[Guide] The Social Media Management Maturity Model

Is your organization optimizing its potential on social?

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Published May 19th 2017

Analyzing the Bigger Picture: Why You Can’t Deliver Insight Without Action Steps

Read on to see the common mistakes marketers make when it comes to data and insights. We talk about how the big picture and concrete steps are essential.

I’ve noticed marketers have been recently preoccupied (and rightfully so) with the challenge of freeing data and insights from isolation within certain teams.

Disseminating useful insights far and wide in a business makes perfect sense, and the consumer insights team members are tasked with executing this activity. There is a huge amount of data about consumers available for mining to better understand and serve customers.

This is a worthy area to focus on, but a daunting thought has surfaced in my mind that we need to discuss.

Yes, internal insights sharing is important throughout any business for numerous employees as well as executive stakeholders, but it’s just the first step. Without the context of how it affects the specific teams in your business and what actions should and need to be taken, all you’re left with is data devoid of impact.

To make a real impact on business objectives — namely sales and brand health — insight has to lead to action.

Micro vs macro insights practices

Rather than remaining mired in the micro view of data facts and figures, charts, and minute details analysts often find themselves immersed in, it’s important to zoom out and look at insight from social data with a macro lens. We’ve all heard the term analysis paralysis, and it’s a cliche because it’s pervasive.

Insight from social data (analyzed as standalone or paired with other sources) can spark a major change in your product strategy or marketing approach.

By zooming out and looking beyond granular data points and overarching insights and key takeaways, professionals in market research and consumer insights teams can apply useful information to the way their brand conducts its business.


It’s not about simply sharing reports and actions. Each department, whether that’s HR or product R&D, needs to visualize the impact to their own team. Insights and data delivery teams — typically found in marketing departments — need to do so much more once they figure out their data sharing issues and break down the siloes associated with data in business.

They need to craft a compelling narrative and make sure the insights resonate with the individuals they are presenting it to — by learning and tying it to team objectives, sales goals, or another tangible metric or goal.

Recommendations and actionable next steps are mandatory and the only way for social’s massive potential to impact real business objectives.

For example, it’s incredibly helpful for a consumer technology company to learn that their e-reader users have been venting online about cracked screens. But this insight from social listening data hangs in the air without the business objective-driven next step outlined by the consumer insights team: prioritize screen strength within the R&D team.

The experts say we need to focus on this

Jessica Liu, at independent research firm Forrester, put it in a very applicable and easy-to-understand analogy.

Let’s say you’re given a traffic report. The report tells you which roads are jammed, where there was a motor vehicle accident, and lane closures on several highways. Then the report ends. You’re left with a burning question, what is the best route to get from point A to point B?

That’s exactly what insights reporting is akin to. As analysts, as consumers of insights reports from market research teams, we often overlook the big question after we’ve seen some pretty numbers.

This is the next logical step, yet it gets overlooked a majority of the time. Yes, this may be the data but now what can I do with it?

The unsung but all-too-real problem of “now what do I do with these insights” is prevalent in businesses today.


How can we halt analysis paralysis in businesses?

Analysts love data and details. That’s not a shocker. Focusing on individual numbers and data points doesn’t provide the full picture story that is often the most valuable part of any analysis for a dataset. I want to let you in on a little secret.

Storytelling is just as important as numbers are.

Storytelling is quantitative data plus the qualitative insight that no machine can give you (for now, but AI definitely has its sights set on it). Storytelling encompasses the emotion-driving, energetic gusto, shocking news aspects that data reveals to us.

It can be easy to forget about the overarching narrative when we’re wrapped up in the daily grunt work of data analysis and report delivery.

Storytelling is a major part of insights sharing in every business, that can be overlooked when we get down in the weeds of numbers. You must draw out the high-level, underlying story that all these data stats amount to, to help the key points resonate.

Now you’re wondering, enough with the vague details, how do we do this? Happy to oblige.

Step one needs to be to identify and regularly measure against target Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Without a clear idea of what your team objectives are, and how they align to overarching business goals, you will be endlessly analyzing the minute details of datasets without stepping back to see the big picture.

In her recent blog, “There are No ‘Right’ Social KPIs,” Jessica Liu proffers a helpful overview to guide social media measurement and how it correlates back to the most important areas of impact: content, marketing, and most importantly, business. Needless to say, KPIs are a critical first step when analyzing social data for any area of business.

Another best practice to keep in mind is to set – and stick to – limits. Whether that’s a deadline for insights delivery or a commitment to sharing insights. Limits should also be placed when using recommendations as a catalyst for recommending and taking actions based on real stats.

It’s vital to share share insights with the right people at the right time. Consumer insights from social media offers the flexibility analysts need to adjust to changing goals and priorities and the speed and breadth for a huge pool of information.

Sharing is caring, but it’s not enough. Care enough to recommend and extend the value of insights throughout the business.

It’s not enough to know there’s a delay. You have to equip your teams with the best way to get to the finish line.

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