Big Data Hype: Don’t Forget The Big Idea.

Big data is very valuable, but it can’t do everything. The numbers can only take you so far. Even as big data gets even bigger, don’t forget the value of big ideas based on true human insight and how they can be what really drives social media content and engagement.

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Big Ideas, Big Results.

On Business 2 Community, author Jason Bowden stated that: Digital marketing professionals declare big data as the next BIG thing in digital marketing … there’s no way of stopping the surge of big data explosion upon the emergence of better online marketing analytic tools, mobile marketing schemes, internet technology and social media platforms.”

I completely agree with this sentiment. A Google search of the term “Big Data” reveals 787 million results. In contrast, the search term “Big Idea” reveals only 335 million results. Is big data really deserving of nearly 50% more of our attention?

Big data is defined as extremely large data sets that may be analyzed, computationally, to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. Big data requires new tools to handle the amount and complexity of data, but with investment comes valuable insight. On the other hand, a big idea is the driving, unifying force behind a brand’s marketing efforts. Big ideas are also valuable. In a piece for Entrepreneur, Chris Wirthwein stated that big ideas provide ten valuable qualities: transformation, ownability, simplicity, originality, surprise, magnetism, infectiousness, contagiousness, egocentricity, and likability.

I’m not advocating replacing big data with big ideas. In a recent survey more than three out of five companies (62 percent) have started investing in data marketing solutions. And almost half of brands (47 percent) are already seeing a positive return on data-related investments. What I am advocating is that in all the excitement over computer generated big data do not leave the human generated ideas and creativity behind. Big data cannot generate a big idea and big ideas can generate real feelings, big movements and real big results.

When Big Data Meets Big Creativity.

At the recent Advertising Week gathering of marketing communication professionals some professed this same sentiment. In a panel called “When Big Data Met Big Creativity” advertising agency executives were adamant that creativity goes hand-in-hand with data and should complement each other. Tham Khai Meng, worldwide chief creative officer and chairman of Ogilvy, cited the Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty,” campaign as an example. The campaign won many creative awards and produced amazing business results but grew out of single data point: Only 4% of women considered themselves beautiful. Meng said: Data is the orchestra, creative is the music. You need both.” John Hegarty, founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarity, said that data provides insights, but warned that: Human beings are not a collection of algorithms.”

What Does A Big Idea Look Like?

Proctor & Gamble is the global package goods company that has built enormous brands based on enormous amounts of traditional and digital research data. Yet, even they know the value of big ideas. In 2012 they needed a global campaign to help reverse the brand Fabreze’s sales decline. Research pointed them in the right direction, but the big leap came in a big idea based on a globally relevant universal human truth – something big data could not spit out of a data set. The big idea was to “Involve real people in visceral experiences to prove Febreze makes even the filthiest places smell nice, no matter what they look like.“ You can view how the campaign was set up in this behind the scenes YouTube video.

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What were the results? It won an Effie award that explains how the effort reversed Febreze’s sales trend, by increasing sales by 10% with 10 weeks of growth resulting in a 36% point turnaround. The Breathe Happy Campaign also received 511MM earned media impressions in high profile media publications and many bloggers developed rich content with their own Febreze experiment videos uploaded to YouTube. 
In addition, Febreze Facebook fans increased from 235k to 600k in 6 months.

In the end computer data and human ideas produced real business results. What’s your view on the value of big data and big ideas?

This blog post originally appeared on Social Media Today here.

Top 100 Social Media Tools & Resources You Can Benefit From Today

In writing my new book on social media strategy and from teaching social media marketing and digital marketing for years I have collected a list if valuable references. Below is a list of what I have found to the be some of the top social media resources and tools in marketing, advertising and PR. Hopefully I have provided some references and links that you have not heard of and can benefit from today.

Keith A Quesenberry Social Media StrategyFor a view of the bigger picture. Look for my new book that lays out a comprehensive social media planning process for any brand, organization or individual. “Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution” is coming out in October 2015 with Roman & Littlefield publishers.

