The Truth Lies in the Data


Data doesn’t lie; people do. You don’t need a team of data scientists to solve mysterious riddles reserved for the privileged mind. You need complete stories that can be told time and time again, without variation.

Anyone who promises you magical results is using tricks they will never fully reveal to you. Beware of people who make you feel like you just can’t understand what they’re doing because they are somehow smarter than you. They are hiding something. Ask for the complete story, and if they can’t fully explain it, suspect that maybe they weren’t the original authors after all.

1. Truth Is Incremental

Building a community of like-minded individuals requires clarity of purpose. The ultimate goal does not vary, even if the approach wavers at first, while you find your footing. Recruit one member at a time by making your story simple and clear. Each community member’s buy-in is equally important, so celebrate each person who chooses to join!  If you are true to what you stand for, other members of the community should be able to tell your story for you.

2. Arithmetic Is Eternal

Expect the expected. If you’ve been tracking your progress since early days, you will be familiar with engagement based on season, topic, and type of content. As new members join your community, they will bring their own followers, to which you will now have access. The numbers should add up. A new community member with one-hundred followers expands your reach by exactly that much. Don’t expect to magically move into the millions, without explanation.  Any time you are analyzing results, ask for data visualizations.  You don’t need to buy fancy software to get at the source of the news.

Use the tools you already have, to read your story in different ways.  The numbers should always add up. If anyone tells you that one type of software tells the story better than others, ask them why, and make sure they are not altering the data input.  The output is how you measure success.  This is where you need to make time to analyze the people behind the numbers.  Do not fully delegate this to anyone.  Output is where “magic” supposedly happens, and leaders can be fooled.  If you invest even a little bit of time, you will easily see if the results of your campaign are based on engagement from real people or bots.


3. Luck Is Educational

Most seemingly lucky days are the result of good design and life-long preparation. It is impossible to fully predict and measure the value a writer or multimedia producer brings to your team, because each person is a combination of geographical, cultural, and socio-economic circumstances. The perfect tweet, written by the team member who knew exactly what to say that day, can not be imitated by anyone who doesn’t appreciate the uniqueness of that individual. This is why you need to invest in a diverse team. The math makes sense: the more human experiences you can tap into, the more chances you have of having someone make some magical happen.

4. Emotions Are Dangerous

You may be temporarily confused by a sudden success, whether it was incremental or just plain lucky. Don’t let it take you off course. When you start to see success after success, go back to step one and remember that it was your clarity of purpose and consistency in execution that helped you get this far. Celebrate, yes! But don’t destroy the foundations on which your community is built. If you can’t explain why something happened, find the person within your team who can.

Most important of all, reward that person! Or they will be tempted to take their magic somewhere else.  However, don’t start increasing budgets or handing out awards casually.  Make sure you find the people who are really responsible for your team’s success.  Have one to one conversations with them, and protect them from people who try to steal their thunder.

You can hire anyone to tell you anything you want to hear. What you need to know is the truth. Take the time to build relationships you can count on. The path is as clear as 1, 2, 3; 4.

Photo credit: meineresterampe /Henrieta Ondrejková

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Silvia Spiva
Silvia Spiva
Silvia K. Spiva is a Multicultural Marketer, creating content for global audiences, from the heart of Silicon Valley. Her passions include children's literacy, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), and finding ways to bridge if not crush the #DigitalDivide.
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