Why marketers shouldn’t over rely on data

This author says that looking at social media numbers without taking other things into considerations can negatively affect content marketing decisions. 

Data, big data, data decisions.

Isn’t that all we’ve heard the last few years? The data discussion has been so big that there’s often room for nothing else when it comes to digital and social media strategy.

I’m not debating the validity of data. It’s an important component to any successful digital or social media marketing program.

However, we may rely on data too much.

Marketing, PR and creative decision-making are not one-trick ponies. Making decisions based on data alone is a dangerous proposition. Instead, we should make decisions based on data combined with experience, context and our gut—one of the best tools available.

Let’s look at decision-making when it comes to social content with a recent example from Kohl’s. The retail brand posted the following on Thanksgiving Day:

Many brands create and share content like this on big holidays like Thanksgiving. Look at the social data: 13,614 likes, 345 shares and more than 100 comments. Folks driven only by the data would say, “This post worked! It helped our audience become engaged. Let’s plan for more holiday posts.”

I would encourage us all to look at the other side of the marketing coin when making content decisions.

As a retailer, posting anything on Thanksgiving Day can stir up thoughts and comments around why your organization is open on Thanksgiving. Inevitable backlash may follow, especially after organizations such as REI gave their employees the day off after Thanksgiving.

Under the likes, comments and shares, there are comments like this under Kohl’s post:

The social media team could have anticipated that backlash.

Also, what is the standard do-what-everyone-else-is-doing holiday post getting for your brand? What do you hope to gain–likes, comments and shares? It seems like that’s all brand managers are after.

Why do brands post at all on holidays? Are people waiting by their computers and phones ready for Kohl’s marketing team to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving or Happy Holidays? How does that affect brand awareness and reputation?

If Kohl’s team thought through all the angles, would they have decided to create this post?

As it stands, it seems like a pure social metric grab. Based on the data, they know that these holiday posts get thousands of likes, shares and comments. The team uses them to hit monthly benchmarks. If they had looked at the data and thought about the qualitative side of the equation, they may have refrained from posting.

Don’t ignore the data at your disposal, but don’t over rely on it, either. Take many different points of view into consideration when making your content, social and digital marketing decisions. Relying on data alone can be very dangerous. Arik Hanson is the principal of ACH Communications. A version of this article originally appeared on Communication Conversations.

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