It provides a step-by-step system for creating a social media marketing plan, but also looks at social media outside marketing for silo smashing integration across strategic business units. You can read about it here:

If there is a valuable tool or resource you use for social media that I have not listed, please let me know in the comments below!

Social Media News & Insights

  1. Social Media Examiner:
  2. Social Media Explorer:
  3. Social Media Today:
  4. Social Media Marketing Magazine:
  5. Chris Brogan:
  6. Hubspot’s Inbound Hub:
  7. RazerSocial:
  8. Social Mouths:
  9. Mashable Social Media:
  10. Gartner Digital Marketing:
  11. Jeff Bullas:
  12. Convince & Convert :
  13. Grow:
  14. FTC Disclosures:
  15. Social Media Law Bulletin:

Social Media Podcasts

  1. Social Media Examiner:
  2. Social Pros Podcast:
  3. This Old Marketing:
  4. The Marketing Companion:
  5. Content Inc.:

Social Media Monitoring & Metrics

  1. Hootsuite:
  2. Social Bakers:
  3. Lithium:
  4. Brandwatch:
  5. Oracle Social Cloud:
  6. Radian6 (Salesforce):
  7. Sysomos:
  8. Nielson Social:
  9. Critical Mention:
  10. Cision:
  11. Social Mention:
  12. Addict-o-matic:
  13. How Socialble:
  14. Meltwater Ice Rocket:
  15. Simply Measured:
  16. Trackur:
  17. Row Feeder:

Online Data Collection

  1. Quantcast:
  2. Google Analytics:
  3. Kiss Metrics:
  4. SEMrush:
  5. Mention:
  6. Social Bakers:
  7. Talkwalker Alerts:
  8. Omgili:
  9. SharedCount:
  10. Topsy:
  11. Twitter Advanced Search:
  12. Tweetreach:
  13. Cyfe:
  14. Keyhole:
  15. YouGovProfiles:
  16. Google Trends:
  17. Soovle:
  18. Klout:
  19. Kred:

Social Media Research

  1. Pew Research Center:
  2. Nielsen Social Media Reports:
  3. Forrester:
  4. Social Technographics Profile:
  5. Social Media Collective:
  6. Social Explorer:
  7. Global Web Index:
  8. Statista:
  9. Affinio:
  10. Gallap:
  11. Roper Center:
  12. Kantar Media SRDS:
  13. Simmons:

Social Media Graphics Tools

  1. Canva:
  2. PicMonkey:
  3. Piktochart:
  4. Easelly:
  5. Design Seeds: design–
  6. Word Swag:
  7. Over:
  8. Pictaculous:
  9. Adobe Kuler:–wheel
  10. Google Fonts:   

Social Content Scheduling & Automation

  1. HubSpot:
  2. Sprout Social:
  3. SocialOomph:
  4. Buffer:
  5. TweetDeck:
  6. Crowdbooster:
  7. Later Bro:
  8. Post Planner:
  9. Buddy Media:
  11. Edgar:
  12. Zapier:
  13. IFTTT:
  14. Short Stack:
  15. Woodbox:
  16. Zendesk:

Trade Associations, Awards, Conferences

  1. Word of Mouth Marketing Association:
  2. Online Media Marketing Awards:
  3. The Webby Awards:
  4. The Shorty Awards:
  5. The Mashies:
  6. Social Media Strategies Summit:
  7. Social Media Week:
  8. SXSW:
  9. SXSWedu:
  10. Social Media Marketing World:
  11. INBOUND:
  12. Content Marketing World:
  13. Brand Innovators:
  14. Summit:

FoMO: Why Fear of Missing Out Could Hurt Your Social Media Efforts.

Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) has been described as “the fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity.” This fear can apply to missed social interaction, experiences, investments, new movies, apps, anything. Ultimately FoMO is fearing that we made the wrong decision on how to spend our time. I believe FoMO is pervasive among marketers, advertisers, entrepreneurs and business owners when it comes to social media. Fear of missing out on the latest social app or network can seriously hurt social media marketing efforts.

