It’s thought that 90% of today’s data has been created in the past two years, with of course social media being a major contributing factor. Whilst this is the case, it’s further thought that around 80% of this data is unstructured, meaning that it can’t be arranged into the rows and columns that traditional data analysis might have required.
Social media itself creates a huge amount of information and it’s this that many are concerned with when it comes to big data. These days, it’s possible to track everything that we do online, from making a purchase, to viewing certain products on social media. This has prompted many concerns surrounding privacy and the feeling from consumers that they perhaps don’t want to be tracked by marketers.
However, whilst some may go to the trouble of ensuring that they can’t be tracked, many don’t bother (and of course some networks require a user to accept this as part of T&Cs). For marketing, social media represents an opportunity that’s never existed before and the addition of big data into the mix means that now, they can target users much more effectively. This targeting is based on what the consumer actually wants, rather than pitching to a cold lead who has no real interest in a product.
Social Media Marketing Grows Up
As a skillset, social media marketing has matured in the last couple of years. Many of us now understand the rules, which essentially begin and end with the fact that the power now rests with the consumer. The voice that has been afforded them has meant that there’s more pressure than ever for organisations to give them what they want. For the most part, the big brands are getting this right now, although there’s still the odd blooper that we hear about.
Technology has become a great enabler of this too. Marketing automation and CRM software means that the data generated by social media can now be taken, quickly analysed and used to better target customers that are likely to convert.
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter do of course have huge amounts of user data available to marketers too which further allow for excellent targeting. Add to this re-marketing techniques such as those afforded by Facebook Custom Web Audiences and it’s clear that the savvy marketer can do a lot with data.
The benefits don’t just rest with the marketers either. Social media websites use the data that they store to attempt to customise newsfeeds so that the users themselves are served content that they want to see. However, it’s probably worth pointing out that this content is still likely to be commercial rather than updates from friends, something that many a Facebook user bemoans.
The Future of Social
Bearing all of this in mind alongside the huge amount of big data that is constantly being generated, what does this mean for social media and marketing in the future? Well, it’s something that we’re likely to see becoming a more efficient process as the technology, the users and marketers themselves become increasingly sophisticated.
Users are always going to demand an improved experience and for the marketer and social networks, this is something that it’s likely they’re going to get. As big data becomes more firmly entrenched into the corporate environment, it’s likely that we’ll see better sense being made of it. The skills gap when it comes to examining and using this data is also something that we’re likely to see improve. Digital skills are becoming a prerequisite of almost every job now so more training will appear and as such, more skilled data engineers, analysts and marketers.
The technology used by social media sites themselves is more advanced than many may think too, so it’s likely that we’ll see these sites offering more and more ways for marketers to reach customers within the site itself.