Social media and big data. You’ve heard the terms, but do you know how they relate and why it’s important? In my last article, I discussed the potential and eventual convergence of big data and social media. These two phenomena go hand-in-hand; social media is today’s vehicle for user opinions and conversations to be heard which then creates big data. With so many different social networks (and more people online), social is a huge mine of information for marketers as it’s filled with user locations, conversations, and opinions.
So how do marketers use this information? Let’s take a look at the day-to-day details of how a social media marketing manager might use social media and big data to increase the effectiveness of the company’s social strategy. First, let’s take a deep dive into the 3 V’s of big data – Volume, Variety, and Velocity – and each makes social media strategy easier and more effective.
Volume refers to the huge amounts of data that social provides. Social conversations and mentions are constantly flowing through every social network, providing a better analysis of your audience. Naturally, the capacity to store these mentions increases as well.
For example, consider Twitter, which sends millions of tweets every day. If your company isn’t constantly monitoring Twitter’s conversations and streams, you might miss mentions about your brand, product, or services. Big data solves this issue as it allows you to store all of these mentions to view and analyze later.
As your company becomes more involved in the social space, you will have to pay closer attention to what is being said about you. After all, social media is the go-to place for consumers to give opinions, ask for recommendations, or give honest feedback. If you’re not paying attention then these critiques, questions, and interactions will go unaddressed. This, of course, is detrimental to your business as publicly addressed concerns go unanswered.
Because the Internet produces a massive amount of mentions, it’s nearly impossible and far too difficult for a marketing manager to engage with every single mention all the time. Knowing when to respond to these conversations is key. Social media management tools and platforms that offer sentiment analysis and lead identification are just two ways you can parse through the large amounts of mentions to locate the ones worth noting, allowing you to filter through the noise and hone in on the important social mentions.
Say you manage a huge brand that runs multiple social accounts. With the implementation of a social management app, you will be able to store all the relevant social mentions for your brand along with the outward messages your brand produces. In no time at all, there will be thousands of mentions across multiple networks. The social management tools allow you to sort through the conversations with special filters to find the mentions that matter the most. The ability to handle increasing volume is extremely important in making your social strategy more efficient.
In the social world, the word variety refers to the diverse types of information you can collect with big data. The variety allows you to gain analysis from more than just the textual context of the mentions. With each new network comes new ways to post user opinions or thoughts. These could come in the form of a status update, video, check-in, etc. As a result, in addition, to monitoring conversations, knowing how to respond appropriately is an integral part of your strategy.
All current social networks (and each successive one in the future) have their own unique ways of eliciting engagement. It’s important to know and understand how the various social networks work so you can reply in character.
Social also allows your business to be proactive by identifying who the major players and users are on each social network. Tools such as Hootsuite or Viralheat can pinpoint which users have the most influence and impact on your target audience. You can identify these influencers by who has mentioned you most frequently or by the number of followers the individual has. Forming relationships with these power users is a great way to use the variety of social media to gain brand ambassadors and evangelists.
Keep in mind the specific types of information that big data gives you like audience location, likes, dislikes, check-in locations, etc. This kind of information allows you to tailor your content to their preferences so you can increase the chance of building a lasting relationship and keeping them interested.
Variety in the big data social allows users to see the many ways you can engage with your target audience. A user can post on Twitter how he or she craves #starbucks. From there you can engage by up-selling a product. Then, monitor as they check into a Starbucks store via Foursquare, where you can post a promotion that she can use. Finally, you can view the photo she posted on her Instagram of her drink order. This is all relevant information about this user, delivered in a variety of ways.
Velocity refers to the speed at which data is added. Big data and social, it means that new information is constantly added from the different networks at any given time since social media never sleeps. As your web presence gets larger, you will receive more engagement at a faster rate than ever.
Remaining diligent and speedy is crucial for your social strategy due to the increased velocity of added data. If something happens in the news or your industry, do your best to provide commentary or content for it right away. Yesterday’s news is today’s history. Plan out your schedule for the week, keeping in mind the big events happening in the future (award shows, elections, etc.). This way, you ensure you’re on top of time-sensitive content.
People comment and engage at all hours of the day, especially for global brands. If you have a global audience, it is advisable to always have someone scanning what is being said across the social web. A good way to stay on top of your social efforts is to set alerts whenever an important event happens or a keyword is mentioned. This doesn’t mean that you need to engage immediately every time, but it’s a great way to keep track of the content coming in. This is especially important if a post gains virality, in which case quickly addressing the issue is ideal.
As the velocity of data increases, the emphasis and time spent on social increases as well. Take a look at the social management tools that make it easy to view mentions across all of the major social networks. Keeping track of this data allows you to stay on top of any crisis or keep an eye on your brand management and reputation.
As social media continues to be a major part of every business’ strategy, big data becomes a larger player in how to manage your social strategy. The number of mentions around your grown brand, product, or service will increase with your growth and it’s to your benefit to have this data stored and searchable. The multiple social networks allow dozens of different ways to interact with your audiences at any time from all around the globe. Through social, relationships between companies and consumers become closer and smaller as users can interact with companies anytime from anywhere, while the data itself becomes much, much bigger.