Datasift: Social Media Information You Can Act On

Datasift has released a new query builder for customers working with social media. It answers a simple question: what do you do as a company, with all that data, all the Tweets, Facebook and blog comments about you? It turns out, that if you can really focus in on the comments about you, about your industry, about what customers are thinking, the answer is a goldmine of connection to your best customers and a key to going viral.

Before we dive into that treasure trove, a tour of the builder gives a hands on feel for just how simple it is to create a query. I created one in less than 60 seconds following Datasift's instructions. Results are pictured below (see stream on the right side).

And as I was building it, one stage looked like this:

Datasift has a REST API and a streaming API.

The goal for Datasift is to give its users information about their customers and potential customers that they can act on. According to Venturebeat, outspoken CEO Rob Bailey stated, “I call bullshit on the term ‘ Big Data.’ First of all, the big data problem has been around since before there were computers. Too many companies focus on managing big volumes of big data without focusing on end solutions and providing answers for customers.”

For an excellent overview of what he means by end solutions and answers, see his talk at the Social Media's Strategy Summit in late September. He covered seven measurable actions companies can take with regard to social media, which was also featured as an article in Forbes:

  1. Monitor your brand and industry;
  2. Build a demographic picture of your social audience and engagers;
  3. Serve your customers better by understanding what they "Like";
  4. Measure the social engagement of your content;
  5. Use public sentiment to create predictive models;
  6. Identify prospective customers with "needs" and "intents";
  7. Extend your business intelligence with social data.

In the talk, he pointed out that companies who handle social media well do more than just respond to negative tweets and comments. For their biggest fans they enter into conversations, learning as much as possible, often giving them great service. He gave as an example the chasm between United Airlines, which didn't seem to care what he tweeted about them, and Virgin America, who responded to a tweet concerning a cancelled flight by booking him on a new one.

Bailey gave the example of Taco Bell, who had learned that there was a lot of buzz prior to the launch of new products. When launching the next product, a Doritos taco, they focused on promoting it in social media, and broke all sales records, reaching 10 million tacos sold in 10 weeks.

Bailey says that the best companies are able to reach out to potential customers, and gave the example of a company reaching out to a Datasift staff member who was looking for new lead management software. Without waiting for the employee of Datasift to contact them, they struck up a conversation as soon as they heard on social media that she was looking.

He concluded by saying that the future of marketing will be about conversations, which is why Salesforce purchased companies like Radiant6 and Buddy Media. As an example of those conversations, he says he often stays at a particular hotel when in New York. Once, he tweeted, "I'm thinking of going to New York," and the hotel contacted him with an invite.

For a look inside the infrastructure needed to Parse all this social data, see DataSift's guest post, Historical Architecture: Data Mining Billions of Tweets, by Datasift's Developer Relations Manager Stewart Townsend.

Be sure to read the next Social article: Video: Social at Scale