The Art and Science of Social Media

Who is your favorite artist? It is so subjective. Personally, my favorites include Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Chuck Close. Who is your favorite scientist? While this may be subjective, there is a little more objectivity in this decision as we generally look at those that have made the greatest scientific accomplishments. That seems to be relatively cut and dry. Art comes down to creativity while science comes down to empirical data.

I hope you know where I am going with this. Social media takes an equal balance of art (creativity) and science (empirical data). Historically, “creative types” in marketing have had a great intuitive premonition on human emotion and design of all product/service elements (visual, packaging, advertisement, tag lines, product design, offline and digital presence, etc). They have deep empathy for their target audience and have parlayed that to their brand position and grasped the intersection that produces an emotional tie to the brand. But that is not enough; they look to provoke a behavior. A behavior that spawns action. An action that ultimately results in sales.

On the other end of the marketing scope you have your “scientific types” that understand cause and effect to a formula level that produces measurable results. If the outcome does not produce the objective data driven results, they tweak their experiment aiming to come closer to specified empirical results. They understand tactical implementations and details that boost outcomes that others cannot navigate and rationalize through.

From a social media perspective, art and science must work together. You cannot have social success without a strong play in both. It simply comes down to two issues. The first is that there is so much noise out there. Everyone is on the social bandwagon. There is no shortage of information coming at us everyday. In this world of infinite information coming at us from so many channels, how do we select what matters and what does not. It becomes an art to rise above the status quo and produce something that generates a high level of audience consumption. There are no barriers to entry. Anyone can build a blog, set up a Facebook fan page, and produce content on a whole mess of other communication channels. But the more creative and different the content is from the status quo, the greater likelihood it has of standing out from millions of other channels. Do not undermine the importance of owned media!

The second issue deals with the reality that producing awesome content does not guarantee that it will reach people. This requires good experimental planning. I say experimental, because you have to start out with a strong plan, but always look at the results and make modifications as you progress along. When I set social strategies for clients, it is the outcome of getting to know their brand, their target audience, and understanding the most likely execution avenues that will attract their potential customers. It is based on detailed information gathering and analysis. But this comprehensive and thorough planning does not ensure optimal results. You must preset parameters that you measure and analyze results. Understand the cause-effect relationship of social channels used, frequency of posting, day and time of postings, types and tone of content that has highest attraction rates and provokes greatest engagement. Use this information to tweak “your experiment” and continue to refine. In short, act like a scientist seeking to make a break-through.

Now ask yourself … do you (or the person assuming responsibility) have the right balance of creativity and analytics to make your social media program a success? Are you really giving both the art and the science priority one focus? It is a must!

Make It Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under change management, digital media, marketing, marketing plan, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

7 responses to “The Art and Science of Social Media

  1. Cause and effect, the great challenge! What works and what doesn’t. I can tell you what doesn’t. I’ve done all of that. ;o)

  2. Jim Matorin

    Nice piece. The balance you outline resonated for me, My social media movement has been one huge experiment. I went in knowing that my Tribe was not online, but thanks to my creative side, I began blogging to validate to my Tribe which I reach via email since they are still at the email stage, that I am a Maven,

  3. Excellent point because creativity and analytics often do not go together. Although if developers gravitate to analytics (versus columnar reports, data integration/quality, etc), it is because they have a creative “itch”.

    We like to use a product called Xcelsius to kinda bridge the gaps between the two styles of reporting (dashboard vs more granular)…sometimes it does take two different resources to play to their strengths. So these considerations not only apply to social. They apply to business intelligence solutions, also.

  4. As ever great post, knowing Seth Godins thoughts on creativity and art within business I would agree and am so thankful it makes the past 30 years of my life mean something. The creativity is more than creating it is giving and giving more than some people think is necessary. One person can buy the artwork whilst everyone should have the ability to view it.

    People say givers gain, they only gain if they want to share. If in their mind they only want to gain then they are not in the right mind set.

    Creativity is vital as is focusing on what is effective within your strategy, not too much geekyness but it is needed. More than anything though if you have a passion to create and want to change people’s lives even just for one moment in time, carry on regardless because you won’t enjoy thinking ‘What If’

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