Unleashing the power of social media

The HITS Europe Annual summit in London last week covered a wide range of topical issues for the media industry, including blockchain, real time viewer analytics and the importance of metadata to the creation and distribution of content.

On behalf of MTM I chaired a discussion on the role of social media in the broadcast industry with two fantastic experts – Sam Coates, Head of Data and Analytics at Ogilvy, and Catherine Cooke, Digital Insights Director at Mindshare.

Several key themes emerged from the discussion:

Social media data is now helping brands make business decisions . . .

Traditionally, social media data has been used to measure the impact of a business decision or campaign, but now brands are starting to use data to understand consumer thought and using that insight to inform their business decisions.

Everyone is using data now – if you can’t measure people’s feelings, you can’t understand what people want from you.”

. . . but businesses can use social media data more effectively

Businesses have tended to use social media reach as the primary metric for measuring and evaluating the impact of business decisions. However, this is often bought reach, meaning that businesses are not achieving much insight above confirming they got what they paid for. This, along with an oversimplification of data, has prevented businesses from using social media data as effectively as they could.

Some businesses need to take a step back and use a larger range of social media data points to give a holistic picture of their performance in a wider context.”

Agencies are encouraging businesses to use social media data in new ways – experimenting with emotional analysis through emoji reviews, for example, and collecting data to benchmark businesses against competitors.

While there are significant potential benefits to using social media data, there are several challenges to overcome

The speakers outlined the benefits to brands of using social media data – enabling them to understand how consumers viewed them relative to their competitors and to use consumer insights to shape their business strategy. However, businesses face a challenge in being able to see a data stream within its wider context.

We can’t just look at one set of data – people tend to think of a handful of things as fundamental but forget to see the bigger picture.

They also flagged the challenge of persuading creatively-minded people to work with data as in input into the decision-making process, rather than as solely a method for measuring the effectiveness of a decision – particularly in cases where data teams sit far away from the creatives.

GDPR and concerns around data protection have made it more difficult to obtain data and metrics from social media platforms and while social media is now synonymous with everyday life, it’s relatively short existence – Facebook has only been in mainstream use for just over a decade(!) – makes analysing longer term trends more challenging. Businesses also need to be conscious of the risk of overattributing social media data and need to consider the motivations behind people’s social media activity.

Social media can be really helpful for showing brands how people feel about them – but sometimes consumers just want free stuff.”

In addition, while social media data scraping tools are evolving continuously, there are limitations as to how much social listening tools can scrape and how much they can breakdown data into verticals and demographic groups.

Most have now understood the importance of social media data

Unsurprisingly, tech start-ups and disruptor businesses have been quick to embrace social media data to support their business making decisions, while traditional and well-established firms are still a little more cautious!

Evaluation using social listening is just a glimpse of how social media data can and will create value for broadcasters in the future

Our speakers believe that the current ways in which companies use social media data are just the tip of the iceberg. Watch this space for more details on some hugely exciting developments around social media data tools.


If you would like to discuss your views on social media and how it will affect the broadcast industry, do not hesitate to get in touch.

About Resham Kotecha

Resham Kotecha is a Consultant at MTM, working in the Strategy team. With past experience in politics and finance, she brings a range of skills to her work, helping some of the biggest brands in the media and telecoms sector on strategic projects.