There’s a big difference between data and information, although the distinction can be subtle. Over the past few years, I’ve been very interested in helping organizations determine whether their communication efforts are achieving desired results and, especially, their social media efforts. Social media are such a “big deal” these days that it’s not unlikely for organizations and individuals to want to “jump on the bandwagon” or continue to participate in social media simply because “everyone else is doing it.” Unfortunately, that’s not always a good reason to invest time and resources.
The difference between data and information can be helpful here.
Data are simply “the numbers” or metrics. Information is derived from those numbers, but must represent something worthwhile and meaningful to marketers. Raw numbers, or data, just won’t do it. Information is the translation of data into meaning.
So, for instance:
- Knowing how many followers we have on a Twitter account represents data. Knowing how these followers generate into some downstream impact (e.g., requests for information, sales) represents information.
- Knowing how many “likes” a post received represents data. Correlating likes into insights that might suggest opportunities for new product development or service improvement represents information.
As you seek to measure the meaning behind the numbers, it is important to:
- Review your organization’s, client’s or your own strategic plan, goals and objectives to understand what information will be meaningful.
- Move beyond “process” measures—e.g., # of followers, # of RTs, # of likes, etc.—to focus on “outcome” measures that are tied to some legitimate bottom-line metric.
Ultimately, what marketing communication professionals should attempt to do is find ways they could connect their communication activities to desired results and,...
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