7 Signs That You Have Social Intelligence

by Sharon Hurley Hall

Last updated on November 30th, 2017

Do you have social intelligence and are you using it in your business and marketing?

If intelligence is the ability to gather, use and share knowledge and skills and business intelligence is the ability to gather, analyze and share data to improve business decision making, then social intelligence is the ability to gather, analyze and share knowledge to improve decision making based on social media interactions.

Or, as Brandwatch puts it, “the knowledge or insights gained from analyzing social media data.

7 Signs That You Have Social Intelligence Skull Brain

With more people than ever using social media (Forbes recently reported an 800% increase in the US alone over eight years),  generating huge amounts of data, having social intelligence will become an essential part of any successful business and marketing strategy.

If you can say yes to the items on the list below, then you’ve definitely got it.

1. You’re using analytics

If you’re talking social intelligence or business intelligence, you need data—and analytics will give you that.

Whether you’re using Google Analytics, a Crazy Egg heatmap or sharing stats from Buffer, it’s important to get an overall picture of what’s going on with your social media followers, such as how many of your customers are using mobile devices and which ones, whether your bounce rate changes with the device and if they are taking the time to share your resources and your website.

And using analytics will help you achieve the other aspects of social intelligence, too. For help with this, check out Kissmetrics’ Ultimate Guide to the New Google Analytics Social Reports.

2. You know who’s listening to you

One of the things you’ll use those social reports for is to learn more about who’s paying attention to you in social media.

But don’t stop there. Use the stats built into the key social media sites to see who’s following you and then check out their profiles, links and website so you get a holistic picture of their interaction with you and with others.

It’s a good way to work out whether you’re actually reaching the people you most want to reach. Check out our recent review of Twtrland to see the kind of insights you can get from a social intelligence tool. Finding out what ELSE your customers are tweeting about and sharing besides your content will provide an overall picture of what they are about.

social listening

3. You’re listening to them

Communication goes both ways, so it’s important to move beyond the fan and follower acquisition mindset to consider what people are actually saying about your brand, products and services—and what’s important to them on a wider scale.

This can help when developing content strategy and marketing campaigns as you can focus on the aspects of your products and services that really mean something to your customers.

Follow their blogs and use social listening tools to find out whether you are known for what you want to be known for. And if you’re not, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board for a strategic overhaul.

4. You know who influences them

What if you could get Seth Godin to plug your product or service? Or Richard Branson or—well, insert your influencer of choice in that slot.

Remember that you’re not the only brand vying for your target customer’s attention and you may not be the main people they listen to.

The people who influence your customers may change depending on whether they are into sports or technology, their age, their gender—you get the picture. Work out who your customers are listening to, find out what drives those influencers and you’re closer to being on top of the game.

For help with this check out 6 Things to Look for to Evaluate Influencers on the Appinions blog.

5. You’re reaching them on mobile

In today’s market, social intelligence has to include a mobile component. People are using their mobile devices even when they are not on the go and they are using them for social media updates, web browsing, product searches and more.

According to SuperMonitoring, 91% of mobile internet use is socially oriented. Not only do you have to track mobile social interactions but you must shape your content marketing strategy to take this growing user segment into account.

Our recent list of mobile optimization resources can help with this.

6. You know what’s hot … and what’s not

Social media what's hot

Whether it’s a news story, a funny video, or a meme, you know what’s happening that your customers are talking about.

When you have social intelligence, you use content curation, memejacking and any other strategy you can think of to make sure your content is relevant to your social followers’ interests.

You also know when a particular craze has had its day and when it’s time to move on to something else.

7. You can move fast

Speaking of moving, there’s no point in having insight without action.

Social media is all about responding to what’s happening now. If you have social intelligence you’re able to do that so that you can be relevant and trusted.

Want to see this in action? Check out how Buffer handled (and is still handling) a recent hack to see a company with true social intelligence.

Social Intelligence – Your Action Plan

How did your company stack up in our social intelligence test? Don’t worry if there’s still work to do. Here’s a recap and an action plan for developing social intelligence.

  • Install analytics software and check out all the analytics reports available on any social sites you use to figure out who’s interacting with you on social sites.
  • Create a profile of your social media follower/fan base and see how this matches with the people you want to attract. Find out who influences them.
  • Use social listening software to find out what they are talking about.
  • Collect relevant content and keep tabs on hot topics with content curation tools so you can share information that’s important to your social audience.
  • Integrate mobile into your content strategy.
  • Respond to what you learn about your customers—today!

Well? Do you have social intelligence? Do you have any other tips for the social marketer?

Photo credits: Ryan Somma/iantmcfarland/ Gamma Man



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Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 25 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website.


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  1. Marc D says:
    December 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    H i Sharon,
    Social intelligence is one important tool in business world and your post just prove that. I am still weighing myself to see if I fully have it. Nice post

  2. Sunday says:
    December 1, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Social intelligence brings about better decision making for a business when it comes to socialization. The use of social data wisely is key to good social intelligence.

    More so, the best form of socialization online has to do with sharing valuable content and responding to the needs of community members through effective communication.

    I have left the above comment in kingged.com – the social bookmarking website for Internet marketers where this post was shared.

    Sunday – kingged.com contributor


    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      December 2, 2013 at 6:01 am

      Thanks for sharing, Sunday.

  3. Amanda Shaw says:
    November 30, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Great article! Social intelligence is the intangible skill that’s going to set some marketers apart.

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      December 2, 2013 at 5:59 am

      Thanks, Amanda. What’s your favorite tool for keeping on top of social media activity?

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