If you think that the social media platforms are just to stay connected with friends and family, you are wrong. After emerging use of social media platforms, businesses are also using them to understand the trends and buying habits of users. Many people I know prefer to buy products based on recommendations from their favorite online influencers, rather than based on traditional advertising. And when they need advice or information on what to buy, social media is where they seek it.
According to Sprout Social Facebook statistic for marketer, 2.45 billion monthly active users are there on just Facebook. While these searches cover the full spectrum of human interactions, many people use Facebook to follow their favorite brands, businesses, and organizations. If you are a business owner, this is great news for you. It means that you can use social media platforms like Facebook to not only find your audience online, but also to learn more about what they need and what from your business. In short, all the data you could ever need about your customers can be found on social media.
But that’s not all. You can also obtain data from social media on how people interact with your brand, how they react to your content, how many times your brand gets mentioned, and more. This data is available to you through social media, but simply getting the data is not enough. How do you make use of this data to improve your business and attain your business goals?
Here are 3 unique ways to use social media data for your business
As there are many ways you can use social media data but in this article, we will mainly focuses on the 3 most important ways.
High-level audience segmentation
One rule of thumb in the world of advertising and marketing is that the more segmented and specific your audience is, the higher your conversion rate will be. Social media data gives you more insights into your customers. It tells you more about what they need, the kind of content they relate to, the type they don’t relate to, etc.
With these data sets, you can make your marketing efforts, and content creation more engaging and specific for your audience. For example: say you collect data showing that users in your target audience engage more with humorous posts. With this information, you can add more humor to your campaign strategy and relate more effectively to those users. Social media data allows you to classify your audience into different categories based on their preferences, as revealed by the data you collected. Then you can tailor a unique marketing campaign for each category, such that everybody gets to see what they have a preference for. You can use social media data to classify your audience based on location, topics, favorite social media platform, and more.
Monitoring consumer trends
Before social media, if you wanted to gauge your consumers’ feelings about a particular product, service or industry innovation, you had to hit the streets with bundles of questionnaires. Today, you can find just about every category of customer sentiments on social media. Most people take to social media to share complaints, praise a brand, or make a recommendation. With social media data, you can easily conduct sentiment analysis, determine consumers’ feelings about a trend, or identify the trends consumers are setting for themselves. For example: by collecting data on Instagram posts with a particular hashtag (say, #summerfashion), you can easily identify the most popular fashion styles consumers follow for summer in a particular year. Then, you can position your brand to offer products or services that address those exact desires.
Lead capturing and management
When someone mentions “lead capturing“, most people might imagine websites with gated content, making it difficult to capture relevant, targeted leads for your own brand. But social media offers a very efficient way to capture and manage leads. Social media data makes it very easy to identify your ideal customer persona, target them with the right ads, or even approach them directly. People are posting literally every detail of their life on social media: where they live, the number of kids they have, their dog’s name, and pictures of their mean coworkers. Everything! No matter how specific your ideal customer persona is, you would be hard-pressed to find details that are not on social media. Even better, by collecting social media data periodically, you can monitor the evolution of your leads and upgrade your marketing strategy to keep up with them.
How to Collect Social Media Data
Finding an efficient, cost-effective, and scalable data collection method discourages most businesses from taking advantage of social media data. But there is a perfect solution for this: web scraping.
Web scraping is the automatic, scalable process of collecting publicly available data from the web. It is also known as data scraping or extraction. Web scraping is automatic because it collects data with scraping crawlers, or bots. Web scraping bots work by parsing through a given web page’s source code and extracting data according to some preset parameters.
Once web scraping bots obtain the data you need, they can copy it into a local spreadsheet for easy analysis. Web scraping allows you to collect specific data sets and extract them into a ready-to-use format quickly. Web scraping bots also allow you to collect data in large volumes, which would be next to impossible to do manually.
Collecting Social Media Data with Web Scraping
Let us take a look at a practical example of using web scraping to collect social media data. For this project, we will make use of the Instagram Scraping Module from Scraping Robot.
To start, sign up at scrapingrobot.com. When you sign up, you get 5,000 free scrapes to scrape any website of your choice. Once you’ve signed up, log in to your dashboard.
Once you’ve logged in, click on “Create Project”.
Go to the modules library and select the Instagram module.
Create a name for the project. For this project, the name is “Instagram Scraping.” Once you’ve created a name for the project, you can then enter the Instagram handles you would like to scrape. We want to scrape the Instagram handles of several outdoors stores in our area for this project. The data we collect will help us determine how many followers these stores have, how often they engage with their followers, how many likes they receive on their posts, and more.
Click on the “Start Scraping” button to start scraping for data on the handles you’ve entered. You’ll get the results for your scrapes within a minute to 30 minutes, depending on the number of handles you are scraping. You can see the results of your scrape on the screen and you can also choose to download it into a CSV file.
The data scraped includes number of followers, number of posts, location of each post, number of likes on each post, number of views if the post is a video, number of comments. The data is neatly arranged and ready for immediate use.
This data can be incredibly useful for identifying your audience, defining your ideal customer persona and even identifying influencers to work with in promoting your business. However, if you want to experience the full benefits of scraping social media with Scraping Robot, then you can reach out and have a custom scraping module built for you. Scraping Robot’s custom scraping service is designed to fit your exact data needs. You can have a custom module designed for nearly any website on the internet.
Social media data scraping frequently asked questions:
If you are still having query about how to use such social media scraping tools and its data, here are few FAQs to answer them.
Q1. Do I need to be a data expert to make use of social media data?
No! Absolutely anybody can make use of social media data but you should have clear requirement. The data is usually framed in a way that makes it easy to analyze and use. Also, there are several tools available that help you collect and analyze data so you don’t have to do it yourself.
Q2. Can I collect the data manually?
You can, but honestly, it could take you a lifetime to complete. Collecting valuable data from social media can mean running millions or billions of scrapes. Doing this manually will cost you a lot of time, effort, and resources that could have been better spent on other aspects of your business. That is why you should use web scraping to collect all the data you need.
Q3. Do I need to build a social media following before I can make use of social media data?
No, you do not. Even collecting the social media data of your competitors can help you understand your customers in a better way, by observing the type of content they are receiving from your competitors.
Q4. How costly is it to use a web scraping service?
Compared to what it would cost you to collect data manually, it is not costly to use a web scraping service. At Scraping Robot, a single scrape costs only $0.0018, and you also get 5,000 free scrapes to scrape any website of your choice when you sign up.
Q5. How long does it take to get the data I need when I start a scraping project?
It is purely depending upon the size of data you suppose to scrap. Web scraping bots (because they are bots) work at a faster rate than any human could hope to work. In our earlier scraping project, it took about 14 seconds to get the data from the two handles we scraped. That is how fast you get your data when you start a scraping project with Scraping Robot.
Q5. Is it legal to scrap social media data using such scraping tools?