Facebook has enormous potential as a tool for marketing research. All those likes, comments and shares provide a treasure trove of data on how people feel about brands, products, trends and more. Much of this information is hidden from marketers for privacy purposes. Though a partnership with DataSift, Facebook plans to open up that some of that data to marketers. Facebook announced a plan that will give marketers in-depth insights into consumer trends though topic data.
Topic data shows marketers what audiences are saying on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities. Marketers can use the information from topic data to “make better decisions about how they market on Facebook and other channels, and build product roadmaps”.
To illustrate the potential of this data, a brand can do research to see what people are saying about their products or brands, learn how they feel about issues related to the products or services the brand provide, or see which similar products are getting a lot of attention. This kind of information was available before, but it was never based on a sample size as large as this, and it wasn’t possible to get in-depth insights on demographics.
“Marketers want to understand what people think about topics related to their business, so they can make their products and marketing more relevant to their customers,” the company wrote on its business blog. “In the past they’ve looked at the things people share online to get an idea of what people care about, but, until now, the information available offered a limited view. To make marketing content more relevant for people and more effective for marketers, we’re introducing topic data to select Facebook partners.”
What makes this new data possible is a system from DataSift that surfaces data from Facebook while protecting user privacy. The system, called PYLON, which was created for developers who want to create insights from the billions of posts and engagements that take place on Facebook every day. The sources of aggregate and anonymized information include public posts, non-public posts, and engagement data.
“The partnership with Facebook leverages DataSift’s technology to aggregate and deliver summary results from topic data, enabling developers to build innovative marketing applications that surface insights into what audiences are saying on Facebook,” said Nick Halstead, the Founder and CEO of DataSift. “We believe there is limitless potential for how Facebook topic data can help marketers – from researching the latest fashion trends to identifying the next big thing.”
Facebook has gone to a lot of effort to ensure that data they released doesn’t compromise the privacy of Facebook users. Like other insights information on Facebook, all the information used for topic data is anonymized and aggregated. Even though only select partners and marketers will have access to topic data, Facebook won’t be disclosing personally identifying information to anyone. Additionally, the results delivered to marketers are analyses and interpretations of the information, not actual topic data.
Though Topic Data is limited to DataSift partners, this doesn’t mean the information is beyond the reach of small business owners and marketers. DataSift’s partners include some of the large names in marketing software. Oracle, Sysomos, and Hootsuite were among the first to get Topic Data integrated into their system.
“We have been successfully working with DataSift to provide our customers with social data insights into their businesses for years. We are very excited about Facebook topic data and its potential to elevate social media monitoring to a more useful and insightful level,” said Ryan Holmes the CEO of Hootsuite.
Topic Data will get a relatively slow roll out from Facebook, as they work out what data to make available and the best way to make it useful to marketers. Only select partners from DataSift in the U.S. and U.K. will be able to use Topic Data first, with use expanding to other regions in time.
For more information on changes at Facebook, read this article on Facebook’s plan to remove certain kinds of inactive accounts.