Big Data Questions Will Become Key To Social Marketers, 2013 Prediction

by Christopher S Penn on Dec 17, 2012
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Social Fresh 2013 Social Media Predictions: 1/10

The hottest new term in digital marketing is Big Data, and every social media marketer will have that buzzword thrown at them in 2013 with vigor from vendors, colleagues, and customers.

What should be your takeaway, and what should you be doing?

Fundamentally, the term Big Data is itself a bit of marketing.

From the early days of data warehousing in the 1970s to today’s Big Data, companies and vendors have been branding and rebranding the same fundamental problem for 40 years

How do we get some useful insights out of all this data?

The vendor’s answer, of course, is timeless: buy our stuff and it’ll be the magic wand you need.

Back in reality, the most important thing for any social media marketer to do is not to start crunching data or hiring vendors, but to inquire:

What are the most valuable questions I need to be asking of my data?

Far too many social media marketers are still paying attention to diagnostic metrics like follower counts, retweets, or Facebook Page likes.

Far too few social media marketers are asking questions like what impact social is having on the bottom line or what effect it’s having on other marketing programs.

Big Data isn’t going to improve the answers to bad questions.

All it will do is give you expensive wrong answers and waste tremendous amounts of time, energy, and money.

Here’s a fundamental question to ask yourself of your social media marketing as you walk into 2013:

What value should social media be providing towards our business objectives, and how can I measure that?

Start with that question.

What’s important?

Then work backwards from there, because starting with the goal in mind gives you the ability to formulate questions that you can then put before vendors and colleagues.

“How will your tool help me understand the brand impact of social media as measured in dollars?” is the kind of specificity you will need in order to cut through other people’s marketing of Big Data and get answers that will legitimately help you.


Post Author

Christopher S. Penn has been featured as a recognized authority in many books, publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, BusinessWeek and US News & World Report, and television networks such as PBS, CNN, CNBC,...

  • Thanks Chris- though I’d hope for a little more. Be good to throw in a couple of case studies to flesh out your thinking on it! Cheers.

  • Cat

    The ‘Why should we use social media?’ matters more than ‘What I am doing with it?’