A tweet about an impending new car purchase. Instagram posts featuring favorite caffeinated beverages. Pins of top fashions and recipes. Every day, consumers are taking to networks like Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and sending thousands of social signals that can be tapped for better strategies and campaigns.

Retailers have the opportunity to leverage social intelligence to learn about their audience’s tastes, preferences and interests. And once equipped with this information, they can begin to develop a true competitive edge.

Here are 5 ways that retailers can tap into social data:

  1. Predict what customers want (before they know they want it)

The actions that consumers take on social media – from sending a customer service tweet on Twitter to pinning a new Fall-favorite outfit on Pinterest – are great indicators of what they want.

Retail brands can explore the actions that their target audience have taken on social media, and create content and retargeted ads that put their product in front of the right consumer. That consumer may not have expressed a direct interest in that particular product, but knowing his or her other interests and behaviors will indicate whether or not the product will resonate.

  1. Address pain points for improved customer loyalty

Customer service Twitter accounts are great for resolving problems for individual consumers, but they are also a rich source of social data. Every problem, complaint or common issue can be collected and analyzed, so that retailers can take steps to address them en masse.

  1. Offer targeted deals

A recent survey of US retailers reveals that 50 percent of retailers believe that targeted offers and benefits is the process most impacted by social data. And for good reason.

Consumers who have already expressed an interest in your brand will be more receptive to time-limited deals and promotions. A younger audience who uses Instagram regularly will be more likely to engage in a photo contest. The data that you uncover about your audience based on their social behavior can guide the content and timing of your promotions.

  1. Personalize your communications

Social intelligence isn’t only collected in the aggregate. You can augment your CRM platform with individualized information – such as an individual’s demographics, recent life events, favorite brands and more – and personalize your interactions on a one-to-one basis.

From segmenting your database for better email targeting to presenting content based on past interactions, retailers have the ability to delight their audience with personalized communications. And many retailers have already caught on to this trend: a recent poll shows that approximately 50 percent of retail executives have plans to integrate Facebook, Twitter and other social networks into their CRM within the next two years.

  1. Develop new products and services

Consumers aren’t shy about sharing their opinions of brands, products and services. They will take to review sites and discuss their experiences, turn to Twitter to recommend a product, or snap an Instagram of a recent purchase.

Whether positive or negative, all of this data can act as a window into the future. By understanding what consumers like or dislike now, retailers can plan for new products and services that are aligned with their audience’s values.


Social intelligence is a powerful tool for retailers to give their audience what they want, and develop an edge over the competition. Buying intent, interests, values and other information can be collected, analyzed for more effective marketing strategies.