This week, we talk Consumer Psychologist, Nisa Bayindir about her journey into social intelligence.
When did you first become involved in the ‘social intelligence’ sector?
It was just over a decade ago and during the online communities’ boom. It was an exciting time of discovery for consumers and brands simultaneously because social media’s exponential growth was unprecedented and the adoption curve was steep. New networks were emerging so channel adoption and intelligence exploration went hand-in-hand with the new types of online communities. Digital content formats were also going through an experimental development phase so when we started to look beyond membership of a community and into the diverse ways of engaging through content, we started to face the exciting challenges of today.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a sculptor – or involved in a creative pursuit of some sort. I suppose what I’m doing now isn’t too remote from sculpture in its essence: I sculpt consumer behaviour narratives and strategy built on data, insights and psychology, and I’m not limited to these from a research perspective either. So I’d like to think that my brain operates with a similar principle to sculpture e.g. interpreting and expressing the abstract into the tangible, then mould into different shapes and forms.
What, in your opinion, are the key benefits of social data analysis for organisations?
Social data analysis is uniquely beneficial because it’s purpose-built for specific channel behaviours and engagement, and it can be used for broader insight curation to identify general trends too. It’s the only data source where you can analyse in-situ behaviour and interaction in real time, then craft smarter and tactical strategies to deploy directly on the social channels straight away. Organisations also have more time, space and luxury to embrace a test and learn approach without breaking the bank through social media data. Most importantly, brands don’t have to dip in and out of research when or if they have budget – social data provides them with an uncapped, first-hand intel about their consumers so that they remain on the pulse of the consumer attention and demand. It closes the gap between organisations and their consumers, and this was never within such easy reach without interruption.
What aspects of your work do you most enjoy?
Working with different data sources and research methods to cross-reference or cross-pollinate insights is probably the most enjoyable part of my job. It is a bit like working through an intelligence maze in which you try different approaches and directions to see what will take you to the quickest and most impactful solution. Consumer psychology gives me the competitive advantage in understanding and hypothesising on the contextual dimensions of this ‘maze’ as well. Whether it’s my starting point or the end of my journey, with consumer psychology in the mix, the maze is evergreen!
What are the biggest challenges in your day-to-day work?
It’s probably correlational dilemmas in insights, and ethical considerations in data – and both are about moderating the vital necessities of a project and being smart about prioritisation. There’s always more you can dig into when it comes to data, or conclusions you can infer from findings – and sometimes due to time or budget restrictions, you can go either end of this spectrum e.g. do too much or too little. We don’t always know what causes what, or what correlates to what. It might be that we will not know with the data available to us at that point in time. It’s okay to draw the line and be modest about our unknowns, and work with what we have rather than dabble in unconquered ethical territories.
Are you worried about regulatory restrictions impacting on your work in the future?
No I’m not, because I see it as a positive in the name of data integrity and power of the consumer. There will be better standards and codes of practice to level us out in the sector. At the moment, we’re dealing with a number of grey areas in data gathering practices and performance metric definitions. It can only be for the common good to define a general regulatory framework, albeit for it to become a tight(er) one, in order for us to be able to start talking about authenticity and universal truth in data interpretation for social intelligence in particular. Yes, we will have to unlearn some aspects of our jobs, but at least everyone will gradually find their places on the same wavelength.
Which social data analysis tools do you use? Do you have a favourite?
I’m particularly interested in the thematic landscape of social media communities, that is, how different communities and their members define themselves, what they are passionate about, and what overlaps with their interests in other communities – in short, the common denominators of human interest and behaviour. I can achieve this type of analysis to identify gaps, opportunities and emerging themes in engagement with Pulsar and Audiense so these are the two tools that excited me in the last couple of years in particular.
Do you think the ‘social intelligence’ community needs its own professional body?
Absolutely. Not only for knowledge exchange to become better together at our jobs, but also to collectively function as a sounding board/think tank to represent our viewpoint as professionals in the field when the time comes to be more involved and vocal in global law and regulation discussions. A professional body will officialise the expertise and help maintain certain standards on the whole. Looking forward to it!
Name a book you would recommend to others
Tough question without a particular genre! To stay on topic, I’d like to recommend a book in which I collaborated with the very influential Julie Atherton: Social Media Strategy. It’s packed with case studies, too.
Name a social account that everyone should follow.
Open Data Institute’s Twitter profile: @ODIHQ
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to follow you on social?
Ada Lovelace on Instagram! She’s the mother of computer programming and she championed what she called “poetical science” in which observation, integration, and interpretation were the crucial building blocks of intuition and image in mathematics and analytics. I’d love the opportunity to see the everyday world through her eyes on Instagram.
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