Social media provides marketers with more data than ever before, and it’s all delivered in real time. I recently teamed up with B2B marketing speaker and author, Paul Dunay, on a RingLead webinar to discuss the topic of using social data as a B2B marketer, as well as how to avoid certain pitfalls.

1. Ensure quality data before measuring

Speaking of pitfalls, we’ve all run into the typical bad data story where you send an email and it reaches the wrong person, or the right person with the wrong name. Bad data ultimately impacts your marketing credibility, and in today’s B2B SaaS market, it’s all about relationships and credibility.

Whether it’s poor targeting, poor segmenting, or poor use of data, bad data will always impact your marketing efforts. While it’s tough to be 100% rid of bad data, you must start somewhere. Sit down as an organization and understand that cleaning your data is not something you do once a year; it’s a constant process. Consider all of your different data points and how they’re connected. Automate your data quality processes with technology. This will ensure data integrity, which is at the core of your marketing.

Set a budget for data quality now, and make it an ongoing program. Don’t wait until you make a fatal marketing mistake that ruins the credibility you worked so hard to establish. Paul Dunay’s tip is to remember that the belly of marketing is typically in the summer months, so use that time to start cleaning your data.

“The growth of data within companies is around 40% a year, and the cost of bad data is in the trillions of dollars. That is twice the amount of the federal deficit. Try to stay ahead of it.” — Paul Dunay

Bad data exists in your database now, so you need to do some course correction.

2. Set your metrics, goals and expectations upfront

When you’re looking at social media, there’s a big difference between data and insights. While social insights are in the eye of the beholder, you can set goals upfront, and work to meet those expectations. This approach will give you real insights.

Paul Dunay recommends that getting started with social insights requires knowing your sources. For instance, are you getting the full Twitter fire hose or are you getting 10% of it? Although that may seem like a small data point, these details can have a major impact on the data. In the example of the Twitter fire hose, there’s a big difference between real ­time data and data delayed by a few minutes or more.

Go beyond the basics

Choosing your social metrics requires going beyond likes and clicks. Social engagement is one part of the story, and the other part is about the people. When analyzing campaigns, don’t just look at engagement metrics such as likes and clicks, but look at who is engaging. A ton of clicks or likes could be a false positive if you’re not reaching the right audience.

Try to formulate a hypothesis on what is, or what could be on social media, and then see if the results match up. This helps you set expectations, because although you want your content to kill it, you need an actual and realistic starting point.

3. Merge social data with other marketing data

As Paul shares, “The devil is in the details, and the combination of social data and customer data can be very powerful.” Your marketing automation system can pull your website and email data, so now it’s about combining social profiles in the process. Start doing this with progressive profiling and asking for more information, such as Twitter handles or LinkedIn profiles in your web form fields.

Request the social data that makes the most sense to your brand. Test the process of authenticating web forms with social profiles. Get your operational ducks in a row in order to leverage the necessary data, such as UTM tags, referral source, lead source, etc. Get the data you need to connect those dots because ultimately, you want to authenticate the lead to ensure it’s the right lead. These insights help you confirm that you reached this person through social, and through a specific campaign. Then, you can further dissect the social channels to obtain more data about your prospects and customers. All of this will ultimately allow you to better target, nurture, and find more of the right contacts.

Accurately set up your social efforts, data and tracking from the start to make sure that you’re able to get that data to tell the accurate story. Without all of the pieces, you might be telling the wrong story.

Utilize personal emails

As a B2B marketer, you work hard to promote lead generation through social media, only to get frustrated by form completes using personal addresses like Gmail. However, I encourage you to look at those email addresses in a new way. Personal email addresses are associated with your prospects’ social profiles, so they are actually great tools for targeting on social networks. Those addresses give you a key piece of information about how to reach them directly on Facebook or Twitter. In a recent campaign, I realized that 65% of the email addresses were Gmail. Instead of discarding them, I checked to see how many of those Gmail addresses synced up to my prospects’ social profiles, and amazingly enough, about 80% synced up. I suddenly hit a gold mine and found a better way to target those prospects.

No matter how you you think about combining social media with data, always consider how you can use that data to get smart about how you target.

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