Keep your friends close

How much value do your friends bring to you? Silly as this question may be, its one being asked in offices and boardrooms across the country. Companies are trying to understand how much a “fan”, a “follower”, or a “like” is worth.  The most common response is, “I don’t know, but more is better.” However, in this case more isn’t always better.

Social media sites leverage something called EdgeRank to determine what content is shown to people when they log in. On Facebook, it’s believed that only less than 2% of eligible content has the potential to show up in the news feed.  So, the question shouldn’t be how do I get more fans, the question should be how do I get my posts to show up more than 2% of the time. The simple answer is engagement.

When people interact with your content it’s more likely to show up again in the future in their feed and the feed of those that are “close” to them. When companies attempt to gain just any followers via contests and other means, adding them could in fact be decreasing the total value of all their fans.

So how much value do your friends bring to you? Within social media, just like the real world, in some cases less may in fact be more.

Decisions, decisions….

We make decisions everyday. Some big ones, some not so big, and most without really giving it much thought. Should I wear the white shirt or the blue one? What route do I take on my way to work? Do I want fries with my lunch?

Answers: The blue one, last time I wore it with this outfit I received several compliments. I’m taking the backroads, the traffic on the main road is unbearable this time of day. I’ll should pass on the fries, fried foods upset my stomach.

What do all these decisions have in common? While there is no wrong answer, they all rely on past knowledge, or historical information, to make a determination. When we make a decision we take to sum of our previous experiences into consideration to determine what to do next.

Why then do so many expensive decisions in the business world rely on only a small window of data? It’s still typical for companies that have been around for decades to base day to day decisions on only the last 13 months.

Firms that have successful data management strategies in place make data driven decisions based on years, and in many cases decades of learnings. If you can learn from the past you won’t be doomed to repeat it’s mistakes. By choosing to shortcut valuable historical data, you’re only fooling yourself into thinking your actions are supported by the numbers.

Equations that predict the future are among us.

“How accurate does my model need to be?”

This is a question that I get asked all the time. The universal answer: It depends. Virtually any decision that a human makes can be modeled by the computer. IBM’s WATSON proved that playing Jeopardy. Was the WATSON always right? NO. Did IBM prove WATSON able to simulate human decision making? YES.

The question is how accurate did WATSON need to be in order to compete? It depends. It depends on the type of questions asked. It depends on the quality of opponents. It depends on the score and questions left in the game.

In the business world the same type of questions need to be asked. All too often I run into vendors promising models where they lack a full understanding of all the circumstance surrounding the question I need answered. They then pledge all sorts of fancy accuracy metrics that speak to questions they figure I would want answers to, but fail to answer the one question I’ve asked: How accurate do I need to be in order to make better decisions and what is the cost of increasing that accuracy?

I realize I may be biased. I help companies build internal analytics practices, often by decreasing long term costs. Teach a man to fish; it costs less than buying a fish for him every evening.

Just Go to www…..

“Honey! Can you please Google again…. “

“But I just…”

 

“I know, I know…. but now try!!

Coffee brewing, bacon frying…. this is what my house sounds like around 10:00 am as my wife and I are keystroking the day away. Each generation has its familiar sounds. My grandparents had “Breakfast!!”, my parents “Can you hear me now?”, and finally my wife and I are at “How many page views”.

Remember when building a web page cost an arm and a leg? Or even being found on the web was considered a monumental step? That kind of thinking held true in 1998. You could get away with it until around 2008. As of 2009, more than a quarter of the globe made use of the internet. That’s a lot of content. Today’s virtual world is quite a crowded one, and if people can’t find your webpage then it might as well not exist. However, as the adage goes the three most important things in business are location, location, location.

Use someone else’s computer and Google your business name. Ideally you should be number one on the search, at the very least top three. If your website can’t be found then it will not help generate business for you. In all seriousness, the mere fact that you can’t be found in this day and age will actually hurt your bottom line.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, did it actually make a sound? If your services can’t be found by Google then its akin to opening a store in the middle of the forest. Your ranking on their search engine is equivalent to the number of blocks your store is from Main Street. Venture too far and no one will find out.

How much effort have you put into building your online presence? How much dough have you shelled out in advertising? Google can find you for free, and their ranking is priceless.

Why spend on advertising when I’ve got the world’s best search engine working for me? Besides, my wife’s got this whole blog thing down to a science.