The ultimate guide to using social media data collection for marketing

This article will present you with the types of data points which can benefit businesses most when looking to perform data-driven marketing on social media. It will also introduce you to collection tools that can help you get a real-time feed of social media data without the need for coding, complex infrastructure or data scientists
10 min read
The ultimate guide to using social media data collection for marketing

Here is an index of the subjects we will discuss. Feel free to jump straight to the sections that interest you most:

What is social media marketing 

Social media marketing is part art, part science. It is about using data to identify which posts customers are engaging with and then creating content inspired by that to create brand awareness. 

It is about identifying new trends, and hashtags to enrich your company pages and paid ads. It is about identifying influencers in your space with a massive following and authority so that you can work together with them as your brand’s ambassador. There are a lot of other different social media marketing use cases, and we’ll dive into them soon.

Who uses data for social media marketing

Data for social media marketing is used by a wide variety of professionals including:

  • Independent freelance marketeers
  • Marketing agencies 
  • In-house marketing departments 
  • MarTech technologies and applications such as audience discovery tools, real-time ad optimization, and influencer discovery software 

It used to be the case that only well-funded marketing departments at huge firms could gain access to structured web Data-on-Demand. But with the advent of new data collections tools (as I will discuss more in-depth in a bit) professionals no longer need to maintain in-house infrastructure and DevOps teams in order to gain access to the data that they need.

How social media data is used 

Here are some of the more popular, and effective ways in which social media data is currently being used for marketing:

One: Social media groups for trending content 

By collecting data from specific groups on social media, businesses can better understand what kind of content their target audiences are most interested in. It can be used to follow certain hashtags, for example, and to easily find trends and popular topics. 

Two: Discussion forums to identify collective issues 

On Reddit, for example, there are subreddits about specific topics, some of which could be super helpful for businesses looking to solve a problem or provide a solution. In this case scenario, the data available on a given subreddit (e.g. can be utilized in order to identify what the biggest issues SEO specialists are dealing with at the moment. This would be based on the popularity of topics, contents of entries, as well as comments about specific cases that many professionals are currently encountering. 

A good example of this is a thread that is trending: ‘Do I need to submit all my Sitemaps?’. A company that offers sitemap indexation as part of their marketing tool can now push this feature front and center, now that they know it is of special interest to their target audiences. 

Three: Competitor ad/post analysis 

Digital retail companies work to improve their ad campaigns by finding the products with the highest Sell-Through Rates (STRs) to promote, based on customer geolocation. Marketers can now see which titles and content their competitors use to promote similar products as well as which of the posts were the most engaged with. 

Some of the issues the audience might have include: too much manual work when looking to find new employees on LinkedIn, a lack of understanding of what their customers are actually looking for, a statistics gap regarding a certain issue or topic, the ability to collect data about viral organic posts belonging to competitors, and more.

Four: Influencer marketing 

Identifying influencers that can collaborate on promoting your brand. Different types of partnerships with relevant personas may include:

  • Finding a full-time ambassador that exudes your brand’s look and feel                                                                       
  • Publishing influencer content on your channels to attract new/relevant eyeballs
  • Setting up content exchanges or takeovers in which the person with industry authority takes over your accounts and publishes content or vice versa, helping to generate brand awareness 

Common issues when collecting data from social media

According to a survey conducted by Sprout Social, 72% of executives use social media data in order to inform their day-to-day business decision-making process.

Source: Sprout Social

From here, the value of social media-generated data is evident, the only thing is that many issues arise when trying to obtain important target data points. These include:

  • Geolocation –  Many companies are located in one specific country, say England. Yet they have customers around the globe. So they may want to collect social media data from accounts based in Japan or Argentina. The issue is that their IPs are British and will very often be detected as such and served data that may differ from how a local end user would view it. 
  • Real-time – Many social media trends are happening now (today, this week), and companies need to be able to collect this data quickly, analyze it, and then generate campaigns that create a dialogue with it. The problem is that manual data collection, cleaning, and synthesizing is a very slow process. This means that by the time a relevant insight has been generated the opportunity may have already passed, deeming the data irrelevant and superfluous. 

  • Volume/scalability – Many companies need varying amounts of data volume based on what stage of product development/maintenance they are in. A new product that is based on social media data such as an ‘audience discovery tool’ will need massive amounts of data points in order to train algorithms. Whereas a product that is up and running may only need very specific amounts of data each time a new supported category is added to a dashboard, for example. But this level of agility is hard to attain when data collection is in-house. What do you do with all of your data collection specialists/software/hardware when there is a “slow month”? Those assets sit idle for the most part, driving up costs with operational maintenance.

