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Smarter Engagement: Bypass Biases in Social Media – Think Insights – Google

Brands use social media to engage and deepen relationships with consumers. But Wharton School’s Pinar Yildirim warns of the risk in sensational content and minority opinions when it comes to user-generated content (UGC).




We know it’s good to engage your customers. It’s not true, however, that any engagement is good engagement. Brands should not have blind faith in high numbers. Instead, media managers’ goal should be meaningful interactions that deepen relationships with their best customers.


The right metrics in social media are crucial, but interpretation is just as important and this is where I’m going to focus. When it comes to social media content, there are two tendencies to be wary of — sensationalism and extreme opinions.


So, my first piece of advice for managers is: do not to fall into the sensationalism trap and be careful how you interpret social media. Emotional, controversial, or exaggerated messaging might attract attention — and even boost your social media fans or followers’ number in the short term — but are people really buying into your brand? Moreover, could it be harmful in the long term? If brand-related content is going to chime in on the topic of the moment, make sure it does so in a way that ties back to your brand and what it stands for.


This brings us to my second piece of advice. When social media’s most active users are consumers with polarized opinions, managers must carefully interpret the data they gather from it. It can be detrimental when companies – and big data analysts – treat the opinions of a small, and possibly polarized, vocal group as representing the opinions of the rest.

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