Last Friday’s public stock offering by Facebook has led to a lot of speculation about the value of data. What often gets lost in the shuffle, however, is that the value of most data (and this is especially true of “big data”) is squandered by the inability of analysts to sift the gold from the mud in a timely manner.
For instance, let’s say your multinational employer has a few dozen Facebook sites for various popular products and you wanted to get customer reaction to a new product offering. Right now a talented marketing manager would post something on the site (at the right day and time, of course, based on response analysis stats) coordinate other social media around the theme of the post and wait for the social consensus to emerge. But how, really, is that done? Guessing at the consensus (i.e., “people seem to like it”) might have worked a year ago, but that doesn’t guarantee our young MBA’s job security in a world where the difference between 49% and 72% is something the senior managers insist on knowing.
For this reason there has been a flurry of activity among B2B players in the Facebook ecosystem. Austin-based Spredfast has a social marketing platform that is quickly being adopted by most of these major players. Another Austin player, PolyGraph Media also de-cloaks this week with its eye-popping tool for analyzing social discussions on major Facebook sites. These players are laying the foundation for the kind of true real-time analytical capacity required to accurately assess the ROI on social marketing investments and it’s not a moment too soon.
How much are these tools needed? The Center on Global Brand Leadership and the New York American Marketing Association study “Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data” points out that only 14% of social marketing investments are even measured against financial returns at all and 40% of social marketing efforts can’t even be analyzed in a timely manner. Don’t expect those numbers to stay that way, though. Help is on the way.