The Influence of Social Data

The Internet provides an outlet for users to provide their feedback and opinions regarding their latest book purchase to their recent airport experience. According to Nate Elliot's recent article titled, "HOW TO: Utilize Social Data More Effectively" featured on Mashable, American consumers posted more than a billion opinions about products and services online last year! I guess the question many brands are wondering, is this social data useful or worthless? While this information may seem to add to the overwhelming clutter in the already-crowded room of the Internet, it is important to recognize that it can provide marketers with useful information but only when used responsibly. Elliot outlines the dos and don'ts to capturing and utilizing this this social data.


Get caught in the trap of trying to determine your brand's impact on a small sample size: With the overwhelming number of opinions posted online, a brand might assume they can find sufficient information to reach a conclusion. However, sifting through all the social data may leave your brand with less than 30 useful posts, which is too small of a sample to determine your brand's impact.

Forget your brand's target market: The majority of users who create this social data are in their 20s, and this may not be representative of your brand's target market. While social media users cover a wide range of ages, the majority of users who actually create this social data are usually in their 20s.

Forget the middle: Most social data is extreme, meaning the user was either extremely happy or extremely unhappy with the specific brand. This information can be somewhat misleading because people who don't feel strongly either way usually don't take the time to post, and the middle tends to be almost entirely forgotten. Also, these extreme experiences are almost always unique to the user, so again it can be unreliable.

DON'T use social data to determine your brand's impact but...


Know what your audience cares about: This information help brands determine what their audience actually cares about. After gathering this unique data, it can assist brands to further tailor their marketing messages for their audience.

React to your consumers: While this social data may be extreme in nature, it can provide a brand an insight into their audience. A brand can engage users and determine how and why they feel good, or bad, about their product/services. This allows the brands an opportunity to recognize the situation, and they are not later blindsided. Again, this gives the brand a chance to tailor their message in response to their audience.

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