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I Scream Social (Data)

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Social Media Week Founder Toby Daniels: "There are more questions than there are answers."
Social Media Week Founder Toby Daniels: "There are more questions than there are answers."

Toby Daniels, CEO of Crowdcentric and founder and executive director of Social Media Week, took a few minutes to chat with Direct Marketing News about how to focus on the word, rather than the buzz.

There are so many buzzwords out there. Is “Big Data” one of them?

“Regarding data and Big Data, in general there's a level of misinformation out there that can send marketers off down the wrong path and after the wrong kind of outcomes. Big Data needs to be stripped down and simplified. Harper Reed, who worked on the Obama campaign, spoke at a [Social Media Week] session where he talked about the expanding role of CMOs and what Big Data means. His overall point was: Let's just focus on the data. There are so many tools out there for analyzing data. Harper looked around the room and asked, ‘Who here has Excel? If you have Excel, then that's all you need.'”

What can brands do with social data?

“Of the data a brand can actually collect on a particular individual, a channel like Facebook provides the richest amount of data on individual preferences and behavior; what people like, what they share, what they're talking about. As a result, the profile on that individual is going to be much more granular than the dataset you might collect through other means. The next part is being able to target these individuals contextually and behaviorally—and, obviously, in the environment where there's a high propensity for that person to take some kind of action, whether that's clicking on something or making a purchase.”

How big does Big Data need to be?

“Some people are saying you should collect more data than you need. Measure everything you possibly can because at some point, as your methodology for analyzing data becomes more sophisticated, you'll be able to make use of it more. But if you don't have legacy data, it's going to be hard to make good decisions in the future. Adopt a methodology that can be iterated upon over time. You don't necessarily have to analyze all that data on Day One, but at least make sure you have it.”

Because then, when you're ready, you can use that data for smart targeting?

“Targeting opportunities now exist across multiple platforms so brands can target you in every environment in which you spend your time, but in a consistent and coherent way. If a particular brand is targeting and retargeting me because I've indicated that I have an affinity for or an interest, it's very powerful for that brand, product, or service to be able to find me in the environment where I spend my time and to be contextual.”

What's the general industry vibe out there right now?

“It feels like we're constantly in a state of transition. To a certain extent this is obvious and natural as we move forward, but the transitional state we've been in, which has felt quite chaotic, has actually been in existence now for more than a decade. Not that the situation hasn't changed and improved, but new opportunities are emerging faster than we can get on top of. It's a mess, honestly. There are more questions than there are answers.”

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