need to measure authenticity.

Current social tools treat all posts as true and equal, but some trends and viral stories are the product of a few accounts leveraging the mechanics of social media to control the frame of the conversation. It’s important to know if information on the internet is reliable. Reacting to stories that are low on authenticity can tear down your customer relationships and brand reputation.

#5: You need to know risk from opportunity.

Most tools look at sentiment and volume to make blunt assessments about the risk or opportunity associated with something spreading online. Brands need more context to know when it’s a good idea to engage with trends and narratives online.

How Can Yonder Help?

Yonder is an A.I. software company that gathers intelligence around online narratives in order to proactively mitigate brand & reputation risk. With Yonder, brands can expect to get automated reports about emerging narratives so that their communications team is well-equipped to respond before it’s too late. Feel confident knowing that Yonder is there to protect your brand from the unpredictable.

Learn More About Social Media Intelligence

Make an appointment with Yonder to talk about what social media intelligence and incident management can do for your brand and read our case studies to learn more about social intelligence.

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