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You’re Not Gonna Need a Bigger Boat: Finding Direction in a Sea of Big Data

big data marketing

The social interconnectedness of modern content sources creates a message amplification effect that affords marketers an amazing earned media upside, but the downside is that we can have way too much of a good thing. Without the right navigational tools to make sense of what’s around us, we are lost in the center of a chaotic sea of conversation.

Quality is simple, not easy

Back when we consumed and created messages on products made of paper, the reason that a personal Rolodex was so valuable to the PR profession was simple: the targeted, quality interaction it afforded was more likely to lead to engagement than blindly throwing out a release on the wire, or a pitch to a media database.

Looking at communications this way, things actually haven’t changed much: the key to mastering the technology-driven media landscape is finding the right conversation to have with the right person in the right place – in that order.  A quality, modern messaging campaign is data-drivensocial, and understands that engagement is the key to success.

It sounds simple because it is simple.  But it’s not necessarily easy.

We need answers, not data

In today’s socially-fueled communications ecosystem, our core challenge as marketers stems from the same place that opportunity does: Big Data.  We are at the center of a chaotic, endless ecosystem of conversation.  Finding our bearings requires both a high-level view of the overall messaging horizon, and the ability to zero in on the people and places that matter.  By understanding where we’re going, why, and who’s going to be there, we stand a far better chance of engaging the right people in a quality conversation that amplifies our message.

With that in mind, the most critical tool in our PR and marketing arsenal is a sophisticated communications search engine. 

If we don’t have a tool to pinpoint what we need to inform and assist our business efforts – whether that be a journalist in the greater Sydney area who wrote positively about solar power in the past year, or a high-level understanding of what the trends are in alternative energy worldwide – a bigger haystack just means more digging work to find that needle.

The reason that a powerful communications search engine is instrumental in modern messaging efforts is because, by doing what no mere mortal can – analyzing millions of content sources in the communications ecosystem at once – it enables marketers to answer questions that used to be both difficult and time-consuming to obtain.

  • Is there a journalist out there who’s been writing positively about biodiesel in the greater Houston area in the last 3 years?
  • What are our customers saying about us?
  • Where’s the best place to introduce this message?
  • Are there any influencers worth engaging?
  • What are the general trends in our industry?
  • How are our competitors positioning themselves per geographical region?

The right conversations direct us to the right course of action

A smart, data-driven digital Rolodex for the technology-driven media landscape qualifies people by the conversations they’re having.  The modern communications ecosystem is fueled by conversation, and that conversation can start anywhere by anyone.  The right influencer for us might be a journalist, or it might be a blogger, or it might just be a brand advocate with a small but loyal following in a highly relevant social community.

By the same token, the panoramic view of the billions of content sources out there provides us the insights to make informed, data-driven business decisions.  With the tools to both navigate the ocean of data around us and get a fix on our destination, we can make sure that we’re not adrift in the middle an endless sea of information.

Or, to amend an old adage: it’s not the size of the boat, it’s focus on the locus and the precision of the vision.

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