Three Ways to Use Social Media Data and Analytics

Many of us have heard of the terms “big data” and “data analytics” in the main stream media over the past decade. These terms may seem synonymous and although related, they do not have the same meaning. Big data is defined as the huge volume of data too large and complex for processing by traditional methods. Data analysis is taking extremely large amounts of data points (big data) with the purpose of drawing conclusions from that information. For example, if you were shopping on Amazon, every product you look at, buy, and search for is part of the big data the company collects. Then Amazon conducts data analysis through algorithms and other techniques to draw information such as “Recommended Items” that are displayed next time you login.

These days, big data and data analytics are practically used in every industry such as healthcare, finance, government, weather, and so on. There are four main data analysis methods: prescriptive, predictive, diagnostic and descriptive.

Prescriptive – reveals what actions should be taken (i.e. pricing of airplane ticket based on web traffic)
Predictive – analyze likely scenarios of what might happen (i.e. weather forecast)
Diagnostic – look at past performance to determine what happened and why (i.e. diagnosis of an illness)
Descriptive – what is happening now based on incoming data (i.e. sales reports)

One area the Port interacts with big data and data analytics is through our social media channels. Thus, this article will outline three simple ways to use these social media analytics. Every social media platform whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, provides analytics on the backend for business users. But first, donuts and an overview of the different types of popular social media channels.   


Three Ways You Can Use Social Media Data and Analytics.

1.  Understand Your Audience  

One of the best ways to use social media analytics is to understand your audience and your customers. Understanding your audience can help you better serve your customer base and increase sales. Through social media, you can get an idea of who is engaging with your platform. This can be seen directly through comments and likes but platforms like Facebook will also give you demographics on the backend. This information includes your followers’ age range, gender, geography, and even industry of work. You can also gage what your followers’ interests are by looking at other brands they follow on social media and listed hobbies, movies, books, etc. All this information can help you to better understand your audience. Even if you do not have social media, a simple Google search of your business or organization can reveal a “popular times” graph showing what times during the day your customers are engaging with your business.

One way to use this information is to create customer personas. Look for the common threads among your followers demographics as age range, interests, general location, etc.  This information can help inform you on the type of customer interested in your products and services you have to offer. It helps inform you about your target market and how to develop ways to increase brand awareness and engagement which in turn will impact your bottom line through increased sales. Understanding your audience is also good for your existing and future customers because now, you can create  social media content to match your audience’s interest.

2. Create Personalized Marketing

Source: Accenture

Source: Accenture

Once you understand your audience better, you can create more personalized marketing. Personalization means profit and customer loyalty. These days, more customers expect customized messaging and service. This is particularly true for the up and coming Generation Z (born 1995 to 2005) who have grown up with social media and internet connectivity as part of their daily lives. There purchasing patterns is one simple click that allow for a seamless experience, that will deliver the desired product at their door (or dorms).

Amazon does a great job personalizing the online shopping experience. If you have an account on Amazon, it recognizes you by name, recommends new purchases based on past purchases, and provides a purchase history of products previously purchased. These personalization features make shopping on Amazon convenient, effective and efficient. Although you may not be  Amazon, anyone can do little things to personalize the interaction customers have with their organization. This could include running a contest on a social media platform, streaming live video, or customizing boosted posts on social media.

3.  Conduct Market Research

Finally, social media is a great tool to conduct preliminary market research. Social media platforms have multiple tools to conduct simple market research such as polling, A/B testing or collecting qualitative feedback on a new service or product. For example, if you were planning on running a big marketing campaign, social media can give you an idea of what types of ads would do well in this campaign. One method is through A/B testing. In this case, A/B testing is a randomized experiment comparing two versions of an ad. Run both ads on Facebook to see which one receives the most engagement and views. The ad with the most likes, positive comments, share, or views would be the one you use for the larger scale marketing campaign.

Another easy way to conduct online market research is by social media listening. Listening and monitoring related hashtags, similar organizations, your customer’s profile or the comments, shares and likes on your social media posts can go a long way in informing you about your market.

Conducting market research through social media can reduce costs, reach a wider audience and create more brand awareness and subsequent sales. In addition, your social media followers are already online and are most likely interested in providing feedback on your product or service.

These are some simple ways you can use social media to help improve your customer’s experience and market your business. It is a great tool to better tell your organization’s story and connect with customers. Leveraging big data and data analytics will only help you better serve your customer which in turn, leads to higher profits.