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Social media data: Is it worth anything?

Social media can offer a large amount of data but how much of it is of any value?

Neil Martin, Head of Business Intelligence

Social media is data gold

Social media is a rich seam of data gold, if you understand how to mine it correctly, measure it, quantify it and can report on it. If you have the expertise to know what to do with it, it becomes valuable and that’s where Webhelp UK’s Business Intelligence team excel.

Generally speaking, data mining is the process of analysing data from different perspectives and summarising it into information that can be used to increase revenue, reduce costs, and more.  It allows users to analyse data from many different dimensions or angles, categorise it, and summarise the relationships identified.

There is no doubt that having precise data enables a business to build for success, as it helps create a fuller, more rounded picture of the customer.  This new wild data gathered say, from the leading triumvirate of Twitter, Facebook and Blogger, could allow the Business Intelligence team to produce highly targeted campaigns relevant to our clients’ customers and that’s more likely to translate into a sale and build loyalty, and ultimately, advocacy.  Social media can provide us with even more tantalising market research, but taming this data presents the team with a set of unique challenges.

Organising social media data

Just how do you measure the quality of the vast amounts of data being generated by social media?  For example: 53% of Twitter users who connect with a brand on Twitter recommend that company or product. As of May 2012, Facebook had 901 million users – 46% of social media users say they would talk about or recommend a product on Facebook and 44% of Twitter users already have recommended a product.

Social Media is classified as wild data, and that’s the big challenge with handling it…  At the moment we don’t know whether a tweeted comment is factual or whether it’s a story relayed by a friend or relative. 

How do you decide out of that lot alone what’s good, bad or indifferent?  That’s going to be a tough gig filtering out the good stuff as it’s estimated that at best only 20% of the social media data stream contains relevant information.

Social Media is classified as wild data, and that’s the big challenge with handling it.  It’s more often than not, anonymous wild data flooding in from all over the place from random sources.  At the moment we don’t know whether a tweeted comment is factual or whether it’s a story relayed by a friend or relative.  That’s the problem, you can’t treat this data as ‘true’ yet as we have no way of knowing who those comments belong to or whether they are valid in a business context.

The area the team is moving into now is a lot less certain but they are discovering ways to start quantifying this new big data and looking at new ways to see what they can do to improve its quality.  Social media data will enable Webhelp UK to take targeting to the next level.  For sure at the moment its wild data, but our Business Intelligence team is on target to tame it.


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