Pilot Series at Altimeter: Social Analytics and Strategy

By Jon Cifuentes, Researcher

On Wednesday, July 27, Altimeter Group hosted a ‘Pilot Series’ event featuring moderating analysts, Lora Cecere and Susan Etlinger.  The topic at hand was Social Analytics – and more specifically, what businesses must do to prepare for this evolution in social contextual data’s increased volume and sophistication.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion and Q&A – further clarifying the need for businesses to prepare a strategy for the onslaught of available meta data in social media.

  • The market is still immature (which represents massive opportunity)
  • You must develop a strategy BEFORE choosing a technology platform
  • Don’t underestimate the organizational impact of ‘Big Data’

The market is still immature:
We are on an elbow of a massive exponential curve upwards in the availability of data online.  Social media is among the chief contributors to this phenomenon. Many digital outlets (web content, video, sharing technology) are contributing on some level.  Companies don’t know where to start (listening? engaging?) or which data is important (engagement in social? share of voice and sentiment?). Furthermore, the tools in place don’t hit on all the relevant touch points.  Many are good social ‘listeners.’  Others excel at ‘publishing.’  Few bridge that very important gap, seamlessly combining the analytics to actionable items for brands to actively pursue.  The market at every angle – from need to solution – has yet to be fully determined. The technology and knowledge available quite simply has not caught up to social consumers’ propensity to adapt, produce, and share content online.

Develop a strategy BEFORE choosing a platform:
Companies far too often make a critical error in experimenting on their own customers, particularly in social.  One must develop a strategy – and the maturity of the market isn’t necessarily dependent on the industry your business lies in.  What are the specific goals you want to accomplish?  What are the logical steps to take?

In developing a strategy, first identify organizational needs.  Are they corporate priorities or product specific objectives? It’s critical to build your social agenda in support of your business agenda. Then define the metrics involved. What are the critical components your stakeholders value most?  Next assess your organizational readiness.  Do you have high levels of corporate buy-in, education, and expertise? It is only after you’ve accomplished these three steps are you ready to choose the tools to contribute to your business objectives.

Don’t underestimate the organizational impact of social business
The online universe is creating data at a clip like never before. How one translates this into actionable insight to create a better customer experience, in many cases, remains to be seen. The available roles, processes, resources available, organizational models, programs and education are incredibly varied and creates large-scale disruption to the enterprise.  People need benchmarks and proven models to self-assess their social readiness. You can see Altimeter’s open research on this topic here.


  1. Charlene – I couldn’t agree more – opportunity abounds for brands today to get a true picture of their customer through the analysis of social data.

    At Networked Insights we are providing actionable insights on social data that are pre-informing TV buys, online media buys, sponsorships, celebrity acquisition, as well as what what content they create and curate. Its time for marketers to use this data to make informed decisions on who their customers are, how to engage with them and where that engagement will be!


  1. [...] work. We recently held a Pilot event in the space, where we invited people to a discussion on “Social Analytics and Strategy” led by Lora Cecere and  Susan Etlinger (picture to the left, more pics also available). [...]