What is Social Media Data & How to Use It

What is Social Media Data?

People spend an astounding amount of time every day on social media sites so it’s no wonder that brands of all sizes are investing heavily into social media data.

Social media data refers to information gathered about users of social media based on their online behaviour. This data type can yield insights that help companies to understand real-time consumer choices, intentions and sentiments. These numbers and statistics are derived from various social network sites and reveal how users share, view or engage with a company’s content or profiles. The intelligence gathered from this is used to assist with companies’ social media strategies, informing future decisions and actions.

Who uses Social Media Data and for what use cases?

Social media data is useful for researchers, marketers, sales professionals, and agencies for a variety of reasons, thanks to its ability to provide deeper behavioural insights about audiences and how they engage with a brand. Sales professionals can use these learnings to craft personalised conversations with prospective leads, while researchers can understand how people respond to the latest trends or news. Collecting social media data is crucial to make business decisions with confidence and optimise processes throughout departments.

Social media data can be analysed for the following use cases:

To manage your brand in public

One common use of social media data is to increase brand visibility and manage your brand’s overall perception in public. Every time your company is mentioned online, you can instantly know how and when customers are sharing and discussing your brand. With the support of a social media data provider, you can utilise tools such as real-time notifications and signals to be made aware of important mentions and act quickly where necessary.

To understand how to leverage key influencers

A valuable asset of social media data is discovering how to build relationships with social media influencers (people that are known and relevant to your target audience). Such influencers can become powerful advocates of your brand and are a proven avenue to enhance your exposure. Accessing social media data allows you to identify fitting influencers to work with and consequently monitor your audience’s engagement with them. This will increase the chance of finding the audiences with the highest purchase intent.

To create tailored content

Customer behaviour and perceptions are constantly changing. The more information you have to understand your audience, the better you can create authentic content that is tailored for them, compelling them to click, share, and convert. Recognising the needs, interests, and pain points of customers enables you to build a personalised experience for those who interact with your profile. For example, if your audience is frequently showing interest in a certain topic, you can keep them engaged by serving them similar content. The tone and phrasing of content will vary depending on the demographic for which it is intended, which is why having this data in the first place can save time and effort.

To benchmark performance

Businesses can harness social media data to identify and monitor key trends in their industry. Even if your brand is not directly involved, it is worth keeping an eye out for emerging patterns and potential challenges in the industry. Social media data shows the size of your online presence and how frequently customers are talking about you and your competitors, allowing you to compare how your brand is performing in comparison with others. Brand perception is particularly important since every interaction the customer has with your brand can be a deciding factor in their choice to purchase from you or your competitors.

What are typical Social Media Data attributes?

Social media data helps brands to further engage with existing customers as well as acquire new ones. Companies can refine their marketing strategies with metrics of their target audience such as gender, language spoken, electronic device used, age, interests, and location. This data type tracks how individuals engage with your content on social media platforms, gathering percentages and statistics from which you can analyse and compare the performance of your social media strategy. This allows you to benchmark data gathered from the different channels to conclude which one is the most valuable for your brand. Raw social media data metrics include shares, likes, mentions, impressions, hashtag usage, URL clicks (which is crucial to understand where leads convert) and comments. Data vendors can add value by offering analytics to make sense of this raw data and shed light on trends over time. They may also offer in-depth information on influencers across social networking sites, so you can find content creators that align with your brand’s values and make partnership decisions with confidence.

How is Social Media Data typically collected?

Brands gather social media data around the clock. Raw data gained directly from social media sites are internally combined with analytical tools to provide a holistic overview that allows you to view and compare statistics. A data point is created every time someone engages with your brand by liking, sharing, or commenting. Beyond this raw data, social media providers offer the possibility to gauge the success of every post and campaign by tracking clicks and leads from your social media activities. This proves useful when identifying the most optimal channels and content for your brand, so you are able to tie social media performance to ROI.

How to assess the quality of Social Media Data?

With high-quality social data that is aggregated and evaluated correctly, companies can target advertisements to the people who are most likely to buy their products or services. In order for social media data to be useful, you need to be able to see the action as it unfolds. Given the rapid pace at which information spreads over the web, social media data can be time sensitive; what’s relevant on one day may no longer be interesting the next day. Effective visualisation tools and analytics provided by a social media data vendor will enable you to digest the raw data that is readily available on these networks, draw correlations, and turn them into actionable strategies.

How is Social Media Data typically priced?

Social media data is often available as subscription packages, however this would depend on the individual social media data provider. Purchasing these packages enables you to analyse audience behaviour across the different social media platforms and understand what works for your brand.

What are the common challenges when buying Social Media Data?

A challenge experienced with social media data is that some users may choose not to provide certain information points such as their location, which renders information sets incomplete. This gives advertisers an incomplete profile to work with if they are missing one key section of the user’s profile that is essential in decision-making. A further obstacle is that some user profiles on social media sites are actually fake accounts as opposed to real users, which can skew information and make datasets unreliable.

What to ask Social Media Data providers?

  • Do they offer adequate security measures to ensure that your customers’ data is safely stored?
  • Are the social media datasets made up of complete information
  • Can the social media data be integrated with my company’s wider marketing ecosystem including CRM and BI platforms?

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