Dispatches from the Social Data Revolution: 3 Tips from Wal-Mart and HP Software

If business were entirely about math, you could whip out a calculator and predict with 100 percent certainty the future of yours and those you’re invested in. But we all know business is also about instinct, about emotional agility—in short, about impalpable elements beyond data. The same is true of social data. The hard numbers of Likes, Impressions, or comments alone mean very little. But taken inside a network of meaning, truly utilized instead of just absorbed, social data can provide a wealth of unique insight into your company’s customers. The key lies in not just seeing data, but using it smartly.

Social Media Today partnered with Spredfast to discuss just this topic in their Webinar, Dispatches from the Social Data Revolution. Spredfast’s own Chris Kerns previewed the Smart Social Report Vol. 2; while Wal-Mart’s Senior Director of Digital Communications Chad Mitchell and HP Software digital marketing professional Ted Scalvos shared insight into their unique brands' challenges and strategies around social data.

Here are three of the top takeaways from the webinar:

Let data inform your decision-making, not be your decision-making.

The bottom line: Data should never live in a silo. Both Mitchell and Scalvos articulated that social data informs the strategies of Wal-Mart and HP Software respectively, but both also articulated that social data must exist within a context. “A lot of those numbers that come in, the [social] data that we used previously and the KPIs just don’t have that much value for us,” Mitchell said. He quoted Scott Monty saying, “A like is the equivalent of a digital grunt”—in other words, the lowest level of involvement a person can have with a piece of content. The key is to use social data as an indicator of success, but not try and overthink what each metric represents.

Reddit presents a unique opportunity—and challenge—to marketers.

As a part of his preview of The Smart Social Report Vol. 2, Kerns explained that Reddit is experiencing exponential growth—to the tune of 70B+ pageviews and 55 million posts over 2,000 active communities last year. And yet, most brands and media companies don’t yet have articulated Reddit strategies. This is in large part because the community doesn’t welcome brands—even though there’s a huge amount of brand conversation happening across its different groups . Reddit is on HP’s radar, Scalvos said: “We’re definitely starting to monitor the network, because it’s a more unfiltered view of what people are talking about.” But Wal-Mart hasn’t invested many resources into Reddit yet: “Reddit is not a place where we have found huge numbers of our target audiences congregating.”

Different brands require different strategy, and one social size does not fit all.

If you still haven’t, throw out the guidebooks telling you exactly how often you should post no matter who you are or where you’re posting. “You shouldn’t necessarily post twice a day on several single social network,” Kerns explained. “The audience is going to be different, the environment is going to be different, and a sophisticated social presence has that in mind.” Wal-Mart, with its 34.9 MM Facebook fans and over a million social mentions each month, simply must handle its social strategy differently than many other companies. For example: The time Pitbull literally got sent to Kodiak, Alaska care of some crafty trolls who hijacked the company’s contest. A smaller company might’ve had a different strategy; Wal-Mart wisely rolled with the punches. Oh, and some quotable advice from Mitchell on trolls? “Never wrestle with a pig; you get dirty, and the pig likes it.”

Download the full webinar here, and be sure to check out Smart Social Volume One for even more insights from Kerns and the Spredfast data team. And one more tip? Don’t feed the trolls.

Jaime Netzer's picture

Jaime Netzer

Jaime Netzer is Content Marketing Strategist, leading content operations in marketing at Spredfast. A Lawrence, Kansas native, she traded seasons for breakfast tacos seven years ago and hasn't looked back since. Also a fiction writer and journalist, Jaime tweets semi-regularly.