This Friday the "Force Awakens"

Dan Grady's picture
 By | December 15, 2015
in Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Data Visualization
December 15, 2015

Believe it or not, this isn't my first Star Wars tag cloud. This one is based on the conversations taking place on the Star Wars Facebook page since December 1.

Like many other kids who grew up in the 80’s, I am a huge Star Wars fan.  My wife refuses to watch any of the movies with me for a number of reasons, but I think the biggest reason is my “Uncontrollable Recite-itis”, which is the condition that causes me to recite the movie word for word as I watch it. (Anyone else afflicted with UR out there?) 
The buildup for this installment of the Star Wars franchise has been far greater than I can remember for any other film and it seems that every marketer is trying to take advantage of its Force. Part of the reason is Star Wars' mass appeal across multiple generations. Personally, over the last few years I’ve been trying to introduce my children to the magic that is Stars Wars - with limited success. Each time my girls and I watch one of my beloved Star Wars films I realize two things: one, I’m a really big nerd, and two, how many quotes about the “Force” can be applied to describe Social Media. 
Obi Wan Kenobi initially explains the Force to Luke Skywalker as follows – “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power.  It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”
Think about how powerful the force of social media has become. It’s used to market products, deliver the news, catch criminals, and elect presidents. Its power comes from its source. It is created by us, the Internet-using public, and of course it binds us all together.
Regardless of whether or not you’ve attained Jedi status or if you are still a Padawan Learner when it comes to social media usage, most of us notice a disturbance in the Force, as when something is "trending" on Twitter or Facebook.
Those who are able to learn the ways of social media, and harness its power through analysis and understanding can realize tremendous gains. As Darth Vader reminds Governor Tarkin, “don’t underestimate the power of the Force," and Yoda advises Luke: “a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side.”
Much like the Force, social media can also have a dark side. Many organizations rush to get involved in social media analytics, without a strategy on how they are going to integrate the data, share the insights with the rest of the organization, and understand the Force’s impact on their business. These organizations wind up wasting a lot of time and money. Analyzing social data in a vacuum is the dark side of social media analytics, and those organizations that have traveled down this path get extremely frustrated with the lack of return they are realizing on their investments and give up on social media analysis. 
“I find their lack of faith disturbing,” to paraphrase Darth Vader.
Social Media, if used correctly, can be a good leading indicator of market trends, can make you aware of consistent (or inconsistent) consumer patterns, and can help you understand the public perceptions of your brand or your competitor’s brand. Often, knowing how to react and respond to these insights involves other data from other areas. You “stretch out with your feelings” and get others in the organization involved. 
As Yoda says – “My ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is”. 
Align social media with other aspects of your business and you’ll increase your chances of reaching Jedi status.
May the Force be with you.