The Ultimate Guide to a Data-driven Social Strategy.

Here’s why you should absolutely have a data-driven social media strategy and how to get started building one for your business.
Roza Tsvetkova
June 16, 2021 - 8 min. read

Do you actively use up-to-date data to create and power your social media strategy? We all know we should, but is it truly reflected in your day-to-day efforts? 

We discussed it at a very inspiring session at DMWF 2021, “Use Your Data – Building a Competitive Social Strategy Through a Data-Driven Culture”. It proved that data is by far the most powerful fuel to activate your marketing game plan and help you make better business decisions.  

Here are some tips and insights from that great DMWF 2021 talk with Wiebke Leffers, Senior Customer Strategist at, and Mercedes Lois Bull, Product Marketing Manager at Brandwatch. 

Why is data important for your social media strategy? 

Our digital world is hyperconnected and changes at the speed of light. As a result, brands need to adapt quickly. Data can help them understand their consumers’ needs and behaviors in real-time and reach faster when trends change over time. 

Here are a few interesting facts for context.  

Small (well, agile) companies perform better 

The market demand creates competitive pressure and smaller, agile companies like Airbnb are faster to react and adapt.  

This disrupts bigger businesses and entire markets that need to face the new consumer behaviors. 

Technological advancements change lives  

 Technological advancements like 5G also show us the potential to transform not only the speed of communication but also the role of data across industries and societies. 

 “Imagine that billions of connected devices can gather and share information in real-time. This would reduce road accidents or deploy emergency services. So, it’s going to change fundamentally our day-to-day lives.” 

Mercedes Lois Bull, Product Marketing Manager at Brandwatch 

Consumer opinions power brand strategies 

Consumer behaviors are also evolving very quickly due to all the new opportunities the digital world brings. 

For example, Veggie Pret, a Vegan and Vegetarian offering from Pret a Manger, is a famous sandwich chain. This new type of service was created based on data for the increased demand for plantbased diets across London. 

This new type of service shows, your brand needs to adjust to those changes in consumer behavior in a timely manner. Having the proper data setup will help you get there. 

Veggie Pret

“For brands today, this century’s ‘roaring 20s’ will be defined by dramatic shifts in how consumers buy and use products. Brands will need to rediscover the elements that influence consumer purchase decisions in a rapidly evolving environment. As Charles Darwin said, it’s those most adaptable to change that will survive.” 

Mercedes Lois Bull, Product Marketing Manager at Brandwatch 

How to use digital consumer insights to form a winning strategy?

We need agile research methods to make sense of our audience’s behavior. Traditional market research like focus groups and surveys is not enough anymore. Those will give you a sneak peek into your community insights, but they would also take too much of your resources.  

Utilizing digital data in a new smart way is the answer. We can also call it the new marketing superpower. 

“Knowledge is power. And in the world of marketing, knowledge means data.” 

~ Wiebke Leffers, Senior Customer Strategist at 

 These days, every decision you make about your marketing efforts regarding reacting to a competitor or consumer behaviors should come from digital data. And social media is at the core of it. 

But how do you make sure not to get lost in this vast amount of data? And what is the smart way to analyze everything and put it into action?

Cluster your data 

 We need to investigate our owned and paid channels—no doubt about that. But don’t also forget to analyze your earned media results, industry, and competitors’ benchmark data. 

Cluster your data

Ideally, you should cover all five clusters:  

  • Owned media 

These are your channels on social as well as your website, blog, etc.  

  • Paid media 

Your advertising strategy defines the paid media you reach. For example, all your social media ads fall into this category. 

  • Earned media  

This is the effect social media has on your brand. It’s the additional reach you gain through any promotional efforts different than paid ads or branding. 

  • Industry 

Don’t forget to follow and take into consideration the relevant data for your industry.  

  • Competitors 

Gather data on what your competitors are doing right and try to be creative. 

These five buckets are your starting point. Now, let’s dive into what is the key to analyzing your performance. 

Measure your data in a smart way 

It’s time to look closely into your marketing and social media strategy goals to begin your data analysis.  

Let’s say you are interested in increasing your brand’s awareness on social. Then, your strategy should reflect that goal.  

Consider creating awareness campaigns, repurposing content, or doing influencer marketing. 

To make sure all your creative work can be measured effectively, connect your goals to social media KPIs that make sense to your business.


Defining your social media objectives and the connected KPIs is the foundation for your social media analysis. 

Social Media KPIs

But what do these KPIs tell us? To answer this question, you need to create your internal benchmarks.  

They should be based on your data from the past year for each social media channel. For example: 

  • Average channel impressions  
  • Average post impressions  
  • Average post impressions per content type 
  • Average reach per post  
  • Average video views 
  • Campaign averages 

This will help you connect the data puzzle and figure out which content works, the successful formats for you, and which platforms support your goals. 

Benchmark against your competitors 

Now that you’ve set your goals and KPIs, find a realistic benchmark against your competitors. 

