By PowerBuy // 8 August 2015 // Related Categories: Tips

As of August 2015, there were more than 1.5 billion Facebook users and about 304 million active users on Twitter. Instagram has 300 million users of its own, and other social media services like Snapchat and Tumblr boast many millions more.

These social websites have generated an unprecedented quantity of data, revealing how people connect, what their interests are, and how they feel about different products and services. Here are seven ways you can take advantage of this social data and turn its insights into tangible business benefits.

Predict demand

When you ‘like’ something on Facebook or retweet something on Twitter, you reveal how you feel about different trends in popular culture. Multiply this individual response by millions of users and clear patterns emerge from the data, allowing marketers to predict new fashions and take advantage of them.

Understand product life cycles

Once a new product is launched, social networks provide companies with direct and immediate feedback. Sometimes this is positive; sometimes it’s not what you might have hoped for (consider, for example, the photos of ‘bent’ iPhones that flooded Twitter after the release of the iPhone 6). Either way, it can help you understand what your consumers like and dislike and, in turn, allow you to predict each product’s life cycle.

Explore new ways of doing business

The data from social networks is allowing companies to transform the way they do business. Some banks, for example, are now using social data to help screen loan applicants and develop risk profiles. Other businesses, like Yelp and TripAdvisor, have turned crowd-sourced reviews into a commodity in their own right.

Optimise pricing

As people switch between their social networks and their favourite online retailers, they leave a clear trail from which, over time, a unique profile emerges. Businesses can use this data to understand shopping habits and use price optimisation software to determine what to charge for new products.

Improve product safety

Social data can be used to improve product safety in several ways. Firstly, it allows consumers to communicate with each other about unexpected defects or, in the case of things like makeup and pharmaceuticals, potentially harmful interactions. Secondly, businesses can use social data to understand how products are used and, in the case of product recall, contact customers directly to mitigate damage.

Understand other businesses

If social data has given us one thing, it’s transparency—and not just when it comes to your customers, but when it comes to other businesses too. You can use social data to understand where your competitors and partners stand in the market. This information is particularly useful if it pertains to a potential supplier. Knowing that a supplier appears to be running smoothly can really boost your confidence in them.

Hire better candidates

The process of using social data to screen individual candidates is now well known and widespread. But you can also use social data to find candidates and advertise roles within your business to target demographics. In fact, a May 2011 report by Jobvite found that 80 percent of recruiters use social media to source new talent.

Just the beginning…

We’ve touched upon just a few of the ways in which you can use social data to improve your business and the experience it offers to each customer. What matters most is that you start taking advantage of this valuable resource as soon as possible—and then the possibilities really are endless.

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