Can Social Media Boost Business Intelligence for Universities? – ASMA


What is Business Intelligence (BI)

Business intelligence refers to the process of collecting and analysing raw data to support better decision making. It often involves integration of technology applications for presenting business information in a comprehensive way.

It is the job of Business Intelligence to cull out scientific information that provides business value. This gives competitive advantage, helps in arresting cost leakage and improves customer satisfaction.

Why Social Media and Business Intelligence?

When used in combination with social media, BI can provide information such as student demographics, search habits, and social behaviours etc. Each of these factors is critical to fostering marketing efforts in your college/ university to drive revenue opportunities, generate leads, and increase brand outreach.

Combining social media and business intelligence allows greater audience reach, more effective targeting and greater cost savings. Advertising and marketing campaigns can be created more efficiently for your academic institution by using advance BI tools. It is therefore important to recognize social media as a powerful platform to aggregate Business Intelligence.

Since its launch, Social Media has proven itself to be a useful business tool for academia. Social networks have evolved into powerful marketing differentiators that on a daily basis are providing commercially valuable data analytics. Using BI in social media marketing can help in increasing understanding of the student and academic stakeholder experience, and set the tone for your brand image. It can also help in improving marketing resources for predicting future trends and customer concerns.

Universities and institutions operate in an ever-changing environment that needs a proactive and flexible marketing strategy based on data insights. Today, BI tools are enabling education marketers to analyse multiple social media platforms, ensuring quicker decision making.

The Challenge

The volume of data being quickly updated on social media pose a bigger challenge for marketers from education. Also, different social media platforms have different structures, therefore retrieving business-relevant data and generating accurate insights becomes difficult.

The only way to tackle this is by developing an analytical framework for comparing data across multiple platforms that can be used with a few modifications.

Beginning Your Analysis

For gathering relevant business intelligence for your institution from social media, it is helpful to first identify its defining traits. These could be related to how information on social media is generated using a mix of data types that includes static text, hyperlinks, hashtags, pictures, infographics and videos.

Data thus retrieved must be divided according to the results sought depending on your institutional goals. The information gained is then clustered on the basis of gender, age group, income bracket, and other demographics. Such an analysis helps in getting answers to some of the most basic questions of audience profiling and can further help in designing a better course proposition for your target audience.

Before social media, the only way of gauging student/ academic stakeholder personas was through surveys and focus group discussions. Now, with technology, the whole process is automated and gives more accurate profiling.

Social media is primarily for building relationships with your existing and prospective students and not necessarily for selling. You must use it as a tool for measuring success keeping this aspect into consideration.

By looking at the communication patterns online, you can understand what will eventually interest the consumer. Thereafter, you can target specific content for specific personas and monitor whether they are interacting with your content or not.

Integrating Social Media into your Business Intelligence

Making sense of information retrieved from social media requires employing proper integration strategy to obtain real business value.

Here are some useful steps to integrating social media metrics into the BI process for creating business impact.

1: Creating a robust social media strategy

This is a very important step in making your social business intelligence work for your university. This approach will ensure that you are able to drive business growth using market intelligence on social media. Set timelines for your social media goals with a targeted focus on measurable results and outcomes. It will help you to make a difference.

Make an idea planner and content calendar. This calendar needs to consist of posts your student and academic community may like. Your content plan should encourage active participation of consumer driven content. Follow a strategic schedule to post the content and monitor engagement. Try to engage your audience with interesting and relevant content.

Monitor what is working and what needs to be improved. There are many monitoring tools available, including Google Analytics, Facebook Insights; Twitter; and Instagram. Fix a review schedule to measure campaign effectiveness.

2: Align social media strategy with your business goals

Think how social media analytics and business intelligence can help achieve business objectives. How will the analysis help grow your business? Draw connections between social analytics and revenue maximization. Know the audience traits to track that fits into the organizational strategy.

Identify departments that will use social media intelligence. It is generally believed that marketing is the only vertical that uses social media insights for justifying ROI. Not always true. There are many more departments and teams in an university that can also benefit by social research to create value proposition for customers.

3: Filter analytics for better insights

Social media is like an ocean. If you do know how to filter useful information, chances are that you might never reach to your desired analytical framework. Hence there’s no need to measure every data that it throws. Identify its key metrics that matter to your institution.

4:  Follow Followers

Your social media followers are a great source of generating useful data. You can learn a lot when people in your community / group come together at one place for discussion and sharing content. It helps gain new perspectives on education marketing and brings fresh insights. Your social communities ultimately become the “voice of your brand” as you continue to expand engagement with them.

5: Map Competition

With social media you can sneak peek into your competitor’s information since things are readily available in online space. It gives you access to analyse and forecast key trends and shifts within your industry domain. You gain strategic insights as you track your competitors’ approach to customer engagement and mould your college marketing campaigns accordingly.

6: Understand Customer Demographics

Social media is the best online tool at the moment to learn demographics of your students and academic stakeholders. You can understand your customers’ behaviour, need, interest and preferences by closely looking at things such as age, location, income, qualification, etc. and map their complete profile to align your offering accordingly.

7: What’s Your Content Strategy

There’s no better way to derive business intelligence than the content your customers consume on social platforms. So be watchful of the content you generate and encourage your customers to engage. Observe content that is becoming viral and eliminate ineffective ones.  Collecting information about how a specific content is received online is a strategic step in integrating social media into your business intelligence.

8: More Efficient Advertising

With its custom advertising and advance analytics features, social media has made it possible to induct Business Intelligence for running more targeted ad campaigns for your university/ institution. Unlike traditional media, you can now reach out to more specific audiences with conservative investment budgets. The kind of customer insights social media provides is unmatched by any other form of advertising.


Social media has emerged as a powerful tool to understand customer dynamics. Since the dawn of advertising, companies have been facing challenges to understand customer behaviour. Lot of business intelligence is required to run campaigns that reach out to the right target segment with minimum investment.

The ways in which user information is retrieved from social media can be of great use to institutions and universities. The rapid success of social platforms have opened plethora of touchpoints to interact and engage with your target audience. In addition, it also now possible to capture their responses real-time to effectively measure brand awareness.

Top brands have now learned how to harness the power of social media to generate Business Intelligence. Social media is playing a major role in generating next level BI to positively impact customer behaviour.

So, if you’re interested in taking marketing intelligence of your university / institutions to the next level, consider including the findings of social media into it.