Why Social Data Is A Reliable (& Important!) Data Set For Brands

How social listening can help your business thrive

Social media has become the virtual water cooler & town hall – it’s where people go to air their grievances, “life-cast”, and talk about their preferences & experiences. Never before have we had such an abundance of consumer data, and the number of social media users is growing every day. This data can be used to track campaign ROI, identify influencers, measure share of voice, and even predict consumer behavior, among many other applications.
Just this week, The Telegraph proclaimed the importance of social media for the sports industry. For all of the reasons just mentioned, social data is an increasingly reliable & important data set for brands & agencies. Below, we explain in more detail why social data is so valuable:
1) Social data should be used as one (important) data set, in the context of other data.
Social data provides important, real-time insights on consumer opinion – on lifestyle, habits, brands, and preferences. Because these opinions are unsolicited, they provide genuine insight into consumer feelings, and as such they should be valued.Though highly valuable, social data needs to be viewed in the context of all business intelligence – as part of a company’s overall data landscape. Some tools even allow users to upload proprietary data to their social analytics platform for analysis.
2) Social data technology allows you to filter & screen relevant social data to account for outliers & vocal minorities.
Users analyzing social data can now distinguish those who are the most prolific & loud, vs. an audience as a whole – by filtering for off-topic posts, or excluding certain categories. Slicing & dicing data – to isolate, say, a vocal minority – helps maintain the integrity of the social data set. Further, social data can easily & quickly be compared with historical social data. While traditional focus groups and surveys can be gauged over time, the scope of social data, and the ease of which the historical data is accessed through today’s social listening software platforms, provides a massive data repository to be mined unlike other consumer data sets that have existed to-date. This scope of data, and the ever-improving filtering capabilities of social data software, allows for better accuracy.
3) Like any data set, social data has limitations, and needs to be viewed as a useful (though not always perfectly accurate) framework.
With social data (and consumer data generally), we must come to terms with the maxim, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Social data often needs to be analyzed, combed, and thoughtfully reflected on so as not to be incorrectly interpreted – but it would be foolish to write social data itself off as useless just because it requires a critical lens.
Data tells more of a story when viewed through many points of view simultaneously. Asking the same initial business question (what’s the best way to market my brand effectively, for instance), from different perspectives adds more legitimacy to the findings. Sample analysis angles are included below:

      • What does the data say when looked at from a comparative framework? (comparing one’s brand with the product category generally, and with competitors)
      • What does the data say when looked at from a geographic & demographic framework?
      • What does the data say when looked at from a psychographic framework?
      • What does the data say when compared year-over-year?

4) Consumers are increasingly flocking to social media.
As more people join social networks, social data becomes more important – and more reliable. As social media grows, diverse data sources, and the ability to hone in on the sources where one’s target audience is most prevalent, is increasingly important. Most tools allow you to narrow down your analysis by content source to help you zero in on where your audience is most vocal.
5) Social media has users across different demographics, providing much larger samples than traditional focus groups.
Social media is no longer dominated by college students & young adults. While some social channels (Snapchat or Instagram, for instance) are skewed to a younger crowd, other leading social channels by usage (Twitter and Facebook) represent users across many age groups.
To learn more about on how social listening can help your business thrive, check out our recent posts on How Social Media Can Put Your Brand In Control Of a Crisis and What To Look For In a Social Listening Platform.

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