Social media has always been interesting to marketers. It’s a unique space where potential customers share a lot of content, interests, and hobbies. As a result, a lot of data is produced that helps marketers reach the correct people.
Yet, the utility of social media doesn’t end there. So much content is being produced about various topics, products, and companies that the data could be useful to those who can acquire and utilize it. After all, social media platforms are using it to improve their own services.
As a result, social media scraping is rising in popularity. Businesses are looking towards user-generated content as a way to gain an edge over the competition. In this article, we’ll go through the ways businesses are benefiting from the data, the best social media scraping tools, and how to use them properly.
Web Scraping Social Media: Use Cases
Before we continue, we’d like to note that our definition of social media is not only LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and others, but it also includes blogs, news sites, and wikipedia pages. Most of the social media scraping tools we’ll cover provide functionality for even more websites, but we will limit ourselves to those.
Businesses are apt to start scraping social media for many different reasons. They, however, converge into one primary point - data. Publicly accessible user data can be analyzed and turned into actionable insights that can improve marketing, product, or sales strategies.
Additionally, users themselves turn to social media for research more frequently. According to Hubspot, 42% of people used social media for product research in 2020. As a result, understanding what works and what doesn’t will be increasingly critical for businesses.
Most digital businesses have implemented some form of social media marketing strategy. As such, they leave a ton of content that can be collected and analyzed. Social media scraping provides the opportunity to collect all of the data left by companies in order to improve existing marketing strategies.
Additionally, monitoring the competition can provide an opportunity to reach out to new audiences by discovering who they are marketing themselves to. Sometimes even small, but important changes to products or services might be discovered.
People share their opinion, review, and comments about nearly everything on social networking sites. All opinions, however, bring with them some emotion and some evaluation. As such, social media allows businesses to not only collect data on nearly anything, but also understand the emotions and reactions tied to those things.
Collecting such data with web scrapers provides insight into the overall opinion on products, services, and brands. These metrics can be used by businesses as a way to measure performance, because sentiment is a great signal for overall satisfaction.
Market trend discovery
As mentioned previously, many people use social media pages as a way to research products. As users also leave a lot of information about their satisfaction about products, aggregating such data can be used to predict trends.
Through clever use of social media analytics, companies can uncover possibilities for market entries for new products. Additionally, rising or falling demand can be measured, allowing businesses to predict market moving products.
Most current marketing practices attempt to advertise to those who are the most likely buyers instead of using mass messaging. Data is often collected through many channels in order to create an audience based on some metrics.
Social media data is the perfect candidate for audience segmentation. Businesses can use web scrapers to extract data that will reveal in-depth information about the relationship between preferences and product purchasing behavior. Additionally, structured data can be used to enrich marketing in other channels.
Finally, one of the easiest ways to benefit from social media sites through web scraping is to collect leads. Professional websites like LinkedIn display a lot of information about users that allow businesses to evaluate product suitability.
In turn, lots of these profiles can be collected in order to glean better audiences for marketing purposes. Thus, social media scrapers can also provide a way to gather lists of potential buyers.
Top 5 Social Media Scraping Tools in 2021
Luckily, you don’t have to create automatic web scraping tools yourself. A lot of providers have cropped up that have a web scraper dedicated to social media. However, it’s important to note that you can only scrape data that is publicly accessible. Scraping other types of data in many cases is against Terms of Service or illegal.
- Free plan with limited features.
- Standard plan - $75 per month (annual billing) or $89 per month (monthly billing).
- Professional plan - $209 per month (annual billing) or $249 per month (monthly billing).
- Enterprise plan - custom billing.
Octoparse is a web scraping tool designed for those without coding experience. As such, they provide access to an intuitive UI and easy-to-use framework, making it easy to acquire data from social media platforms.
Most of the scraping functionality is accessible through a point-and-click interface. Users can select elements on web pages to extract the relevant data. In some cases, a detection algorithm might be able to detect those elements automatically.
Additionally, Octoparse takes care of all the technical complexities of web scraping. They provide a lot of workflow management tools, IP rotation, and cloud-based computing. They also solve common pain points such as extracting data from pages with infinite scrolling. In short, all it usually takes to scrape data with Octoparse is proxies.
Unfortunately, a lot of the advanced features are gated behind the professional plan, which quickly adds up to the costs. In addition, some users have complained about sluggish customer support, although it supposedly gets better if you pay more.
