Social media is a valuable source of information for businesses and they are racing to collect the data. The task is harder for small companies that do not have large budgets. But social media scraping tools are the solution to this problem. We are going to cover all you need to know about them.
What is web scraping?
Web scraping is all about collecting data from the internet and storing it for your own needs. Think of it as opening a website, copying the needed data with a mouse click, and pasting it somewhere. This is manual web scraping.
Scraping tools automate this process and make it more efficient. They use bots (also known as scrapers) to visit the website, extract data, and convert it to a convenient format. Once the scraper downloads the data, the user only needs to analyze it and apply it to his needs.
There are a lot of places you can collect data online, so there are many forms of web scraping. Social media scraping targets websites where users create content themselves. These can be various blogs, news sites, Wikipedia pages and, of course, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
Where to use social media scraping tools?
It might be common knowledge that social media houses a lot of information, but it’s not always apparent where to use it. Many businesses, therefore, skip social media scraping or use tools aimlessly.
Sentiment analysis is a way to analyze texts on social media and elsewhere while searching for brand mentions and looking into what emotions people associate with it. Of course, you want to improve and help your brand come off in a good light.
You will need a lot of data about what customers think to be successful. Social media scraping tools help you collect the data efficiently and move on to analysis faster, making sentiment analysis a task you can return to regularly.
Monitoring market trends is an essential task for any company. Knowing what sells, who your competition is, and where your clients are is a permanent job. Getting up to speed with changing trends isn’t easy if you don’t have the resources.
Social media scraping tools can unveil the mysteries of popularity and allow using them to your advantage. Where else can the newest hype appear than on social media? Scrape it constantly, and you won’t need to double-guess anymore.
Lead generation is a huge hassle, but you cannot be lazy with this task. Bad leads will waste the time of your sales department, while quality ones are hard to find. At the same time, no business can do without the constant flow of new leads.
Luckily, social media is full of people expressing their tastes and opinions on almost everything. Use social media tools to gather this data, identify leads from it and improve your lead generation.
What social media scraping tools to look for?
Some companies prefer to create web scrapers, but it is not for everyone. Hiring outside programmers will be expensive and inefficient if your field is far from software development. Therefore, it is better to use a pre-built web scraper.
There are a lot of scrapers you can purchase, and many of them do not require coding experience. However, this has to be complemented by other features, such as a convenient interface, advanced scraping functionalities and price. Here are a few picks we can recommend.
Octoparse is a tool that fulfills all expectations and is a top choice for many. It doesn’t require any coding experience and the interface is simple. You get to see the webpage in its entirety, select the needed items, and Octoparse sends collected data back to you in the requested format.
They claim their bot works with every website design – infinite scrolling, dropdown menus, or asynchronous web applications (Ajax). Many reviews for this tool seem to reaffirm it. Scheduled scraping, IP rotation, and other features strengthen the case even further. Octoparse might be the best web scraper available now.
All the endorsements for Octoparse come while ignoring one factor – price. The tool works with a subscription service which can cost up to 250 USD per month if you want all the features. If you need only some of them, maybe a more specialized option would be better.
Dripify is a multifunctional Linkedin automation tool designed primarily with web scraping for lead generation in mind. But it can do more than just scrape data as it has extensive statistics, a messaging system, following, liking, and more.
With the help of cloud-based solutions, Dripify can look for leads 24/7 with minimal interference from your side. You can create whole campaigns describing action sequences in a neat flowchart-like interface. The bot will then run these actions and notify you about the results.
Although you can export the scraped data in a CSV format for later use, Dripify is not a fully-fledged web scraping tool. Its features primarily target lead generation, which is a limitation but can be a plus if that is the only thing you need.
Web scraper alone is of no use – you need a good proxy to complement it. Proxies act as relays for your bot, so it can connect to a proxy server first and only then to the needed website. Such a process allows you to change the IP address, ensuring your scraper will do its work unnoticed.
Proxies are crucial for scraping social media sites as they take harsh measures against any bots. Even though scraping publicly available data is legal, it puts a lot of pressure on websites, and they try to block IPs that use bots. Use a proxy service, and your web scraper will be able to work undisturbed.
These are the main points you should know about social media scraping tools. Now, you can take a step back, and instead of looking for more information, try out one of them.