Facebook, in partnership with social data platform DataSift, is allowing marketers access to its Topic Data about specific things people post on Facebook, such as activities, events, and brand names.
Now, brands can see how people on the platform are talking about them, their competitors, and their industries in general. More specifically, a fashion company, for example, can see which particular items are resonating with consumers, giving the retailer an idea of merchandise to stock. Similarly, an athletic apparel company can see which types of exercise people are talking about, guiding which activities the brand will have its models do in advertisements on the platform.
While this type of data was available in the past, the sample size was rarely big enough for marketers to get much insight about the audience or its demographics.
“When marketers have a deeper understanding of people and what they’re interested in, they can create more relevant experiences for their audience,” says Nick Nyhan, chief executive (CEO) of British agency WPP’s Data Alliance.
While Facebook’s Topic Data provides guidance to marketers, it doesn’t allow them to target ads directly. And to protect consumers’ privacy, the data Facebook shares is anonymous and aggregated, and doesn’t disclose any of its users’ personal information.
Mark Flaharty, executive vice president of advertising at online video platform SundaySky, isn’t quite sure how marketers can apply the information gleaned from the data at scale, but he believes Facebook’s latest enhancement builds on the capabilities of paid search.
He uses an accountant who advertises on Facebook as an example. The accountant may have traditionally allocated the bulk of his marketing spend toward search – a market he says is extremely valuable, if somewhat saturated – but would be wise to move some of those dollars toward Topic Data because Facebook is where his potential customers are.
“What really resonates with me more is that this is a way for brands to be entered into the conversation on a more regular basis,” Flaharty says. “A lot of people don’t go to Google to find an accountant. People reach out to their dramatically growing circle of friends on social media.” With the availability of Topic Data, brands can know that their industry is being mentioned by consumers and act on it wisely.
For the time being, Topic Data is available to select Facebook-approved DataSift partners in the U.S. and U.K.