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Big Data and Social Media – The Best of Both Worlds

November 5, 2013 by Updated June 16th, 2017


Big Data and Social Media – The Best of Both Worlds

There are two phrases that you just can’t escape in the tech world today – “big data” and “social media.” It seems that everywhere we turn someone is preaching on the importance of big data or social media in marketing, but did you know that as powerful as these two are individually, they’re much more powerful combined?

Before we get into the marriage of social media and big data, let’s define what each term means. Big data refers to a collection of data that is often so large it is difficult to process using traditional or manual data processing applications. The benefit of a data set so vast is the ability to spot real time trends on a larger scale that you might not be able to recognize when analyzing smaller data sets. For example, companies and marketing teams today use big data sets to identify regional trends that they wouldn’t be able to see if looking at a small set taken from a specific location.

Social media refers to interaction among people in which share, exchange, and/or create information in virtual and online communities and networks. Contrary to what many might believe, social media is not Twitter or Facebook although these platforms are a part of social media. Social media today has become a staple part of all business plans across sales, marketing, engineering, etc. so it’s important to know the unique benefits of each individual social platform works so you can use it in the most efficient way.

When looking to find the most efficient way to combine big data and social media, a good rule of thumb to follow is to remember the 3 R’s – recognize, react, and repeat. First, you want to recognize the patterns. Big data is instrumental in exposing high level patterns and trends, so it’s important to be able to spot these. Second, you want to react to these findings. Do you notice an increase in online chatter around a specific location or product? These are hot leads so be sure to use social media channels to directly reach out to them. Third, you must repeat your successes. When recognizing a pattern, try a few different approaches in your reactions so you can compare the success of each one. After analyzing the results, discard the approaches that did not work and stick to repeating the ones that brought a positive outcome.

Let’s put the 3 R’s into a potential real-world example. Imagine that you part of the marketing team for a major restaurant chain that has multiple locations throughout the country, and you are tasked with analyzing the big data set that came in.

Recognize – Using big data, you notice there is significantly more online chatter around a particular store in downtown St. Louis. Your team automatically tweets a 25% off coupon that expires in 48 hours in hopes that you can get more foot traffic in store which, in turn, leads to more sales.

React – Turning to social media, you dig in a little deeper to find out the reason for the increase in chatter. You notice a lot of customers tweeting about the poor quality of the dinner appetizers, specifically calling them out for an odd taste. After contact the store manager with your findings, the manager learns that the new night cook is using the wrong kind of oil. The marketing team then reaches out to the customers who initially tweeted about the appetizers to thank them for their feedback and offer a free appetizer.

Repeat – Take a look at the numbers surrounding that same restaurant a month after the problem was solved. Were coupons redeemed? Did the restaurant traffic increase? Did the tweets about the poor quality of appetizers stop? If the answer to any of these questions is a yes, it’s safe to say that this particular campaign was a success. It’s important to analyze the success of your efforts so you can determine whether or not the technique or method is worth repeating.

While big data and social media are not new concepts, the way we are able to streamline the process of analyzing big data with computers and directly reach our target audience through social media provides a new, and very efficient way, to tackle marketing.


Author bio: Eileen Bernardo is the PR/Communication Manager for Viralheat, the social media marketing suite for business. She understand the power of words and enjoys taking different works of writing and turning it into information that is beneficial to the masses. You can find her cheering on her favorite sports teams or snowboarding down the slopes in Lake Tahoe. You can reach her at eileen [at] Viralheat [dot] com or on Twitter at @eileenrene.


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