Humans instinctually seek socialization and in-person interactions. Regardless of the rise in social media usage, over 42% of people still prefer this. By understanding social intelligence and how your brand can use it, your strategies, customer relationships, and ROI will improve.

What is Social Intelligence?

A brief history

Psychologist Edward Thorndike first defined social intelligence (SI) in 1920 as “a person’s ability to understand and manage other people, and to engage in adaptive social interactions.” In 1987, psychologists John Kihlstrom and Nancy Cantor adjusted the meaning to be, “the individual’s fund of knowledge about the social world.” Either way, social intelligence is basically being able to build relationships and manage social situations by knowing one’s self and others. SI is foundational to brands engaging and interacting with their customers.

The science behind social intelligence

As social creatures, humans have more spindle cells than any other species – the fastest acting neurons that guide our social decisions. Additionally, our mirror neurons spark when we observe others’ actions and allow us to learn from watching, predict behaviors, and imitate movements. Being able to understand, connect, and build relationships with others directly applies to marketing.

Social intelligence and marketing strategy

Besides understanding a brand’s internal and external statuses – mission, vision, USP, benefits, customers, competitors, and market share – it also needs to establish a humanized personality that helps drive connection with customers.

Social intelligence enables brands to be in touch with their customers on a granular, personal level, allowing them to create unique experiences based on individual personalities, interests, and hobbies. These connections help brands proactively adjust their marketing strategies by predicting potential friction points that may arise along the customer journey.

While social intelligence is essential for your base strategy, it is vital for social media success.

Marketing socially (aka social intelligence marketing)

Over 90% of social media users communicate with brands on these platforms, and 63% expect brands to provide service through it. Brands need to anticipate customer needs, appropriately address concerns, and give personal solutions. Brands need to use SI.

According to a Social Intelligence Lab + Talkwalker study, 80% of marketers believe that social data obtained from users’ social media activity shows otherwise unattainable behavioral insights.

On top of customer service, it is crucial for brands to actively interact and engage across platforms.

More and more, users are engaging on social media as they would in-person. Every like, comment, and share holds meaning to the user that can equate to actual human behavior (i.e., smiles, responses, and storytelling, respectively). New communication styles that further digitize these experiences. As consumers mutually communicate by these means and develop a globally understood language, brands need to follow suit.

GROWL’s quick tips to optimize your brand’s social intelligence and better connect with your customers.

  1. Maximize social listening to establish a robust digital presence. By this, we mean respond to every comment and like and repost user-generated content, even when you’re not tagged.
  2. Share relevant content that is relatable and sparks conversations. Users aren’t on social media for salesy posts; they’re there for connection. (Have you heard of the social media 80:20 rule?)
  3. Take-off the suit and tie because social media is made for personal, authentic connection. In the digital marketing world, conversational is the new professional – potential customers don’t want to follow a page that speaks in APA, cited format when they don’t. We don’t suggest breaking all of the rules, but add a contraction or “unnecessary ellipse” and USE EMOJIS! Your customers are typing how they are speaking and feeling. Your brand will have a better chance at converting leads into loyal prospects with a little modernized and humanized digital personality.

To further emphasize WHY your brand needs social intelligence on social media, did you know that July 17th is World Emoji Day? Globally, consumers understand the meanings behind emojis to the extent that over 900 million emojis are sent every day WITHOUT any text. Build better relationships with your customers by speaking their global digital language.

Other social intelligence use cases:

  • Market research – 77% of the time, SI is used to analyze the market and areas of growth.
  • Branding – 73% of the time, SI is used to develop effective branding that will be rapidly accepted by the target audience.
  • Competitive intelligence – 69% of the time, SI helps brands understand their competitors and predict market maneuvers.
  • Marketing analytics – 64% of the time, SI is used to conceptualize and ultimately personify data.

Social intelligence is critical in our daily lives and marketing strategies. SI can help brands internally understand their purpose and externally understand their competitors and customers. SI is becoming vital to digital marketing, and brands will not be successful on social media (or other strategies) without it.

Want to chat about upgrading your brand’s SI? Give us a bark, in-person or online is fine.

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