Intelligence People: Nathaniel Hansen of The Socializers


  • When did you first become involved in the ‘social intelligence’ sector?


  • What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wanted to be a herpetologist and was actively making lists of reptiles since age 6. I would create rows and columns on a A4 paper with Name of Reptile, Latin Name, Length, Width, Locations Found, Venomous/Non-Venomous. I even, at age 6, paid a classmate to come and be my secretary and we would work for hours at my desk filling in the data. I haven’t stopped making lists since…it’s a deep passion.

  • What, in your opinion, are the key benefits of social data analysis for organisations?

Social listening gives us clues related to our customers, our competitors and our marketplaces based on conversation analysis at scale. These clues lead to insights that inform laser specific strategy for ALL silos in the enterprise. In addition, we can build a customer base from conversation analysis by enriching handles of those in the conversation. In addition, we can see who is influencing people talking about our chosen themes/topics.

Sentiment analysis and Emotions analysis gives us insight into what causes Joy, Anticipation, Fear, Disgust, Anger within conversations where our chosen themes and topics are being discussed. This is important because we can design better marketing campaigns, bring efficiency to our overall budget based on what’s working/not working in the marketplace, we can spot trends in the marketplace and anticipate where to focus our resources as a brand.

When we see WHO is talking about themes/topics important to our brand, WHERE these conversations are occurring, WHAT is driving awareness of our themes/topics, HOW customers are arriving to our channels AND to our competitors’ channels, then we make more intelligent decisions for our brand, for each silo in our enterprise.

What aspects of your work do you most enjoy?

Listening to the entire world on every topic imaginable AND creating detailed lists of specific targets (influencers, M&A opps, consumer focus groups, ideal audiences) for brands. I also love interacting with brand staff/leadership so that our insights really help current business objectives.

We are very fortunate at this time in history to have such powerful lenses into our own individual psyches, as well as the consciousness/intentions of specific groups. There are significant possibilities with social data to feed the consciousness of swiftly evolving AIs. There are current real programs within social intelligence to discover recurring patterns from vast amounts of conversations and predict what an individual, a group or a populace will do next.

The Socializers’ IKEA command centre.

  • What are the biggest challenges in your day-to-day work?

Helping key stakeholders at the brand integrate insights into existing day-to-day business, simplifying the process of how an insight gets adopted into overall strategy at the senior leadership level and how that trickles down to various units/regions. Even though politics within organizations can get sticky, our work in social listening can have a therapeutic effect and even avert internal disasters amongst brand staff. Turning the ears and eyes of our function as social listeners inward can help the brand better understand its current health…social listening can, in some cases, heal a brand and give it fresh directions.

  • Are you worried about regulatory restrictions impacting on your work in the future?

I am not. The OSINT community is very creative so even if certain features are no longer available in the major conversation analysis and audience intelligence solutions, we always find ways to fill in the gaps. As for fears of regulatory restrictions at the brand leadership level, we take on the risk for the brand, where leadership “looks over our shoulder at the coffee shop” and walks away with insights.

On the political side, we had much more freedom in previous years, for instance, the incredible reach of the FB Graph Search in early 2013. Developers will always find a way to keep delivering insights on competitors, consumers, and internal staff. Some insights professionals will have the honor to work with developers to hone A.I. functionality to the point that machines will do what researchers once did. For the foreseeable future, humans will continue to be the last mile when it comes to insights in the social data space.

One last note on this: if we as humans are on a path to discovering more about who we are and what makes us tick, there will always be both government and private domains where allowances are made for studying ourselves, social data work included.

Which social data analysis tools do you use? Do you have a favourite?

For me, Brandwatch is the best conversation analysis tool on the market. PeoplePattern and Audiense are the best audience intelligence tools on the market. Brandwatch, PeoplePattern, and Audiense all have superior internal cultures, which promote creativity amongst insights professionals.

When it comes to the enrichment of social handles, Full Contact and PIPL have superior APIs and also have excellent internal cultures and leadership. Crystal Knows and IBM both provide excellent personality assessment functions when analysing individuals and groups. And the best topic modelling and emotional analysis tool out there is Rob Key’s Conversus.

There are other OSINT tools we use in a proprietary way to mine, scrape and assemble data from social networks and other websites. And, of course, having a team of well-trained analysts who are creative in how they work with these OSINT tools and the major conversation analysis and audience intelligence is vital. Again, as I said before, the human analyst is still the last mile when it comes to discovering and delivering true insights from social data.

  • Do you think the ‘social intelligence’ community needs its own professional body?

It is excellent to interact with other professionals in the same space, of course! Many of us who have been in the space for a long time are (and have had to become) inventors and mavericks – from my perspective, it is healthy for ‘lone wolves’ to have a place to interact.

  • Name a book you would recommend to others.

“Creativity” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and OSINT techniques books.

  • Name a social account that everyone should follow.

henkvaness (and other OSINT experts).

  • Which person, living or dead, would you most like to follow you on social?

Niccolo Machiavelli.

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Michael Feeley
Michael Feeley
Michael Feeley is Editor of The Social Intelligence Lab. More content by

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