The term “big data” saw a lot of hype in recent years. Today it receives less attention overall, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. Instead, the concept of data mining – looking at data sets so large they don’t fit in a spreadsheet – is now relatively commonplace.

Still, many businesses are just learning how to harness the power of mining data to shape their PR strategy.

Data from social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, can illustrate how a story is being shared, who’s sharing it and when. Website analytics tell us where visitors are coming from and can help to measure the success of our efforts to drive them there. Each day, new data mining techniques are emerging or evolving, and if you run a company, you’re likely sitting on a heap of industry data that could help you to improve performance or generate news stories about your organization.

Here are some examples of how data-mining techniques can play a role in your public relations strategy.

Use data to tell your story
The popular social dating app Tinder is a pro at using data to tell stories and generate mainstream news interest. In February, the company generated headlines after releasing data showing which Tinder users landed the most dates depending on the occupations listed in their profiles. (Men received the most attention if they were a pilot, entrepreneur, firefighter, doctor or TV personality; for women, it was physical therapist, interior designer, founder-entrepreneur, PR or teacher.)

More recently, the company has used data from its users to provide statistics related to the 2016 presidential election.

Improve performance and customer satisfaction
In addition to improving performance, many companies use data to understand consumer behavior. For example, through in-depth analysis across many channels of information, MasterCard was able to interpret social media discussions and uncover what drove positive sentiment in the marketplace as well as what created barriers to new customers coming on board.

Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, recently looked to social media in conjunction with other analysis to understand consumers’ comments about late flights, linking them to specific data along with news stories about bad weather events. Ultimately, the company used these insights to create new programs, boosting on-time flight performance and improving its position in the public eye.

Predict behavior
Netflix has a trove of information on its customers and can use that to predict likely blockbusters. Take the series “House of Cards,” for example, which stars Kevin Spacey and is based on a popular British series.

According to the New York Times, Netflix executives knew it would be a hit long before it was filmed – and it went on to become the most streamed content in the United States. They gained this insight through data showing that Kevin Spacey’s films had always performed well, the series director’s work was also popular, and the show’s British counterpart was a winner. Spliced together, these circles of interest predicted a new winning show for the U.S. as well.

Whether your company is small or larger, by focusing on the latest innovations in data mining, predictive modeling and analytical tools, your PR strategy will be smarter and your tactics will be more effective.

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