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For years, customer relationship management (CRM) data has been the bedrock of direct marketing. With the recency of social data, we’ve witnessed the birth of retargeting and predicting consumer behavior. But how exactly does big data relate to social analytics? Can social data ever stand on its own? And what can it truly tell us about consumers?
PluggedIn BD brought together industry experts in an attempt to answer these questions. Here’s what we learned.
Social can be a world of its own.
If you’re a brand, you have a choice: You can either use social analytics as a part of a family of data or you can hammer on that data individually. Generally, it’s more powerful when it’s integrated. We’re seeing brands retarget on Facebook with great success, especially when it comes to videos. And when we compile offline data, we’re able to use Facebook custom audiences, loading up an email and doing a direct match to target that way.
But we’re suffering from a lack of metrics.
The biggest question of social media since its inception has been: What’s the return on investment (ROI) of this? Ultimately, we want to know how many units have actually sold. We want to track sales. That’s what it always comes back to. However, because the media world is so fragmented and there’s very little tracking across platforms, we simply don’t have enough data on social.
Take Instagram, for example. We have very basic analytics to work with. Any measurement is going to be indirect. On Instagram, you’re only able to use links in the profile, and for any sort of metrics, you must put tracking on that link or use a special landing page. And if you’re using Snapchat for a campaign, forget it. In a few years, we predict that the platform will offer data, but right now we’re simply out of luck.
So how do we see a more complete picture of the consumer?
As hard as gathering data can be on social, it’s necessary — especially if you’re looking at younger demographics. Social has fragmented media well beyond what any of us thought possible just five years ago. The kids aren’t watching commercials; the kids are on Snapchat. There has been a huge shift in how people are consuming media and how we are able to reach them. We need to figure it out. And that’s where social comes into play.
So yes, social data can be really challenging. We’re scraping it and it’s not adding up to much. But there’s still a place for it in the realm of big data.