How Small Social Media Teams Can Take On The Problem of Big Data

By Serena Goldberg Recently, a new buzzword has been all the hype in the business world: “Big Data.” The term sounds important and confusing at the same time. It’s been thrown around in a myriad of conversations, events, articles, and forums.  Even political leaders, such as Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, have announced state-wide efforts to focus on Big Data. To put it simply, Big Data is more data than you know what to do with.

Let’s look at some numbers. IBM’s website has this jaw-dropping statistic: “Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”  When I read that I had to look up what a quintillion looked like.  (For those of you interested, it’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000). Every day 2.5 times that really long number is what we create. That’s a lot of data.

The impact of Big Data is evident to Social Media professionals. Think of the tens of thousands of Facebook & Twitter posts created, “liked” and commented on, plus the millions of connections made, Facebook ads clicked on, retweets and mentions. And all of this is happening every single day. There is so much data that many companies can’t keep up, especially ones with small social media teams.

Many companies crave information and think the more they can get, the better off they’ll be.  Having more numbers about your company and your customers is better than less, right? Maybe.  In the long term this is a blessing not a curse, but for now many companies become paralyzed by an overabundance of information.

The opportunity of Big Data is fast becoming an epidemic of Data Obesity.

In his blog post, Krishnan Subramanian defines data obesity as “an indiscriminate accumulation of data without a proper strategy to shed the unwanted or undesirable data.” There comes a point when social media teams, especially ones with limited resources or personnel, can’t do it all.

So how can small social media teams win in a world of data obesity? How can analysts succeed in a sea of 1s and 0s? The first – and most important – step is identifying the key metrics you want to focus on. This will vary by firm, but common key metrics include awareness, reach, conversions, and sales or influence. Narrowing down to just the key ones that tie to your business goals will allow you to measure what really matters.

Radian6 – recently acquired by – has a handy list of simple equations for social media metrics. Here are a few I think are of particular value:

Potential Reach of Social Media

Potential Reach = Social Shares + Fans in their Network

Value of Facebook Like

Value of Facebook Like = Total revenue in a Month from Facebook traffic / Total Number of Likes

Social Media ROI

ROI = (Revenue – Cost) / Cost, x 100

What have you been doing to focus your social media measurement in the world of Big Data? What do you think we can do to help solve this data obesity problem?  Share your thoughts below!

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