Do Businesses Really Value Social Media Data?

Loraine Lawson
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Three Big Problems Big Data Will Create in 2014

There seems to be sort of a broad agreement that social data is valuable—in theory.

It’s easy to see why social media data attracts interest. A recent report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project found 70 percent of adults online now use Facebook. Forty-two percent of online adults are on multiple social networking sites, reports Information Management.

It’s not easy to generate those kinds of numbers. While I’m not sure how many adults are actually online in the U.S., 70 percent of them must be quite a few eyeballs—especially since 63 percent of Facebook users visit the site every day.


When you consider that only 46.3 percent of households nationwide watched the Super Bowl last year, you can understand why organizations are so interested in social media data.

Still, there seems to be a lot of confusion about how to put that unstructured data to use. Of course, Big Data solutions can handle the data, but there must be more interest in actually integrating that data with existing data sets.

So the question becomes: How do you extract value from social media’s unstructured data?

Oracle has devoted an entire whitepaper on the topic, actually. “The Value of Social Data” notes that 97 percent of global marketing and IT executives place a high priority on becoming a socially enabled business.

The paper goes on to explain how you can integrate social media data into existing enterprise data, using Oracle’s solutions, of course.

But will you have to build your own solution to leverage social media data? Maybe not.

Recently, business data powerhouse Dun & Bradstreet announced a deal that will allow it to integrate unstructured social data into existing products, such as Hoovers, D&B360, D&B Direct and First Products, according to a recent Forbes column by Ben Kepes.

D&B isn’t really leaping into Big Data here; instead, the company will provide customers with social data delivered by its new partner, business analytics vendor FirstRain.

“In a move that Laura Kelly, senior vice president and chief product officer at D&B admitted to me was a competitive response to an increasing corporate awareness of the value of unstructured data, the integrated products will be available to existing D&B customers at no-extra cost,” Kepes writes.

Social media data that has been integrated and given to clients…for free? As Kepes notes, that could be interpreted as “an admission that enterprises aren’t buying into the idea of unstructured data’s value proposition on its own.”

FirstRain’s CEO Penny Herscher told him that the integration of unstructured data into sales and marketing apps “adds more value than when it stands alone,” he writes.

D&B Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer Laura Kelly told Kepes this is a competitive response to an increasing corporate awareness of the value of unstructured data.

Still, I see Kepes point: You have to wonder. If social data is so valuable, why add it on for free?



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 30, 2014 7:51 AM Michael R Levy Michael R Levy  says:
Loraine -- you pose a fair question, but you have misinterpreted your evidence. FirstRain is an excellent business news tracking platform with very broad high precision metatagging. In short, they are very good at filtering out non-business content and saying, "these stories are about this company, industry, or business topic." Two years ago, they developed their FirstTweets service which filters out 99.9% of the Twittersphere to identify the few Tweets that are of business relevance. They then tag them to companies. It is also a high precision service, but it is a relatively small feature of a broader news tracking, researching, and alerting service. So why did Hoover's embed FirstRain for free? Because they have long lagged in their news alerting and sales triggering features. They needed to take a bold step to catch up with InsideView and OneSource iSell. Both of these services offer strong news alerting and sales triggers for free. FirstTweets was simply part of the OEM bundling and gives Hoover's sales users a nice Twitter tracking feature. BTW, you misnamed one of D&B services. FirstResearch is an industry overview service for sales reps and relationship managers Reply

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