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Social data – too hot to handle?

With 800m active Facebook users, 200m tweets per day and real-time data pretty much constituting the entire social web, it’s probably forgivable that marketers are increasingly feeling out of their depth.

SMEs through to MNEs are salivating over the potential that lies in the masses of unstructured data across the likes of Facebook and Twitter. However, like being presented with a Christmas dinner and your hands being tied behind your back, without the necessary tools things could get messy and you might get burnt.

According to an IBM study, 82 per cent of marketing officials still rely on traditional research methods, despite the fact that the same percentage are still planning to increase their use of social media over the next 3-5 years.

Such results, baffling as they are, are not uncommon. Only last week I read in another survey that out of the 71 per cent of companies using social media and see measuring its value as the most important insight, only 17 per cent are actually assessing ROI. Why?

To put it simply, marketers are measuring the wrong things. People are making money of companies who don’t understand social media yet. Fact of the matter is social data is not too hot to handle; you just have to find the right way to grip it, and believe me, marketing professionals will find that way sooner rather than later. More software for analytics could be the key – this is certainly IBM’s prediction. I’m not going to argue.

However, IBM Marketing Executive, Marcel Holsheimer, did declare that we were now in the age of the ‘smarter consumer.’ I will argue with this. Consumers haven’t changed; they’ve just gotten louder. Listening brings about knowledge and with knowledge comes power – good marketers know this. Brian Solis is calling it, ‘The End of Business as Usual,’ I say welcome to the age of the smarter marketer.

By Stephen Graham, Digital Account Executive

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