Today, the world has become fast paced and digital, making it imperative to access data. Web scraping is a process that extracts large amounts of data from websites.
Web scraping can be done using PHP, the convenient and popular programming language, to gain access to this data. Extracted data can be stored on a hard drive for later use.
When the process of data extraction is applied to social media pages like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, it is called social media scraping. The data you access with the help of a social media scraper allows you to conduct business research.
More Details : PHP GET File Contents Data Scraping
Why perform social media scraping?
Social media scraping plays an important role in business research. It helps in performing a sentiment analysis, understanding consumer behavior, and keeping up to date with the latest industry trends.
With access to data, strategies can be developed based on facts, not mere assumptions.
You will be able to connect with your customers better and boost sales. Additionally, it makes it easier to overcome PR challenges if you have access to the right data needed by your business.
How to scrape social media data with PHP?
Social media scraping runs on code that is called the media scraper. A programming tool is necessary to scrape and then store the data that is extracted. This guide will take you through how you can scrape social media data using PHP.
PHP is a scripting language used for web development and HTML. PHP allows you to effectively scrape data from websites, blogging sites, or social media pages. Read on to know how you can use PHP as an Instagram scraper tool or a scraper tool for any other social media page.
First, you need to build your media scraper
If you want to get access to data that is useful for your business, you need to create a media scraper to gather such data first. Many programs work with PHP to aid in the process of scraping. These may be categorized as:
- Web scraping libraries
- Web request libraries
Both have their fair share of pros and cons, but if you’re looking to do a more thorough job, web scraping libraries are the way to go. You can also save yourself a lot of trouble by incorporating the positive characteristics of both into your PHP media scraper.
One of the most popular pairings you can use is the Simple HTML DOM parser tool. It is easy to work with and is a reliable option. Install the tool first and then you will be able to begin working using PHP.
Then, make a PHP File
Make a new PHP folder and label it “simple_dom”. Near the top of the file, you should also include something like “simple_html_dom.php”.
You need to have a clear idea of exactly what you want to scrape from a social media page. It could be comments, likes, tags, or other user behavior.
Once this is done, add file_get_html tool in your file to get access to the HTML page of the main URL of that social media page.
Carry out an inspection of the page URL that you want to scrape by doing the following:
- Open your browser
- Add the URL
- Right click then then inspect the URL
The inspecting functions you have access to will depend on the browser you use. You will be able to view the data in HTML format and check the details you seek.
Scrape the details you want from what you can access in the file section. Don’t forget to save the output in the form of a file.
Save the extracted data
Once the output data from the scraping process is saved, be sure to convert it into an XML file. This can be done easily if you use SimpleXMLElement which is another tool that works well with PHP.
Save useful information
Social media pages can give you access to tons of information. While many details are important, others are unnecessary.
This is why having a clear idea of what data you want to scrape in advance will help to save you time. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re just dealing with massive amounts of text, as this can be overwhelming and time consuming.
With social media scraping, you will have access to data regarding engagement and analytics. You can keep up with current trends and stay relevant in the market. Scraping data from social media can also give useful insights into SEO link building, Ad Words, content marketing, video marketing, and more.
An understanding of HTML and coding is necessary for this. But once you get the hang of it, it is going to be easier than you thought to utilize the data to your advantage.