“If you’re going to hire an analyst, hire the one that’s doing the Sudoku puzzles in the waiting room,” says Jim Sterne of eMetrics Summit. But, he says, it’s not all about the numbers.

In his presentation at SocialMedia.org’s Brands-Only Summit, Jim talks about the human side of social media analytics. He focuses on the role an analyst should play within a company and the qualifications they should have to turn social data into effective business practices.

Here are some key points:

  • Tell stories instead of reports. Jim advises analysts to skip over the nitty-gritty numbers. Instead, get right to the insight by focusing on customers and business objectives.
  • Be careful. Jim acknowledges that humans love to find patterns and make assumptions. Unfortunately, there are a lot of traps the brain can fall into when it comes to processing data. He warns analysts not to confuse correlation with causation or to give in to cognitive bias.
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Some of the best marketing advice author Jeff Rohrs ever received was from legendary rock musician Bruce Springsteen: “Audience is not brought to you or given to you; it’s something that you fight for.”

Jeff elaborates on this idea in his book, “AUDIENCE.” He believes that Facebook fans, Twitter followers and e-mail subscribers are among the most important assets a company can have. Marketing just isn’t effective without an engaged customer base.

In his presentation at SocialMedia.org’s Brands-Only Summit, Jeff discusses the importance of investing time and resources into audience development.

Here are three key takeaways:

  • No audience is owned. In social media, people can unfollow, unlike and unsubscribe any time. Jeff says it’s the company’s job to keep customers invested.
  • Grow the right kind of audience. Everybody likes a big crowd. But marketing is about more than just numbers. While purchasing fake fans and followers makes a brand seem popular, it won’t actually create any meaningful engagement.
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Natanya Anderson, director of social media and digital marketing at Whole Foods Market, says Pinterest creates a lot of great opportunities for brands. For Whole Foods, it drives a ton of traffic to their website, creates almost 11 times as much as engagement with their followers than Twitter, and it’s a great platform for working with influencers.

In her presentation at SocialMedia.org’s Brands-Only Summit, Natanya takes us on a tour of Whole Food’s “Pinterest Parthenon” and its three tiers:

  • Philosophy: Natanya calls Whole Foods’ approach to Pinterest “Lifestyle-Centric Curation.” It’s all about collecting the best and most customer-relevant ideas on the Internet and bringing them together onto one inspirational board.
  • Strategy: Whole Foods aims to create images people will share, like a graphic on brining or a recipe card for potato salad. They also reach out to big Pinterest influencers to reach a bigger audience.
  • Accountability: Natanya says measurement is essential to a successful Pinterest strategy.
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In today’s socially connected world, it isn’t enough to just do the right thing. You have to proactively give people a reason to have confidence in your brand. That’s why Don Peppers, co-author of “Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage,” says brands have to focus on the quality of their customer experience.

In his presentation at SocialMedia.org’s Brands-Only Summit, Peppers talks about making transparency a priority for social media managers. He says with the way word travels through social media, the slightest bit of shadiness can trigger a massive decline in trust.

Here are some other key takeaways from his talk:

  • Provide objective advice. While it may seem counterintuitive, Peppers encourages companies to recommend a competitor’s product if they know it will be more suitable than their own. This builds a reputation of credibility and authenticity.
  • Your employees want to help. People want to work for a trustworthy brand.
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Brains on Fire President Robbin Phillips has some tough news for brands: “People don’t want to talk about you.” What they want to talk about is their lives. That’s why it’s so important for brands to understand how to fit into customer passions and interests.

In her presentation at SocialMedia.org’s Brands-Only Summit, Robbin talks about the data-driven mentality that dominates social media marketing. She says that brands are so obsessed with getting on the newest social channels and gaining millions of followers, they forget to prioritize people before numbers. Robbin encourages marketers to focus on customers instead to form deeper connections and spark meaningful engagement.

Here are three key takeaways from her presentation:

  • Focus on the people, not the product. When scissors manufacturer Fiskars complained to Robbin about the lack of ways to brand their ordinary merchandise, the team at Brains on Fire encouraged them to think beyond the product.
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