Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.
If there is one common denominator across the many applications of social media and data analytics we have explored in this book, it is gaining the ability to predict the future: who will buy, who will win, and perhaps even who will fall in love with us. Successful predictions, seen through the eyes of science, not hype, make the hard work of data analytics worthwhile. Therefore, it is fitting that we close this section of the book with a look at how data is used to make predictions in several key areas, ranging from elections to the stock market.
No matter which department you serve within your organization, whether it is marketing, public relations, sales, business intelligence, or any other function, data will play a big part in the future. Data will change the way you do business. Let’s look at a few examples we have discussed so far:
If you are in marketing, you may be predicting what people want. Or you may be predicting the likelihood of someone to react to your marketing, like the case of retailer Target knowing when someone is pregnant. Or like the case of semasio, predicting when someone will place an ad to increase targeting (Behavioral Targeting).
If you work in public relations, you may hope to predict the next PR disaster, as discussed in Chapter 3. Or you may hope to predict how dangerous a certain situation is, such as when a racist hoax was posted ...