Social Media MarketingSome report there are over 800 social networks, apps and services. That number is overwhelming and it feels like there is a hot new social network popping up every other week. A couple of years ago it was Pinterest, then Instagram, Tumblr and Vine. Now it is SnapChat, Yik Yak, Yo, Meerkat and Periscope. What will be next? With the changes in social media happening so quickly, marketers and advertisers always feel left behind and like they must rush into every new thing.

The truth is that you should never rush into any social media action because of FoMO. Any good social media effort should first start with listening. If you are jumping into SnapChat because it is the latest channel to get buzz in the press, how do you know what to say? How do you know what works? How do you even know your target audience is there? Did you ever meet someone who only talks about themselves and never listens? Fairly quickly you learn to avoid those people. The same thing can happen in social networks with businesses that rush to start talking in new channels.

You should also never rush into any social media action because social media results take time. Results only come from significant planning and time investment into creating valuable content. Despite all the talk of ROI and immediate measurement, social media marketing doesn’t give immediate return, like a new TV campaign that can spike retail sales the weekend you run it. You must put in significant effort over time to see real results in social media. How much time?

Tom Martin from Converse Digital polled digital marketers and asked how long it takes to see results from social media marketing. Most respondents felt 6 months was a fair average, but only if you were doing it right. Comments to the post from people such as Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute chimed in with time frames of 6 to 9 months or 12 to 18 months.

Susan Gunelius in an Entrepreneur article explains that successful social media marketing requires following the Law of Patience. She says, “Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.”

Raffe at Transcending Social Media asks and answers this question in a different way. How long does it take for you to create a loyal following? Social media is all about engagement, relationships and listening. It can take months to curate a community by targeting them with articles, pictures, videos and other content that fosters engagement. Raffe concludes by saying, “Don’t be fooled into thinking that because social media is an instantaneous means of communication that a community will simply spring forth from the ground. Your customers will support you, if you work at it.”

Jaybird Social Media brings a dose of reality simply by saying, “If your social media consultant is suggesting that you can make it big overnight on the Internet, she is relying too heavily on the idea that memes and campaigns can go viral. Going viral is like winning the lottery.”

Hopefully by now you are feeling less fearful about missing out, but what does it mean to do social media right? Converse Digital suggests investing your time in three key areas:

  1. Invest in a solid strategy. Spend time to go through a social media marketing process. For example, always start with business objectives, target audience and listening.
  2. Invest in great content. People don’t share “blah.” What you create and share has to be excellent. It has to entertain, educate and simply be interesting to get shared online.
  3. Invest in quality people. Who is going to be the voice of your brand? Invest in experience and knowledge and training. No offense against college students, but don’t put your entire brand’s social presence solely in the hands of an intern.

Jaybird Social Media adds some great insight by saying you should spend your time on social media where your clients, prospects or customers spend their time. No need to jump on a trendy new network if your customers and prospects are not there. Jaybird also suggests optimizing your time with tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer or HubSpot.

In a past blog post I wrote about David Higdon, NASCAR’s IMC Managing Director and how I heard him talk about the brand’s remarkable overhaul at a conference. Through social media they were able to achieve amazing results and engage a younger fan base, but it was accomplished through a 3-year plan.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t experiment with new social channels, but don’t let FoMO rush you into to not taking the time to do it right. And don’t let FoMO scare you into pulling needed resources from your existing social channels to rush to that trendy network or app. It reminds me of a saying from my advertising days that says, “There is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over.” Do it right the first time and you won’t miss out on anything.

Take a breath. Take a step back and listen before you leap. If you are not on any social networks yet then you probably are missing out. The good news is that by waiting you now have over 800 to choose from!

This post originally appeared on Social Media Today here.

Can You Win the Content Marketing Arms Race?

