Use Cases of Social Media Scraping for Business

By Srikanth 9 Min Read
9 Min Read
Use Cases of Social Media Scraping for Business 1

Businesses do so many things on social media. That’s where they communicate with their audience. Sell products or services. Build their brand. But there is always more.

Social media is brimming with data. Here, you can get insights into the market condition. Or learn about your potential customers and how they perceive your brand compared to your competitors.

But how do you collect that information? Especially, if you need to do it at scale. Web scraping is an answer. But what does scraping do within social media, and how can you use scraped data? Let’s figure this out.

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What is data scraping meaning?

Data harvesting, which is another word for scraping, is a technique for extracting large amounts of information from websites automatically. This is an automated process because of bots, which you use to read the website’s code and find the data you want. The bots pull out that data and deliver it in a structured format. Usually, you’ll need these components for web scraping:

  • Crawlers (bots that browse through the web to spot the required data).
  • Scrapers (bots that extract data points from webpages).
  • Request headers (provide the server with information about the type of the scraper’s request, who makes it, and how the server should respond to it).
  • Data parsers (tools that analyze the page’s HTML to separate data from the mockup).
  • Proxy servers (an intermediary tool that sends a request from the scraper’s side).

As of social media web scraping, we’re talking about this same idea but in the context of social media platforms. For example, you may want to make a list of customers who aren’t happy with one of your competitors. Here’s how it would roll out:

  1. Set parameters. You decide that you’re looking for mentions of your competitor’s name along with keywords like “not happy,” “disappointed,” or “bad service” across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.
  2. Deploy bots. Your web scraping tool then scurries across specified platforms and looks into posts, comments, and reviews that match your criteria.
  3. Gather and organize. The bot collects these mentions and organizes them into a neat list, giving you insights into who makes the complaints, what they are about, and how frequent they are.

Types of data you can scrape from social media

According to the study from Skynova, 64% of businesses collect data on their customers from social media. The main data destinations are Facebook (72%), Instagram (59%), Twitter (48%), and LinkedIn (29%). According to this research, the most frequently gathered data points are the following:

Use Cases of Social Media Scraping for Business 2

But there is more. With a social media scraping tool, you can also gather:

  • Images and videos
  • Captions
  • Hashtags
  • Comments

You can use this data anywhere. From optimizing marketing strategies to identifying new customers. But more on this in the next section.

3 use cases of scraping social media

Companies use data for different purposes. Based on the research, businesses use social media data to improve product/services, find new leads, and maintain current customers. 

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But how exactly do you leverage information acquired after social media data collection? Here are a few cases.

  1. Market research

Data has changed the way companies approach future-proofing. Those companies that aim for long-term viability and brand growth should embrace the right tools, like web scraping tools, to conduct market research to:

  • Understand their target market’s demographics and effectively categorize customers.
  • Analyze competitors and identify trends in the market.
  • Inform product development and gather feedback through usability tests.
  • Evaluate the success of ongoing marketing strategies.
  • Create effective marketing strategies for the future.

Let’s say you want to launch a startup in the sustainable fashion industry. First off, you need to know who’s interested in sustainable fashion. Are they millennials, Gen Z, or baby boomers? A web scraping tool will scrape social media interactions, hashtags #SustainableFashion, #EcoWear, etc., and profiles to gather demographic information (age, gender, location, and interests). Then, the bot will look at competitors’ social media activities to give you an idea about which products are getting traction, what promotional strategies they’re using, and how consumers are reacting.

  1. Lead generation

No matter the nature of your products or the audience you aim to engage. Both B2C and B2B businesses can benefit from lead generation strategies powered by scraped social media data. And here’s why:

  • Identify individuals and companies expressing interest in your industry or specific problems your product solves.
  • Understand who your competitors are targeting and how they engage with their audience.
  • Get deep insights into potential leads’ preferences and behaviors, enabling you to personalize your offerings to increase conversion rates.
  • Web scraping allows you to gather vast amounts of lead data quickly and at scale.

For example, you have an EdTech company offering online coding courses. Your primary targets are both individual learners and organizations looking to upskill their employees. Here’s how it works. 

  1. First, you’ve got to identify keywords and hashtags your potential customers might use (“learn coding,” “coding for beginners,” etc.). 
  2. Then, choose the right platform. For example, LinkedIn is great for connecting with organizations, while Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook could be more suited to individual learners.
  3. You set up the social media crawler to pick up post content, names, titles, locations (for localization of services), and contact information if publicly available.
  4. The scraper will collect vast amounts of data. To clean it, separate individuals expressing interest in coding courses from organizations mentioning a need for employee training in tech skills. Then, organize the information into a structured file (CSV, XML, DOC, JSON, etc.).

3. Background screening

Social media screening stands for reviewing an individual’s social media profiles and online activity to gather insights about their behavior, interests, and public interactions. This method is handy in various domains, notably in employment, tenant screening, college admissions, and partnership.

Background check companies usually rely on social media scrapers. Instead of manually checking multiple social media sites, they gather data from various sources in one go. This speeds up the process and reduces the risk of missing important information.

During a social media background check, you may reveal the following red flags:

  • Posts or shares that are offensive, discriminatory, or explicit may indicate a lack of professionalism or judgment.
  • Any evidence of illegal behavior or substance abuse.
  • Aggressive, bullying, or harassing posts.
  • Discrepancies between a candidate’s resume and their public social media profiles.

Conclusion

Social media scraping is an undeniably great way to collect data at scale. The mere thought of manually collecting such a bunch of information is daunting, to say the least. Can you picture yourself sifting through a Twitter account’s followers, one by one, and tenaciously organizing them into a spreadsheet? That’s a hard pass for most of us. Web scraping social media offers immense possibilities for sales professionals, marketers, recruiters, and researchers to understand market trends, generate leads, conduct background checks, or inform product development.

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