The amount of data businesses have today to analyze and utilize is unprecedented, and it’s literally growing every second. With so much data available, some businesses don’t quite know what to do—but there’s one avenue it can be applied to that can change everything: social media marketing.

Social Media: A Data-Driven World

Social media may have started out as a way for friends to connect with each other, family, and celebrities, but now it’s all about business. Social media networks have covered this deception well, and the majority of the younger generation and those not embroiled in business probably don’t realize how much their actions on social media are being tracked and monitored for commercial gain.

The truth is, social media isn’t just a factor that influences big data - it’s a part of it. According to industry experts, 90 percent of data we use today was collected over the past two years, and 80 percent of it has come from what analysts call “unstructured” sources, such as social media.

Views, likes, shares, follows, retweets, downloads, and comments all count as information that can be used to interpret what the customers want and how businesses must deliver if they wish to stay competitive.  It’s the heart of data collection, so obviously things are bound to change.

Social Media Marketing Will Never Be the Same

Since social media and data are entirely inseparable, it becomes clear that using big data through social media is no longer an option, but a necessity. Every business that has found success has done so by riding the waves of social media and its copious amounts of information regarding the consumer. Here are just a few of the ways that social media marketing has changed under the influence of big data collection.

Enhanced Customer Service: Where would corporations be today without data that tells them exactly where their customers are, what they want, and how to deliver it? Everything from the advertisements running on Facebook to the content that pops up on your Twitter feed is designed to make the consumer’s life just a little bit better.

More Engaged Employees: The data used in social media makes the job hunt easier. The information provided helps you find employees who are devoted to your cause and are genuinely interested in helping the consumer. Companies can advertise job postings through sites like LinkedIn and attract employees through engaging Facebook posts. With more engaged employees comes a much better social experience.

New Predictions: A major aspect of social media data is the ability to predict trends in order to keep up with the customers and the hottest products. Instead of relying exclusively on past performance to tell them what they should be improving, they can look at real data that gauges the likely effectiveness of a strategy.

Improved operating margins are a big perk here. According to data from McKinsey & Company, retail businesses can use big data to increase their operating margins by more than 60 percent. This can foster development of new approaches that can predict customer behavior and improve A/B testing, resulting in better products and services overall.

Individualized Algorithms: Competition is a very important part of the free market. It keeps prices fair and encourages businesses to thrive. However, when businesses become too similar due to competition, it leads to businesses shutting down. Big data offers more unique, customized algorithms for businesses that allow them to be truly different from their competitors.

With the use of such algorithms, businesses can finally pay more attention to their own processes because they’re finally following distinct patterns. It becomes less about the measurable and comparable quantities of your social interactions, and more about targeting the customer and the benefits that follow.

Post originally published on SocialMediaToday