Seeing Through the Expected Results Weeds

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Think about the last report you wrote or read. What was it about? What was the biggest takeaway?

Now think about the data behind the report. Ideally that report told the same story as the data. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many times I read reports that seem to totally miss the point.

I finally got to dig through Nielsen’s Social Media Report, and I was surprised to find that some of the biggest insights were not called out or highlighted in the report.

Check out slide six. What do you notice? The slide highlights mobile users and time spent on social networks. But there’s more to it than that. Only three features were rated “most valued” by more mobile users than reported having the feature: GPS, scanning barcodes and mobile payments.

From this, I would takeaway that mobile users value practical applications and features more than those they would be able to utilize other places. Social networking may be valuable, but not as much as something practical like GPS. Features that are not unique to mobile are not as valuable to users.

Because the report is focused on social networks and social media, this nugget was completely ignored in the report. While I understand the purpose of the report was to focus on the state of social media, it also seems a bit irresponsible to completely ignore a valuable insight. If you aren’t careful, you walk away from this report thinking social networks are valued on mobile, when it may be a better strategy to go after more practical applications.

Are you listening to what the data says? Be careful not to get too focused on your original expectations. While sticking to reporting on your goals and objectives is important, there is nothing wrong with finding extra insights and interesting tidbits. Often these surprising revelations can help build future campaigns and programs.

Are you focused too much on what you’re expecting? You run an awareness campaign, so you look for signs that you increased awareness. But along the way you may discover something new about how users are interacting on your website.

If you’re keeping your eye out for unexpected insights, you never know what you might learn.

What have you discovered while looking for something completely different? Have you ever been blinded by expectations? How do you prevent this from happening?

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