Finally, there’s no CAPTCHA solving feature. They do offer some workarounds, such as manual solving or saving cookies, however, they don’t provide a 100% foolproof solution.
- Free plan with limited features.
- Standard plan - $125 per month (quarterly billing) or $149 per month (monthly billing).
- Professional plan - $425 per month (quarterly billing) or $499 per month (monthly billing).
- Enterprise plan - custom billing.
Parsehub is a web scraper that provides functionality for many different websites, social media platforms included. They are also marketed towards those who have limited coding experience.
They also provide access to cloud-based features. Parsehub provides the opportunity to use their infrastructure for both extraction and cloud storage. Finally, it can also be accessed through an easily programmable API.
Unfortunately, for many users Parsehub will be inaccessible due to the pricing model. It’s one of the more expensive social media data acquisition tools out there. Additionally, their data storage services are limited. For those without a professional or enterprise plan, data will only be retained for 14 days.
- Free 1000 API calls with any plan.
- Freelance plan - $49 per month.
- Startup plan - $99 per month.
- Business plan - $249 per month.
- Enterprise - custom billing.
ScrapingBee is a scraping solution that provides a complete suite of features, that include social media data extraction. It’s also a cloud-based web scraping tool that takes off most of the technical complexity from the user.
It is, however, a scraper API of being a web-based app. As such, some coding experience will be required to use ScrapingBee. They do provide quite extensive documentation that will be useful to those less experienced, however.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few drawbacks. ScrapingBee provides no native parsing support, so you’d have to build a parser in-house. While you can use data extraction from CSS selectors, that’s more of a workaround.
- Free Chrome extension.
- Project plan - $50 per month.
- Professional plan - $100 per month.
- Business plan - $200 per month.
- Scale plan - from $300 per month.
Webscraper.io provides web scraping functionalities through the use of a browser extension. It’s currently available for Chrome and Firefox. It can be made independent through their specialized cloud-based scraping solution.
Since it’s an extension, it’s a browser-based scraping tool that is easy to use for those without coding experience. There are no commands to be sent to an API. However, it does exist for those who want to make use of automation through an API.
Unfortunately, a lot of the important features are gated behind the more expensive plans. For example, custom proxies can only be used if the Scale plan is bought. Otherwise, Webscraper.io uses their own proxies. Additionally, support is only available through email.
- Free trial available.
- Basic plan - $39 per month (paid annually) or $59 per month (paid monthly).
- Pro plan - $59 per month (paid annually) or $79 per month (paid monthly).
- Advanced plan - $79 per month (paid annually) or $99 per month (paid yearly).
Dripify is a LinkedIn focused social media automation tool with scraping features. It is intended for lead generation and sales automation. However, all of the data acquired can be exported to CSV for personal use.
Dripify is great for those who only use social media for lead generation as it’s a cloud-based solution. It can scrape social media data without compromising existing profiles and reduce the likelihood of getting banned. Additionally, it can be integrated with many data management solutions and CRMs
Yet, it’s only useful for that purpose. Dripify doesn’t provide an extensive scraping-based feature set, which greatly reduces its applicability. Additionally, their pricing is quite steep, which means that other solutions that provide more broadly applicable web scraping features might be more useful in many cases.
Importance of proxies
All of these tools aren’t worth much if you don’t have proxies. Social media websites will quickly detect that you are scraping data or using web crawlers and start blocking access or ban your account.
Using proxies is even more important if you use numerous accounts at once, since social media websites employ geo-restrictions. They might even consider a short-term block if you connect to different accounts from the same IP address due to security reasons.
At Metrow, we created social media proxies to solve all of these issues in one go. Instead of free or shared proxies that can cost you access to data or your accounts, our premium social media proxies will let you stay safe for as long as needed.
They are residential addresses that come directly from regular internet users instead of businesses. Additionally, due to our extensive IP pool, we have enabled price geo-location targeting that removes any location-based restrictions in the blink of an eye.
Finally, we know how important scraping and automation is to social media marketing. As such, we have made them as simple as possible to integrate with all of the most popular social media automation and scraping tools.
Digital businesses base a significant part of their marketing strategy on social media. Comparatively few, however, take advantage of social media scraping to boost ROI. That makes it the perfect time to join the ranks of social media scrapers and use these tools to beat the competition.