By: Andrew Birmingham for ADMA
One of the largely unique characteristics of social data is the speed and ease with which people share information on social channels. This makes the content less heavily curated, which in turn gives a more honest read on opinion and sentiment.
Also, while character limits make social data a little more difficult to analyse owing to the widespread use of abbreviations, the length and format limitations encourage people to cut to the chase and leave out the social niceties that can obscure meaning. Making it a more potent barometer of sentiment than other more considered responses.
So what is unique about the insights provided by social data? And how does it help us to understand customers better or differently from traditional data sources?
Keeping it real
According to Steve Lockwood, measurement & insight lead, Australia & NZ, Facebook, “Traditional data sources can be either expensive, inaccurate or biased, or a combination of each of these limitations."
“Social data across Facebook surfaces real interests, characteristics and behaviours of real people.”
Lockwood says insights provided by social data, in conjunction with Facebook’s data partners, provided a more insightful and actionable view of people in Australia than any other communications channel.
Twitter data plays a very complementary role to traditional research methods. While traditional research firms use phones to survey customers, many younger generations don’t have a land line phone. In additional, traditional research firms often take weeks to compile research while Twitter data has the ability to offer instantaneous insights. Also, most importantly, Twitter data provides unsolicited feedback to brand managers so you often know exactly what the customer is thinking, unprompted.
Meanwhile, Inna Kolyshkina, head of the South Australian chapter of the Institute of Analytics Professionals of Australia (IAPA), argues that social media data can be harvested to quickly gain insight. This can then be used to proactively manage an organisational public image, brand awareness and customer satisfaction.
“A good example is real-time consumer opinion and sentiment analysis. Marketers have always needed to monitor media for information related to their brands – whether it’s for public relations activities, fraud violations or competitive intelligence.”
But fragmenting media and changing consumer behaviour have crippled traditional monitoring methods, she suggests. “Market research can provide companies with a snapshot of how a small sample group perceives a product at a moment in time, but social media data sentiment analysis is more akin to a continuous video.
“Word-of-mouth is now available on the web: opinions on anything are expressed in reviews, forums, consumer sites such as amazon.com, trip advisor.com and blogs for instance.”
Beyond identifying how consumers feel about brands or celebrities, opinion and sentiment analysis can predict market behaviour and sales volumes, according to Kolyshkina.
A better understanding of customers also makes it easier for brands to tailor their messaging.
“We know many advertisers are reliant on utilising Twitter data as part of their focus group process. Many advertisers will tweak or change their ads entirely based on feedback they’re hearing from Twitter,” a company spokesperson said.
“Twitter data plays a pivotal role in helping companies understand what they like and don’t like about their products. We know a burger chain has made tweaks to the size of their French fry offerings and changed the music playing at their franchises. By listening to their customers unsolicited feedback, brands are much quicker to hear from their brands.”
Social data helps brands understand customers on a personal level, get to know their likes and dislikes via unfiltered channels. It enables companies to personalise and tailor their messaging to suit their customers in real-time.