10/08/2012 12:28 pm ET Updated Dec 08, 2012

Big Data: The Value of Social Intelligence

Recently some mind-boggling numbers surrounding Facebook's data were released:

  • Facebook processes 2.5 billion pieces of content and 500+ terabytes of data each day.
  • It scans about 105 terabytes of data every half hour.
  • It pulls in 2.7 billion Like actions and 300 million photos per day.

Just considering Like actions alone, that's 2.7 billion chances every single day to learn something valuable about your potential customers, in real-time. And, for brands and advertisers trying to navigate the choppy waters of Facebook, the amount of data available is completely overwhelming.

However, at this point in the game, there is no such thing as too much customer data and overwhelming or not, advertisers cannot overlook how crucial this data is to campaign success. It is the ultimate key to ROI, both on and off social. With its daily 500+ terabytes, Facebook has been undeniably leading this charge. The data is there for the taking. The challenge is, what are you going to do with it?

This is where social intelligence tools come into play. Compass Labs helps clients filter through this constant flood of social chatter and self-expression to make sense of users' evolving interests, actions and behaviors in a way that is relevant to and able to be leveraged by their brands. For example, you might not care that 20,000 new people liked The Walking Dead yesterday. But you would probably care if a large percentage of them were also Fans of your brand, The Walking Dead was the most talked about show amongst your unique Fan base and it would greatly benefit your brand awareness efforts to start posting zombie-related content and direct some ad dollars toward TV spots on AMC.

This is the kind of understanding that leads to engagement, and engagement leads to conversion. Think of Facebook's collective customer data as one massive diamond in the rough. You have to chisel away at it, polish it and put it in the right setting before you can do anything with it.

Facebook's VP of Engineering Jay Parikh put it best when he told TechCrunch, "Big data really is about having insights and making an impact on your business. If you aren't taking advantage of the data you're collecting, then you just have a pile of data, you don't have big data."

Social intelligence offers brands unprecedented access to a real-time focus group of their customer's interests, actions and behaviors. The information is all there -- right now. New tools are constantly emerging that can splice and dice this daunting amount of data and extract and deliver actionable intelligence. Advertisers need to move fast and take advantage of these capabilities to strengthen their businesses. The advertising industry is always struggling to make sense (and cents) of the social Internet, but the answers can still be found in the data, where they've always been. If we can gain real, actionable insights into consumers from social networks like Twitter and Facebook, then they're every bit the treasure chests we'd hoped.