Social marketing intelligence is the method of extrapolating valuable information from social network interactions and large data flows that can enable companies for example: to launch new products and services into the market place at greater speed and at significantly lower cost. This is a very new area of research however, companies using social marketing intelligence have achieved drastic improvement in marketing campaigns.
Through social marketing intelligence, companies can identify the people that are the most influential within their communities. These are the most connecting and connected people within any given social network.
Alpha users are key elements of any social networks, who manage the connectivity of the core members of the community. Similar to how viruses spread in nature, there is an initial starting point to communications in social networks, and the originators of such communications are alpha users. They tend to be highly connected users with exceptional influence to the other thought-leaders of any social network.
Before digital communications, it was only possible to isolate the most influential members of any community by interviewing every member and tracing their full communication patterns within the social network. Traditional fixed landline telephone and internet use did not give enough accuracy to be able to pinpoint alpha users to a meaningful degree. With the advent of mobile phones, a personal digital communication channel was available to study. Early research by mathematicians at Xtract in Finland produced models that suggested mobile networks could indeed track the full communication and isolate the alpha users. Since then, several companies including Xtract have launched commercial tools to detect alpha users, usually using mobile operator billing and telecoms traffic data.
Today, modern engagement marketing campaigns attempt to use alpha users as spokespersons in marketing and advertising. The idea is that consumers will trust more the opinion of their friend or known contact from a social network, than the random marketing and advertising messages of companies and brands. The desire is to achieve viral marketing effects by which the alpha users would spread the messages further.