During The Social Shake-Up in Atlanta, I had a chance to moderate a brilliant panel starring Adam Naide, the social media lead for Cox Communications; Tracy Bell, Enterprise Media Monitoring Executive, SVP at Bank of America; and David Schweidel, Associate Professor of Marketing at Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
The conclusions were very similar. It's not because we can approximately measure everything that creative ideas become more impactful. In fact, it's all about the feelings you leave behind that matter - shaping a strange chemistry within organizations and customers is the key to making data-figures that count.
It's all about a story.
It can appear paradoxical but before even starting to process data, brands should probably go back to basics: what are their inner stories? Who are the stakeholders and protagonists? What's the plot?
This very old-fashioned approach now makes total sense, as a story provides a framework of analysis for any attempt to process data; brands stage stories, stories explain key momentums of communications and marketing effort. Data are not absolute: they're always related to an objective, to competitors and to attention. Stories and narratives prioritize tasks, hierarchize the marketing funnel and crystallize specific actions.
Dr Marie Taillard and Judy Bayer wrote a powerful article last year explaining that "the idea is for the analyst to navigate back and forth between the data and the developing story to ensure a good balance between the creative narrative and the analytics that reveal the facts and details of the story."
There are as many data frameworks as there are stories.
Essays, novels, romans, poems - if they all use the same features (mostly words) they can't be compared, as if there was "one best way". - do you mean to say 'one better way', or is this a quote?
Therefore as the panelists mentioned, data should be aggregated, consolidated and transformed to create relevant indicators for the business' story. Instead of focusing on the metrics (i.e. numbers of shares, likes, number of mentions, "positive" vs "negative" etc.), organizations should focus on objectives and what they want to demonstrate.
In other words, focusing on metrics without context nor purpose in a non-sense. When it comes to an insurance company, do customers really care to "love" it? Probably not. What's more important is the level of trust. The creative development of an insurance company should then focus on how to gain this trust, improve it, and feed it. Not necessarily trying to be loved.
Data is not the enemy of creativity: conservatism is.
Many commentators try to oppose creative people with maths people. It's actually deeply illogical; data are enemies of creativity only when they give ground to conservative people to not move the brand forward.
Data should actually bring some inputs to edgy minds: in 2012 a survey from the American Assembly, a non-partisan public policy forum affiliated with Columbia University found that nefarious file-sharers tend to purchase 30 percent more music than customers who do not download anything illegally. Based on that study, Iron Maiden used information about illegal downloads of their albums provided by Musicmetric to pick in which areas the band should play for their upcoming tour. Data and creativity are not two opposite sides - they are part of a value chain in which the two inspire each other.
Data: the textbook for digital brands' actors and actresses.
In social media marketing, "listen first" is the very first principle. Brands might then eventually start talking with educated guesses coming from these social insights.
Data as a whole should be like the words in a textbook for a theatre play: the elements in which we shape a tone of voice and a cultural territory - in which a story is different from another one. It is not a film in the sense that as with a live performance, the actors sometimes fail, or need to adapt with their audience. But it's something that needs to be prepared, just to keep a coherent approach.
Something which may appear forgotten in today's automation world.
Real time marketing leads to some skeptical thoughts; we're not doubting that its impact is potentially tremendously high; but seeing ten jokes on Twitter using the same triggers about a specific event happening during Superbowl, starts becoming boring. This is due to the "live" transformation of low-level data not changing the brand and the perception of consumers. Data should reveal less obvious expectations and usages, instead of confirming a marketing plan. No one talks about Coca Cola and happiness online as everybody associates the brand to fast-food, fries and breakfast. The main objective for Coca Cola using data in their creative process, will be to move this perception into new fields: sports, positive lifestyle etc. "Be part of the solution, not of the problem" regarding obesity.