Chapter 18

Listening-Based Sales Prediction

Social media listening provides us with signals that can be used to sense the near-term future. Our ability to improve foresight contributes to better and more desirable company futures (Johansen 2007). We are learning from diverse studies on product categories like entertainment and consumer electronics, or elections for public office, that social media listening data can accurately predict near-term results, such as changes in sales, or winning candidates. The research chiefs, advertisers, and vendors with whom we spoke welcome that power and see listening-based prediction as an emerging business tool. Networked Insights CEO Dan Neely captured that thought when he told us:

Listening will help create models that can predict changes in markets and consumer trends. Most market research has a predictive element: We study the present and the past to inform what we will do in the future. But, the future will see predictive analytics that can match the vast data set of online conversation against an economic marker or other data set outside of social media—and predict business outcomes. (Neely 2010)

For almost all companies, the ability to anticipate change—even just a few days or weeks out—offers valuable guidance. Predicting the short-term future provides companies with closer-to-real-time data that factors into making marketing, operational, resources, and financial decisions that keep or sharpen competitive edges, and keep the company-customer ...

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