Vocabulary Matters: The Different Types of Data

Big data. Social data. Real-time data. These terms are thrown about all the time; do we really understand what each refer to? When collecting data, it's important to know the merits of each type you're aggregating. So, we're reviewing what each version is and why it matters.

Social Data

Social data is information created and shared by individuals themselves. It's users' data taken straight from social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook. This includes what we share on our social profiles, profile data, and behavioural data. What's available to marketers varies from platform to platform, but it is a rich source of data. From profile data, there are over 200 data points available, including name, age and email. User-generated data focuses on what users share and the content created by users. This is largely status updates, links shared and photos uploaded. Behavioural data looks at the actions taken by a user, including what they like, who they interact with and links clicked. With social data, it is important to note a few factors. All data is subject to what the user wants to be seen or known about him/herself. How we describe ourselves online isn't always the most accurate, but it does reveal how we want to be associated. Geographical data in this arena is also limited. Most individuals choose not to share location, meaning that you're only looking at a subsection of your audience's geography.

Big Data

Big data can be distilled to large data sets analyzed for patterns, trends, and associations, particularly around human behavior and interactions. Big data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis. And it's not as scary as it can sound. Big data is used to really understand a system as a whole better. This leads to greater insights and better informed strategies. For example, Google is using big data to help better prepare counties before a flu outbreak, basing this off of search trends.

Real-time Data

Real-time data is any information that is simultaneously delivered. The core component of real-time data is that as it's collected, the data is transmitted. With real-time data, you get data in, well, real time, as it happens. Speed is the focus. Real-time data updates as it occurs, such as who’s visiting your website at any given time, which topics are trending in which markets or what your customers are doing at any given moment. With real-time data, brands are able to see errors or potential crises quickly and react accordingly. You can also understand competitors immediately, service issues or opportunities, sales opportunities and consumer trends. Ultimately, real-time data enables faster decisions based on real-time analytics. Here, at Buzz Radar, we take live data of all kinds and transform it, ensuring it's easier to understand across the board. We may reference all three forms of data, but our focus is that transformation.