Every minute there are 100,000 new Tweets, 40,000 Facebook updates, 40,000 Instagram photos and 30 hours of YouTube videos added to the Internet. That is an enormous amount of new content being generated every minute of every day. Much of this content is coming from marketers and the deluge will only get worse as more marketers become content marketers.

Social Media Marketing Keith QuesenberryThe volume and frequency of content is increasing. In a Content Marketing Institute survey, 69% of marketers say they are creating more content in 2015 than they did one year ago. Looking ahead, 59% expect their organization’s content marketing budget to increase in the next year. Of these content marketers, 48% publish new content daily or multiple times a week and they are creating content for an average of 13 different content marketing tactics.

The amount of content being created is exploding. Yet the more content we create the harder it will be to get our content seen. Each individual piece of content will become less and less effective. This will lead to more content creation and more frequent publishing.

A similar thing happened with advertising over the last several decades. More ads were placed in TV shows, more banner ads were placed online, more and more ads were placed everywhere such as sidewalks, elevators and bathroom stalls. The end results was an enormous amount of advertising clutter. One look at Times Square in New York City gives you a visual depiction.

Social Media Marketing Keith QuesenberryIt is said that in 1970, the average person was exposed to only 500 advertisements a day, but by 1990 they saw an average of 5,000 ad messages a day. 

Because of this clutter each ad has become less effective. In 1965, consumers recalled 34% of commercials they saw, but by 1990 recall of TV commercials dropped to just 8%. By 2007 people could only remember two commercials they saw in a day.

Social media was a way to get away from advertising clutter. However, now it seems that social media may become just as cluttered as advertising. With each social network being flooded with more content, reach is dropping. New social channels spring up only to increase the content clutter.

For example, Facebook reported that the average person saw 1,500+ newsfeeds whenever they log onto Facebook This was too many to possibly read. So they narrowed the feed to show only about 300 through adjusting their algorithm resulting in a drop in organic reach to 3%. Competition is increasing and it is becoming harder for any one piece of content to gain exposure.

I believe the answer to this content race may lie within one-on-one engagement. Despite the explosive growth of social content, the medium number of friends a user has on Facebook is still only 200. Even if you have thousands of followers on Twitter, how many of those user’s Tweets do you see in a day? How many do you engage with on a regular basis? No matter the increase in content and channels we sill have a limited amount of time to engage.

Social Media Marketing Keith QuesenberryThis makes me think of a long tail strategy for SEO. Here you use key phrases to narrow to a smaller audience of those more likely to be interested in our content and convert. Perhaps this thinking can also apply to social content where the long tail focuses less on reach and more on engagement with a smaller group. Thus content becomes more important for engaging current fans rather than for generating awareness – something traditional advertising in mass media can do better.

So perhaps as social content gets more crowed we should not abandon traditional advertising. Use paid advertising for mass awareness and concentrate social media on interaction. Social can still generate awareness, but without paying you will mostly likely gain that awareness through engagement.

. This leads to a renewed call for integration of traditional and social. One effort is not enough. Social media is more effective when you add paid media to help meet your goals.

In 2009, the trade publication Advertising Age, pronounced that the ad age was over after the prestigious advertising award show Cannes was swept by PR, integrated and Internet winners. David Lubars, chairman-chief creative officer of BBDO said, “The way the world is heading is voluntary engagement.” I believe they were half right. We have entered an age of engagement, but the ad age cannot be left behind. To win in this race you need both.

This article originally appeared on Social Media Today.

How to Leverage the Power of Storytelling in Your Social Media Marketing

What keeps you coming back to your favorite books, TV series or movies? A good story. Publishers and producers know this and have become masters at using the power of story to draw big audiences.

Today, businesses are relying less on buying audiences with paid ads in traditional mass media and are turning to marketing on social media. However, to be successful we must approach this new media with a different mindset.

