December 16, 2010

Why Are You Even Doing This?

Earlier this week, I shared an analysis of Nordstrom's Twitter followers with you.

The analysis was part of a larger series on what I call "Hillstrom's Hashtag Analytics".

You get a lot of feedback when you write content for close to 5,000 people, across the blog and for the folks following on Twitter.  As one might expect, you get a lot of positive feedback.

You also get a lot of indifference, and you get a lot of negative feedback.

Here's a generalized view of the feedback:
  • Classic Database Marketers = Positive.
  • Classic Direct Marketers = Positive.
  • Social Media Advocates = Indifference.
  • Social Media Haters = Indifference and Negative.
  • My Catalog Marketing Audience = Indifference.
  • Social Media Agencies = Positive.
  • Analytics Agencies = Positive and Negative.
  • Digital Marketers = Negative.
  • Academia = Negative.
  • Purveyors of Twitter Analytics = Indifference and Negative.
  • Web Analysts = Indifference and Negative.
One person simply said the following:  "... why are you even doing this?"

I don't care if you think that Social Media is a vapid expression of digital extroversion.

I don't care if you think that Social Media is a self-evident expression of the concept that markets are conversations.

I only care about the data, about the interaction of customers within this channel.

For all of the feedback I've received, all of the criticism and praise, almost nobody commented on the three most important findings:
  1. The Nordstrom community was, by and large, dis-engaged.
  2. The Martha Stewart community was, by and large, highly engaged.
  3. No direct link was made between engagement and profit.
All anybody wanted to argue about was whether Social Media was a crock of hoo-ha or whether it was the single greatest invention of all time or whether web analysts have already invented the tools necessary to analyze customer/user information.

I did not receive any critical feedback about the data and the findings, the comparison of the two communities, or about profitability.

That's what is wrong with marketing, and analytics, in 2010.

That's why I am doing this.

We are blinded by Social Media theories, hypotheses, and opinions, to the point that we cannot even look at the data and offer an unbiased analysis of the findings.  Heck, we don't even want to look at the data, do we?  We'd rather have an argument than an evaluation of the findings.

I lived through this, from 1995 - 2005.  I watched the catalog industry implode, not because of the viability of the business model, but because of a contempt for the online channel.  Online was a religion, you either had faith in the online channel, or you had faith in offline marketing.

What I learned from that experience was that the existing set of tools were incapable of communicating to either audience ... existing tools failed to convince online marketers that offline marketing worked, existing tools failed to convince offline marketers of the new realities and possibilities of online marketing.  In short, both parties went their separate ways, both disciplines suffered as a result.

I had to link both disciplines via Multichannel Forensics.  By and large, both sides rejected Multichannel Forensics, rejecting the concept that customers interact with products, brands, and channels in ways that are not easily measured by existing tools.  Several dozen marketers did figure out that this was important ... I was able to help those companies become more profitable, and I was able to find a way to make a good living in the process.

The same problems exist today.  Social Media advocates cannot be convinced of anything other than the fact that Social Media is glorious, and they have their set of metrics to prove their worldview.  Social Media critics cannot be convinced of anything other than the fact that Social Media is nothing more than an ego-centric version of digital extroversion, and they have sales metrics to prove their worldview.

I created a framework for having an honest discussion about how customers/users actually behave.  I realize that Social Media advocates and Social Media critics will pan the methodology because the methodology doesn't fit their worldview.  That won't stop me from continuing my research.

My job is to get you, the marketing expert, to ignore the hype and the criticism and the opinions and the theories and the hypotheses ... my job is to get you to simply focus on actual customer behavior.

Just as important, my job is to offer a roadmap for data integration.  In ten years, Social Media data will be fully integrated with our current customer database infrastructure.  I realize this is terribly hard to envision today ... go back to 1997, it wasn't easy to conceive that web analytics data and e-mail data could be integrated with the customer data warehouse, yet today, it's commonplace.  The same type of data integration will happen with Social Media.  Why not try to provide a roadmap for how this will happen?  What's so bad about that?

That's why I am doing this.

Now, go buy the booklet, or hire me for a project.  Go!!!