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The Most Common Ways Social Media Data is Misinterpreted

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There’s a side of social media that a lot of us don’t see. Behind all the Facebook ‘Likes’, the hashtags and re-tweets, there is a universe worth of data, information, analytics and statistics that sets the scene for the cultural phenomenon, or simply the next ad to show you. But data, like anything of importance in life, can be easily misunderstood and read incorrectly. Here are the most common ways social media date is misinterpreted.

The Lifeblood of Marketing

First, what is social media data? Social media data are the metrics and measurements of who is looking at what. It is the lifeblood of marketing in the 21st century. Social media data helps marketers, advertisers and providers understand their consumers, and try to predict where those consumers – and millions of others like them – will go next. And, of course, how to make money off them.

The Many Faces of Social Media Data

However, prediction is never an exact science, and it is disarmingly easy to make mistakes in understanding what those reams of social media data mean. One erroneous perspective is to simply consider what the data says. Forrester Research, an independent technology and market research company, states that the importance of social media data lies in who the data represents, why it represents the people it represents, and how it represents the people it represents.

To think of it another way, the novelty of simply accruing social media data has worn off, to the point that it is no longer accurate. The trend now is to look at social media data as part of a more diverse, nuanced and larger spectrum.

The problem lies in considering social media data isolated from the facets that both define and drive the data. Looking at only one element of information can blind marketers and advertisers to other, equally important dynamics of their consumers, both actual and potential.

So Much Data, So Many Mistakes

Forbes magazine points out that there’s so much social media data – 20 times the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress – that it’s just impossible to categorize all aspects of consumer Facebook ‘Likes’ retweets, Pinterest pins, etc. Any large business or organization that believes it can still hire someone to keep an eye on their Facebook page and Twitter feed grossly misinterprets the sheer volume of data that comes from those sources. Perhaps they’d be better off working with

Change is inevitable, and when the social media winds blow in a different direction, the data will paint a different picture, telling a new story. Misinterpreting what this means, by using outdated methods of monitoring social media data, or focusing on just one side of the stream, can irrevocably cripple an organization that is trying to ride the social media wave.

Categories: Technology
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