How You Can Leverage Big Social Data

Posted on by Mark Cooper

Over 90% of the data in the world was created in the last two years. New ways of processing and analyzing Big Data have led to innovations across many industries – from software that can diagnose Parkinson’s to earthquake warning systems in Japan. But for marketers, the integration of big data is still in its infancy.

Some brands in the B2B sector have made progress, tapping into transactional and campaign data to optimize their CRM. But for most companies, the biggest resource for consumer data, social networks, remains untapped. If your brand isn’t leveraging this intelligence, you’re ignoring a deep well of insights about consumers and content. 2013 is the year for marketers to invest in technologies and processes to leverage these huge opportunities.

Sizing the Social Opportunity

Social media is the single largest resource for information about consumers. This means that for marketers, big data and social data are one and the same.

Big social data spans the three dimensions that define all big data: volume, velocity, and variety.

Volume: In 2012, 1.4 billion consumers spent 22% of their online time on social platforms.There are more than 250 million Tweets and 800 million Facebook updates every day. These numbers will multiply as mobile and social usage continues to grow.

Velocity:Big social data is constantly refreshing – giving marketers real-time, accurate insights into the latest developments in consumer lives. Your team can stop targeting campaigns based on outdated, “dirty” consumer data and start offering consumers information they really want, when they actually want it.

Variety:Social network users produce many different kinds of data, including images, video, comments and social actions. They also offer up information about their age, gender, location, and email addresses. They’re even assigned unique IDs by social networks, allowing you to track them from top of the funnel through conversion and beyond.

Plus, platforms like Facebook and Twitter give marketers access to consumers’ entire social networks. You can use this data to map social patterns, track how consumers influence their friends, and grow word of mouth about your brand.

Integrating and Analyzing Big Social Data

Your marketing team needs an interface that makes it easy to access and analyze data without the help of statisticians or your IT department. The system should automatically tag unstructured data types like comments, email addresses, etc. This will make it easy to integrate data into your other systems, like Google Analytics and your CRM. Your team can leverage opportunities in real time, without the data curve slowing you down.

Once you’ve established a process for integrating data, it’s time for your department to start mining its value. The number of metrics available is daunting, and it’s often tough to know what to evaluate first. Focus on information that’s actionable – data you can use to target your consumers and sell to them across all of your marketing initiatives.

Here are a few key metrics to get you started:

Content Engagement: Measure the ways social users interact with your content, including comments, shares, referrals, and participation in social campaigns. For more nuanced insights, categorize your content by topic and type – posts about shoes, videos, etc. Evaluate engagement metrics to find trending subjects, and use the findings to create compelling content and define best practices across all channels – social, email, Facebook ads, etc.

Fan Loyalty: Don’t just track overall content performance – look at how frequently individual fans interact with your posts and campaigns. Identify the people who are engaged with your content, loyal to your brand, and influential among their friends. Your team can use this information to create exclusive programs and offers for your brand advocates, cultivating more engagement and sharing.

Fan Interests: Look at fan interactions with content categories for clues about their interests and intent to purchase. Your team can then react to these insights with targeted marketing content about their favorite subjects and products.

Social Profile Data: Fan-created profiles give you access to their demographics – location, gender, age, etc. Evaluate the brands your fans follow as well. It’s a great way to get competitive intelligence, and identify common interests across your consumer base.

User-Submitted Data: There is no point in collecting social data unless it’s actionable. Run social campaigns that collect email addresses and mailing addresses from your fans and tie them to other data about their behaviors and interests. You can then run targeted campaigns based on any number of combinations of the data you’ve collected – target yoga fans under 25 with an exclusive discount via Facebook ads, or send New Yorkers an exclusive email invite to a flash sale in Soho.

Campaign Performance: Track the performance of your big social data-fueled campaigns, and use your findings to refine your data collection process. Be prepared to make exciting discoveries about what your audience wants, and make sure your team is primed to react to them quickly.

Big social data has the power to transform the way brands market to consumers by producing content that’s more timely, relevant, and persuasive than ever before. This strategy will help marketers drive more conversions across all channels. In order to stay competitive, brands will need to leverage big social data in 2013.

Mark Cooper is CMO and co-founder of Offerpop.

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