When you hear the buzzword "big data," what do you think of? For most business owners, it’s the idea of building such a vast collection of data about their customers that they can analyze each and every move they make. Sound good? Now raise your hand if you have your own vast database of information to pull this sort of data from. Most businesses don’t.
Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t use the power of big data to help power new business decisions for your own company. How can you use big data for your business in 2014—without having to pay for it yourself?
Get Mashable Velocity
Mashable is one media property that just instituted a new service, Mashable Velocity, which others will likely be offering soon. Think of it as an early warning system for content or stories that are going to go viral. One of the great things about big data is that it helps to build predictive models of content and information that people care about enough to share. What Velocity will tell you, by email, is what new stories will likely get shared actively all over the Internet. So how does this information help you? Knowing what content your customers are likely seeing on social media and sharing can help you to tailor your messages in real time, and perhaps inspire some smart, creative ways you can build on a trending piece of content with your own efforts.
Use The Infographic
Over the past few years, infographics have gotten more popular as a way to share interesting ideas and insights. By taking data and presenting it in a compelling and visual format, the information becomes much easier to understand than trying to extract it from a hopelessly complex spreadsheet. You can turn almost any type of data into an infographic—from the shopping habits of people on the day after Christmas to what people are doing for New Year's Eve. Use infographics to either further your own knowledge, or to share with your audience.
How do you find these infographics? Search for infographics on specific topics using Google Image Search or subscribe to a site like Daily Infographic.
Mine Your Own Data
While my first two tips for leveraging big data center on finding and using publicly available information, the third is based on the data you're collecting (that you might not even realize you have access to). Google Analytics, one of the most popular (not to mention free) tracking software programs used by small businesses, is tracking and gathering data from your website that you can use. (If you don't have any tracking software monitoring your website, pick up the book by Google evangelist Avinash Kaushik called Web Analytics: An Hour A Day.)
Start uncovering the value from your current Google Analytics today, and subscribe for a daily email from visual.ly, which will send you an infographic of your data from your Google Analytics account. (Try it out today, and see what you can learn.)
The world of "big data" can often seem out of reach for small-business owners, but the fact is there are many ways to get access to the power of big data in small pieces—and getting smarter about how to use this free insight can give you a great competitive edge moving into 2014.
Rohit Bhargava is the bestselling author of five business books and founder of the Influential Marketing Group. He often advises large and small businesses on creating “Visionary Measurement” programs to better track results and set up data to work in support of business. He is an adjunct professor of marketing at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
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