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The word “data” is flung around so often, it’s easy to overlook its true power. NetBase Sr. Director of Sales Robyn Lindars sat down with Text100 VP, Head of Insights EJ Kim during Social Media Week New York last month to emphasize why social and other data sources are needed, and how best to use them.

Here are some highlights from their presentation.

Data Isn’t a Luxury

Data isn’t limited to social media, as Robyn reminded the crowd. Our goal at NetBase is to holistically collect data across all data points, including surveys, product review sites, call centers etc., so brands and businesses – like Text100 – have the information they need to craft educated strategies instead of assuming.

For the record, Text100 is the type of agency you call when you don’t have an in-house marketing division capable of analyzing social data, or when you need the collective expertise of data analysts, PR, creative and more.

They work with companies – like Adobe, Bravo, and Johnson & Johnson – that want to change the world through technology, so data is a very potent resource. One that agencies and marketing departments are realizing needs to be the center of things.

“Data is a commodity now,” declared EJ. “Big data was the conversation for a while, but now it’s about smart data, and how to apply it.”

What’s the distinction? Accessibility.

There was a time when simply accessing digital data was a feat – but now data is part of all business operations. The question becomes: What do you do with it?

This is the question brands look to agencies, analysts, and marketers to answer. Because gut instinct and creativity that isn’t backed up by anything just doesn’t cut it – but neither does data on its own. Success requires these tactics to be used together.

But most importantly, data gets you to the problem you’re trying to solve.

What does that mean?

As EJ explained, when you have a goal in mind, you’re focused on the outcome – what you want to happen. But what route should you take to get there? Only data tells you.

So, if you want better online reviews for your restaurant, what strategy do you employ to inspire that? You can’t do anything until you know why reviews are less than favorable, or why consumers aren’t taking the time to review you at all.

Data provides the insights to justify your actions. Otherwise, you’re just guessing.

Or as Robyn put it, “Clients say, ‘We’ve been working for a long time developing ideas and hoping the data backs it up.’ And now we know it has to be the other way around. You should be proactive in your data, not reactive.”

How to Put Your Data into Action

Where many brands get stuck is understanding how exactly to be proactive – or what that means from a data perspective. EJ shared some best practices that illustrate the approach brands can take:

  1. Strive to understand the business or brand as a whole. It’s not just about customers/consumers, but about the competitive landscape, the big picture, how money is made – and tying all of that back to their business objectives. Bridge the divide between what they think we know about them and what we actually know.
  2. Look at brand financial health, stock performance, etc., and layer media coverage on top of that to find correlations between the two. Look at the brand funnel data against the perception. Brands often think they have a conversion problem, but the reality is people are stuck at the top of the funnel because it’s really an awareness problem. So you have to look at how the market sees your brand versus what you think you are, or how you wish to be seen.
  3. Look at competitors to see how everyone stacks up on key attributes. This reveals the white space you can work within – i.e., the things you should avoid because everyone is doing it, and doing it better, versus things you’re doing well and could dial up.

Look for trends and discover new audiences by listening and looking at the media to understand who people are. If you want to understand electrical contractors, for example, you start with them as people. What do they read, what do they care about? You dig deep into the audience you want to connect to, and tie everything back to getting attention from those people.

Changing the World Through Technology

Agencies like Text100 know that data is the not-so-secret weapon that delivers business success. And there’s a lot of exciting technology making social analytics and other areas of data analysis even more useful.

A lot of the tools coming up use AI embedding to uncover psychographic insights that take data beyond broad-spectrum demographics. EJ used the examples of getting to know CIOs, and how they differ from other members of the C-Suite, and the value they place on individuality, and of understanding what journalists get excited about, so they know what entices them when they need media coverage.

Predictive analytics is another huge benefit to social analytics tools. Knowing how much engagement an article, for example, will get on Twitter helps marketers focus efforts for maximum efficiency and return.

There’s no end to the amazing technology out there, and EJ rightfully stated there’s no “one perfect tool.” However, when choosing tools here are a few considerations:

  • Use case – can this solve your problem better that something else you’ve looked at?
  • Where is the data coming from, and how is it put together – transparency of process.
  • Is it easy to learn so all the people we’ve equipped to be smart thinkers can access and use it if they want to?

This last point is what sold EJ on NetBase, and we love hearing that – because we want social data to be easily accessible, clear, and accurate for all those who need it.

Of course, there was a lot more to EJ and Robyn’s conversation – like measuring outcomes, crisis management, whether robots will replace your job, and more.

It’s truly fascinating and inspiring to think of the ways social analytics and data will bring your business into the future.

We’re super excited to be a part of it.

Ready to experience NetBase’s social analytics tools first-hand? Reach out and we’ll show you how they work!

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