Let’s say your brand is a small ice cream company. Should you compare yours with Ben & Jerry’s? The answer is yes, but not only Ben & Jerry’s. Aiming for the stars and comparing your brand to industry leaders is always interesting, but you should also set more realistic benchmarks.  

Consider looking into brands of a similar size that can fairly be considered direct competitors. That’ll give you a nice mix of comparable and inspirational brands.  

Also, think about your markets, the company’s structure on a global level, and the brands that might not be your direct competitors but have a similar business model. 

Get more inspiration to benchmark against competitors here. 

Benchmark against your competitors

Get to know your buyer persona 

Do you know who your ideal customer is? Take some time to research your audience data and get to know the people you want to reach on social media. 

Okay, so what you see above could be an example of a social media manager persona, right? 

But more often than not, your entire audience will be more complex than that. So, try to explore at least a couple of different buyer personas that together represent the majority of the people who buy your products or services.  

“Lifestyles are dynamic and controversial, depending on what life situation, we might be in. We all have our views and believes and that’s where marketers need to start. For example, let’s look at the millennials. They are environmentally conscious, vegetarian or vegan, but they still want to fly and travel. That’s a challenge we as marketers need to consider.”  

Wiebke Leffers, Senior Customer Strategist at 

Software solutions can help you get to know your audience better. We can help you discover great for your social media community via our valuable tools.

Create personalized marketing campaigns that resonate with your audience. 

Here is a great example from the German Rail Company. They used real-time data to create a compelling social media campaign as a reaction to a new trend 

They saw that 72% of Germans were spending their vacations abroad. As such, they wanted to find a way to get Germans to travel within their own country again.  

So, they built a campaign around the many undiscovered and beautiful locations in Germany, which were also cheaper and arguably more environmentally friendly to visit. 

What German Rail Company did in this campaign was: 

  • Define their goal and audience clearly:  
    They wanted to get Germans to go on holiday in Germany instead of going abroad. 
  • Define their buyer persona’s behaviors and needs, like the desire for Germans to travel and the fact that they do so abroad. 
  • Set a clear message:  
    Germany has many undiscovered and beautiful locations that are cheaper and environment-friendly. 
  • Translate their company goals and challenges into a successful campaign by showcasing all the amazing spots to travel to in Germany. 

And they did it fabulously! 

How to create a data-driven culture 

Listening to your audience is the key to activating your data and understanding your community on social.  

Here are some tips to help you optimize this process for your brand and improve your results on social. 

Hear the pulse of your audience  

Start by identifying your audience and invest some time to listen to their conversations online.  

Let’s say that your target audience is food lovers. Try to identify what connects them all as well as what sets them apart.  

How would you tackle the vegetarian or vegan market? Can you adapt to it? What about your competitors? 

 Source: Brandwatch 


“It’s not enough to simply look at the basic demographics. It’s our interests and affinities that define who we are.” 

Mercedes Lois Bull, Product Marketing Manager at Brandwatch 

You can potentially discover a new market for your brand or boost and expand your current business. 

Make sure you cover all relevant channels 

You need to identify customer journey touchpoints.  

Listening on social media is very rewarding, but you should also consider other online channels like blogs, forums, news, and review sites. 

Follow your brand mentions on social and use tools to set up alerts to not miss on any of those.  

Capture your audience insights in real-time. 

It’s essential to stay up-to-date and follow conversations in real-time.  

This will not only help your brand stay on top of trendy conversations but also prevent crisis situations by detecting peaks and spikes on your social media data. 

Let’s wrap it up! 

More than ever before, data is the driving force of our marketing strategies, and it should lay at the heart of every decision we make.  

At, we’re passionate about data and how it activates your social media strategy and helps grow your business. Let us show you how you can activate the power of data for your business. 

We are happy to announce that recently we’ve integrated Brandwatch technology into Falcon. By combining Brandwatch’s consumer intelligence data with’s social media management solutions, you get more innovation in data science and AI and, well, overall just better data coverage.

Meet the DMWF speakers: 

Wiebke Leffers, Senior Customer Strategist at  

Wiebke works as a Customer Strategist and Keynote speaker at Together with her customers she builds social media strategies, connects social media goals to company goals, and defines the right KPIs to measure success. She truly believes that companies are missing out if they don’t build personal interactions and create a loyal community on social media. According to Wiebke, social media strikes the perfect balance between the creative space and hardcore data analytics. In a nutshell, she can help you prove why social media is an essential part of every company’s marketing mix.  

Mercedes Lois Bull, Product Marketing Manager at Brandwatch 

As part of the product marketing team at world-leading digital consumer intelligence company Brandwatch, Mercedes is responsible for creating the strategy for all product launches. She loves creating resources and content to help organizations make the best use of Brandwatch’s pioneering technologies to help them better understand and predict consumer behavior. Prior to Brandwatch, Mercedes worked alongside global brands including American Express and L’Oréal, and her experience spans product marketing, digital and print advertising, brand strategy, and content creation.