Tom Webster, writing and speaking

The Slow Data Movement

Added on by Tom Webster.

Social Media Examiner recently posted a video interview with me from Blogworld on what we can - and can't - learn from social media. One of the themes that I struck in my keynote speech there was a reminder that social media data can be more than just a real-time fire hose. Indeed, while there is tremendous value in real-time data (especially in customer service), there are other ways to process and analyze social media data that require, and reward, a bit more introspection. There are strategic uses to properly calibrated social media data, and when one adjusts one's focus to look at things from 50,000 feet (which, in social, might be six months of data, or even a year's worth), there are profound insights that can be gleaned about your product, brand and where your customers are going. I think businesses spend too much time in "real-time" and not enough time really examining the relatively glacial shifts in how consumers as a whole are moving over time. After all, in any given moment, a customer might be having an issue with your product, or your brand - but these idiosyncratic episodes may or may not have anything to do with where your product needs to go in the future to address the changing needs, wants and desires of your potential consumers.

So, consider this video interview an introduction to what I would call the "Slow Data" movement. There is enormous value in hopping off the real-time, reactive treadmill and seeing where and how your social customers are moving over time. You might discover that they move more slowly - or in different directions - than a real-time analysis might have suggested. More importantly, though, dipping into "slow data" provides a constant reminder of the true dangers of making strategic decisions from tactical information - when you don't know what you don't know.

Enjoy. And a big thanks to Michael Stelzner, who actually made me look smart :)