A social media scraper often refers to an automatic web scraping tool that extracts data from social media channels, which not only include social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn…etc., but also include blogs, wikis, and news sites. All of these portals share something in common – they are all yielding user-generated content in the form of unstructured data that is accessible only through the web.
Now we know the definition of social media scraper, I am going to further illustrate how social media dataset can be used in business and list out the top 5 social media scraping tools that I will recommend to anyone.
Data scraped from social media, is undoubtedly the largest and most dynamic dataset about human behavior, bringing social scientists and business experts brand new opportunities to understand individuals, groups and society, as well as exploring the great wealth hidden in the data.
In Social media analytics|a survey of techniques, tools and platforms, it’s been pointed out that the early business adopters of social media data analysis were typical companies in the retail and finance industries, who applied social media analytics to harness brand awareness, customer service improvement, marketing strategies, and even fraud detection.
Apart from the above-mentioned applications, in a big data era today, social media dataset can be also applied for:
Customer sentiment measurement
After collecting customers’ reviews from social media channels, you can analyze customer attitude towards a particular topic or product by measuring their tone, context, and feelings. Tracking customer sentiment allows you to understand the overall customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, as well as their engagement intent, which provides insights for your current and upcoming marketing campaigns.
Target market segmentation
A target market is a group of customers (individuals, households or organizations), for which an organization designs, implements and maintains a marketing mix suitable for the needs and preferences of that group,” as defined on Wikipedia. Obtaining and analyzing social media dataset enable you to know to whom and when to market your product or service. Identifying more targeted markets helps you maximize your marketing Return on Investment.
Online branding monitoring
Online branding monitoring is not only hearing the voice from your customers, but also knowing what your competitors, the press, and even the industry KOL saying; it is not only about your product or service, but also about your customer services, sales process, social engagement, and every touch points where customers engage with your brand.
Market trends identifying
Identifying market trends is vital to adjust your business strategy, keeping your business at the same pace with the approaching shifts of direction in your industry. With the assistance of big data automation tools, market trend analysis is simply the comparison of industry data over a set time period, by means of tracking industry influencers and publications on social media channels.
Top 5 social media scrapers
Data at your fingertips with no programming! Octoparse is one of the best free automatic web scraping tools in the market, developed for non-coders to accommodate complicated web scraping jobs.
The current Version 7 provides an intuitive point-and-click interface and supports dealing with infinite scrolling, log-in authentication, text input (for scraping searching results), as well as selecting from drop-down menus. Scrapped data can be exported as Excel, JSON, HTML, or to databases. If you want to create a dynamic scraper to extract data from dynamic websites in real time, Octoparse Cloud Extraction (paid plan) works well for getting dynamic data feeds as it supports extraction scheduling as frequent as every 1 min.
For scraping social media data, Octoparse has already published many elaborated tutorials, like scraping tweets from Twitter and extracting post from Reddit. In addition, there are pre-built scrapers on their GitHub repositories, with which you only need to import the scraper into the APP and get the data.
As a web-based app, Dexi.io is another intuitive extraction automation tool for commercial purposes with a starting price of $119/month. Dexi.io supports creating three kinds of robots: extractor, crawler, and Pipes.
Dexi.io does require some programming skills to master, but you can integrate third-party services for captcha solving, cloud storage, text analysis (MonkeyLearn service integration), and even with AWS, Google Drive, Google Sheets…
Addon (paid plan) is also a revolutionary feature of Dexi.io and the number of add-ons is still growing. Through add-ons, you could unlock more features available in Extractor and Pipes.
3. OutWit Hub
Unlike Octoparse and Dexi.io, Outwit Hub offers a simplistic graphic user interface, as well as sophisticated scraping functions and data structure recognition. Outwit Hub started as a Firefox addon and has later turned into a downloadable App.
With no prior programming background required, OutWit Hub can extract and export links, email addresses, RSS news and data tables to Excel, CSV, HTML or SQL databases.
Outwit Hub has an outstanding “Fast Scrape” features, which quickly scrapes data from a list of URLs that you feed in. For beginners though, you might need to go through some random tutorials and documentation as the scraping App lacks a point-and-click interface.
Scrapinghub is a cloud-based web crawling platform that allows you to scale your crawlers and offers a smart downloader to work around bot countermeasures, turn-key web scraping services, and off-the-shelf datasets.
Instead of providing a complete suite, Scrapehub is a pretty complex and powerful web scraping platform in the market, not to mention each of the tools offered by Scrapehub is charged individually.
Moreover, Parsehub also has a browser-based extension to launch your scraping task instantly. Data can be exported as Excel, JSON, or via API.
The controversial thing about Parsehub has to do its pricing. Parsehub’s paid version starts at $149 per month which is higher than most scraping products in the market, ie Octoparse’ s standard plan only cost $89 per month for unlimited pages per crawl. There is a free plan but sadly limits to scraping 200 pages and 5 scraping jobs.
Apart from what automatic web scraping tools can do, now many social media channels offer paid APIs to users, academia, researchers, and special organizations, for instance, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg in the news service, Twitter and Facebook in social networking.
With the increasingly growing and prosperous development of the online economy, social media opens up many new opportunities for your business to stand out in its field, by listening to your customers better and engaging with your potential and current customers in brand new ways.
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