Big Data Will Shape Social Media Too

“Big Data” or analytics seems to be the term everyone is tossing around as of late. But what is it exactly? Also why should companies, agencies and businesses pay attention to it when it involves social media?

I just read a recent statistic that noted more data has been created in the past two years than in the history of the world. We’re now talking tera and petabytes of data being generated by companies. Lots of it. I’m actually creating more data right now come to think of it as I enter this information onto the Social@Ogilvy blog.

So why should social media agencies or brands that are developing content strategy pay attention to Big Data analytics? Isn’t that something strictly CMOs and CIOs of Fortune 200 companies should care about? Let’s look at how social media functions as of 2012. Right now most agencies and brands are utilizing what I deem “the era of the Community Manager.” I still meet many CMOs new to understanding how social listening and community management shapes a content strategy. The community manager works in creating a content calendar based on the insights of the social listening report generated by an insights team. This calendar is filled with promotional, equity, third-party and originally produced content using a brand or agency creative team.

However the community manager or CM is rarely using insights to shape or map out what content to actually create. The reason being is this analysis is probably overwhelming to the majority of CMs as it is to the CMO. As a result, the content creation process is still steeped in being created either strictly for TV or a brand website with little to no relevance to an audience in channels like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Tumblr.

As a result, too many agencies are operating in the social space no differently than the CMO operates at most companies. They have a little bit of research and data that they can’t analyze telling them what consumers have said in the past. But this past data can’t be used to create a consumer behavioral intent based model. As a result, both the CM and CMO are making a lot of gut-level decisions on how to communicate and market to their consumer audience in the social space. This leads to inefficiency, a lot of work hours, a lot of mistakes and not a ton of return on investment based on content creation.

Enter the era of social media analytics. This is the new emerging era to enhance the CM role. It will usher in analytics to help organizations relate to the world within social at a better pace. It will help businesses adapt to the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data produced every day to help them shape their content creation.

With big data analytics we have to ask what happens in the area of content creation if a community manager can work with a data strategist to actually analyze what people are saying, doing, sharing, and thinking in real time? Then producing appropriate content based on this analysis for the future. How would that affect the content currently being written and created by social agencies? By using analytics to read trends, companies embedded in social media will be able to introduce flexibility to their content creation process. They could adjust the creative output prior to its creation. It’s almost a third hand within the creative process. Agencies will still need the emotional element attached to messaging. We are human after all. But Big Data can actually let us know what people want to talk about based on analytical analysis rather than hedging that bet.

Social has always been about tracking patterns across various ecosystems. But that data has not been effectively used to build future behavioral models. Social marketing needs to apply insights to every new client engagement. This can help shape content creation in an effective manner that delivers content to the audience based on a behavioral demand model. It helps take social beyond a classic TV model where writers pitch ideas they think the audience wants and instead transforms into an on-demand behavioral content adaption model that serves up content the audience is truly interested in.

Being able to assess, predict and deliver content in social that is then shared and tracked, re-analyzed and used for future creation is the model of the future at innovative social agencies like Social@Ogilvy. For those that adopt this futurist model, they will drive in the pole position. They will be able to create social content that resonates with their advocates who will in turn will share this content with their social or interest graphs. This is how Big Data social media will transform the social media industry just like it will transform every other business category in the next three to five years. And social agencies that embrace analytics to help their clients produce content will help those clients outperform their industry competition.

The question remains, will your company adopt this Big Data social media content development model? Are you still getting use to content development with a community manager? Will analytics change the way you work in terms of content creation or product development? Do you think social media agencies will be late to the analytics game once the rest of the business world adapts to the technology or will we be the leaders? We’re curious to hear your thoughts on this matter.

Geoffrey Colon is Vice President of Social@Ogilvy and editor of the Futurist Lab on Tumblr. He also tweets @djgeoffe