Social Media Intelligence

Wendy W. Moe and David A. Schweidel

User Reviews

  • Robert Cinca
    15 May 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Social Media Intelligence (2014)\cite{wendyw} is an academic book written by Wendy W. Moe (University of Maryland) and David A. Schweidel (Emory University). The book examines the insufficient yet prevailing methods used by companies in monitoring social media activity. It also explores superior alternatives that could enable an organisation to master its online presence. The book is a must-read for any organisation that is serious about managing its image on social media or for individuals seeking employment in this sector. It would also be engaging for anybody interested in online behavioral psychology.

    The term ‘social media intelligence’ describes the use and interpretation of social media data for a clear, strategic decision-making process. The book argues that, presently, the majority of companies and organisations treat data gathered from social media in a haphazard way, failing to integrate it with the firm’s general marketing strategy. This failure is best demonstrated by the standard employment opportunities provided by firms in social media:

    “Social Media Associate: Act as administrator of the company blog and social media feeds, as well as representing the company on all social media platforms. Create compelling content to drive traffic. Primary role is to engage community members.”

    The job described in this advert amounts to simply posting company updates and replying to customer questions. Moreover, social media teams are usually separated from the rest of the organisation. They run independently and thus fail to integrate with the overarching strategic decisions of the company. This increases the chances of miscommunication and pursuance of incompatible policies across different departments.

    Moe and Schweidel suggest that sharing intelligence gathered on social media across the organisation can encourage and enable synergetic coordination across departments. For example, Apple’s social media team was quick to pick up on the increased online customer complaints regarding cellular connectivity problems with the iPhone 4. The firm then coordinated its response efforts across multiple teams: the public relations team apologised and explained the problem to the press; the development team worked on a fix; and the marketing team offered customers special phone cases as a temporary fix to the problem. This incident could have caused lasting brand reputation damage, had the organisation’s social media team not effectively communicated with the rest of the company.

    The authors also warn about the overreliance of user feedback posted online, however. Specifically, they mention selection bias that results when opinions posted online do not represent those of the entire customer base. For example, the opinions of tech-savvy individuals discussing a new laptop launch on a tech-orientated forum may not be representative of the opinions of an elderly couple buying a PC for the first time. Whilst the former group might care whether the laptop’s processor is an Intel Core i7 versus i5, the latter may be more interested in an easy-to-use interface. They also suggest negative psychological effects resulting from previously posted opinions: it either causes individuals to conform to previous opinions, or to try and differentiate themselves by posting increasingly positive or negative opinions. More academic details on the psychological effects can be found in Listening In on Social Media: A Joint Model of Sentiment and Venue Format Choice,[1] a research paper written by the authors of this book.

    Social Media Intelligence is comprehensive and methodical in its coverage of social media tactics that should be adopted by companies. However, a weak point is the insufficient focus on the issues of privacy and security related to the storage of customers’ personal data. Although it may seem ideal for a company to form their strategic decisions based on storing extensive data on customers—including posts on their personal online profiles to friends—customers may simply not want to share that much information. Recent coverage of customer data breaches, such as the Carphone Warehouse incident,[2] suggests that firms must first focus on the way they store their data before being trusted with an increasing amount of customer information. Any advantages gained from the use of personal data could be counteracted in a serious data breach, due to the consequent damage to a brand’s reputation.

    Overall, Social Media Intelligence is well written and engaging. It provides a useful overview of the rapidly emerging field of online marketing and advertising, and gives readers an insight into how, sooner or later, Social Media Intelligence will influence every company’s strategic objectives.


    1. David A. Schweidel and Wendy W. Moe, Listening In on Social Media: A Joint Model of Sentiment and Venue Format Choice, J. Mark. Res, vol. 51, no. 4, 2014.
    2. Carphone Warehouse in customer data breach, BBC News, 2015.

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