Big Data is transforming the business world. The ability to capture, manage and analyze massive volumes of unstructured data for insights that lead to competitive advantage is a game-changer for businesses large and small. With the explosion of social media, never ending streams of data flowing in from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social sites are yielding key insights into customer interests, behaviors and buying preferences that businesses can capitalize on like never before. If you’re ready to put the power of big data analytics to work for you, here are 5 ways to leverage social media data for your business.
1. Break free from rigid demographics
Before big data, businesses were constrained by rigid customer demographics such as age, marital status, and geographic location. As a result, marketers structured their campaigns based on the assumption that customers who hold the same demographic characteristics in common probably exhibit similar buying behaviors. Today, through the analysis of large social datasets, business marketers can identify the actual preferences and behaviors of consumers and target their campaigns accordingly. In many cases, an added benefit of grouping people according to shared real-world activities and preferences is the discovery of new niche audiences that would have remained buried by rigid demographic models.
2. Build long-term relationships with customers
In today’s ultra-connected world, the challenge for businesses is to communicate with customers in more personalized, relevant and targeted ways. This means reaching out and engaging customers on social media sites, which is where they are hanging out. Social data is sentiment data, meaning that it contains valuable insights into what customers are doing, saying, liking, disliking and what they are interested in. And businesses can use these insights to create more relevant and engaging content and communications. When this is done in a non-promotional or “salesy” way, businesses earn trust—the kind of trust that turns customers into loyal, long-term business advocates that will promote the brand through their favorite social media platforms.
3. Predict future customer behaviors
The ability to see into the future and predict customer behaviors yet to come has been the wish of every business owner. Until recently, that wish remained largely unfulfilled as predictions about future consumer behaviors could only be made by looking at their past behaviors. But web visits, clicks, open rates and downloads simply didn’t provide enough data on which to base solid projections. In today’s big data world that’s no longer the case. Not only do businesses have data from internal systems such as CRM and purchase histories, they also have huge volumes of external data—social media data in particular—at their disposal. The analysis of social data via advanced analytics platforms such as Hadoop can, in effect, allow marketers a glimpse into the future by bringing hidden patterns and valuable insights on current and future buying behaviors into light. Armed with these insights, businesses can make sure that their current and future products and services meet customer needs and expectations going forward.
4. Test marketing campaigns before launch
In today’s competitive landscape businesses need to find creative new ways to stand out in the marketplace. But traditional means of testing new campaigns in-market can be risky, costly and time consuming. Thanks to big data technologies, marketers can incorporate insights found through the real-time analysis of social data, product data or app-generated data into creative campaigns that they can test by running simulations in a virtual marketplace. With each simulation campaigns can be refined and retested at a fraction of the time and cost associated with in-market testing. Once the campaign is officially launched into the genuine marketplace, the success of the campaign can be effectively measured through the combined use of social and marketing analytics tools.
5. Make data-driven decisions
Industry experts tell us that 90 percent of the world’s data was created within the past two years. A full 80 percent of that data is unstructured and “messy”, and social media data is an ever-growing part of that. The challenge for business is to capture, manage and analyze not just part of their data but all of their data, which is where big data analytics comes in. A scalable cloud-based Hadoop analytics platform empowers organizations to make data driven decisions based on the analysis of, not just some of their data, but 100 percent of their data—in real-time if desired. Since social or sentiment data reveals customer feelings and attitudes about just about everything—including products and services—businesses can leverage that data to drive decisions that lead to new and better products and services.
In the early days of the big data analytics game, proprietary companies with expensive analytics packages decided who got to play and who didn’t. But the rise of open source analytics platforms such as Hadoop has changed all that by creating a more level playing field. Today, businesses of all sizes can effectively and affordably store, manage and analyze all of their internal and external data—including valuable social media data and product data—to achieve and sustain long-term profitability and competitive advantage.