More Impactful Marketing Strategies: Social Media vs. First-Party Data

William Skelly

Data, First-Party Data, Marketing Strategies

March 18, 2024

More Impactful Marketing Strategies: Social Media vs. First-Party Data

Outstanding brands stand out by creating a compelling and memorable online presence. From unique, user-friendly websites and educational news portals to engaging social media posts that include videos and infographics, being accessible online is vital to thrive in a competitive marketplace.

Social media platforms have become imperative components for connecting with audiences. But the ever-shifting algorithms, consumer privacy concerns and mercurial leadership make it necessary for brands to continuously evolve their social media marketing and advertising strategies.

A brand or influencer’s number of followers and user engagement may be considered vanity metrics, if the organizations don’t have first-party data for their followers, friends and fans. We'll explore the value of first-party data for brands, as well as monetization strategies for your first-party data.

Understanding First-Party Data

First-party data is the information collected directly from your customers or website visitors. This data is gathered through various interactions, such as website visits, newsletter sign-ups, purchase history, customer support interactions, survey participation and more. This data is unique to your brand and provides valuable insights into your audience's behavior, preferences and demographics. Collecting first-party data essentially means building a direct and personal relationship with your audience.

The Social Media Follower Fallacy

While having a substantial following on social media platforms can certainly boost your brand's visibility, it comes with limitations and risks:

1. Platform Dependency Relying solely on social media followers means putting your brand at the mercy of these platforms. Algorithm changes, account suspensions, or even platform shutdowns can disrupt your ability to reach your audience. By contrast, first-party data is entirely under your control, reducing your vulnerability to external factors.

2. Shallow Engagement Social media metrics, such as likes and shares may give you a false sense of engagement. They don't necessarily translate into real relationships with your audience. First-party data provides deeper insights into user behavior, allowing you to tailor your marketing efforts more effectively.

3. Limited Data Access Social media platforms often restrict access to user data, making it challenging to gain a comprehensive understanding of your audience. In contrast, first-party data allows you to collect rich, detailed information that can inform your marketing strategies.

The Value of First-Party Data

In addition to complying with privacy laws and elevating customer experiences, here’s why investing in ways to collect first-party data is more advantageous than gaining social media followers.

1. Personalization First-party data enables you to personalize your marketing campaigns and content, delivering experiences tailored to your audience's interests and preferences. This level of personalization can significantly boost engagement and conversions.

2. Targeted Marketing With first-party data, you can create highly targeted marketing campaigns. This means spending your resources more efficiently by reaching the right people with the right message at the right time.

3. Data Ownership You have full control and ownership of your first-party data, reducing your reliance on third-party platforms. This independence safeguards your brand's longevity and stability.

4. Better ROI By leveraging first-party data, you can optimize your marketing efforts, resulting in a higher return on investment (ROI). Targeted campaigns that resonate with your audience are more likely to yield positive results.

5. Compliance and Trust In an era of increasing data privacy concerns, collecting first-party data ethically and transparently builds trust with your audience. It demonstrates your commitment to their privacy and security.

6. Monetization Strategies Monetizing your first-party data involves capitalizing on its value, including

  • Sell Data Insights: If your data provides valuable insights about your industry or audience, consider offering this data to other businesses in your niche for a fee. Make certain your privacy policy, terms and conditions are clear and easily accessible for your website visitors.
  • Create Exclusive Content or Products: Use your data to develop exclusive content, services, or products that cater specifically to your audience's preferences. Charge for access or purchase.
  • Affiliate Marketing: Partner with businesses that align with your audience's interests and promote their products or services to your audience for a commission.
  • Subscription Models: Offer premium, subscription-based content or services to your audience, providing them with extra value and generating recurring revenue.
  • Leverage Advertising: Use your first-party data to offer highly targeted advertising opportunities to businesses looking to reach your audience.

While social media followers have their place in your brand's online presence, the true value lies in collecting first-party data. The information grants you control, personalization, insights, and monetization opportunities that can elevate your marketing efforts. Building genuine relationships with your audience through first-party data ensures that your brand remains resilient and adaptable in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Don't just count your social media followers, start collecting valuable first-party data and explore the myriad ways to monetize it to drive your brand's success.

William Skelly is founder and CEO of Causeway Solutions, a leading provider of Acquisition Analytics and innovative data services. Bill serves as advisor with some of the nation’s most influential organizations—from grassroots public affairs efforts to U.S. Presidential campaign strategies. Causeway Solutions empowers clients to make smart, timely, data-driven decisions through real-time consumer insights to better reach target audiences. Learn more at Causeway Solutions.