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Collect, then connect

First we collect the data, then we connect the fragmented pieces to gain insights into ourselves and into society. Once ideas, personal preferences and interests, and even thoughts have been externalized and made explicit in online profiles, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, the data simply waits to be mined and analyzed. And it’s starting: How to split up the US provides an intriguing look at how different parts of US are clustered around ideas/themes (based on data from Facebook). What do we do with data like this? I guess that’s a more difficult question. Personally, I didn’t find any huge surprises in the regional interests from Facebook, but the ability to confirm assumptions (about the religious views of people in Utah or the socialist interests of people in California) may be helpful to marketers. But then, how is this data more useful than census data? Is it more accurate? Cheaper to collect? Perhaps we can start to treat Facebook like the national census. They have the capacity to track consumer trends and interests more accurately than almost any other organization…or even the government. What value does that data have for organizations and marketers?