by Caitlin Moore
AH, the good old days!
Remember when researching a new product or service meant asking your neighbor, friend or colleague what their experience was like in person or over a phone call?
Maybe you would even sit down for a cup of coffee, or meet each other at the fence line. (Anyone else getting my Mr. Wilson reference from Home Improvement?)
Where are these conversations happening now you ask? I’m willing to bet you’ve recently Google searched for a product within the last month, diligently looking for reviews and pricing information to make an informed choice.
Perhaps you even posed a question on your Facebook to your friends about the product or service. What are their thoughts, opinions or experiences?
On a personal level, I know that I have posed a few questions seeking the opinions of my friends and acquaintances. I’ve even been so compelled as to answer a few inquiries into a product or service, particularly if it was a BAD experience.
So how do Facebook marketers and advertisers get a hold of this information since we are in constant conversation about our experiences? What is it worth to your business and how can you apply it? It might reveal more than you think…
Up until recently, the information contained in these conversations was not available to Facebook marketers or advertisers. While you could create ad campaigns focused on a specific demographic, gender, age and even interest, information into what audiences were saying about your product or service was yet to be delivered.
Through a partnership with social data firm DataSift, Facebook will start telling marketers the specific things their audience is talking about within a given topic – including brand names and products.It reveals to marketers what audiences are saying on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities. DataSift will reveal the types of people who are in the conversation about these topics as well as what they’re saying, mining for keywords and phrases. This data, dubbed “topic data”, will include the demographics of the people discussing a topic and even break it down to the sentiment of those posts on a topic.
Creeped out yet? Don’t be. DataSift will only be aggregating data from public or private posts people shared with someone else on Facebook while keeping individual personal information private. Conversations within Facebook Messenger will not be included in the data. Likewise, individual comments will be hidden via a black box and included only as the total number of comments on a given topic. No access to raw data on these individual posts will be made available to marketers.
Facebook provided a few simple examples of how this would work in real time. Let’s look at the business of retail: a hair product manufacturer might want to explore the demographics of people discussing how humidity affects their hair to better understand their target market. A retailer may want to know which articles of clothing people mention in their posts to stock appropriately for the season or latest trend. (Sweater sales in the middle of summer no more!) With this information, advertisers and marketers alike will be able to potentially expose themselves to a new customer base or highlight certain products over others. Of course, the most intuitive use of this information would be to find out if people are discussing your brand and/or product positively or negatively.
Unfortunately for marketers, Facebook won’t be exposing any of this topic data through the insights tools. For this access, a brand will have to go through a company pulling data from DataSift. More bad news? Your competition can gain access into the same consumer data you see and vice versa. Anyone who has this capability can look into your brand as an anonymous batch of data with info like gender, age and location. From there, they can determine which specific subgroups are interested in the keywords and phrases associated with your brand.
DataSift will provide just enough information to help target your advertising campaign more effectively by sharing topic data externally. A marketer won’t be able to directly target the people discussing humidity’s effect on hair or the latest clothing trend, but that marketer can include these groups’ demographics so that ads are shown to people with similar characteristics.
What all this means to say is that by sharing this information with the public, Facebook hopes to encourage you to invest in more advertising for your business page by helping better target your audience. For now, Facebook will not make any profit from your topic data.
DataSift officially became available in the U.S. and the U.K. this past Tuesday, March 17th. Only time will tell exactly how this will implement into advertising campaigns for Facebook. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on all things DataSift for your Facebook advertising!