At the goal line

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Big Data and Social Media

Posted by Rick Lambert on Thu, Mar 14, 2013

It could be argued that social media has become the most popular way to communicate on both a personal and professional level. With over a billion members on Facebook and 500 million on Twitter, there are a lot of open conversations happening via the Internet, providing powerful information and statistics for marketers to take advantage of. The challenge is sifting through the never-ending pile of information and trying to make sense of it. For this reason, the concept of big data has emerged.

What exactly is big data? Perhaps it is best defined as the massive amount of rapidly moving and free available data on the Internet that can provide extremely valuable information to the marketplace if broken down and divided into key statistics. Some examples of how big data has provided value in the past include an articulated breakdown of tweets in the 2012 presidential election to determine voter sentiment and e-commerce companies such as Amazon improving its customer service strategy by sharing other products consumers may like based on previous searches or purchases.

The relationship between big data and social media is a match made in heaven for business owners that are trying to gauge how the public perceives their brands. By mining through online conversations, big data can offer extremely powerful information for businesses to use as they position products, services, and build reputations. For example, with the knowledge gained from conversations on various social media platforms, a shoe retailer may learn that women between the ages of 17 and 24 prefer shoes with a 3 inch heel in various shades of red, but most particularly in vermilion. Having access to this highly specific demographic information can have a huge impact on how a business positions itself in the market.

Big data can also detect emerging trends from these online conversations, helping a business to stay ahead of its competition in the marketplace. Having the ability to decipher these online conversations truly offers a competitive advantage, as some businesses may even be able to introduce products before consumers even knew they needed them. The marriage of big data and social media intelligence is essential to achieving the best ROI for a company's social media marketing strategy.

As you can imagine, the overwhelming amount of information floating around the Internet can make it difficult to know where to start extracting from. By using social analytics, businesses have the ability to better find a specific needle in a haystack. A key challenge is that computers can sometimes have a difficult time interpreting online conversations and certain jargon, sometimes resulting in inaccurate information. Also, the tools used to sift through this information are not always smart enough to tell users what to look for in these conversations, causing some key information and statistics to be missed entirely. Determining the right data to gather, questions to ask, and various analysis to perform on the available data is no easy task. Another obvious challenge associated with big data is the expense related to building infrastructures to mine through this information.

While there are still a number of challenges to overcome with this emerging technology, we can expect to see big data used to its fullest potential by marketers for years to come.

What ways could big data positively impact your business?

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Tags: social media analytics, market research, Inbound marketing, big data and social media, big data

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