I literally closed the window on the DataSift Facebook webinar five minutes ago and need to tell healthcare marketers about this breakthrough. Through their partnership, Facebook is providing aggregated topic data to marketers on DataSift’s API. This represents the first time we’ve been able to pull back the curtain and see what Facebook users are talking about in their private conversations.
Now, before the Facebook Privacy conspiracy theorists get wound up, the data coming through DataSift’s API is:
- Anonymized with no personal data available
- Limited to adults 18+
- Only available on topics with 100+ posts in any query
Until this option, the only way to get insight into what was happening on Facebook was to engage in the channel. Even then, marketers only got insight what happened on and around their own pages so of course that was a very limited and self-selected audience.
What about Public Data?
We’ve known for a while that Facebook was turning off its public data feed, even to large partners like Sysomos. They will continue to have access until somewhere around June, but even the big guys will eventually lose this data. We see this as a net positive for marketers looking into Facebook and here’s why:
- Most data on facebook was only being shared among friends, so it was invisible to us anyway
- To be honest, we never did trust the data coming back from the Facebook API, it was not consistent and historical trends were always under-reported
So, for our purposes the ability to get an accurate view into the non-public data using topics is a much better solution than seeing only an unreliable subset of “public” data from Facebook.
Now, marketers will be able to get insight into volumes of conversation on Facebook by using four different criteria:
- Category (the example used was automotive)
- Brand (for example, BMW, Ford, and Honda)
- Media (defined by URLs for properties like BBC or CNN)
- Feature / topic data (as defined by Boolean queries)
I’m not going to reproduce the entire webinar here, you can review it on the DataSift site (and it is worth the hour of your time) but I will show a few of the screen shots because they really tell the story of how this tool will help marketers see what is happening on the world’s #1 social channel.
The data in the system has one limitation, it is only a 30-day rolling window of data in the API. This means that we won’t be able to look back a full year in the Facebook data like we do with other channels such as Twitter, blogs, or forums.
Mitigating this limitation is that users of the API are allowed to keep the data they pull. So, when Hootsuite and Sysomos integrate with the API marketers should be able to keep track of what they find moving forward.
One piece that was real “rocket science” was the VEDO machine learning system that DataSift has built into their platform. From the description it seemed like it would really work well for healthcare brands but we have no direct experience with this tool so far.
At Klick we are talking with Sysomos and are very excited to get our hands on the first releases of this data into the toolset. Stay tuned, it looks like social listening may be on the cusp of removing one of the most troublesome blinders we’ve had to live with to date.