If you look at your company’s efforts to analyze social media data and optimize social media engagement and they seem ill-defined and / or lagging behind what is actually happening in the space, you are not alone. In an exclusive interview with CMSWire, Kushal Saha, Managing Director of the Information Technology Practice at investment bank Cascadia Capital, described how social media’s explosive adoption curve creates an inevitable lag in the capabilities of analytical and optimization technologies and services.

Unprecedented Adoption Curve Creates New Challenges

“Broadly speaking, when you look at the social space, it seems like it has been around forever, but really it’s only been in popular use the last five or six years,” said Saha. “The pace of adoption surpasses anything we’ve seen in the history of technology services. It’s quite unprecedented.”

Even for previous new technologies whose adoption curve was less steep than that of social media, Saha said there was a lag between the pace of adoption and the pace of development for analytics and optimization. For example, he said online ads, which began with a simple CPM model and later grew to include features such as cookies and behavioral data analysis, there was still a gap between adoption and analytics, and that gap is only wider with social media.

The sheer breadth and depth of data made available by social media presents both a significant challenge and opportunity for brands. “With online ads, everything pretty much goes one way,” he said. “You see an ad and may click or not click.”

In contrast, Saha said social media is all about interaction. “There are consumer likes and dislikes,” he explained. “You can post articles, check in at an airport or a bar. The amount of disparate data points is complicated by the volume of data created. As a result, there is a huge pool of unstructured data that we never had in the past.” 

Tearing Down the Social Network Wall

Further complicating the situation is the fact that while brands may own the content displayed on their brand pages, the consumer engagement data is owned by the social networks. “Your page is within a walled garden,” commented Saha.