Why Social Data is Important for Social Business

In Big Data by Daniel Newman1 Comment

Today there is a wealth of information available for marketers in the form of diverse and rapidly multiplying data streams. This information is normally referred to as big data, but when it comes to learning about people online, I like to call it aggregation of social data. With more and more brands adopting the social business model, social data has become the bread and butter of the online marketing and advertising space.

However, not everyone’s doing it right. While some companies are obsessed with counting the number of likes, shares, or tweets, many are not even present in the right channels. What most businesses don’t realize is that social data is much more than just being on social media. When collected and used properly, social data can get to the heart of almost any business problem. So where are the brands going wrong?

Are you really a social business? Find out.

I think first and foremost the problem is a basic misconception among managers and business owners about what it means to be a social business. Simply having profiles on social sites and sharing a few posts and tweets every day doesn’t put them in the category of a social business. If you truly wish to adopt the social business model, you need to have proper strategies in place to harness relevant social data.

Managing social data can be tough. Implement effective strategies.

Many companies are still struggling to reap the benefits of social data mining, mainly because this type of data is largely unstructured and difficult to handle. To optimize social data management, businesses should incorporate ways to identify, collect, and analyze the correct data sets. Gathering and analyzing social data and insights can help businesses fill the gaps in their understanding of customers and their preferences.

Most marketers lose the sight of data and focus more on gaining maximum reach. They need to stop doing that and instead focus on the ‘real’ metrics like enquiries, sales, and purchases. In short, marketers need to tie their social with their business objectives.

Here are a couple of action items for utilizing social data:

  1. Put on your Tool Belt: From your LinkedIn account to following companies and hashtags on Twitter, there are ways to pay close attention to your customers, prospects and partners through social. Whether you are using free tools or paid tools, it is important to use them to learn, listen and connect to those you are interested in before, during and after the engagement cycle. While there are many tools that social businesses need, none are more important than social listening and social CRM.
  2. Apply data to your systems of engagement: As mentioned above, listening throughout the business lifecycle is important. When walking into meetings today it is inexcusable to not have done your research on your clients. This genuinely affects stakeholders of all types. HR with potential employees, Sales with prospects, Management with vendor partners and so on. Social data gives businesses a leg up on knowing the landscape and it also shows you are invested in learning about the stakeholders on your own time.

Social needs to break out of silos. Break the silo.

In most companies, social is siloed. This prevents them from leveraging the full potential of the social and digital environment. Why would you want to put in all those precious hours into your social media branding and management if you don’t have a process to turn the social media-drawn data and insights into actionable strategies? This is why it’s important to make social a part of your company’s entire ecosystem.

Today, with the wealth of information available for marketers, it’s absolutely inexcusable not to know as much as possible about your customers. Social conversations and interactions are goldmines of such information, yet the power of social data for many brands remains vastly underused. Once we implement the right methods to strategically optimize this data, we can turn ourselves into a more successful social business.

This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Image: Creative Commons

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.