Social media data collection solutions 

Automated data collection solutions like Bright Data’s Web Scraper APIs help solve issues similar to the ones presented in the section above as follows:

One: Leveraging a global network of local peers 

Bright Data enables companies to collect data using a network of people from around the globe who have opted into its data collection network. This means that when companies are looking to collect social media data pertaining to target audiences in Japan and Argentina, for example, they can tap into local desktops or mobile devices and be served accurate trend data as it is being displayed to real end-users. This can also benefit companies in their attempts to create more accurate localization campaigns based on regional customs, for example. 

Two: Understanding consumer journeys in real-time 

Bright Data has cutting-edge technology alongside a team of data collection professionals coupled with infrastructure that enables companies to gain access to target data within minutes. This includes accessing review posts, group pages, engagement data, influencer information, and competitor social campaigns in real-time. This is crucial to being able to anticipate product popularity as well as shifting marketing efforts and messaging based on what is happening in the moment. 

Three: Data collection flexibility 

Web Scraper API gives businesses increased control in terms of data collection volume. Team leaders can gain access to as much or as little data on an ‘as-needed-basis’. This means that during the algorithm training phase, large quantities of data can be pooled into data lakes. Then data collection can be turned off for a few weeks. And as new clients from new industries are on-boarded, relevant data can then be collected, meaning budgets can fluctuate based on what’s happening on the ground.   

It’s easy to get started with these ready-to-use data collectors 

Here is a sampling of a few out of hundreds of templates that were built by our army of developers. All you need to do is choose the social network you want to access data from and click ‘Try now’: 

You can always refer to the simplest solution we have to offer — datasets, in addition to using the data collectors listed above. You can save even more time by purchasing social media datasets and skipping the data collector configuration steps.

Use case: Post for Rent – Digital social influencer marketplace 

Post for Rent collects large amounts of publicly displayed social media data in order to identify relevant influencers based on:

  • the hashtags they use
  • their profile’s subject matter
  • as well as information regarding their follower base

They started using Bright Data successfully beginning three years ago.

The major business outcome has been their ability to match customers with influencers that are best tailored to their needs. This includes individuals who are a good fit for highly targeted, revenue-generating campaigns. 

Going forward the company plans on doubling its influencer database with the help of Bright Data’s platform.

Social media data FAQs

Here are 3 popular questions that people ask when looking to collect social media data:

#1: What are some of the challenges when looking to gain access to social media data through a third-party vendor?

The key challenges here tend to be ensuring data point accuracy, as well as ensuring that the information provided is up-to-date. Otherwise, marketing campaigns based on social sentiment or trends could be irrelevant. You also want to ensure that data sets are complete and that they comply with privacy regulations (e.g., no password-protected information was collected) and compliance. 

#2: How do I ascertain the quality of data provided to me by a given vendor?

First and foremost, head on over to review sites like Trustpilot and see what customers have to say about the vendor in question. Additionally, you can check out their case studies as well as ask for a free demonstration or a dataset sample to ensure the quality of the output. Also, consider asking sales reps questions to ensure that their data collection methods are ethically compliant. For example:

  • How does your company source its IPs?
  • What Personally Identifiable Information (PII) do you collect from peers? 
  • Do you treat PII in accordance with GDPR regulations?

#3: What are some of the most common social media data points collected?

These include:

  • Trending hashtags
  • Identifying/mapping influencers on specific social platforms
  • Post engagement including likes, shares, comments
  • Specific posts or image styles that are trending
  • Article/news story URLs that are being shared, read, or appear in social feeds 
  • Competing entity’s social presence, including collecting messaging on their marketing campaigns 
  • Posting frequency, times of the day when target audiences are online and engaging, time spent on a per social network basis, etc.

Is social media data right for your business? 

Each individual business needs to analyze this for themselves. It can be safely said, however, that the vast majority of companies competing in the modern world could benefit from access to social media data in one capacity or another. Ask yourselves:

  • How much will social media data help us grow our business?
  • Is it worth our while to keep data collection in-house or can we benefit from the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of outsourcing?
  • Do our target audiences spend considerable amounts of time searching for solutions or engaging with content on social media? 
  • Are there ‘lookalike audiences’ which I do not currently have access to but could discover vis-a-vis social media data points?

If you answer in the affirmative to one or more of the above questions, then social media data for marketing may be able to provide your business with major value-add.