In advertising marketers interrupt the story people want to see with brand promotions that pay for it. Yet, in social media marketers must create the content people want to see. Brands must interest the audience themselves by telling a good brand story. But what makes a good story?

To research the power of story my colleague Michael Coolsen and I analyzed two years of Super Bowl commercials – the one time people choose to watch advertisements for the enjoyment of the ads themselves. We wanted to know which ads were the most liked, the ones that drew interest with buzz and votes to finish in the top of the advertising ratings polls.

We coded the commercials based on Freytag’s Pyramid, a theory, which breaks down story into five parts: introduction (exposition), rising action, climax, falling action and resolve (denouement). Shakespeare used this story formula to draw mass audience for his five act plays.

Keith Quesenberry storytelling social media marketing

What we found was the ads that tell a complete story (all five acts) were the most popular and the ads at the bottom of the consumer ratings polls told less of a story (less than five acts). Having all five parts creates a dramatic arc or plot – the formula for being interesting. This is the same story formula you can apply to social media.

Social media depends on producing frequent, consistent, quality content. Brand managers used to producing yearly advertising campaigns with a series of 3 to 6 ads, are often left wondering what to post daily or weekly on their social networks. Establishing a bigger brand story can give you the content base you need. Then each social post or response can be a mini-chapter or character quote, expressing and advancing the overall story.

Social Media Marketing In Five Acts:

Act 1: Introduction. Also called the Exposition, this provides the background details, setting, previous events, character, etc. People buy brands for products and service, but also for the back story. Are you sharing your company’s history, people and mission or vision through your social media content?

Act 2: Rising Action. This is a series of related incidents or events that build toward a point of greatest interest – the climax. Be careful of flat posts that simply contain the same information over and over in different ways. Think from a much bigger perspective of creating social media posts that build upon each other towards a big action, reveal or turning point that fans and followers can look forward to, check in on and keeping coming back to see.

Act 3: Climax. This is the turning point, which changes the main character’s fate. There are two ways to think about this act for marketing. First identify the main character of your social media effort. Are your posts focused on telling the brand story or are they focused on telling your customer’s story. In social media you want to present the brand or customer reaching a turning point of finding a solution or overcoming a challenge by drawing upon brand, product or service strengths.

Act 4: Falling Action. During the falling action, the consequences of the turning point are revealed in greater detail. In social media express those results. If an obstacle was overcome, what are the results for the brand or consumer? If an opportunity was seized, detail the many benefits and outcomes that point toward a final victory.

Act 5: Resolution. Here all the events lead to an ending scene of the drama or narrative. Conflicts are resolved for the characters which creates a release of tension and anxiety. Here social media content should show the brand or customer winning. Provide a look at the ultimate goal of the brand and its customers. What is your happily ever after?

Howard Gossage, a famous copywriter from the 1960s said people don’t read advertising, they read what they like. This thought applies more so now in our digital world. In social media give your audience what they like. People like stories. Are you leveraging all five acts of storytelling in your social media content?

This post originally appeared on Social Media Today.

Longer Content Performs Better Despite Shorter Attention Spans.

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Goldfish now have a longer attention span than we do. Humans: 8 sec. Goldfish: 9 sec.

This time of year everyone is focused on the NCAA Basketball tournament as we all try to pick the winners and losers of the brackets. But those of us who work in social media are always trying to pick the winners and losers of our content. With more and more investment in social media comes greater expectation of ROI and still only half of corporate executives are convinced of social media’s value.

What is the Magic Formula to Become a Social Media Champion?

This is where the madness comes in – What we have been told may not actually be true. The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just 8 seconds by 2013 – that is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish! Nicholas Carr’s book “The Shallows” explains this with research that says the Internet has actually changed the physical structure of our brains reducing our ability to focus.

So when digital marketing experts tell us to create shorter content – around 200 words – this makes a lot of sense. Short Attention Span = Short Content. Yet this strategy is not necessarily the best. You have to go deeper and look at other factors. If your goal is to have people read all your words then this many be true, but if you value other goals like shares and views, you should give longer content more consideration.

