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While web scraping has been on the rise for many years. Its uses and applications have grown with time. This can be attributed to multiple factors such as – better web scraping solutions. The rise of big data analytics, natural language processing, and sentiment analysis, the use of alternate data sources, and more. More and more data sources have been added to the long list of websites that are being scraped daily for updated data. Among these, alternate data sources have found a bigfooting. Thanks to the enormous data generated from social media websites and review platforms. One of the many uses for scraping social media websites is for a brand audit.
Almost every brand today is on social media, offering its products and services, and creating that special connection with their target audience. Brands are becoming synonymous with the products. For example, most people go to a shop and ask for a “Coca-Cola”, and not a soft drink. Being able to reach this level of public recognition is difficult unless you monitor your digital presence regularly and make sure that the public’s perception of your company is positive. Organic growth and capturing the share of mind and heart is the ultimate objective of almost every company and brand. And even if you do invest tons in paid marketing campaigns. Unless you listen to your customers, there is a limit to what you can achieve.
Getting an idea of what your customers think of your products, services, the complaints that they have, the issues that they face, whether there are lines of communication between the company and the consumer, and how they would rate you as a brand, etc. These are important pieces of information that will help redraw your business plan.
All this information and more can be scraped from online sources and can be used together to ascertain the pain points as well as the points where you shine. Through a brand audit, you can bring about data-driven changes, that will in turn bring in more customers. Often these changes may be procedural and not cost you any money.
A brand audit requires different data sources, almost all of which are external:
a. Reviews of products on eCommerce websites
b. Reviews of products or services on your website
c. Comments made by users on review websites
d. Comments made by users on social media websites, this can be mentions or comments on your social media page
e. News media articles with the mention of your brand, or its executives
There are too many websites in the categories mentioned above, and on top of that, there can be more websites where your brand name finds mention. Trying to scrape data from all these sources may be difficult. It is recommended to start small. Find the social media websites where your brand faces most mentions and scrape data from them. Wherever your products or services are listed— be it on a platform like Amazon or your website, there are bound to be reviews and ratings— scrape them. Once you begin with these, you can then set up an auto-crawler that will check for mentions using a search engine like Google and scrape the related text. These scraped blobs of data will then need to be further analyzed – often manually to come up with new websites that you need to add to your list.
Leveraging alternate data sources is important and when it comes to scraping such sources, social media comes up at the top. To be specific about the types of data that can be utilized by your company. We can look at a few examples:
a. In case your brand does not have a customer-helpline or a way to directly contact the company in case of issues with products and services. They are most likely to vent their frustration on Facebook or Twitter. This can be in the form of a post or tweet detailing their experience with your company and its products. A positive post or tweet is also possible but much rarer. These posts need to be scraped and analyzed to understand where you are going wrong. If you can scrape these in real-time. There is a possibility to do right by the customer and improve your social image.
b. In case you have your page on Facebook or Instagram. Customers are likely to comment on whatever content you post for marketing and advertisement. Many of these comments contain issues that the customer is facing and it would do good to scrape all these comments and filter out the ones which are worthwhile and then analyze them further.
Fig: Alternative data sources and their uses
As you can see from the graph above, web-scraped data finds the highest use among all alternative data sources. The reason behind this is obvious— it is a continuous data stream that is growing exponentially with each year as the total percentage of internet-users keeps increasing. Thanks to the penetration of mobile devices, a fraction of the population connected to the internet. It has grown even in low average income countries like India.
When we speak of social media data and reviews. These are mostly textual blobs – that is they consist of multiple sentences. Hence it is difficult to extract data-points from them. But you can use sentiment analysis to understand the tone of a comment or a review. This using Natural Language Processing which is a sub-branch of big data analytics. There are various DIY articles on the web that explain how to detect reviews or comments that are critical of your company.
Sentiment analysis can also be used to sort the comments and reviews that you scrape. You can sort them by product, by which the team needs to analyze it and act on it, and more. This sorting of the data will help the data to percolate to other teams. This is done so that proper actions are taken and your brand faces less negative publicity.
Compared to the other uses of web-scraping such as price scraping and comparison and content scraping, conducting a brand audit by tracking reviews, posts and articles is a tougher job. It also requires a lot of scientific temperament to get it right. Initially, you may have mistaken in the sorting or classification of reviews and comments but the numbers will get better as you scrape more and more data and train your models on them. Our team at PromptCloud offers specialized Social Media Crawling & Scraping Services For Brand Monitoring. It is a no-hassle solution where our data scraping experts take all your inputs and provide the data in an easily consumable format such that you can conduct a brand audit easily.
If you liked the content above, please share your valuable feedback in the comments below. You can also refer to Social Media Scraping for Competitive Intelligence.
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