Is social media a science? Is there a scientifically sound way to approach social media? In some respects, maybe, but in many respects, no. What can we learn from the way we communicate virtually?
One such example I point to is the “best time to tweet” in order to achieve maximum click-through rates. This isn’t a problem that can be solved through science alone.
These are human problems and we must look at the big picture to understand how our communications can effectively reach our intended audiences.
One example that has bothered me is the hypothesis that adding “Please RT” to a message on Twitter is one of the most effective ways to reach maximum resonance of a message. The moment I read this earlier last year, I nearly fell out of chair because of fallacy of this claim and how many people simply accepted it as fact. In practice, this tactic is only effective when a third party is the one voluntarily adding onto a given message. Basically, a third party would add proof and exclamatory statements by those two words. It’s equivalent to shouting “Fire!” in a movie theater – it’s only valid if there is a fire.
In the world of science, the results must be repeatable in a controlled environment. As must as we (as marketers) want to control our environment, we simply can’t. Sure, we can measure click-through rates all day, perform multivariate testing on our websites and even field numerous focus groups to determine the right message. Our audience interacts with content in many different ways – from email messages, to using search engines to peer-to-peer recommendations to apps to broadcast media and much more.
This type of rationale doesn’t solve the problem. We’re throwing science at a very human problem.
Is it that people aren’t listening? Perhaps if we shift the way that we think about how social media can improve the way we communicate rather than use it as a megaphone to a disengaged audience, we can become better at using it.
My point is that we should ask bigger and better questions when it comes to social media instead of selfish (read: unproductive) ways to benefit from social media.
Image credit: vissago
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