Dangerous Digital Data

Social Media

Social Media
According to The Detroit Free Press, the average price of a new car purchased in 2010 in the US was $29,217.

That said, I’m fairly certain you can’t buy a brand new Lamborghini for just under $30K. And, if you paid $30,000 for a Hyundai Accent, you were carjacked.

Given this information, it’s highly unlikely that Lamborghini and Hyundai use a blanket $30,000 purchase price to determine sales forecasts and their respective target markets. I’d even go so far to say that you would likely approach a potential Hyundai Accent customer differently than a potential Lamborghini customer.

Bold, I know…

Let’s play with one more.

According to the US Census Bureau, the 2006 adjusted Household income was ~$50,000/yr. However, the top 6.37% of the population account for roughly 1/3 of all US income. This means that the top 6.37% make roughly $360,000/yr. and the remaining 93.63% ~$35,000/yr.

That’s an awfully large skew with monstrous impact on purchasing power.

Now, I’m no marketing genius, but I’d imagine its skews like this that would help Hyundai and Lamborghini determine which folks to target with their respective marketing resources.

So then riddle me this readers…

Why on earth are we using and attracted to such archaic and misleading blanket data points for our social efforts?

$4.00 is the average value of a fan?!

$2.10 is the average value of a share?!

Are you kidding me?

If you believe this type of data is useful, I have a Hyundai Accent to sell you for $30,000.

First off, category-to-category, brand-to-brand, PERSON-to-PERSON patterns and values differ.

Social marketing is supposed to allow us to capitalize on personalized communication and individual solutions.

Think back to ’99 when it was about Display CPM’s, ’05, about Search CPC’s and now ’11, Friend/Follower CPF’s.

Now think about where the data stands in ’11 for search and display.

We have…performance, brand impact and engagement lift metrics…emergence of dynamic creative platforms, landing page testing and yield optimization.

We tie this data together using our web analytics, which allows for overlays like referral traffic, path analysis and audience comp that, in turn, can be used for better acquisition planning and on-site product position optimization.

Layer in the individualized first party CRM data and we have the reason why digital has come into its own!

Yet, somehow, we’ve reverted back to fan totals and impressions for our social planning, and we’re constantly being distracted by the latest shiny-blinking marketing toy.

We’re fascinated by the likes of broad social indexing technologies, which help us see that Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are influential. If I am Crate and Barrel or Nordstrom that data really isn’t all that helpful. I would need to know who my ‘Lady Gaga’ is (also potentially known as Doris from Kansas City) and how she impacts my bottom line.

We are also seeing third party social sharing tools trade you technology usage and top-level audience data for data ownership. This merely perpetuates a data gap and reliance on directional information at best.

There’s no doubt our industry is evolving.

We are attempting to sort out the actionable insights wheat from the dangerous data chaff.

We are beginning to see the emergence of basic social segmentation technology to deal with the drastic participation inequality that exists amongst a user base.

However, because we are still figuring out how to perfect the art of social communication, we are confused and, in the process, forgetting all we’ve learned.

If we are going to deliver on the promise of social, we need not flock to technology that only takes us as deep as surface level.

What we need is more comprehensive-but-actionable analytics and even loftier user segmentation.

Let me ask you this…are any of you marketing to your email database using industry level data or average consumer statistics? Are any of you giving away the rights to your email database only to get a free tool that allows you to see blanket open rates


Then let’s remember 3 things as we move forward:

  1. Don’t accept missing data.
  2. Personalized experiences are key and, thus, measurement systems must be able to track actual personal experiences.
  3. Deploy with a purpose. Don’t chase Fans and Followers unless you know the value you get from these folks—like page views, registrations and sales!

About Lance Neuhauser

Lance is the CEO and Founder of The Echo System, a social analytics and engagement platform that bridges the gap between the web and social web, and empowers marketers with the data to drive performance. Lance is a veteran of the digital media, tech start-up and agency world. He enjoys being a Professor of Digital Communication Strategies and loves live music.


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