Did you know that there are 4.7 billion global active users on social media with a global social media penetration rate being 58.4%? (As sourced from Statista) With more than half of the world’s population using one or more social media applications and platforms every day, organizations, regardless of their industries or verticals have noticed the importance of social media data mining. So, without further delay, let’s dive into the world of social media mining to learn about it and the benefits it offers.
Social media is a very powerful tool and it’s no secret that more and more businesses are relying on these platforms not only to build brand awareness but also to gather precious data about their customers. Mining social media data allows you to gain in-depth insights about your customers, then use that information to make informed business decisions, forecast futuristic trends, and explore new marketing opportunities, ultimately increasing your ROI.
Social Media Mining Process
Data mining is like a knowledge discovery process. Thus, data mining is social media is the process of extracting information from these platforms to uncover futuristic trends, hidden patterns, and relations. Unlike regular data mining, social media mining extends beyond the internal databases as well as the systems of a given organization or a research firm.
In practice, it is the process of gathering, processing, and analyzing raw data retrieved from different social media platforms such as Meta (previously known as Facebook), Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, and so on—to discover meaningful patterns, draw conclusions, predict futuristic trends, as well as provide insightful and actionable information.
Significance of Social Media Insights
Researchers harvest different types of social media data that are either publicly available, for example, gender, age, job profession, geographic location, etc., or are generated daily on social media platforms in the form of comments, likes, posts, reels, clicks, etc.
This data typically depicts people’s behavior, attitude, connections, and feelings toward a certain product, service, or topic. Based on the social media platform in question, this information can also include the number of followers, likes, comments, or shares if the data is gathered from Facebook, Instagram’s engagement rates and hashtag usage, Twitter’s retweets, or the number of impressions.
It is advised to always focus on gathering the above-mentioned types of data when you are trying to optimize social content, discover influential customers, promote your online business, or improve marketing and engagement strategies.
Benefits of Social Media Data
Data mining for social media has found a plethora of usage and is increasingly being recognized as an invaluable asset across a diverse range of fields, given the massive amounts of user-generated data that is being collected as well as analyzed through this process. Some of its major uses in businesses consist of sales enablement, market research, targeted marketing campaigns, predictive analytics, influencer marketing, and monitoring of brand reputation, to name a few.
While it has primarily been used for business purposes, the social media data enrichment process is nowadays employed by researchers and by government agencies as well. Other than them, companies, retailers, hotels, airlines, manufacturers, and even political groups purchase data sets from third-party data mining companies to personalize their customer experience, improve service satisfaction, develop fail-proof marketing strategies, and streamline their workflows, in general.
Some instances of how social media data mining is used are elucidated below:
- Trend Analysis – Companies leverage social media mining to glean valuable insights into currently trending topics, keywords, mentions, etc., on different social media platforms.
- Social Heat Mapping – The event detection or social heat mapping metric is of immense importance for agencies and researchers who leverage social media monitoring.
- Social Spam Detection – Mining social media data facilitates a seamless detection of spammers as well as bots on different platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
- eCommerce – eCommerce companies leverage social media data mining insights to analyze how people talk about their products, services, and other offerings.
- Digital Media – Social media data mining is also applicable in the field of digital media. The content that is to be displayed on a particular digital billboard, for example, can be decided by conducting a social media data mining process so as to cater to the audience’s needs or preferences.
- Bloggers and Influencers – Bloggers and social media influencers often use social media mining insights to know the attitudes and feelings of their followers better, what they are talking/thinking about, or how they feel about certain topics that these influential personalities take up.
- Research purposes – Social media data mining is applicable in different research domains, including social science research, technology research, and health research. Some of its uses include gathering opinions, undertaking participative ‘citizen science’, recruiting study participants, or fostering stakeholder involvement to name a few.
- Government Agencies – Government agencies use social media data mining for welfare-focused interventions. One way to do this is by tracking residents’ moves by documenting their activities throughout the day at tagged locations. Hence, social media data mining can be a powerful tool that can improve residents’ lives as well as promote the safety of communities.
Social Media mining Ethics
Social media data mining is a relatively novel field of study that has raised several challenges regarding its use for different purposes—and, one of the major problems with its use is the question of whether mining of social media data is ethical or not.
As evident, social media data mining uses huge amounts of user-generated data that is publicly available. This means that users have agreed to share their personal data publicly and are well aware of the fact that everyone can view the things they’ve posted, liked, interacted with, commented on, or shared on social platforms.
However, the issue of variable perceptions of what is considered ‘private’ and ‘public’ along with the issues of intellectual property and ownership, the difficulty of obtaining consent through informed choice, or guaranteeing anonymity, all pose even harder challenges for social media data miners.
The lack of a clear ethical framework for working with social media data further adds to the complexity of the whole process of collecting, analyzing, as well as visualizing user-generated data. There have been several data privacy breaches over the recent years involving the use of social media data mining due to unclear laws, principles, and rule regulations regarding the use of this powerful tool.
So, clear ethical laws and principles regarding the use of social media data should be established so that researchers, businesses, and government agencies can reap the benefits that it offers. In the meanwhile, you can rely on professional providers to help you with social media data mining ethics.
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