“I think, […]“, “I mean, […]“, “I believe, […]“ – these sentences frequently occur in conversations on content and social media. Yet the question of which content is relevant for the target group is not a question of faith. Suppositions about target group preferences direct our creativity to areas where they supply no added value instead of to where they really make a difference: in the structuring of relevant and creative content! This behaviour is human. These are “biases“ – our gut feeling that helps us to navigate through the everyday. Still, real relevance and target-aimed creativity can occur when data are read properly and used for this purpose.
“Which content should I play?“ and “what is relevant for my target group?“: these are two of the most frequently asked questions which, especially in the fast-paced social media environment, involve high demands – to produce in the shortest time possible a large amount of content that is equally relevant and activating for the target group.
Human beings – regardless of whether they are newcomers or social media experts – run the risk with these questions of extrapolating a generality too hastily from themselves or what they know. This is explained behaviourally with heuristics (e.g. availability bias) which leads us to make generalisations on the basis of a few examples (management by example). Above all, social media as a discipline runs the risk of becoming directed by intuition and opinion instead of real user insights. The reason is obvious: almost everyone is active on social media in a private capacity, is a content consumer or even a creator. On the question about relevant content, we therefore think of the content which we have seen ourselves and which has appealed to us or our network. From this we conclude a greater generality: we ourselves are no longer active on Facebook and also no-one comes to our mind spontaneously anymore. The logical conclusion: the network must be dead. Or statements such as: “The content is not great; that’s why it doesn’t work.” This behaviour leads to anti-creativity, as you begin to replicate yourself. Eventually this has a cost in relevance and performance.
As an agency, every day we must reach the most diverse target groups: engineers, pet owners, chemists, brokers, sportspeople – the list could go on almost forever. It is impossible to have typical representatives from each target group to be responsible for content and even more impossible to take the perspective of each individual target group impartially. To ensure that we compile content for the target group and not “for ourselves“ or for the client bypassing the target group, we rely on data. Qualitatively valuable data that answers the right questions, offers a unique version of “truth“ about users and performance. A unique truth that cannot be discussed away and stands above intuition.
Or, in short: a data-driven mindset that helps to make digital content more successful and builds a framework for creative briefings and strategies.
To get away from gut feeling and be guided by facts, these three steps can help:
1. Be aware of which “biases“ you are influenced by.
2. Use data to overcome biases.
3. Build on a content frame defined by data to test creative content and gain new insights from this.
It is said: “Insight is the first path to improvement” and it applies in this case too. As a first step, you must acknowledge on what basis and led by which influencing factors ideas are discussed, content created and decisions reached.
This check list can also help in everyday life to evaluate ideas impartially, reach better decisions and set priorities:
- Have I examined all possible alternatives or have I arrived too quickly at the most obvious (availability bias)?
- Have I also looked at the disadvantages of the idea sufficiently or am I too euphoric and missing something because of this (excessive optimism)?
- Am I sure that my assumptions are based on facts and data and not on intuition (overconfidence)?
- Do the company’s interests take precedence over my own interests (misaligned individual incentives)?
- Is my idea rationally defensible or am I too emotionally attached to an irrational idea (inappropriate attachments)?
- Have I been open to all results that the data could offer me or have I concentrated too much on the confirmation of my assumptions (confirmation bias)?
- Is it really a question of assumptions about generally-valid facts or am I making generalisations on the basis of a few examples (management by example)?
- Is there really a connection between my observation and my recommendation or have I exchanged causality and correlation (false analogies)?
- Have I challenged the status quo sufficiently and was I ready – where it was possible and sensible – to deviate away from it or have I remained in my comfort zone (status quo bias)?
- Have we examined all alternatives sufficiently before we came to a consensus (group-think) and discussed the ideas independently from the person who contributed them? Or have we followed the hippo (highest paid person in the office -> sunflower management)?
If all the questions have been answered with “yes“, nothing more stands in the way of a successful content creation and briefing generation. If a “perhaps“ has popped up somewhere, then an extra round of “data analysis“ would be worthwhile.
Alexandra Braun, Head of Governance and Analytics, Plan.Net NEO