Social Media

10 Key Learnings From Social Data Week 2013

October 10, 2013

Contributing Authors: Leslie Turley & Caroline Tseng, Strategists at 360i

Big Data is the big buzz word – but the sheer volume of data out there isn’t nearly as powerful as what you can do with it.

Social Data Week, held concurrently in San Francisco and New York last month, centered on this very topic, bringing a 360-degree view of how platforms, publishers, marketers and digital influencers are addressing the question: “How do I approach all the data that’s out there?”

Following the conference, we’ve identified ten key learnings for brands when it comes to social data.

1. Social data deserves respect.

  • The data being shared across social networks is exploding. In fact, over the past five years, 9X more content has been shared online (Source: DataSift).
  • What this means for your brand: While more than 70 percent of companies use social technologies, less than 5 percent are actually turning social and Big Data into business impact. Knowing that social media drives on average 30-to-40 percent of all website traffic today (Source: SocialDataWeek), understanding that transactional data, as well as who your audience is by what they are sharing, will lead you to the Holy Grail of Social.

2. Get women on your side. Trust is the currency of social exchange. 

  • Women spend 40 percent more time on social per day than men and drive 62 percent of all sharing actions on Facebook (Source: BlogHer). The content they create and share represents what they believe in, who they are and what they are interested in.
  • What this means for your brand: Building an army of fans for your brand by targeting women isn’t a new notion. Many companies know that women often hold the purse strings in the household. The key is to understand how to win them over, build upon that trust and then inspire them to become advocates. Here are a few tips from the women’s blog network BlogHer on how to best engage with women: Be involved, be intimate, be interesting and lean in, listen and learn.

3. Use social data to drive advocacy. 

  • We all know the 90-9-1 rule-of-thumb when it comes to social, in that really only 1 percent of all users are creating content across social (Source: Nielsen Norman Group). And while that 1 percent may be the ones generating the actual content, the real scale comes from the powerhouse 9 percent of those who share the content so that the remaining 90 percent (lurkers) can consume it.
  • What this means for your brand: Marketers can use social data to identify what creates advocacy by listening to what fans actually want to share and talk about, and then leverage and amplify those findings within the community.

4. You can trick-to-click, but you can’t trick-to-share.

  • BuzzFeed’s Eric Harris, EVP of Biz Ops, shared this gem with the world: “Even if you become brilliant at writing headlines, if your content isn’t incredibly valuable, hilarious, has an ‘aw‘ moment or otherwise speaks to the reader and his or her friends, it’s not getting shared.”
  • While BuzzFeed employs “data scientists” to provide data-driven direction for its content, Harris was quick to assert that there is no one formula for content-sharing success. There are basic tenets of formatting and timing that data can help optimize, but in the end, it’s about what’s being said – the content itself.
  • What this means for your brand: Knowing how to write great headlines is a good start, but brands will want to avoid over-promising in the headline and under-delivering in a post. The more marketers focus on better content with a built-in sharable factor, the greater an ultimate reach the brand will have.

5. The “Bored-at-Work” and “Bored-in-Line” audiences are very, very powerful.

  • Marketers can think about a target audience not based on demographics, but rather as a shared experience or state-of-mind (psychographics).  There exist similar apertures of time when a customer might be more interested in checking out content, and data can help uncover these key windows.
  • What this means for your brand: “Waiting” or “bored” people might not be the best target for your brand, but this example demonstrates how marketers can rethink in what state of mind  fans will be in when they share content. Are they looking for it because they’re bored or because they’re excited? Are they at home or on-the-go waiting in line somewhere?

6. Cats > Dogs

  • We all knew this, but Buzzfeed confirmed it. Cat content performs better than dog content.
  • What this means for your brand: More cats, fewer dogs! Social marketing quandaries solved.

7. Don’t miss out on the “Two-Hour Window of Opportunity”

  •’s CEO Mark Josephson spoke about how the bookmarking platform utilizes real-time data to add an extra boost to pre-existing content. He referenced the “Two-Hour Window of Opportunity,” defined as the period of time following when a piece of content begins to rise in popularity (on its way to “going viral”), as a critical stage to boost that content to amplify it even further – either through advertising or other promotion. In Josephson’s example,’s data helped a client’s first piece of content soar above and beyond by posting a second, similar piece of content within the two-hour window of opportunity.
  • What this means for your brand: Nimble brands will have more opportunity to boost their existing content. This involves ongoing optimization and an organization structure that allows for flexibility within the existing campaign to pivot, add or enhance. This leads us to our next point…

8. Being nimble takes a lot of practice and preparation. 

  • Marketers will want to create a system and structure that positions them to execute within a real-time environment. This means aligning legal, cross-agency partners, executive teams and all other decision makers with the content creation team and collaborating to push content out in a timely manner.
  • What this means for your brand: Viral content opportunities come and go in a matter of minutes, and if your brand doesn’t have a built in element of flexibility, it will miss out on capitalizing on them. Start thinking about optimizing the group’s structure to (at least sometimes) be prepared for those special, unexpected viral moments, when they make sense for your brand.

9. “Now” content is important for real-time opportunities, but good “old” content is still highly valuable.

  • Tumblr’s Director of Product, Danielle Strle, shared a staggering statistic that many people did not realize about the platform: 95 percent of all content on Tumblr consists of re-blogs, and of those re-blogs, a third of them happen 30 days after posting.
  • What this means for your brand: These stats may not be true on every platform, but this point ties back to key learning #4. Good content is good content, and it will keep working hard for you— sometimes even a month after the fact. Understanding your content sharing structure (see Tumblr’s reblog tree by Union Metrics) can help you find those opportune times to amplify new content or repost those oldies but goodies.

10. And finally: Take 3 Jabs and a Right Hook

  • In his presentation, Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder and CEO of VaynerMedia, suggested: “Don’t try to close on the first tweet.” Building upon what he learned from starting his own wine business –where he spent seven to eleven hours every day just conversing with people by tweeting and re-tweeting – he emphasized the value of “taking three jabs and a right hook,” or giving three times and taking once. As Big Data continues to build in scale and become more of a commodity, what’s really going to matter to fans is how well you can connect with them.
  • What this means for your brand: This concept may not be new, but at the end of the day, it’s still about making a connection with your fans. This is why surprise-and-delight efforts resonate so well with fans; the more brands make an effort to reward the community, the more fans will want to talk about them and amplify their content.

The importance of social data is ever-increasing, and something which every brand and marketer should take seriously, not only in their social departments, but across their entire business as well. It’s important to keep in mind that even though we have access to much more, bigger and better data, at the end of the day, we still have to be human, and it will be ever important for brands to maintain and build withstanding relationships with their end consumers.

Cover photo via The Next Web