Why Add Words that People Won’t Read?

  1. Increased shares
  2. Added link backs
  3. More search views

Apparently it doesn’t really matter if people read all of your copy, if you care about getting more people to see it. Madness. Quick Sprout confirms this. They performed an analysis on their blog and found that posts with more than 1,500 words received 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes than articles with fewer than 1,500 words. They also cite a popular online journal that performed a similar analysis and found the results reported in the chart below.

Social Media Marketing
Longer copy gets more social media shares across networks. Via Quick Sprout at

In addition to more social shares, Moz research has found that longer content generates more link backs and more link backs help with SEO (search engine optimization). The link backs further improve search results, which increases views along with the social shares.

Finally, longer content also improves organic search. According to serpIQ, the average content length for Web pages that rank in the top 10 results on Google is at least 2,000 words. The higher the ranking, the more words – more people are choosing and liking longer content.

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Top 10 Google search results with page word length. Via Quick Sprout at

Longer Means More Traffic, but Don’t Expect Them to Read Most of It.

Despite all this, positive research for longer content, other statistics from Neilson Norman Group tell us that people only read 20%-30% of that content. They also found that 79% of people scan pages they come across and only 16% read word-by-word. Here it seems that our short attention spans win out. On a 1,500 word post that means most people are only reading 300 of those words.

We are attracted to longer copy, but our goldfish brains don’t allow us to read all the words. We also like to share longer copy to perhaps try and make people think we have read the entire article and prove we can sill focus. Our attention spans are shorter, but we don’t want other people to know it! Madness.

This reminds me of when I worked on the advertising account for an ice cream brand. What we discovered was that in the ice cream business customers are always attracted to the new flavors, but at the end of the day most sales came from plain old chocolate and vanilla. New flavors attract attention, but most people buy chocolate and vanilla anyway. In a similar strategy, write longer content to attract attention even if your reader only consumes one fifth of it anyway.

Longer content makes the article look more substantial to attract attention and make it worthy of being shared. Longer content also allows more room for keywords and search optimization. It doesn’t matter if most people won’t read all of it. Madness? Perhaps, but how many upsets will happen in the basketball tournament this year? One thing we can learn from the NCAA championship is that you must always plan for the unexpected.

What have you found in your experience? Have you tried longer content?

photo credit: fish splash via photopin (license)

Social Media Response Experiment: Honda, Under Armour & Saucony.

The other day I was listening to the Social Pros Podcast with Jay Baer of Convince and Convert and Jeffrey Rohrs of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. They were interviewing Julie Hopkins of Gartner Research and were talking about her blog post “I am Loyalist, Read My Tweet. Please?”

She is an avid runner and took the time to take a picture of her Saucony’s to Tweet to the brand and their campaign hashtag. But she never received a response. This prompted me to conduct my own experiment, which I collected the results and shared them with my Social Media Marketing course. Social Media Marketing ExperimentAs you can see above I tweeted to three brand’s Twitter handles and campaign hashtags with what I thought was positive brand messages. It was also relevant to the cold weather many are experiencing and talking about in the country.

Of the three brands Honda and Under Armour responded. Honda even asked a follow up question to keep the engagement going. To this day Saucony has not responded. My experience was no different than Julie Hopkins. Is Saucony not listening or have they decided not to invest in the resources to make individual responses?

Saucony actually has a Find Your Strong  website that aggregates all Twitter posts to the brand. Smart strategy to collect consumer generated brand content, but does this equal the level of engagement as a response in Twitter?

Social Media MarketingI love Saucony and have been wearing their running shoes for years. I don’t know if the no response will make me switch to another brand, but it did put a ding in my image of the company. At the very least I will be less likely to talk so highly of them to other runners.

What do you think? Are our expectations of brands too high? Is it unrealistic to expect an individual response from a big brand? According to one study 

Do you think response or no response in social media will impact brand performance?