This is important because social networks pass different types of data: Twitter’s firehose contains PII, allowing brands to assemble a list of top influencers, for example. But Facebook only passes broad demographic data: the age, gender and geo.
Additionally, Datasift’s technology stays on Facebook’s servers for privacy reasons, and the data it gets centers around audiences, not individuals. “Any data that leaves Facebook’s network has been summarized to get statistical results,” Barker said.
Facebook topic data isn’t a paid media play – it’s designed to help brands understand how to talk to consumers, and tailor messaging that addresses their interests. (By necessity, Facebook topic data distinguishes between, say, Ford autos and the actor Harrison Ford.)
The activities it most affects are product innovation, understanding the best consumers to target and making decisions on pricing.
“The nature of topic data is in upstream marketing,” Barker said, adding he hopes it will play a greater role in life-cycle marketing.
Datasift’s 1,000 clients tend to be marketing tech providers like Oracle or HootSuite, as well as agencies like WPP, but it also counts Wall Street firms looking for trading insights and government organizations among its customers.