Data Democratization: How to Open the Door.

The true value of your company’s data is only realized when it is shared – but what does that mean in practice?
Ben Lloyd
May 30, 2017 - 6 min. read

The Cloud has helped democratize applications by making the same cutting-edge tools used by enterprise-class firms available to even the smallest firms on a subscription basis. Leveling the playing field – at least in terms of software – means that the smallest start-ups can compete with well-established enterprise players.

This democratization principle can also be applied internally to the data your business stores and collects. Elliot Panaman explains the concept brilliantly:

“Data is everywhere, but it now comes in such huge volumes, and often in such complex formats, that it is near impossible for the layman to comprehend. Being able to understand data has, for a long time, been the preserve of a handful of highly paid data scientists and analysts. However, organizations are increasingly realizing the benefits of adopting a collaborative, holistic approach to drawing insights from their data, one in which all levels – from CEO to shop floor – can access the data analytics power needed for effective decision-making.

The idea of helping everybody to access and understand data is known as data democratization. Data democratization means breaking down silos and providing access to data when and where it is needed at any given moment.”

The information your organization holds is a goldmine, including data gathered through social listening – if it can be shared and analyzed by your entire team.

Data democratization and marketing
Although every part of your business benefits from data democratization, marketing can lead the way. Targeting, audience segmentation and personalization of campaigns are all heavily dependent on data for instance. The better you know and understand your target audience, the better you can target messaging and offers.

Take email marketing for instance. The State of Inbound Marketing 2017 report shows that 86% of customers prefer to receive marketing communications via email. Applying modern email tracking techniques, even marketers with relatively moderate budgets can accurately measure message opens and click through rates, giving them insights into which messages have the greatest resonance with their audience. However, these tools cannot show why recipients acted in the way they did.

This level of insight is vital to personalization – marketers need to know what makes individuals tick if they are to reach them effectively.

Social media is the great democratizer
To achieve this level of granularity, marketers need to be able to collect and analyze information about prospects from everywhere. Aside from email analytics, they will benefit from being able to link those insights to the buyer behavior information held in the sales team’s customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Perhaps the largest source of potential insight is social media. Facebook and Twitter users regularly share their purchasing journey online with followers – and anyone else involved in social listening. In fact, Facebook is able to track their users in millions of sites outside of Facebook. Equipped with the right tools, any marketer can tap into this vast, free information resource – without the assistance of an expensive analyst service.

“Equipped with the right tools, any marketer can tap into this vast, free information resource – without the assistance of an expensive analyst service.”

In fact, the data-driven marketer must be using every available data store to better understand their markets. 92% of online adults have at least one social media account, making Twitter, Facebook and Instagram the perfect place to gather intelligence that helps you build a picture of the people most interested in your products and services.

You must tap into social listening
Using this democratized data is essential to understanding market trends – what is increasing and decreasing in popularity for instance. Perhaps even early warning about what the next big social trend will be.

Social listening also helps you better understand your competitors’ strategies. How are they interacting with your target audience? What is resonating with people? And what is clearly failing? You can use these insights to refine your own strategies and campaigns.

If you put these factors together, you gain a deep understanding of target group behavior, allowing you to build highly accurate, effective personas for future campaigns across all channels.

Democratized data still needs structure
The hectic, disjointed nature of social media should not be replicated in your analytical processes. Insights require structure – otherwise, they will be “best guess” estimates, with a lot of gut-feel to provide missing context.

You need to build a structure that defines how data will be collected, analyzed and shared across your business. Obviously, your choice of social listening tool will have a huge part to play in this process – the easier the better. Data democratization means taking social media from a marketing-only activity and making that information available to everyone in the business. This may require a significant change of mindset from marketers and other business unit leaders in your organization.

Joined-up technology supports joined-up thinking
A massive repository of social data is not in itself hugely useful, even if everyone does have access to it. Each corporate department has their own line-of-business applications where the majority of their work and data-driven analysis is performed.

As well as encouraging people to develop a joined-up mindset about social data, you need to consider how that information can be joined into existing workflows. How can you make the results of your social listening efforts available to the other applications used by your non-marketing colleagues?

Again, your choice of social listening platform will define how easy or difficult this joined-up approach is. Ideally, you are looking for a social tool that offers open APIs so that listening data can be shared directly with the company CRM application. This will make key information available to sales and service teams – as well as your marketers. Immediately you increase the reach and value of the information your team is using.

Syncing CRM and social data is a giant leap in allowing social data to be shared across the company (this example is from Falcon Audience).

For the social media marketer, social listening may be about identifying information that can be used to formulate new campaigns. But for your service department, that same information can be used to identify unhappy customers – or opportunities to demonstrate exceptional support to people struggling with your products and services. In this way, non-sales related activities become a form of marketing, simply because they are carried out in the public arena.

With democratized social data, the support team can then measure how the effect of their support provisions – does it result in happier customers? Are they taking the right approach? Does social media improve the quality of support given? Are they able to lower the cost of providing customer support using social channels? At the very least, they will not miss customer complaints online again.

Choose carefully
As a global phenomenon, social media attracts users from across the world, providing marketers with a global focus group to analyze. However, personal data needs to be handled extremely carefully, both to maintain the trust of your potential customers, and to avoid legal problems.

As you begin to build data democratizing frameworks, make sure you pay careful attention to how personal data is being stored and handled. Your business has a duty to protect the privacy of individuals, so you must ensure that information is kept safe from loss or theft. Failure to protect information could be catastrophic for your profits too – 58% of consumers will avoid a provider who has experienced a data or security breach.

Spread the love, share your data
Often marketers are regarded as being detached from the rest of the business – your colleagues may have no idea how your campaigns and activities affect the organization. The age of data democratization should not only answer their questions but also allow them to play a more integral role in your campaigns moving forward.

To learn more about data democratization, social listening integration, or to arrange a demo of the Falcon platform, feel free to get in touch.

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