“In God we trust; all others must bring data” – W. Edwards Deming.

I recently had the honor of speaking at the Mobile East Africa 2014 event. I chose to speak on social data. In a bid to demystify the phenomenon that is big data, I set out to give a brief intro on just what the social data revolution was about.

The world has so far experienced three major revolutions: Agrarian, Industrial and Information revolution. We are currently witnessing the fourth revolution which is social data revolution. Social data revolution (according to Wikipedia), is the shift in human communication patterns towards increased personal information sharing and its related implications, made possible by the rise of social networks in early 2000s. This phenomenon has resulted in the accumulation of unprecedented amounts of public data.

Social Data Revolution

Social Data Revolution

This is considered a revolution based on its disruptive nature. The information age has allowed us to create store and disseminate data. However we have reached a different level in the past few years. To give an idea of what I’m talking about, we produce a quintillion bytes of data every day. 90 percent of today’s data was created in the last two years. That is just how much data we are creating at an incredibly fast speed and in large quantities.

So what is the relevance of this to the digital marketing space?

We all know that the best marketing tactics are pegged on consumer centricity. We have come a long way from the days in which we embraced the product philosophy. Lucky for us the social data revolution has created a scenario whereby we are able to gather insights that help us target our audiences with relevant messaging and offerings.

Data provided has evolved as below:

Manual merchandising: This was the phase whereby we depended on in store consumer behavior for insights. It was a bit restrictive seeing that the store or product owner only realized the buyer’s intentions once they got to the counter. We are not able to participate in the decision process and gain insights on the substitutes that the user considered

Implicit data: with the advent of computers, we were able to gain insights on consumer preferences. Things such as what the consumer searched for as well as their online purchases gave us knowledge of what substitutes and complements were relevant to the consumer.

Explicit data: This is user generated date/information that is created by the consumer. The advantage of this is that it provides in depth insights of what the consumers think about the product vs. substitutes/complements. A good example of these are the reviews on Amazon or wish list that are available on various e-commerce platforms

Social data: There are two definitions of social data:

  1. Data that one shares willingly on the social media space.
  2. The social graph- that is the various connections (fans/followers/friends) that various people have that provides qualitative and quantitative insights on an individual’s taste and preferences

It is also clear that the ways in which consumers interact has also changed:

C2B: This is whereby consumers could only provide insights to the producers via explicit and implicit data. The business here had greater control than the consumer.

C2C: The consumer through the advent of social networks was able to create a social graph with friends. They would then interact and communicate around a product. This can be seen through sharing, tagging etc. A good example of a C2C platform is Facebook.

C2W: This is whereby the user share their interests publicly with others who aren’t in their direct social graph. Good examples of such platforms are Twitter, Stack Overflow, and Amazon wish list.

Application to Marketing and Advertising

Gone are the days of the mad men when slick ads ruled the world. Consumers now only react to content that is relevant and tailored to their wants and needs. We as marketers need to sift through this information and ensure that we are spot on with our targeting.

That and many other insights as stated in the table below are what CMOS worldwide expect to gain from the amount of social data.

Marketing insights of big data.

Marketing insights of big data.

In the next post shall be discussing the essentials of a good social data strategy.