With social media and customer feedback continuing their upward climb, what trends in social intelligence will this new year offer? Social intelligence provider newBrandAnalytics, which analyzes social media feedback for operational insights in various industries, is venturing some predictions.
To begin with, the company said you can say goodbye to online surveys. It noted that customer reviews on the Web increased by 25 percent last year, making “solicited surveys pointless.” In 2013, newBrandAnalytics envisioned, spending on surveys will begin to be eliminated from many budgets, with movement instead to various forms of social feedback as the primary source for customer experience information.
Legal, Free Espionage
Legal and free industrial espionage is also becoming a growth industry. newBrandAnalytics predicts that social data will not only be used to benchmark competitors’ operations, but also as inspiration for product creation. CEO Kristin Muhlner predicted in a statement that “more than one-third of businesses adding products or menu items will be inspired by their competition’s online customer feedback.”
Social data is useful for evaluating other companies’ performances. Social data will increasingly be used to assess employees’ performance, evaluate staff and make hiring/firing decisions. The report cited Parasole Restaurant Group, whose Vice President, Randy Stanley, pointed to an emerging environment where “sharing online feedback places psychological control on employees” in that “everyone is a critic” and employees have “to be ‘on’ all of the time.”
With social interaction weaving its way into virtually every modern business software tool and process, newBrandAnalytics sees social media triumphantly breaking “through the walls of the marketing department” this year. One example cited — the ability to quickly make management and operations changes in new locations through the use of locally-generated and monitored social intelligence.
Goodbye, Star Ratings
If you are among the many who utilized star ratings in the just-concluded holiday buying season, too bad. newBrandAnalytics said they will eventually be “rendered useless” because they are “so yesterday.” In its place, the company said, will be “meaty insights and details” gleaned from online review analysis tools to inform consumers’ purchasing decisions and businesses’ strategy directions.
Left unclear is whether such tools will be able to separate spammed reviews — good reviews from employees of the company making the product or service under consideration, or bad reviews from competitors’ workers from real ones.
Finally, newBrandAnalytics swims against the brand-is-king orientation of much of digital marketing, with its conclusion that “it’s no longer about the brand.” Companies will put a higher value on location-specific intelligence because such social reviews and alerts can quickly focus attention on providing the best possible experience for a specific location or store.