Ninety nine percent of social posts create no engagement according to new data from Social Flow.

An unrelenting blizzard of posts that come and go quickly, an ADD public addicted to social and mobile media and brands using a two-way channel with a one-way mentality are contributing causes. Nobody can really keep up with the torrent of social media posts so its no wonder that 9 out of 10 die alone in the dark.

Too many brands bring an old school media mentality to social networking. This mismatch of expectations seriously contributes to the absence of engagement. Too many marketers think of social media as a fast, cheap add-on channel. They fantasize about creating a video, an ALS-like stunt or a meme that magically goes viral.

Yet these very same marketers process, homogenize and neuter posts in the pre-planning process. The objective is to mitigate risk rather than optimize engagement. By attempting to push cleaver or relevant brand messages, intersect with consumers, or be relevant and useful, posts are written or developed and filtered through legal teams. Since its impossible to guess when the right topic will reach critical mass, its no surprise that this sausage factory approach delivers a big yawn.

The opposite approach is to attempt real-time posts and customer interactions. The most successful of these are customer service and customer care interventions delivered mostly on Twitter and Facebook. But many brands envy, and hope to replicate, Oreo’s real-time super tweet during the blacked out Super Bowl.

These brands are investing in labor-intensive community management, social listening and real-time creative content development and praying that lightening strikes. This technique works best for media and entertainment companies where social media is a real-time viewing companion or where event programming can benefit from social media pre-sell. For everyone else, it’s a long shot, at best, and even if you get a huge momentary traffic and buzz spike, the relative impact on business or brand preference is uncertain and mostly immeasurable.

The newest approach is to use data to drive posts and consumer engagement. The basic concept is a lot like Wall Street program trading. Figure out the topics that are relevant to your brand, prepare appropriate posts and then deploy them when there is a volume of current conversation on these topics. The promise is that when the party gets started, your brand is automatically invited. Social Flow, who offers social media optimization services, claims that data-driven posts yield 91% greater reach and 25% more engagement than scheduled posts.

Using predictive algorithms tied to social listening and triggered by business rules, brands can show up and interact when a relevant topic is hot and in-play and leverage timing to their advantage by appropriately entering and/or influencing the conversation.

At this early stage, the math is still a work-in-progress. There are a bunch of start-ups playing in this space building both a rationale and an audience for using data rather than marketing objectives or real-time posting to determine what to say when.

As social media matures, marketers need to use it selectively and operationally grasp the idea that without two-way interaction or action-reaction sequences, they are missing the boat. Experimenting with data-driven posting and testing mixes of all three posting tactics should be on your agenda.

Danny FlambergDanny Flamberg has been building brands and businesses for more than 25 years. In the US, Europe and South America, he has helped start-ups become important players in their markets and helped leading global brands extend their reach, market share and relationships with customers.

(Image credit: Jason A. Howie)

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