We’ve all heard of big data. In fact, you can’t get away from the hype, articles, conferences, roundtables and webinars about it. However, there’s a core element of big data that frequently gets overlooked: the human element. It’s people – along with their social media profiles and mobile devices – that are driving the explosion of data. Whether you’re on the bus, walking to a meeting or out in the evening, you can share pictures and videos via your social networks, like posts, comment on blogs and articles, tweet and more.

All of this content is created by humans. This is big human data – the thoughts, feelings and opinions of real people in real-time as documented within articles, blogs and social media. With more than half of the internet’s population now on social networks, human data continues to grow exponentially. According to Ofcom’s Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2014, 60 per cent of social network users visit sites more than once a day, an increase of 50 percent on 2012. You only have to look at the sheer volume of activity to gain some insight into the amount of content now available on social networks. Facebook had 890 million daily active users on average at the end of 2014; 500 million tweets are sent a day and WordPress users produce roughly 61.6 million new posts and 56.5 million comments a month. 

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All of this social data is a rich pool of information for companies, providing insight into customer sentiment, industry trends, and buying patterns. In short, it gives you visibility of what makes your target audiences tick. But you have to filter through a huge amount of noise to discover the signals that are important for your business. So, how do you sift through this vast amount data and access the knowledge that gives you a competitive edge? How can you introduce new products and services onto the market, improve customer service, and increase your market share with the help of real-time feedback from your audiences? 

The answer lies in structuring unstructured social data via content analytics. You need to be able to filter, analyse, enrich and categorise information to unlock the power of human data. The value of Human Data lies in the ability to interpret it and gain a deeper understanding of markets, audiences and consumer interests. Companies that fail to do so risk losing out. Organisations now have the opportunity to discover what makes their audiences tick thanks to Human Data processing - a new layer of business analytics that adds context, structure and consistency to data before analysis begins.

Human data processing must follow a set of chronological steps: clean, tag, structure, standardise, contextualise and then analyse. Human Data should be used everywhere within the organisation and combined with your internal business data to make well-informed decisions about company goals, products, projects and more. 

The five steps companies should follow when monitoring, filtering and analysing blogs, social and news data to identify meaningful nuggets of information for the business are: 

  1. Work in real-time: Human-generated data becomes stale very quickly. To gain insights from social happenings, you need to turn on the fire hose be prepared to work with the data at a consistently high speed and capacity.
  2. Have a descriptive set of metadata: Good metadata – the fingerprints that show where data’s from and its properties – enables thousands of comparisons to be made in a second by a machine
  3. Perform sentiment analysis: Sentiment can reveal a lot about a person and their demeanor. It also measures the feeling embodied within specific text – positive, neutral or negative
  4. Identify correlations between data from different sources: Human-generated data covers all types of content created online. Having a unified, central view of Human Data helps to map connections and unlock meaning and insight.
  5. Analyse all content for relationships: Aside from Twitter and Facebook, you can derive value from looking at audio, video, text and images that people leave on blogs, within news content and more. These give you more insight into customers’ intent, likes, dislikes and preferences.

Technology – such as DataSift’s – is already giving companies worldwide the opportunity to gain intelligence from the pool of unstructured human data that’s out there and discover what makes their audiences tick. Just one tiny nugget of information from human data could transform your business. Is that something you want to miss out on?