The Magic and Medicine of Social Data

Editor’s Note: Spredfast is excited to announce the Agency + Data Content Series. We know that data is important at agencies, yet we also know that data has historically lived in a silo with analytics teams at agencies controlling access. As access to data becomes more agnostic, and more disciplines have direct access to data, we are launching a content series exploring the intersection of social data and the agency. We are collecting unique perspectives on this; from an SVP of planning at a global multicultural agency to the SVP of social strategy at a leading healthcare agency, we want to hear from our agency partners about how they are using social data, why it is important, and how they see it impacting their work.

Social data can inspire us. It can also keep us healthy. What exactly can’t social data do? Today’s perspectives on the power of social data for agencies come from two very different places — Diego Figueroa, SVP Director of Strategy and Participation at Lapiz / Leo Burnett, and Michael Leis, Senior Vice President, Social Strategy in Connected Health at Digitas Health. But their messages are similar: There is great, often untapped, power in social data. It’s up to agencies—and their clients—to free it from the silo and put it to work.

From Diego Figueroa: I Once Knew a Magician Named Data

I believe in magic.

I believe in the effect that magic has on people to create excitement, surprise, and an overall feeling of awe that stays with them far long after the trick is over. And even when you know how the trick is done, I still believe in magic. As odd as it seems, I started in advertising because I believe it also has the ability to excite and surprise people in the same way. So when it comes to the never-ending and, in my opinion, wrongfully professed debate on data vs. creativity, I naturally opt for the latter.

Creativity is the most powerful tool we have to surprise, excite and awe. No doubt about it. But here’s the catch: I also believe that data can be a fantastic source of inspiration and excitement. When used correctly, there’s no opposition between data and creativity.

Miles Davis once said, “Don’t play what’s there. Play what’s not there.”

Data is more than just what’s there. Data can be the jumping platform for a brave leap into the unknown. And both (data and creativity) working together can create a symbiotic relationship that benefits from one another: use what we know to try new things and find new ways to use what we know.

On top of the never-ending discussion on data vs. creativity, in today’s increasingly multicultural reality, we work in an industry fascinated by the opportunities of the Hispanic market. Yet the way we use data and approach the market are in a state of infancy. The applications of data are limited to targeted segmentation and language identification, leaving aside its creative powers and magical potential.

Today, the specificity and precision of social data can provide an accurate map of any segment’s behavior—and a deeper understanding of what makes them act.

For example, one thing that data uncovered for us was that, when it comes to soccer, rivalry—and the correspondent animosity for the opposing team—is a much stronger engagement driver than love for one’s team. That was the starting point for a social campaign we launched during the last FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Interestingly enough, soccer fans that did not have a national team playing during the tournament, or the ones who saw their teams leave the competition, were the ones who engaged the most in the World Cup social conversation…against rival teams. Understanding that specific bit of information helped us create one of the most engaging campaigns of the 2014 FIFA World Cup for our Allstate client. That was magic.

There is and there will be even more controversy around data and the advertising industry, but one thing is undeniable: data is here to stay and its importance in our workspace increases as we speak. The key to our success as a creative business is to understand how to use this new tool to excite, surprise and awe.

Magic is not contained in data. It stems from it.

More about Figueroa:

With a keen understanding of the General Market and Multicultural planning, Figueroa oversees the agency’s Strategy department, which encompasses brand strategy, consumer engagement, research and shopper marketing. With well over a decade of experience in the industry, he has worked with global brands such as Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, Nestle, Levi’s, Disney, and Nissan, to name a few.

From Michael Leis: Social Data Will Make You Healthier One Day

Today, social media is the only place in our tangled web of difficult healthcare systems that many people can find what they’re looking for: living, breathing examples of good health outcomes.

One thing that has surprised me in my short tenure in healthcare marketing is how people get sick, and quickly become the data object in an EMR, EHR, Payer system. Among all these data points in the patient’s journey, often, they never know what a good health outcome really looks like. They aren’t sure what to say to a parent or spouse that articulates how they feel, or what the right conversation is to have with their doctor.

It turns out, getting healthier centers around knowing the right conversation to have, with the right person, at the right time, to make decisions about how to get to a healthy outcome – to be the hero at the end of the story that says, “Let me tell you how I got to feel this good.”

All of these valuable perspectives don’t just show up at your door, though. And in this problem space, healthcare and pharma brands have an increasingly crucial role to play: help people articulate their challenges and victories, and connect them to each other for help.

That’s where we turn to social data; not as the answer, but to help us get better at asking people better questions. These questions spark conversations between people to help get to better health in ways we would never be able to answer. The brands we work with have so much patient data, we can use social data to understand where people are talking most across their journey to wellness—and where they’re not.

Social data also gives us context to know how people want to represent their best, healthiest selves beyond their illness: in profile pictures, in likes, in connections.

So instead of thinking about social data as a whisper we “listen” to, or the ubiquitous magnifying glass search icon, I’d rather think of it as the archaeologist's brush.

Yes, you will start with explicit mentions of a condition or a brand. But more importantly, you’ve found people. The data artifacts they leave in the open Web start to unearth patterns of how they want to get to better health on their own terms. With each query refinement, you’re uncovering new connections between people and the things that matter most in their lives.

In one case, using this method for a rare disease that affects only 30,000 U.S. patients, a Tumblr post received over 8,000 notes. In another post, this one on Facebook, 140,000 chronic illness sufferers shared an image that depicted the way they feel to reach almost 700,000 people.

In healthcare, social data helps us design for the most amazing serendipities between people, helping them have the right conversations to take the actions that make them healthier.

More about Leis:

Michael leads social strategy for Digitas Health Life Brands global client roster across Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco offices. His unique strategic blend of behavioral design and narrative structure has built thriving communities in the tens of millions, independently estimated at over 3% of all brand conversation.

Tune in next month for even more perspectives on the power of social data from our agency partners.

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.