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Social Media & Big Data: 4 Ways to Harness Social Data

By Kristy Gulsvig

By now, most B2B companies understand the importance of social media in business. But many still struggle to incorporate this relatively new medium and the insights it offers into their business and brand strategies in a meaningful way.

This can be an issue. Social media touches every one of your business’s primary audiences in some way. As we’ve said time and time again, ignoring insights from social media is done at your own risk. Social data can provide a wealth of information about external perceptions of your brand and the success of branding initiatives.

Last week BrandingBusiness hosted a conference on Big Data in B2B Marketing to address some of the unique issues B2B companies face as the world of online information rapidly changes. Susan Etlinger of Altimeter Group attended and presented on interpreting and analyzing the vast amount of data available via social media. Susan’s presentation included outstanding tips on utilizing social data to your company’s benefit.

Based on Susan’s insights, here are some tips to use social media to achieve your organization’s business and brand goals.

  • Define your goals: Social media should not exist in a silo. Tie it to your business and brand strategy. What do you hope to accomplish with the information you glean from social media? Do you need a general understanding of external perceptions of your brand? Do you want to detect or mitigate negative sentiment? Do you want to test recognition of your brand as a thought leader? What about perceptions of your brand in comparison to competitors?
  • Identify your channels: Not all social media is useful to your company. Find out where your customers and partners interact with each other and where they find their information. Is it on Pinterest or on a trade-related forum? LinkedIn or Twitter? Pick a few specific channels to start with, and don’t try to shoehorn Facebook into your strategy if it doesn’t fit.
  • Determine your metrics: How will you determine whether you are achieving your social data goals? The insights in variable social data like comments and posts cannot be quantified, so you may need to invent ways to measure against your goals.
  • Take it seriously: Social media isn’t going away. It’s likely to grow in scope and influence. Start now by supporting social data and encouraging colleagues and leadership to utilize it to learn more about your brand. It will benefit the entire organization.

It’s easy to forget that social media is not a means to its own end. Rather than operating in a vacuum, social media is a tool that can help organizations achieve business goals.  Establishing some standards for utilizing social data can help B2B companies manage this significant opportunity.

Does your company systematize the evaluation of social media data? How do you extract meaningful information from social media?