The Olympics of Social Media Data

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: The Olympics of Social Media Data

Besides the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, there’s another world-class competition going on right now between the five Olympics rings holders of social data: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn.  And the data tactics are worthy of a blood sport.

Today, marketers can view each of their various social media stats much like Olympic judges can test for doping. There is nothing private or that can’t be found out or inferred about a person with social data if you dig deep enough, vs. steroid-like bot-farm audiences that are found in other media, like digital and mobile publishing.

In an era of automation, ad-blocking and programmatic, there has never been a greater need for figuring out who is real and who is juicing. And with social, there have never been analytics with a higher purity count than Ivory soap. As bot farms have contaminated digital and mobile audience counts in the high double digits, smart marketers are moving their focus on to social.

In addition to the purity test, they can, in reality, overlook the political correctness of “Non-PII” (non-personally identifiable information promoted by the IAB, the NAI and the MRC) and tap into the wealth of real, individual profile specificity of social.  Each social media reaction allows advertisers to learn more about an individual than 99% of social media followers ever thought they would be allowing anyone other than their friends and family to know about themselves.

Social media data is so superior to virtually every other media data analytics tool that it wins the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals of data analytics every day. Depending on the social network, one can confidentially view the person’s name, family situation, cultural preferences, job title, photos, network of friends, feelings about life, politics, shopping and almost anything else each of us is posting online.

Smart consumers still can manage their privacy settings like world-class sprinters check their timing and can still maintain a few privacy walls. However, even at their most stringent, their photos tell a thousand Olympic-level data stories. Like, for example, how they have changed over the years.  As facial technology grows in leaps and bounds, combined with how companies like Sprout Social can help analyze cross social media network deliveries, messages, tags and other social metrics, other media will soon be in danger of being cut from the 2017 brand team media plan and beyond.

This past month’s annual media analysis by Mary Meeker speaks volumes about privacy, namely that privacy concerns are "a ticking time bomb." That said, if an agency or a marketer isn’t immersed in social, there is no way for them to understand what they are missing or gaining.  They are simply not in the competition.

The data engineers of the future are going to all come out of social.  It’s not hard to imagine the level of knowledge and new tools in the next cycle that we will be sifting through.  And since social requires a daily diet of posts to maintain effectiveness or risk lapsing into obscurity, there has never been a greater tool to pivot, based on the attitudinal shifts in various segments.  This has always been the dream of digital media -- optimizing in near-real time -- though until social came of age, it has been elusive.

Why? It’s simple.

Part of the social ecosystem requires you to keep your message fresh, so if you are posting out 20-30 individual messages a week against 4-5 social networks, you need to be talking about your brand, its category, current promotions and other seasonal purchase funnel factors that keep the social campaign relevant by segment.  There’s no need one-size fits all in social.  It’s made for segmentation.

Here’s just one simple B2C brand example.  Quotes are always useful, with or without a visual to go with it.  One interesting learning that we at our Madison Avenue Social division can point to is that people who “like” quotes are generally big quote posters themselves.

Here’s another: If your brand can leverage sentimentality, or romance, by skimming through all the individual profiles, it doesn’t take a Mohammed Ali-level Olympics data person to see that “Birds of a feather, flock together” in matters of the heart.  People engage with what talks to them, up close and personal.

For B2B marketers, the same differences are found, but are even more important to the bottom line.  Granted that followers of B2B social pages are largely made of industry specific audiences. However, corporations are run by people and choose to engage with posts that are relevant to their specific job responsibilities.  That’s where the lead generation triathlon will ultimately be played in the next era. 

If you’re social data capability is still considered amateurish, don’t wait until the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 to get your team in better shape. You won’t make it to the starting line, let alone the finish line.

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