Heavy Mettle: Social Data Carries Its Weight in Gold

  |  October 3, 2012   |  Comments

The three new areas that brand marketers can look to for key decisions regarding media, customer interest clusters, and customer behavior.

It might not have been the best month for Mark Zuckerberg's net wealth, but September was one of the more important months in Facebook's history for brand marketers.

Facebook ran a mobile platform test. It tested the "like" button on its recently upgraded iPhone app. It launched premium ads, sponsored results, and more. Facebook simply kept rolling out products and test after test and then more trial balloons in its push to get more advertising revenue on the books. That translates to more opportunities for advertisers.

Meanwhile, advertising opportunities have also been growing all year over at Twitter. The value of Twitter search for "pulse-taking" on any brand's sentiment has always been beyond measure, but Twitter has raised its game. The company recently launched Brand Pages, as well as advanced advertiser self-serve tools and analytics that put more control in the marketer's hands. By upgrading from a sharing utility to a destination for brands, Twitter has effectively squared off in competition with Facebook - and from that competition grows a wealth of opportunities for marketers looking for quality social data.

With these platform upgrades, both Facebook and Twitter deliver more data to brands, from which marketers can uncover greater customer intelligence. Effectively, the two platforms are now customer intelligence goldmines. Increased intelligence lends clarity to the data picture. We now see three new areas in particular that brand marketers can look to for key decisions regarding media, customer interest clusters, and customer behavior.


Twitter was practically built for mobile, and reported in June that of its 400 million daily tweets, "most" were mobile. On Facebook, whose more complex platform seems to be updated daily for iOS and Android devices, mobile data and customer intelligence are gained from mobile usage currently. It will ramp up considerably as this mobile platform takes shape for advertisers and as Facebook's migration of its users to the mobile platform accelerates. That said, the most basic information is also the most useful information: simply, when are customers on the mobile platform and when are they online? When marketers know the detailed answer to that question they can match ads to users and dayparts.

Brand Extensions

More social data means more avenues for insight into the offline behaviors and affinities for Facebook and Twitter users. We expect that brands will have a more projectable and accurate sample for brand connections. For example: fans of Fast Food Joint X are also fans of the NFL, Frye Boots, and Target. The more data that is generated, the more affinities can be found to inform impactful marketing decisions for campaigns on and off social media channels.


Our research shows some insightful views into the media preferences of brand fans and followers. In the near future, media properties will be able to bolster their pitches to brands based on the preferences stated on Facebook, Twitter, other social networks, and brand connection intelligence.

The advertising industry struggles to make sense (and cents) of the social Internet, but the answers can still be found in the data, where they've always been. The value of social media platforms is in the real-world insight they provide us about audiences and preferences. If we can gain real, actionable insights into consumers from social networks like Twitter and Facebook, then they're every bit the treasure chests we'd hoped.

Gold Coins image on home page via Shutterstock.


Dilip Venkatachari

Dilip is CEO and co-founder of Compass Labs. He previously led Google's mobile ads business and ran PayPal's risk and fraud management, financial services, and compliance. Dilip has co-founded and led two successful start-up companies -CashEdge and CommerceSoft - after stints at McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. Dilip has an MBA from the Harvard Business School, M.S. in electrical engineering from Rice University, and a B.Tech in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

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