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Forrester Report: NetBase Social Media Analytics

Social media has become one of the most important marketing platforms for brands in the past decade. But unlike traditional marketing approaches like using focus groups and surveys, social media involve a ton of unstructured data.

The advent of big data in this new world of market research has provided a ripe environment to foster new technologies to collect and digest this incredible flow of information. That was the topic of one of Forrester Research’s recent report called The Forrester Wave: Social Listening Platforms.

Enterprise and Social Media Analytics

The report found that large brands still aren’t fully utilizing social media analytics to its fullest. The social media department is still a fringe group within the confines of the larger marketing team.

This disjointed view of social media shows how enterprises are under-utilizing the power of this platform, not just to disseminate information about their brand, but also to gather valuable data in real-time.

Social media analytics should be viewed as a powerful research tool that can lead to new product innovations, forecast sales, evaluate customer service, mitigate reputation risks and so much more. Here are a few ways to frame up how the data available on social media platforms can be leveraged on the enterprise level.

How To Use Social Media Analytics

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, once said, “the goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight”. One of the most important things to understand about big data is that it has to be turned into something useful.

It’s one thing to have all the information. It’s another to turn it into useful insights and to use those insights for real business outcomes.

Market Research

Traditional market research approaches include things like focus groups and surveys. These are highly structure environments that is aimed at looking for specific metrics regarding how people feel about a product, service or brand.

A focus group may be assembled based on certain demographics. For example, a group of stay-at-home moms may be convened to get their impressions on different brands of toothpaste. The facilitator may use a combination of structured questionnaires or open ended discussions to gather data.

A survey may entail contracting an outbound call center to contact people to get their opinions on various products. Technology has even allowed for robots to call people to get their opinion. Online surveys have also been a great tool to efficiently gather relevant data.

Social media is in a completely different universe when it comes to market research. Now, instead of getting a small group to offer opinions on your brand, you can gather literally millions of comments and opinions on any given topic, brand, product, company, etc. It’s taken the entire idea of focus groups and surveys to entirely another level.

Digital Ad Targeting

Another powerful way to utilize social media analytics is to become ultra-targeted in your digital advertising. Traditional advertising included getting broad stroke demographic data on who watches certain TV shows, read certain magazines and newspapers, etc.

Now, instead of targeting broad groups of people with similar interests, you can now target down to the person and what their interests are. What people post on their social media profiles gives you huge insights on who they are and what they want to buy.


One of the leaders in this field is a company called NetBase. They don’t believe social media analytics should live in a silo.

On the contrary, NetBase incorporates other data and business intelligence, along with the social media data, to paint a big picture and to get the full story on what customers want.