Be data savvy not data driven with social media

A new guide from the cross-industry #IPASocialWorks Group, which reveals how marketers and agencies can best use social media data to personalise customers’ experiences, advises organisations to adopt personalisation strategically rather than because data makes it technically possible.

Entitled ‘One Not Everyone’, the guide highlights how personalisation is part of the evolution of the brand experience and acknowledges that social media is a rich source of data which practitioners can employ to tailor content and services in valuable ways for small groups and even individuals. 

However, it warns about ignoring the limitations of such data and the potential downside of delivering personalisation based on data-driven algorithms without a coherent strategy for how this respects individuals’ privacy and adds value for both the customer and the brand.

It recommends that organisations must strike a balance between personalising offerings in a bid to make them more relevant to consumers, and maintaining reach for their brands.

For example, the report highlights while algorithms can be a powerful tool for predicting consumers’ preferences based on their past behaviour or that of similar customers, algorithms can also act to reinforce people’s existing behaviours and limit their ability to discover unexpected information or choices.

Inflexible use of algorithms to tailor audiences’ experiences can also work to limit how much of a brand’s offering they are exposed to, effectively diminishing the brand’s reach.  Additionally, lack of data about new customers or cases in which customers have a shared account pose further challenges for organisations trying to develop personalised features based on users’ data.

Says report author Celina Burnett, Marketing Analytics Lead, ASOS and member of the #IPASocialWorks Group: “The insights we draw from data - and the uses we can put this insight to - rely on the availability, integrity, and completeness of the underlying dataset, as well as the way in which we treat and analyse it. Marketers should acknowledge any limitations to ensure the data informs their decisions, but does not dictate them.”

This is just one of the eight key findings from the #IPASocialWorks report written by Celina Burnett, Marketing Analytics Lead, ASOS and Colin Strong, Head of Behavioural Science at Ipsos, that showcases best practice principles for using social media and social media data to create more personalised consumer experiences; highlights personalised social case studies – including Coca-Cola, Spotify, BBC and O2, among others; and anticipates future issues surrounding the use of social media and data for personalisation.

Key report findings:

1)     Personalisation is generating new ways for brands to create business and customer value

2)    Brands must strike a new balance between relevance and reach

3)    Identifying what ‘good’ looks like for customers and brand is key

4)    Social media can facilitate personalisation by brands

5)    Social can enable integrated personalisation if it is empowered across organisations

6)    Be data savvy, not data driven

7)    Brand experience will evolve in the era of personalisation

8)    The role of agencies must evolve to help clients realise the potential of data and personalisation.

Says Stephen Maher, Chair of #IPA Social Works; CEO, MBA and Chairman of The Marketing Society: “We hope you find this Guide useful as we continue our #IPASocialWorks journey towards understanding the true business value of social media to brands – value that many of us intuitively believe in, but where we crave more robust evidence and where we need to keep learning together as social morphs excitedly every day.”

Says Nigel Gwilliam, Consultant Head of Media and Emerging Tech, IPA: “As this guide reveals – with the aid of some sterling case studies - there is a clear value exchange between brands and consumers when it comes to personalising social media. There is, however, a careful line to tread between creating value and becoming overly personal, whilst also having to navigate and adhere to the heavy regulation in this area. This is only set to get tougher with the new Government Data Protection Regulation that comes into force in May 2018. Those who can walk this tightrope will no doubt come out on top.”

Purchase the guide here, £30 to IPA members and £60 to non-members.

#IPASocialWorks is the first global cross-industry body to help brands, agencies, researchers and social media owners develop a more ROI-driven and robust approach to measuring social. It is a collaboration between the IPA, The Marketing Society and the MRS, and supported by Professor Patrick Barwise, Emeritus Professor at the London Business School, Facebook and Twitter. Previous #IPASocialWorks publications include the guide ‘Measuring Not Counting – How to evaluate social media for marketing communications’ and ‘Integrated, not Isolated – How to improve customer insight by embracing social media data’; as well as a bank of exemplary social, peer-reviewed case studies including O2, TfL, IKEA, Coca-Cola, and more.

#IPASocialWorks will be hosting a session at Advertising Week Europe at 1pm on Tuesday 21 March. Chaired by Mark Earls, the Herdmeister, the session will thrash out how to get the most from social. Find out more here.

Last updated 21 January 2022