Much has been written about the role of social media and big data.
With social media providing new communication and engagement channels, their original manifestation was new ways to start and share new conversations. In the early days these were personal in nature, with the occasional news story (often of some importance) breaking first on social media.
Today, social media are the new mass media channels, most already taking advertising to promote content, many crimping the ability to engage organically with audiences and followers, all seeking to monetize their platforms.
On the big data side, the preoccupation is on how to make sense of the colossal amounts of information pouring in from multiple sources (including social media).
Measurement of something – mentions, retail habits, frequency of visits, predisposition to do one thing or another – remains an overriding preoccupation. We seek to make sense from the data tea leaves swirling in the bottom of our marketing cups.
But perhaps there is no definitive ‘answer’, and perhaps that’s not the point in any case.
It’s when the social web and big data are brought together and analysed that sense is made. Data are useless without the analysis, and social media channels mean most when they act as data conduits between organizations and individuals.
And it’s a dynamic collaboration, not a retrospective, static one. The real-time connection to individuals, and the real-time analysis of their inputs to the social web against criteria that matter to the organization, create a new way to develop businesses – to grow customer retention, revenue, sales, satisfaction, membership – because it provides real-time insights into the actual motivations and intentions of individuals, and focus for the resources organizations have to deploy.
Once this real-time analysis is up and running, it can then be integrated with two more elements: existing organizational data, and the business strategy – which is as far away from static measurement as you could get.