Facebook topic data - the key to unlocking true marketing success

People talk a lot about the evolution of marketing over the past decade or so, citing the increased role data plays in allowing marketers to make smart and informed decisions about their audience, their content and how they use the former to engage the latter.

Only a fool would argue how important data is to modern marketing, and a huge amount of this data comes from social networks. However, getting meaningful insights from this social data has proved a challenge due to the relatively small sample of data available compared to the markets organizations are trying to understand. There’s also the issue of “self-promotion bias” that comes with public data, with many people on public networks promoting something. Real insight comes from Facebook topic data, which gives marketers access to one of largest sources of public opinion in the world.

According to its Q1 2016 earnings report, Facebook has more than 1.6 billion monthly active users, who spend an average more than 50 minutes a day on Facebook. There are 50 million businesses with active Facebook pages, and overall Facebook delivers six times more insight than that offered by Twitter, Tumblr, blogs and forums combined.*

Facebook topic data offers such unparalleled insight that without it, how can you be sure you understand what makes your audience tick?  This video that explains how Facebook topic data works, and below we focus on the areas where its insight can really pay dividends for a marketer.

Understanding an audience

The public data that was available previously was insightful, to a degree. However, because many people on social networks are there to promote a version of themselves to friends and family, to attract followers, to gain attention or to sell something, any conclusions about audience have to be caveated as they may not be representative of the consumer base of the business.

This caveating was a problem, because although businesses know they are looking at a small group of people that don’t necessarily represent their target audience, there wasn’t sufficient information to normalise that data and draw useful insights into their own target group.

Facebook topic data, for the first time, allows insights to be drawn from posts, likes, comments and shares across the entire Facebook platform.  Of course, all Facebook topic data comes with self-declared user demographics - these are the demographics that everyone populates when they sign up to Facebook.  But DataSift’s PYLON for Facebook Topic Data comes with information on gender, age range and location, a huge advance because demographic data is not readily available on other social networks, mostly because of the privacy concerns that come with that. 

As Facebook topic data is aggregated and anonymised, extra value can be added to it, normalising results against the total Facebook population to give true insight into specific audience segments. That’s why Facebook topic data is such a huge game-changer for marketers looking to know and understand their audience. 

Planning content and using it to engage

Facebook topic data also makes it much easier for marketers to know the type of content that will really resonate with an audience. A great example is of a brand that was sponsoring a major music festival in the US.

As the festival approached, the brand’s ad tech partner deployed anonymous, aggregated Facebook topic data to understand how different audiences were engaging with the artists performing, particular music genres featured at the festival, its client and other sponsors.

The agency captured 5.7 million interactions in eight days and the analysis revealed where each demographic group in America fell on that spectrum of engagement. Once the engaged audience segments were identified, it was possible to determine which other interests, websites, retailers and broadcasters these segments were engaging around on Facebook, with content then tailored to best suit further engagement.

Facebook topic data – the future of marketing

Facebook topic data is undoubtedly the start of a new era of social data. The levels of quantitative and qualitative insight it brings are changing the way that marketers go about their business forever. And as we stand at the start of an era, it means the very best is yet to come.

As brands get more comfortable with deploying and managing Facebook topic data, it will be used to even greater effect in future. How are you going to use it and shape the future of marketing?

*According to DataSift analysis, including Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, forums.

by Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson
Vice President of Marketing, DataSift in Social Media.

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