Why Insights from Facebook Topic Data Are a Game Changer

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Tim BarkerIn this special guest feature, Tim Barker, CEO of DataSift Inc., highlights the predictive power of using Facebook topic data as a data source for gaining business insights. Tim joined the company in 2011 to serve as Chief Marketing Officer and then Chief Product Officer, focusing on product and market strategy. He has more than 20 years of experience in the enterprise software market, spanning CRM, collaboration and content management. During his career Tim founded three successful startups, most recently Koral, a content collaboration startup which was acquired by Salesforce. He holds four patents in the area of on-demand services.

Have you ever wondered how writing decisions are made on your favorite television shows? Or what products are most likely to be boycotted by consumers? Or the best time to run promotions during commercial breaks? How do marketers find the answers to these questions and on which pools of data are these decisions based? And how easy is it to extract these insights and feed them into a business application? Believe it or not, these problems can be solved the same way—by gathering insights through social data analysis using anonymous, aggregated Facebook topic data.

Facebook topic data provides countless insights into consumers’ interactions and engagements around brands by aggregating feedback from the world’s largest social platform. With 1.65 billion monthly active users, Facebook topic data is also one of the world’s largest sources of public opinion data. By leveraging this data, companies can better understand public perceptions of their brand, specific products and competitors, while protecting people’s privacy.

This aggregated and anonymized data can help marketers work through different solutions to various problems. Producers can figure out which characters and scenes are resonating with their show’s target audience, and structure their writing accordingly. For example, a guest star could get bumped up to a series regular based on interactions online. Marketers can also find out when consumers are most engaged and receptive to advertisements and schedule promotions accordingly. Insights can even be gathered to identify consumers making major purchasing decisions, allowing marketers to adjust their strategies with this in mind. Not only does this create more relevant experiences for consumers, but brands are empowered to make smarter marketing decisions.

Since we’ve established how companies are able to use these valuable insights for different scenarios, it’s important to explore the challenges generally associated with extracting insights from social data and how Facebook topic data makes it simpler for brands, thereby saving everyone time and money.

One of the reasons Facebook topic data signifies a huge step forward for the social analytics industry is that data includes self-declared user demographics on gender, age and location—demographic information not readily available on other social networks partially because of privacy concerns with raw, identifiable data. Because Facebook topic data is aggregated and anonymized, privacy isn’t an issue when determining which demographics are interacting around which products in which geographic locations. Though not being able to read single data points may sound like a problem, business decisions are made based on insights involving trends and comparisons, saving businesses time and money as opposed to spending time poring over specific data points. With that said, it’s important to be able to verify and improve filter results in case certain trend words have multiple meanings, which is a great occasion to use super-public text samples to diminish the instance of false positives in your data. This privacy-focused, real-time analysis of data represents an unmatched approach to accurately understanding your audience on almost every level.

Being able to access the genuine, unfiltered interactions of over a billion people is undoubtedly a huge benefit for companies looking for data insights and has transitioned from an art to a science in the tech world. Knowing people broadcast their interests and opinions on everything from their dinner choices to their vacation destinations, it would be shortsighted for businesses not to harness the available data to gain holistic, anonymous, and actionable insights to improve their brand perception, business strategy and more.


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