The power of thinslicing applied to social media and community

A hard problem to solve

One of the hardest problems faced by clients and agencies alike is how to match up social media activity with bottom line business results. Part of that is because you can’t always easily see a straight cause and effect between levels of engagement on Facebook for example, and numbers of purchases. But perhaps the reason isn’t for lack of effort. Perhaps it helps to think about how customers make purchasing decisions, and how best to capture that? Certainly that’s what I focused on at Sony EU and it led me to move away from the simple numbers game, to include the qualitative.

To explain why I like the term thinslicing to tackle this question of how best to connect with customers using social data first take a look at the cool piece about data interpretation written by Lithium’s Dr Michael Wu, including this neat illustration:

The power of thinslicing

Identifying the value of thinslicing lies in the elegant and powerful way the term thinslicing connects the approach to data analytics to the behaviour that creates that data – namely with the thinslicing of online consumers who “tend to ignore most information available and instead ‘slice off’ a few relevant information or behavioral cues that are often social to make intuitive decisions,” as Brian Solis puts it. 

In other words by thinslicing, rather than using intuition to make decisions, I mean adopting a strategy which is based on the understanding that by connecting the means of analyzing the data with the way the data is created by customers.

The question then is why? While it may be clever to see a way which logically connects the way to analyse data with the way it’s created, why is that potentially so useful to a business? Now there’s a good question! The obvious answer is that by aligning the analytic method used by your business, with the way the data is created by your customers, you are going to produce better results in terms of both better quality actionable recommendations which also produce an increase in ROI. How does that sound?

Less is more

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Not surprising in the gaming world this understanding is already paying serious dividends. A leading example is gaming company wooga which has carefully built its business by monitoring the data gathered by user responses, to tweak aspects of its online games to help boost engagement and thus ROI. In effect they are able to leverage user behaviour to give them what they want. By thinslicing social data effectively, figuring out what matters by understanding what customers want and ignoring the rest, the same benefits are available to your online business too. So by reducing the amount of data provided, you’re actually able to make better decisions about your customers, and you’re able to better understand how they making purchasing decisions online. It’s as simple as that.

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