Jocelyn Swift Harjes, Ayzenberg VP of Insights and Analytics, was recently honored with a spot on this year’s Social Intelligence Insider 50 list, which includes the world’s most influential social intelligence professionals. We asked Jocelyn to discuss some of the changes she has seen in the industry and her work with clients.

How has the role of analytics and data in brand strategy changed over the past few years as the power of social media in culture becomes more apparent?

Social media has established itself as an essential part of how we interact with others, and with the increase in social media comes a rise in data availability. Social networks have become the dominant form of communication billions of people use worldwide. Their ease of use encourages people from all walks of life to share and communicate, allowing a platform for political debate, and awareness raising, and brands to connect directly with their customers.

While it’s key to remember that social listening is not a focus group because it does not represent the general population, which is crucial for research design, the power of this unprompted, unscripted, and unfiltered organic conversation can represent the most authentic indication of consumer sentiment.

Online mentions have an impact. Twitter conducted research that proved that conversations lead to bottom-line success. At the high range, just a 10% rise in the conversation has led up to a 3% increase in sales volume. Within the technology category, for example, they found that on average, just a 1% increase in the conversation has led to more than $6 million in incremental sales.¹

This is why its clear data governance is key, and why having an integrated measurement framework that aligns with all programming is so important. Structuring metrics and those all-important key performance indicators (KPIs) around the business’s strategy, goals, and objectives into primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. Having a clear understanding of your data systems and processes, it enables you to make sense of the data signals and generate actionable insights.

What are some aspects of strategy that brands often need help with, and where is the need for social intelligence the greatest?

Synthesio called 2022 the year of AI-enabled Consumer Intelligence or “AICI” as the value of social data continues to move past social marketing teams to empower insights, brand, and even innovation. 

We also see that SI LAB’s 2022 Social Listening reporting highlighted that 33.5% are spending $100K or more on social data tools every year (up from 10% in 2019).

Social Intelligence isn’t going anywhere, and when understanding the way to harness its power it can help marketers identify trends and insights that may drive brand engagement, increase sales leads or conversions, build brand reputation, and change consumer behavior.

What are some of the key components of a data strategy and how do you help brands with theirs?

Data-driven marketing is essential in the modern business world. Marketing teams use data to track important metrics like conversion rate, content response and repeat purchase rate which helps them respond quickly to changing consumer preferences and adjust their strategy accordingly to hit their revenue targets.

A 2022 CMO Council Report found that 91% of marketers with direct access to customer data say it provides them a competitive advantage. However, the difference between top and bottom performers is speed: How quickly do you detect market and consumer behavior shifts and adjust accordingly?

Marketing data maturity has moved beyond customer segmentation and targeting. Top performers generate actionable insights from their data, enabling them to identify shifts in market and consumer behavior before their competitors do.

Key factors for data and analytics success include a strong command of technology, data control and management process, and highly skilled teams that can make sense of the numbers and develop strategies to put the insights to work. 

Creativity is still key in data-driven marketing. Analytics can be used to create new customer experiences, campaigns, and products that are both intuitive and intellectual. Striking a balance between instinct and intellect enables you to combine both strengths and maximize insights’ effectiveness in driving revenue growth.

What are some examples of winning strategies that your clients have used? 

The work I’m proudest of is usually behind the scenes, but seeing the power of social intelligence being the canary in the coal mine is always something that blows me away. From moving up product timelines within game launches to uncovering crucial insights regarding product innovations that lead to unlocking the next $100M idea, harnessing the power of social intelligence is a key competitive advantage.

What do you see on the horizon for brands navigating data complexity across platforms and through new retail formats?

When I look at the top 4 themes according to the 2023 State of Marketing Report (Strategic Leadership and Growth, Brand Loyalty, Community, and Purpose, Engaging Content and Innovative Storytelling, and Data Connectivity & Creativity), it’s clear the need for a data maturation process is becoming a stronger need across organizations. With the death of the cookie, we’ll need to rely on first-party data – the trust of this data is crucial when building out trust with customers. Dealing with the demise of cookies is one thing, but developing a well-aligned functional data strategy that powers insight is another. Moving from backward-looking, siloed data to forward-looking, predictive information is critical for future success.

Sources: ¹