More Social Media Companies Embrace Big Data

06/23/2015 08:40 am ET | Updated Jun 22, 2016

Big Data means big business for social media stalwarts Facebook and Twitter. As emerging social media platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and SnapChat begin to focus on user monetization, they too are embracing the power Big Data to fuel their businesses. Pinterest was anointed the Next Big Thing in social media and the explosion of its user base and capital-raising prowess supported this designation. Users flocked to post "pins" -- recipes, pictures, videos and quotes. Marketers were trying to figure out how to make money from its large and highly engaged audience. Few succeeded. Enter Big Data. Although Pinterest was not focused on monetization, the seeds of a robust business model were in place - massive amounts of user data based on a registration process, high engagement, presence of tastemakers, highly contextual content. What's the next step? Well, Pinterest recently took it: Buyable Pins. Yep, now users can shop for pins that interest them, and other users can create pins to advertise items. Contextual commerce + social commerce + mobile commerce = a big deal (potentially).

Not to be outdone, Instagram also launched a "shop button" service that allows users to purchase items seen on Instagram - especially powerful given the role of Influencers on the Instagram platform. This is Instagram applying the lessons of its parent company Facebook - grow users, engage users, cultivate the right kind of users, add data science and monetize, monetize, monetize. Like Facebook, which has seen enormous success with its data-based marketing efforts, Instagram has a ready market and an ideal setup for leveraging data to create sales. Since offers will be based on demographics as well as a myriad of other factors only calculable by Big Data engines, Instagram is poised to become a expertly consumer oriented and, likely, an e-commerce juggernaut.

If these emerging platforms succeed, it will be due to well-constructed algorithms and well-executed data science. Likewise, poorly executed data science could not only frustrate users but also sink marketer's efforts to turn Instagram into a relationship based marketing experience.

Marketers have already begun to create dedicated content specifically for Instagram and Pinterest, the key, many believe to success in those forums. The principle is based on sound brick-and-mortar marketing science. Craft the message to meet the expectations and appetites of the audience. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest all have predominately different audiences, so it stands to reason that it would be less impactful to try to utilize the same marketing techniques and messages across every platform.

Marketers should also be careful to remember why users are interacting with those sites. While Facebook and Instagram are very social, Pinterest is more about finding inspiration and learning new things. People are more passive in the former, while, in the latter, they are on a mission to find specific content. Marketers who understand that and tweak their data science to account for those varying dynamics will do well.

Of course, the very fact that this is possible, and in real time no less, is because of the continued advances of Big Data science.