The internet is huge.
Let’s put it into numbers.
As of January 2023, there are 5.6 billion internet users worldwide, so roughly 65% of the world. Out of this, 59% of them are on social media - and as more and more of our lives become wrapped around the possibilities of what the internet can give us, those numbers are only going to get bigger. For context, between 2021 and 2022, the numbers jumped from 4.9 billion to 5.3 billion - and then again in 2023.
That is a lot of people, a lot of data, and a lot of information about that data that you, as a brand, might not know. Despite your best efforts, knowing the people that engage with your brand isn’t as easy as opening up a web browser and googling your company name. Instead, laws exist that dictate what kind of data you - as a brand - have access to, and if you’re accessing this information as a third party, the information you get might be on the wrong side of helpful.
Data laws in 2023 are stringent. We’ve spoken about it before, and there’s a reason for it: with cybersecurity breaches going up and so much sensitive customer data accessible on the internet, the crackdown on what you can do with data was inevitable. It’s worth remembering that the internet was still in its early stages just a handful of years ago, and that when technology gets that big, that fast, changes might happen slowly, but they will happen.
There’s another important thing to remember: as a brand, you never had access to the data you needed at all.
That customer data is worth a lot. The companies that collect it are protective of it, not just because it currently means you get a hefty GDPR fine, but because it’s worth a lot of money to a lot of people.
If you’re a Youtuber or someone who’s built a following on social media, it’s very likely that the data you have access to is filtered through the platform’s own internal systems. This means that you will have a rough idea of who your customers are, but not necessarily, who your customers are in any way that might help you.
For example: you’re a Youtuber. If you access your channel, you know that you’re popular with users in a certain age group, and that streaming at a particular time nets you a much greater reaction. That is good information to have - but it’s not information that will help you create your content. It’s not information that might help you decide where to take your channel next.
Is there a better way?
Data laws are only getting more intricate, and the only way to get ahead of them is to move away from using third-party data altogether.
That sounds a lot more complicated than it is.
Third-party data - or the data that you, as a brand, have access to through someone else, either because you paid for it or because you use the platform that that data is on - isn’t a stable way to know your consumers. At any point, you could lose access to your platform, and therefore access to your data, leaving you helpless in the face of big businesses.
If you owned your own data outright, that is no longer something you need to worry about.
How do I own my own data?
First party data is data that you collect and own yourself. It’s usually the kind of data that you get access to because your customers hand it over: they subscribe to your newsletter, sign onto your app, trade their email for push notifications and more immediate access to the content that you provide.
This data still needs to be protected, but it’s data that you own outright, without the buffer zone of a third-party app or company spoonfeeding you tiny little bits of information about your own customers. It’s powerful information to have, and it’s something you can build on your own.
You just need a place to start. If you’re a Youtuber, or a social media influencer, that could be an app or a website. If you own a small indie business, it could be an e-commerce store. Have an affiliate program? All of that is first-party data that can be used.
What’s the benefit of first party data over third party data?
You get to know who you’re talking to.
Listen: owning your own data is important, but it’s useless if you don’t actually know who’s behind your channel’s popularity. As a social media influencer or a small business, knowing your customer isn’t half the battle: it’s the entire battle. It’s what will keep you going when you have a new project, or if you’re struggling to raise the same kind of interest that other brands have.
Owning your own data means that you know every inch of that data. You can use it to understand your customers. You can use it the way you want, not the way that companies dictate. You can gain insight into the way your customers think about your brand, and how to get them to spend a little more.
And in 2023, there’s no real reason not to own your own data. A website, an app, a shopfront: it’s stuff that you either already have, or you’ve considered.
It’s just one little step more to actually make something of it.
Is it worth owning your own data as a social media content creator?
It is absolutely worth owning your own data in any scenario, but especially if you’re a social media content creator. If you’ve read our other blog, you already know that creators who rely on the platform both struggle to get an accurate understanding of their clients, and also might lose that access if someone reports their account or they get banned or hacked for whatever reason.
With an app, you can never really lose control of your data since you own it from the ground up. With third-party data, or social media platforms, that is not something you can have.
How do I start with first-party data?
Build an app.
If you’ve got a big enough following on social media, or you just want to make it easier for your growing fanbase to find you, an app is the way to go. It’ll help you grow your business the way you want to, by giving you the insight you need into your customers and making it easier to make decisions that steer your company in the right direction.
It can be a little expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are out of the box solutions that work for beginners, and can usually be adapted right up until you need a custom solution to give you a little more control and finesse over where you want your company to go.
Need a little help figuring out what works best for you? Drop us a message - we’re always happy to guide you down the right path.