Social data has undoubtedly become one of the most important metrics in marketing today. However, a recent study by eMarketer indicates that a large gap exists between the relevancy of social data to marketing today and what marketers actually understand about social analytics. According to the report, 53 percent of marketers plan to make greater use of real-time data in 2013. Despite this, many marketing professional with years of experience in the industry are still in a bind over just how this wealth of information can and should be used to increase conversions and drive user engagement.

As social data continues to grow in volume and prominence, it’s increasingly important for marketers to effectively leverage it to improve best practices and foster customer relationships. Because ultimately, what’s the use in having lots of user data if you can’t use it to benefit your business?

To shed some light on this subject, we’ve boiled Social Data 101 down to three points to give readers a more holistic understanding of exactly what social data is and how it can be used:

1. Social data is the information you begin collecting after users log in socially.

This data encompasses information that your users have shared with the social networks they use to register for an account on your website. It can include personal profile information (including birthdays, educational backgrounds, beliefs, hobbies, interests, employers, and more), profile picture, friend networks, status updates, and virtually any other data points that the user shares with his or her social networks. This data also encompasses users’ behavioral data, which measures site interactions such as sharing, commenting, and writing reviews.

2. Social data is always growing.

Because social data updates and grows as users change their social profiles, this information is almost always more accurate and detailed than traditional registration form data. For instance, your users have likely interacted with their personal Facebook profiles at least once within the last few weeks: maybe they posted a status update, changed their profile photos, or left a comment on a friend’s wall. Each of these interactions represents a new data point that your business can collect and use to better understand your audiences. To ensure that data is kept up-to-date at all times, businesses can automatically sync changes and additions to data to their existing databases.

3. Social data personalizes and enhances existing marketing efforts.

Social data can integrate with third-party platforms such as email marketing platforms, ad servers, recommendation engines, and more, to target the right users with the right messages. Personalized marketing increases ROI because companies can now invest resources into tailoring the right messages to market to the right demographics instead of blindly sending generic messages to mass audiences.

As impossible as it is to deny the value of social data, the ability to collect and use this information is made possible with the right tools and technology. To learn more about how social data can be leveraged to provide actionable user insights for your business, click here.

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