Turning Big Data Into Smart Data

Big data is an exciting concept and we hear a lot about it, but we need to get our data working towards achieving business goals.

Big data is exciting. We hear about it everywhere we go. There are virtually limitless applications for these kinds of data, but when it comes to our businesses, we need to ensure that our own big data is working towards achieving the goals we have set for ourselves. This is the difference between your average big data, and smart data. But how exactly can we get our data working for us? Not all of us are mathematicians, and with the exception of a few of us, not everyone is all that well versed in mass data analysis. So what are we to do?

The beauty of social data is the fact that it is delivered to us in about as useful a form as data can be presented. We simply have to deduce what our social data is telling us, and turn that into an effective strategy or set of strategies.

The set of strategies listed below are easily optimized through the strategic leveraging of big data from your owned social media. Take a look at the process and see if there is any opportunity you might have missed out on!

Content Strategy

If there is one thing that your data is telling you it is how you should optimize your content for increased engagement and conversions. If you’re wondering what exactly a content strategy is, and how it differs from content marketing, click here. The gist of the concept is that your content strategy is the reason why your audience engages with your brand, based on the types of content and the messages that you are publishing. Your content marketing is the process of leveraging that connection in order to acquire new customers.

Your data is providing you with a world of insight into what types of content will resonate best with your target audience. Look for spikes in engagement and reach, correlations among those spikes and identify exactly how you can craft content that you know will increase overall engagement with your brand.

Think about it this way: say you analyze your data and notice six spikes in the last month where reach and engagement skyrocketed. You look at the content shared at each of those six points and note that at each point in time, your content was shared in the afternoon, featured an image and was posed as a question. These correlations help determine exactly how to structure the content you want to perform best on your social networks.

Social Ad Spend

John Wanamaker is credited as telling the world that half of his ad dollars were wasted, he just couldn’t tell you which half. That’s no longer the case when it comes to the powers offered by social data.

Your social data is telling you not only what demographics make up your largest audience, but also which demographics are most engaged with your content.

Big Data Used to Target Engaged Audiences

Screenshot taken 4/28/2014

Based on these engaged audiences, consider how you want to spend your ad dollars. The targeting capabilities that exist within social advertising platforms are unparalleled. Never before have such detailed audiences been targetable. You can now pinpoint audiences by much more than age and location. Go as deep as interests, political affiliations, marital status and even pages with which they have connected. There are virtually no limits to how targeted you can get, or you can go as broad as ‘everyone’. Use the social data you have at your avail in order to effectively target those audiences that have been most active with your brand (or your competitors).

Social Ad Optimization

For the first time in the history of marketing and advertising, we do not need to wait for a campaign to conclude in order to see our results and optimize a program for better performance in a future campaign. We can now make all the necessary changes in order optimize our performance and results in real time.

The data presented in your social ad campaigns tells you exactly how well a campaign is performing as it is taking place. This data should be used as often as possible in order to ensure that the ad spend discussed above is at no point being wasted. As you begin a campaign, several target demographics should be tested and tweaked until you have found the ideal target audience. You never know where it might come from!

Operations Efficiency

On a much higher level, your social data can help you improve the efficiency of your digital operations. It might sound like fantasy, but it isn’t.

When looking through your activity on social, connecting that to your website and observing the dynamic between the two, there are certain key indicators to pay attention to that can help improve efficiency of your overall marketing efforts when it comes to digital. Using an analytics platform like Google Analytics, you can see how your activity on social media extends to your website. Leverage the insights in your social dashboard to see where your most engaged audience is coming from. You can create goals and filters to see which members of these audiences are most likely to convert.

Leverage Big Data from Google Analytics with Goals and Filters

Screenshot taken 4/28/2014

One added benefit with the recent rollout of Universal Analytics out of Beta is that you can now get additional insights into your website’s audience members on top of the activity in which they are engaging, like gender, age and interests. All of this is hugely valuable when it comes to fine tuning your digital strategies in order to ensure that everything you do is geared towards growing your business.


Big data is exciting on a number of levels. Maybe one day it will be able to predict things like natural disasters, epidemics and change society for the better. On a smaller scale, there is a lot of value to your big data on social networks that most brands are not leveraging.

These are just a few of the ways in which your brand can get some value out of your big data. Perhaps the most exciting aspect is that we still don’t know what all of these data can do!

Have you used your social data in a creative way in order to drive business goals? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!