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14/08/2013 by

How You Can Leverage Big Data In Your Social Media Marketing

As a marketer or small business owner, you’re probably well aware of the impact big data can have on your company’s value and bottom line.

How You Can Leverage Big Data In Your Social Media Marketing

But taking advantage of a deluge of data can be difficult, especially when it comes to the kind of unstructured data sourced through social media.

It’s not easy, after all, to put a direct value on tweets, videos, and photos shared online, and yet this is a crucial source of data that will continue to grow in importance with the expansion of social media platforms.

In fact, proper use of unstructured big data can help you target consumers at just the right point in the conversion funnel with highly relevant messages, up engagement rates overall, and close the marketing loop.

But to do that, you need to ask the right questions of your big data, know what to measure, why you’re measuring it, and what you should do with your results.

Here are a few key strategies for making the most of big data in your social media marketing.

Use Site Traffic to Evaluate Your Social Media Efforts

In order to make the most of social media, you have to know which platforms are providing the most value. You also need to have some idea about which types of posts really generate interest, and at what times of the week and day they’ll have the greatest impact.

Site traffic is a key indicator of interest, and can be monitored with any good analytics tool, whether it’s Google Analytics or otherwise. Within your analytics tool, you’ll need to create separate lists for each social media site, so you can pinpoint referral rates from each channel.

When you’re running a specific campaign, you’ll also want to add campaign tracking to your dashboard, so you can trace referrals back to specific URLs.

With simple metrics like this, you’ll use your users’ own data to determine just what they’re responding to, where they like to hang out, and how and when best to reach them on social media.

Identify and Take Advantage of Trending Topics

The best way to foster a compelling social media presence is to create content your followers actually want to consume, engage with and share.

One of the best ways to do that is to write about topics that are trending either in the social media sphere as a whole or in your niche, as this indicates reader interest and may also be a reflection of their questions and knowledge gaps.

One easy way to measure topical interests is with Google Trends, which ranks top searches across the web. With the data of countless global users in hand, you can brainstorm highly relevant social media posts and content that hopefully ranks high in both Google and hashtag searches.

This will keep you full of ideas, and in line with the current interests.

Safeguard Your Reputation & Develop Customer Loyalty

It’s not just news topics that trend; with so many online venues in which customers can voice their opinions, your brand can do so as well. When customers complain about your company, you want to know as quickly as possible so you can respond with a solution and (hopefully) keep their business.

When they respond with positive posts or even photos or videos of your product in action, you also want to capitalize on that knowledge quickly, posting that user generated content on your site or to your own social media feeds.

To do that, you’ll want to give any one of these social media monitoring tools a try, so you don’t miss a post. These tools will also help you identify influencers for maximum reach.

Anticipate Customer Desires With Social Media Mentions

Social media mentions aren’t just about identifying potentially damaging material or curating content; they also can be incredibly helpful in identifying holes in the market and identifying the right time to share promotions.

Notice an uptick in customers on Twitter wishing there were more ways to buy your fuzzy, festive socks near the holidays? Ramp up production. Notice customers complaining about the absence of a product that fits all of their needs?

Do your research, and consider creating one. Solving customer problems is a great way to foster loyalty and evangelism.

In fact, more and more companies are so on board with social media analytics, they’ve based their whole business model around. The Next Big Sound, for instance, helps the music industry anticipate demand for an album, tour and much more, based on plays, mentions and other metrics online.

Apply a similar mentality to your business, and you’ll have a much easier time gauging market demand.

Segment Your Social Media Campaigns

The best marketing campaigns really get the audience they’re targeting, and there’s no better way to do that than drawing from a wealth of social media information that directly reflects user interests and behaviors.

That’s something companies like Facebook are quickly realizing, and have thus started providing advertisers with powerful segments to help them create hyper-targeted campaigns.

Rather than targeting, “females between the ages of 19 – 25,” advertisers can now get as specific as “likes riding bikes.” Whenever provided, make sure to take advantage of such highly and well-curated data on social media platforms to create hyper-specific campaigns.

Create Your Own Dashboard for These Key Metrics

So what should you expect to measure if you want to really do big data social media marketing right?

  1. Gross Views. This includes views across all channels, whether Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Spotify or beyond.
  2. Connections. This reflects potential customers who have engaged directly with your brand, and continue to do so over the long term, including blog subscribers, Facebook and Twitter fans, likes and followers, and YouTube subscribers.
  3. Audience Engagements. Count retweets, post likes and shares, video responses and comments in this category.
  4. Social Media Referrals and Conversions. This includes both the number of followers who check out your site, as well as the number who either convert into customers or take some other deeper action.
  5. Your Own Engagements. You should also really track how you’re responding to your followers, whether that’s through response blogposts, comments, shares or other approaches.

The Takeaway

Sure, social media is an important platform for engaging with customers, but if you’re not also thinking of it as a tremendous tool for business intelligence, you’re missing out.

With such powerful big data at hand, it’s important that you work side by side with the IT department so you have all of the tools you need to capture and make apt use of the most relevant data.

Together, you’re sure to develop a healthy and robust social media presence to the envy of all others.

What About You?
What are your tips, or biggest challenges, when it comes to big data and social media marketing? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author
Adria Saracino is the head of outreach at Distilled, where she consults on PR and content strategies. You can follow her on Twitter @adriasaracino.


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Comments (5)

  • Igor Beuker 14/08/2013, 17:56

    Hi Adria, good to have you back. Thanks for sharing these insights.

    A dashboard is key. This one is still inspiring to me, use it since years:
    see Gatorade Mission Control (the video inside)

    Pretty clever way of insights and data driven social and digital marketing, I feel…

  • Adria Saracino
    14/08/2013, 19:10

    Thanks Igor, it’s great to be back! Dashboards are SO important, not just for making sure you are drawing good insights but to also boost efficiency in analyzing the data. You’ll only be able to go so far if your team has to manually pull and analyze data!

    PS – Gatorade’s ad department blows my mind. Every time a new TV commercial comes on I get a bit jealous I didn’t think of it! (The Just One More campaign is sticking out in my mind right now).

    • Igor Beuker 14/08/2013, 19:27

      Hi Adria,

      Very true, deriving actionable insights from data is key!

      On Gatorade: There is hope.

      I have shown this video in about 100 keynotes last few years and when I asked in the room: Whom of you has a similar setting back at the office, I’ve seen around 3 hands up in the air so far: Coke global CMO, Dell global CMO and Ford CMO.
      Number of attendees around 30.000, I guess.. did not count them :-)

  • Timo Luege
    19/08/2013, 14:54

    Hi – I’m not sure the author actually understands what “Big Data” is. Any single website’s traffic can at best be very, very, very, very small data.

    From Wikipedia: “Big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. (…)”

    Even the kind of data analysis that Dan Zarealla regularly performs across thousands of websites or social media accounts doesn’t qualify as “Big Data”, since it is still too small. You’d have to look at all the traffic of a whole country to speak of Big Data.

    How to leverage *that* for your social media marketing is indeed something I’d be interested in reading.

  • Adria Saracino
    21/08/2013, 21:23

    Hey Timo Luege,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. My apologies that the intent of this article might not have been clear from the get go. It was intended to be an introductory piece to big data, more approachable to businesses that do not have the internal infrastructures in place to collect and process the big data they have available to them. As such, I definitely did use big data interchangeably from it’s literal definition in order to inspire new ways of thinking and push marketers in that direction, but I definitely see how that could lend to confusion and apologize for that.

    I do like your suggestion about making a more advanced piece around leveraging big data for social media marketing, and will consider it for future contributions!