Charted-up studies like this one published on Mashable today abound in the social mediasphere. Dan Zarrella tells us the premium moment to tweet and the right content to get retweets. Google Analytics pinpoints the precise amount of time a love-starved geek spends onsite til she figures out you’re not Mark Zuckerberg’s ex-girlfriend Erica (no matter how much you talk about him).
Data is seductive. Numbers hint at quantifiable ROI; keywords suggest targeted content.
But do the numbers bog us down?
A social media professional is expected to come to the table armed with several kinds of understanding:
- Technological: the nuances, etiquette, recent and pending changes, scandals and business dealings of any given social platform;
- Analytical: the insights, retweets, time on site, users in your city, marketshare, best (numerically ascertained) moment to post, the most influential audience;
- Conversational: the chitting & the chatting, PR, link curation, @-replying like a squirrel on crack, graphic design, photography & video production;
- Market-worthy: brand journalism, advertising, SEO-friendly problem-solving infographic-heavy content creation.
‘Tech’ takes up an unreasonably large chunk of the day. Just knowing which tech blog is imploding, which social service is getting invaded by Klout, and where privacy settings are actually located is a full time job. You know when I’m reading the internet for the first half of my day? It’s keeping up with this stuff.
‘Analytics’ play a big role in the how, when, and sometimes why. Metrics shape policy; they redirect (and sometimes save) campaigns. You have to look at, understand, and infographicize this stuff for management. Also a time vampire.
‘Conversing’ takes all damn day, period. And night. And you need to look good while you do it, with groovy photos to illustrate whatever minor point you’re making. Sometimes you have to work a room in person.
‘Marketing’? Gotta say thoughtful, well planned, editorial-calendar-anticipated, keyword-stuffed, problem solving content that also happens to be mind-bendingly, ground-breakingly creative is tough to achieve when most of your day is consumed by the first two.
Can a mere mortal excel at all 4?
To be frankly frank, I’m finding getting to Point 4 a bit tough.
Is marketing in general suffering a creative slump because new media folk have their noses pressed against the platform glass right now? Does it take giant creative teams (read: giant budget) to produce amazing work? Is the era of “social media manager” over, in favour of an entire marketing department focused on publishing? Do you get an Old Spice Man inhouse, or do you have to leave that to an agency?
Of course I’m not saying “don’t measure”.
We have an unprecedented amount of insight into who’s thinking about what, where, when, with what kind phone in their hand. “Ethnography” is a marketing buzzword for a reason: all these heat maps and bar charts are a lot of fun and let us spot trends/avoid disasters.
I’m just wondering—given the often 1-person show social media departments are—if the glut of numbers and the constantly-shifting technological requirements are stealing the show from the Big Ideas.