On the show Mad Men, the cast of characters working at a fictional advertising firm in New York City in the 1960s frequently agonize over their “audience.” Who are the customers their client wants to reach, and what do they really want?
In 2015, this almost seems like a quaint problem, as consumers are volunteering in droves to publish personal information online in social media profiles. However, many businesses struggle to find the answers to those same questions the Mad Men were asking half a century ago.
Major firms, such as Goldman Sachs, are taking big bets on the power of social media to generate data that will drive business decisions. No longer are suited men in smoky board rooms making “gut” decisions; it is “decision engineers” with billions of data points running complex analysis that drive business in the contemporary market.
Goldman Sachs, a leading U.S. investment-banking firm, made a $70 million investment in Antuit Holdings of Singapore to tap into the growing analytics industry in Asia. This company is working to pull data from social media and mobile phone applications to drive sales traffic and attract new customers. With this information, businesses hope to create customer profiles and tailor content and marketing strategies to their most lucrative clients. They also hope to identify new market segments that represent untapped opportunities.
What Businesses Are Well-Suited to Using Big Data?
Analytics and decision engineering can help businesses of any size, in any industry. Especially when businesses want to glean information about their customers’ habits and personalities, large datasets organized effectively can generate incredible sales revenue. The most significant aspect of big data analytics is that it involves bringing together many kinds of data, such as unstructured social media information and machine data like network traffic and server logs gathering data from a business’ website.
Furthermore, large multinational companies like telecoms and banks are making their datasets available for purchase, enabling small business owners to access needed information. Networked computing and data storage, called “cloud computing,” is changing how these services are delivered and lowering costs. Increased competition means many services offer a free month as a sales promotion, and prices for their services are falling.
Additionally, analytics software is now bundled with comprehensive cloud computing services offered by Amazon and Adobe. This means increased business efficiency as a result of greater networking capabilities, instantaneous live data updating, and access to massive datasets otherwise inaccessible to many operations.
Even local governments are taking advantage of social media data to better understand how to serve their constituents. This demonstrates how utilizing analytics adds value for businesses, which can attract and maintain consumers through better quality services tailored to their specialized needs.
In the 1960s, the Mad Men tried to reach the broadest possible audience, aiming to fit as many people as possible underneath one umbrella. Now, companies are finding niches by analyzing their capabilities and accessing their most profitable market segments.
How Does Social Media Generate Good Data?
A variety of social networking platforms offer big datasets for free and charge. These allow a glimpse into customers’ personal lives and habits that point-of-sale analytics cannot. However, proceed cautiously, as this deluge of information can often create too much noise to be truly useful. Businesses must isolate the most relevant information and target market segments with thoughtful strategies.
This does not mean being narrowly focused on just the most easily accessible data. Facebook offers an incredible volume of information, while Twitter is fairly limited.
The difference is often not immediately obvious, choosing to access data from Facebook means having a broad swatch of information regarding social circles and demographic information. Whereas, Twitter has relatively little information by comparison with only follower information and content behavior to go on.
Facebook data tells businesses how their customers:
Can be individually identified.
Fit into a demographic profile.
Consume media and pursue hobbies.
Behave on social platforms, i.e. what they share and to who.
Connect to the whole community of consumers and their larger network.
When you have all of this information, it is possible to answer those questions the Mad Men asked in the 1960s. It is now possible, through the creative use of technology, to discover who your audience is and what they really want.
Utilize Big Data to Make Better Decisions
The movie Moneyball depicted the manager of a failing baseball team who used statistical analysis to find undervalued talent. By going through a high-quality decision engineering process, this manager brought his team to the World Series.
There is no reason not to pursue social media datasets and generate incredible sales leads. Businesses of any size, when they make decisions based on hard data instead of just going on instinct, will benefit from using big data from social media.