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Are we over-relying on data to make social media decisions?

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Big data.

Data-decision decisions.

Data.

Data.

Data.

Big data

Isn’t that all we’ve heard the last few years? The data discussion has been so big, in fact, that there’s often room for nothing else when it comes to digital and social media strategy.

Now, I’m not here to debate the validity of data. I know it’s an important component to any successful digital or social media marketing program.

But I AM here today to argue this: Is it possible we may be relying on data TOO much?

I might say “yes.”

I’m of the belief the marketing, PR, and creative decision-making is not a one-trick pony. Making decisions based on data alone is a dangerous proposition. Instead, we should be making decisions based on data + experience, context and one of the best tools available to us all–our “gut.”

Let’s look at decision-making when it comes to social content, for example. And let’s look at a recent example from a big brand we all know: Kohl’s. Here’s was Kohl’s post on Thanksgiving day:

Kohls FB 1

Not all that surprising, right? After all, many brands make this kind of post on big holidays like Thanksgiving. And, look at the social signals–13,614 likes, 345 shares and more than 100 comments! This post worked! It “engaged”our audience! Let’s plan for more holiday posts!

That’s the thinking of folks that are driven only by the data.

I would encourage us all to look at the other side of the marketing coin when making content decisions.

For example, as a retailer, posting anything on Thanksgiving day may stir up thoughts and comments around why that store is open on Thanksgiving, and the inevitable backlash may follow. Especially with companies like REI giving their employees the day off after Thanksgiving. So, it wasn’t surprising to me at all to see comments like this from folks in the stream:

Kohls FB 2

Kohls FB 3

Kohls FB 4

They could have anticipated that backlash–anyone could have, really.

What’s more–what’s the standard, “do-what-everyone-else-is-doing” Thanksgiving post going to really get you, as a brand? What do you hope to gain? Likes, comments, shares? Seems like that’s all brands are after.

Finally, why do brands need to post at all on holidays? Are people really just waiting by their computers and phones ready for Kohl’s to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving? How does that impact brand awareness and reputation?

In this scenario, I might argue if the Kohl’s team sat down and thought through all the angles, they may have decided not to make this post. As it stands, it seems like a pure social metric grab. Based on the data, they know these holiday posts “perform”. They knew they’d get thousands of likes, shares and comments. And they need those to hit their monthly benchmarks.

But, if they had looked at the data AND thought about the “softer” side of the decision, they may have decided not to post at all.

This is just one example, mind you, but I see it happening more and more.

Again, I’m not saying data is the enemy.

I’m not saying you should ignore all the data at your disposal.

What I am saying is actually quite simple: Don’t OVER-RELY on the data. Take many different points of view into consideration when making your content, social and digital marketing decisions. Relying on data alone can be very dangerous.

photo credit: IMG_2491 via photopin (license)

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Are we over-relying on data to make social media decisions?

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