Challenging the Conventional Wisdom of Social with 4C



With insight and interactivity, 4C’s Aaron Goldman made a case for replacing traditional data insights with unconventional connections.


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One dimensional image of people don’t tell us much. Zooming out, or exploring different dimensions, presents a different image. And Aaron Goldman thinks that the new image is far more complex than you believe.

At “You Think You Know, But Are You Sure?” the CMO of 4C challenged the room’s conventional wisdom about consumers- at times literally. The centerpiece of the presentation was a live quiz, designed to test how our assumptions with brand associations can often be wrong. Among the findings: Cadbury Dairy Milk and Kellogg’s should probably be collaborating, Adele is highly popular among cost-conscious shoppers, and the Spice Girls are surprisingly popular among those with feelings on the UKIP party.

What lessons does the quiz have for marketers?

Engage This Data in Positive Ways

Goldman shared the story of a brand of nicotine gum who used a positive association with Father Christmas on Facebook, to drive sales at the holidays and into the New Year. Again, this isn’t an intuitive connection, but once they found it? They ran with it and got positive results.

Other brands saw similar benefits- not just increases in revenue, but decreases in cost per customer and heightened brand awareness. But it starts with being willing to move beyond the standard brand associations and digging into more less intuitive ones. “When actively mined, holding for things like active engagement and positive sentiment, you can build a full picture of your audience,” Goldman advised. “And if getting things wrong with your data can be disastrous, getting things right can be amazing.”

About Getting It Wrong…

This strategy of reaching and engaging customers requires a lot of information from and about them. Above all, Goldman urges people to get and use it responsibly. Recalling the year’s earlier Cambridge Analytica scandal, and with a mind to recent regulations like GDPR, he reminded his attendees that people are paying more attention to who has their data and how they got it than ever before.

But this new sense of vigilance doesn’t have to spell danger for our efforts. It simply means that we have to use responsibility and thoughtfulness with the data we do capture—values that marketing as a field already appreciates.

Take People at Their Action, Not Their Word

Most of the behavioral data we obtained before was gotten through focus groups and polling; today, we get it through analysis of social engagement. But across time, this method of data gathering has one thing in common: we take people at their word. Goldman argues that we shouldn’t, and cited Brexit as a powerful example.

Diving deeper into social behavior—not just what people say, but how they say, where they say it, and to whom—can unlock details we wouldn’t have otherwise known to act on. A powerful example of this? Nike. The brand was able to determine that fans of their brand were also active around issues of racial equality, gun control, veteran families, police accountability, and other key social issues. Most methods used to observe people online wouldn’t yield that data. But with it, Nike made a decision: to enlist American activist and athlete Colin Kaepernick for an expansive ad campaign and endorsement deal. The move seemed like a gamble at the time, but in reality, the brand giant had the data to back up their decision. The sales proved them right.

Although we won’t all see the blockbuster success that Nike saw with their insights, Goldman sees a lot of promise in this unconventional data matching. “We spend a lot of time going through the process of building plans, setting up programs, monitoring results, and oftentimes we rely too much on what’s worked in the past or on gut instincts.” As he sees it, we stand to gain a great deal when we challenge ourselves to abandon those methods—and so do our businesses.

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