Friday, January 25, 2013

Social Media: A Cautionary Tale

Social Media, is it a good or a bad thing? That would depend on whom you ask. Judith Aquino, a reporter for
CRM Magazine, describes social media as a marketing tool. Something to be mined for data and used to further the strategies and goals of a business.  Americans spend just about 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook every month.[1]  I don’t know about you, but to me, that is a lot of time. Every minute could mean a potential customer for any business. How exactly do you use social media in the best possible way? Well for starters, be careful what you write. It is easier to make incredibly simple mistakes.

Mistakes and the Negative Effects of an Uniformed Decision

Social media is, of course, based on a community. That means anything that is posted is there for the world to see, and the world will see it. I am sure many of you have seen this tweet. For those who haven’t, this was posted the same day as the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. It is obviously an unfortunate mistake, one that probably cost the business dearly. The marketing team did not take the time to find out why #Aurora was trending and simply assumed it must be because of their Aurora dress.[2] The point is, that a tweet such as this one could destroy a business.[3] In the analytical sense, it is ok to make mistakes. Mistakes tell you what works, and what doesn’t work. So what is the moral of this story? Pay attention to what you have in front of you. Do not make uninformed decisions. Make sure you are looking at your data and going through it thoroughly before making any decisions based on it.

Uses of Social Media Data

Now that we have established the fact that social media can have negative effects as well as positive effects on a business, lets talk about the analytical side to social media. What exactly is social media data good for? That is an incredibly good question. Lets take the show Teen Wolf as an example.[4] According to CRM Magazine, this TV show by MTV, had many issues in the beginning. Too many people thought it was like the old Michael J. Fox classic, when really it was an entirely new show. How did they figure out what was confusing their viewers? By using comments made on social media and analyzing the information.[5] The marketing plan to pitch the show as a “remake” of the original film backfired. The viewers were more interested in the romantic relationships between the characters. Those who chose to watch the show in hopes of it being like the original ended up being disappointed that so much about the show was different than the old movie. Comments on social media websites, like Facebook, can give a business a large amount of information about how their customers think and what they may be interested in. The problem is tracking this kind of data. For one, there is a lot of it, and for two, it is not as easy to track as other forms of data, such as a bounce rate.

         Social media is definitely an important part of web analytics. It helps a business understand their customers better and as a result help them market their products better. There is always a chance for a mistake in any kind of analytics. Mistakes that come from valid sets of data will serve as a learning tool. Those made without adequate information can have disasterous effects. Regardless of any mistakes made, social websites are stock full of information ready to be extracted and analyzed.

[1] Aquino, Judith. “Transforming Social Media Data and Predictive Analytics” Issue17 Vol. 2. November, 2012. accessed: Jan. 25, 2013.

[2] McFadden, Katie. “ Makes Huge Twitter Mistake In Regards to Aurora Colorado Shooting”. July 20, 2012. accessed Jan. 25, 2013.

[3] Laird, Sam. “Oops!” Sept. 25, 2012. accessed. Jan. 25, 2013.

[4] Schaefer, Sandy “’Teen Wolf’ TV Show Trailer: ‘Twilight’ Style Teen Drama’”. January, 2011. accessed Jan. 25, 2013.

[5] Aquino, Judith. “Transforming Social Media Data and Predictive Analytics” Issue17 Vol. 2. November, 2012. accessed: Jan. 25, 2013.

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