January 1 is upon us which means new year resolutions, fresh plans, and endless possibilities. One area marketers should focus on in 2018: social intelligence. Why? Social data can influence the entire enterprise and put humanity back in customer data crunching – but only if combined with other data sources like CRM, customer service, market research, and omni-channel marketing for a fuller customer picture. Social data alone has limitations and no one should rely on it as the sole input for decision-making just because it’s easy to access. The quality of social data will eventually improve but in the meantime, marketers must be aware that today’s social data:

  • Doesn’t capture all social users, much less 100% of the population. Most social data streams are biased and capture the Social Stars and Savvies segments – the 55% of the US online population who are the most active users who embrace brands on social networks. Meanwhile, they ignore Social Snackers and Skippers – 45% of the US online population who are the passive users who may be sending indirect preference signals but are not @ mentioning brands or openly discussing their love for certain products.
  • Varies in quality and quantity by social network. Each social network collects different data points and grants varying levels of access to that data via APIs. Facebook is notorious for only releasing anonymized user data. LinkedIn collects robust user data including location, age, education, and professional history and certifications but offers terrible API access. Meanwhile, Twitter collects fewer user data points but has an easier and more open data stream.
  • Skews towards certain demographics and behaviors depending on the social network. Each social network offers a different value proposition and, consequently, user demographics and behaviors differ on each. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics shows that Snapchat skews younger with 48% of 18-24 year olds self-identifying as daily users and have the lowest average online spend across the major social networks. Facebook has 2 billion monthly active users and is home to the oldest daily users (39% of 45-65+ year olds surveyed). These daily users are the least likely to identify as Super Shoppers compared to the other social networks. Because user data is limited in volume and type to the social network’s particular user base, no one data stream will be truly representative.

To overcome these challenges with social data, read my new report, The Future Of Social Intelligence Is In The Enterprise, Not Marketing and unleash social data’s full potential in the new year.