How valuable is the data being discovered by social to brands?


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

March 6, 2013 | 7 min read

The Drum catches up with a selection of industry experts to ask their views on some of the big issues affecting the social media sector. Here, agencies discuss how data is connected to social media.

How valuable is the data being discovered by social to brands?

Allen Hull, insight & strategy director, 1000heads The value of social data becomes apparent when brands act on the insight it delivers. Just as business insight from other sources, insight derived from social data can influence marketing, product development, customer service and many more areas – all of which impact the bottom line. Brands just need to be willing and able to act; collecting social data for the sake of collecting social data is pointless.

Jim Coleman, managing partner, We Are Social A major focus in the next year for brands will be using data from social to close the loop between in store and social behaviour. Social can help understand people’s preferences and what they want to hear about, allowing brands to feed this directly into their marketing.

Social can also be an incredibly effective and immediate market research tool. Rather than the traditional market research model with its fairly laborious turnaround time, analyzing data from social can give brands an immediate picture of what they’re doing right, what they should change, what customers are complaining about and what they want to see more of. Brands are already feeding social back to their NPD team – as this system develops, it will be a huge asset for brands in today’s consumer environment, where trends and sentiments can change very rapidly.

Steve Richards, MD, Yomego Hugely valuable. The next 12 months will see a revolution in the way social behaviours are married with ‘old-school’ CRM data to enhance customer profiling. This will improve the relevancy of messaging to individuals. As long as brands are up-front about how they collect the data and what they intend to do with it then there doesn’t need to be any backlash. If targeting is done properly then the use of this data should avoid falling into the ‘junk mail’ trap.

Dominic Sparkes, CEO and co-founder, Tempero Data is worth nothing without context and expert analysis. At Tempero we have seen many organisations sign up to advanced monitoring and analysis tools only to lose interest when the results are inaccurate, confusing and irrelevant. To use data effectively, there needs to be a reason for collection, a plan for analysis and a willingness to action any actionable insight. With the right context, social media data can provide accurate representations of customer feelings, generate new thought processes and help make decisions. The wrong approach can lead brands up a dark alley without a torch.

Jan Rezab, CEO, Socialbakers Extremely valuable; it’s real time, it’s raw and it’s very honest. People are not afraid to speak their minds on social media.

Of course the democratization of open data has both good and bad aspects, but smart brands that monitor well can learn to divert most of the negatives and up-play the positives.

We see some of our tools like Analytics Pro becoming more popular as brands are more eager to engage in competitive analysis and learn from the successes and failures of others.

Sam Waymont , social planning director, Essence Data is only valuable if you use it correctly. Every brand on Facebook has access to informative data, such as age and location, as well as daily insights into what their consumers like and don’t like. It’s up to brands to use this knowledge to shape marketing and product strategies. Remember though, this is only a consumer sample that has connected with your brand via social media, while it’s both powerful and useful, in some cases it may not be representative.

Jonathan Palmer, head of social, Vizeum UK The data we are starting to mine from social platforms is highly valuable to brands when used correctly. The ability to segment databases to show which platform the consumer signed up through allows for a far more personalised ECRM strategy, putting social content in a more prominent place for consumers who have come through those channels, whilst advising those that haven’t that they too can join in.

Overlaying this kind of data on our planning, means we can really plan our brands advertising to hit not just the right audience demographic, but also enable us to ride online social buzz during TV ad breaks and plan in real time.

Data will become the biggest asset for social when we realise the potential of using consumers interests, likes, follows and habits in order to further optimise advertising content and how we deliver it to the most relevant consumers.

Paul Shepherd, CEO, Coup Media Big data is a massive buzz word, and a lot of that data is generated through our social media interactions. But the concept isn't new. It's cheaper and easier to store and analyse multiple data sets today, but brands still need to focus on the quality as opposed to the quantity of social data. If you can mine the data correctly then it can be really valuable. Uses will vary depending on industry and what you want to get out of the data. For example, we're working with the financial services and entertainment industry on two social data projects that will quite heavily influence the decisions they make and the way they market themselves - albeit in pretty different ways.

David Cushman, strategy partner, The Social Partners

Savvy marketeers are already turning to real-time data from open social media to inform decisions about how, when and where to market, what content to create, for whom, in what format and to deliver where. It's a powerful planning tool. But it's also a powerful insight into customer need and should be used to inform decisions throughout the organisation from new product development and R&D to customer service and PR. For many brands there is a direct sales play, too. Critically social media data can help an organisation treat customers as partners in every decision it makes. Every boardroom should have access to the data.

Ben Hatton, managing director, Rippleffect

Social media is a research tool. There is such a huge amount of data readily available and every brand should be using social media research to its full potential. You can use social media for so many things that have direct impact on your business such as finding out what your fans think of your next poster, finding all the people on Twitter who mention your product or issue in their bio as well as tracking every conversation about your brand. Perhaps most importantly there is also an incredible amount of data freely available about your competitors – and if they are not finding value in it you certainly can!

This piece is part of The Drum's social supplement, published in partnership with Yomego.

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