We spent a lot of time at this year’s conference talking about using social data from an adtech perspective. While we had some compelling breakout conversations on using data in government or in the space of social justice, much of the conversation was centered around how brands can better use social data for more targeted advertising and conversion opportunities. The final panel of the conference wanted to break out of the mold a bit and talk about varied other uses for social data–what were we missing when we focus only on advertising?
Hayes Davis from Union Metrics spoke of a specific use case involving an app owned by a couple of B-list celebrities that was going south fast. Certain events triggered a general public anger at the app and its creators. Davis talked about how data, in this particular situation, can be used to monitor the conversation surrounding a crisis for a brand. When the data assists as a listening tool, organizations can get on top of major problems quickly and determine the communication that needs to go out to the user base to pivot the conversation, or at least to control it and continue monitoring.
Giles Palmer of Brandwatch discussed the use of data in terms of being able to forecast or predict certain trends. As an example, Palmer noted that people are more likely to buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream when it’s raining outside than they are when it’s sunny; this particular brand is viewed as comfort food, which is something consumers tend to crave when the weather is less than ideal. For another client, Palmer’s group was looking at hairstyle trends globally: through social listening and data collection, they were able to determine that most cutting-edge hair trends came first out of South Africa. Having this kind of insight allowed the brand to continue to monitor specific styles and trends coming out of South Africa, giving them the ability to stay ahead of the curve globally as a brand trendsetter.
Prior to extremely frequent use of social media, emergency teams may not find out about major issues needing their attention for several hours. Ted Bailey of Dataminr spoke specifically about things like major fires that previously took hours to be able to contain, leading to much more destruction and devastation because of longer response times. With the advent of real-time updates on social media platforms like Twitter, companies like Dataminr are able to crawl social platforms for such updates, resulting in a significant reduction in time between the event first happening and emergency personnel being notified. When emergency personnel are notified more quickly, they are able to respond more quickly and contain the situation, mitigating the damage and devastation that could have taken place.
In all of our conversations surrounding data and its varied uses, it is, of course, important to focus on marketing and advertising because brands must have data access and proper analysis to know how to create better experiences for their customers. However, the potential uses for data still exist on a plane we know far too little about. At future Big Boulder conferences, it’s the collective hope that we can continue to uncover new use cases for social data, as well as new and lasting impacts for brands, but also for the general public good.