Today’s post is inspired by the big announcement that Facebook is now going to start offering advertisers insight into what its users are talking about.
They’re calling it “Topic Data.” Basically, they’re looking at all the posts users are making online, and trying to group it around topics. Events. Brands. Subjects. Activities. And so on.
And then they’re going to aggregate that data — meaning, show what LOTS of people are doing, not revealing individuals’ behaviors.
And finally, they’re going to make that data available to advertisers. Select ones, at first. But probably everybody, eventually.
So what’s this going to look like, and should we be concerned about our privacy? And what opportunities are there for us as marketers?
First off, if you’re concerned about privacy, get off Facebook. Don’t use Google, or at least use it through an anonymous proxy. In fact, you should probably throw out your computer, burn your house down, and go live as a hermit in the woods. Because there’s not much privacy left in today’s digital world.
Everything can be tracked, and for the most part, it is. Not always for nefarious reasons, but once it’s tracked, those with nefarious intent can get at it — whether we’re talking hackers or overzealous and meddling governments.
This particular program is far from being Facebook’s most questionable in terms of privacy — they wouldn’t announce it to the world if it was a REAL privacy concern.
For the most part, this data all exists and is stored in Facebook’s computers. You may not know it, but they even save the posts you DON’T post — the ones you delete because you decide you shouldn’t say that, and you hope your words never see the light of day. Yeah, Facebook even keeps THOSE.
What Facebook is doing is simply taking what you and everybody else posts to their site, taking all the personally-identifying info off it, and matching up your words with people who are talking about the same thing.
So let’s say it’s Super Bowl Sunday. And GoDaddy goes full-on with one of their controversial ads.
Facebook can, on the fly, tell GoDaddy that 23% of the conversations including “GoDaddy” and “Super Bowl” are saying it’s “sick,” “disgusting,” or “offensive”… That 42% are saying it’s “dumb”… 5% are saying they’re “tired” of them… And so on…
And maybe that’s just the first quarter ad.
Then, GoDaddy’s advertising execs can make a decision for which ads run in the second, third, and fourth quarters based on this live market data.
Or remember when Tesla had the controversy with the fire a while back? And then Elon Musk addressed the controversy with a well-written letter in response?
With this new Topic Data, Tesla could gauge the public’s response to their statement on the fire, and decide if they’d addressed it adequately, or they needed to engage in more PR.
There are other ways that this could be used, too. And they don’t rely on being part of a big, public brand.
For example, let’s say you’re launching a product in a space we’re all familiar with — copywriting.
You could conceivably look at this Topic Data and start to tease out the specific desires and objections of your audience.
You could use keywords or phrases commonly linked to your topic to start to discern what the market is saying, what they’re interested in, what they stand against, and so on…
Not only that, this Topic Data is going to be tied to demographics as well. And so if you’re launching that copywriting product, and you want to target the right demographic, you might discover that one particularly hot audience is recent college graduates, and another is stay at home moms ages 35-50, and another is retirees or pre-retirees age 55 and older.
While Facebook says that they won’t integrate Topic Data and targeting capability (yet), having this information makes it pretty easy to go out and find the best target for your ads. You’ll just have to do it manually (for now).
This is all very interesting, and part of a larger trend.
And for now, most of us won’t have access to this specific way to get into the heads of our market. And yet…
Here are a handful of other ways to spy on your customers and prospects online…
First, you can use Facebook Graph Search.
Open up Facebook, and go to the search bar in the top. Type in “pages liked by people who like XXXXXXX” except replace the Xs with anything you want. I typed in Deadmau5, the popular electronic musician.
Now, it tailors this to you a bit — so I get things like local concert venues and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. But I also get a ton of other pages, some I might not expect at all.
For example, I would expect artists like Bassnectar, Skrillex, and Daft Punk.
But I wouldn’t necessarily expect a strong overlap with Atmosphere, Deftones, or Mumford and Sons. And I certainly wouldn’t go straight to matches like the TV shows Tosh.0, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, or The Office. Or what about Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, the Jimmy Johns sandwich chain, and The Onion?
And you don’t have to do this with public figures, you can do it with a TON of different topics.
Many of these related topics can then be targeted on Facebook and elsewhere. (See Perry’s books linked above.)
Second, you can use Google Trends and suggested searches…
Whatever your topic is, you can go to trends.google.com and type it in.
It’ll show you a graph of the popularity of that term, and where it stands today. Plus, you can scroll down and it will show related topic and search queries. These give you a sense of how related or common similar topics and queries are, and can yield insights.
You can also go deeper with Google Keyword Planner if you have an AdWords account. This will give you all sorts of insight into keywords around a topic, and related keywords that might be used by the same or a similar audience.
Or, if you’re just looking to get quick insights into what people often type into Google with a certain keyword, go to the homepage, and start typing in your keyword. I guess I’m on a Deadmau5 kick today, because I typed in Deadmau5 and got the suggested searches of “Deadmau5 tour,” “Deadmau5 twitter,” “Deadmau5 strobe” (a song of his), and “Deadmau5 net worth.” This is just to illustrate the principle — other keywords may reveal more or less useful insights.
Third, you can use Amazon.com reviews…
I think Jay Abraham was the first to talk about this. There is a gold mine of market insight in Amazon reviews.
Find books on a topic of interest. Dive into both the positive and negative reviews. They’ll help you both understand what everyone likes and expects around a specific topic, AND what they don’t like or what they see as areas current resources fall short on.
This is incredible insight if you’re developing an information product in a certain niche. And you can go so far as to adopt specific language around the topic that’s prevalent in reviews, if you want to have a level of instant and subconscious resonance with your target market.
But this isn’t limited to books. If you’re developing a product, find similar products and their reviews. What do people say they like about the products? How can you develop your product to meet or exceed expectations on those qualities? What do people say other products need to fix? How can you wow them there? The same principles apply…
Fourth, there are a TON of other ways to get insight on your market…
Forums and user groups. Blog comments sections. It goes on. If you’re willing to do the digging, there’s gold in them hills.
This type of market insight is often more valuable than any kind of marketing skill you might have. And the time spent getting it will often repay itself in dividends far beyond the same time spent developing marketing or copywriting skills.
Yes, you have to have both. But focusing too much on skills and too little on understanding your market will yield tactically sound marketing that misses the mark and fails as a result. Whereas a solid understanding of the market can lead to marketing that succeeds in spite of its tactical failures — just because there’s such a perfect market-message match.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets