Facebook To Share Data With Marketers: What It Means For Businesses And Users



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To many, social media is the holy grail of customer data. Find a way to harness that data, and you’ll gain a significant advantage over your competitors. That’s why Facebook grabbed the attention of many businesses and marketers when it announced the release of a new tool called Topic Data. This tool is part of a new partnership with DataSift, a data analytics company that has developed cloud computing platforms for social media networks delivering actionable data for use in developing applications. Many are viewing the recent announcement as a major turning point in the effort to gather and use customer data for businesses. In essence, Facebook is ready to start sharing more data with marketers, but that leaves many questions still unanswered. What will this mean for businesses in the future, and what impact will it have on Facebook’s current users?

First, it’s important to go over exactly what Topic Data is and how it is currently being used. In a nutshell, Topic Data takes information found on Facebook, collects it, aggregates it, and presents it as a way to show what Facebook users are doing, what they’re saying, what they’re using, and their involvement in any number of activities, events, and trends. Topic Data is basically seen as the next big leap in uncovering social media trends and patterns. While the concept behind Topic Data is certainly intriguing, it’s also only in a testing stage as evidenced by its availability being limited to a certain number of DataSift partners. Wider availability is expected once any problems are smoothed out.

So with Topic Data set to be launched to the wider world some time in the near future, what can businesses do with it (once they pay for it, of course)? After all, gaining important information on customers through social media isn’t exactly a new idea. Businesses have been using social listening tools for years now, taking the data they collect and converting it into better marketing efforts. So what sets Topic Data apart from previous strategies? The key, as Facebook and social media experts describe it, is in the sample size. Previous social media data gathering efforts have had to look at a small portion of the population. With Topic Data, organizations will be able to look at data collected from the entirety of Facebook’s 1.2 billion regular users. That large sample size means more accurate results, giving companies greater understanding in what current and future customers are talking about. This in turn will help businesses craft more customized messages and more effective marketing campaigns. By identifying trends, companies will be able to get ahead of the curve and take advantage of these patterns more quickly. Topic Data is also expected to be versatile, with any business being able to use and get value from it.

The benefits for businesses are definitely a drawing point, but what about Facebook users? How will they be affected by the new tool? Undoubtedly, many users are uncertain about having their personal information collected and seen by countless organizations. To ease their concerns, Facebook has stated that Topic Data aggregates data, meaning all data is collected and analyzed together and not individually. In addition, users’ identities are protected since the entire data gathering process is anonymized. DataSift has called this practice privacy-safe data processing, maintaining user privacy while still collecting valuable data. Facebook has also reassured users that their privacy rights will not be infringed upon, though how much that will ease user worries remains to be seen. All in all, the overall Facebook experience will likely not be affected much.

Topic Data essentially combines Facebook user data and big data analytics to provide companies with deeper insight about customers. It’s an obvious move on Facebook’s part since data and advertising are major sources of revenue. Many social media platforms — like Twitter — have already implemented similar tools as well. By finding out what people are talking about, businesses will be able to target audiences more accurately with tailored messages. While Facebook users may not see big changes, they’re being reassured that private information will stay private and anonymous. Marketers and businesses are excited about these developments, so for now, we’ll have to wait and see how advertising changes in the near future.

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