Context: What can social media strategists learn from the past?

by | Sep 5, 2017 | EduSocial Blog, Strategy, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I was recently watching a documentary about the excavation of a village where the archaeologist held up a thin, grey object and asked the filmmaker what he thought it was. He, of course, had no idea – he had very little to go on. He could feel its weight and see its shape and color, but otherwise had no indication of its use.

Without knowing anything about the village it was found in or their practices, it could’ve been a weapon as easily as it could’ve been an eating utensil. Because he didn’t know where it was found, if there were others like it, or what other items were near it, he simply didn’t have enough information to make an informed decision, so he guessed it was some kind of tool used in their daily work.

As it turns out, the thin, grey object, was used by the villagers to keep their cloaks closed – kind of like a safety pin. The wraps they wore had small slits cut into the front that allowed for them to easily slide the pin through. Once told, the filmmaker could immediately see that as a logical use for the tool, but he commented that he would have definitely needed more clues to get to that conclusion on his own.

What context do we overlook?

Listening to the archaeologist’s good-natured teasing of the filmmaker, I realized how often we’re in situations where we don’t have enough information to draw accurate conclusions – at least not without doing a little digging.

What’s happening in the world around you?

A wide variety of factors can influence success. Trending topics, the weather, celebrities and television shows…in fact, these considerations are the heart of real-time marketing. Knowing what is happening and how it affects you (positively or negatively) is critical to your planning process. But it’s also critical when you’re reflecting on the work you’ve done and your successes and failures.

What are your competitors doing that may be influencing your success?

Like it or not, a boom in activity may be the result of a campaign your competitor is running. While it may not be their primary intent, a promotion they’re running may be driving activity to the entire market. People may be looking at your product for a comparison. If you discover this, of course, the question of “What’s happening?” changes to “What are we going to do to make the most of the fact that this is happening?!”

To clarify, it is entirely possible – in some cases it may even be likely – that your success on social media is directly related to the work that you have done. Brilliant campaigns often times carry themselves and timing, world events, and the competition matter very little. The important thing to do is to give appropriate consideration to context so you can accurately identify what caused the success.

What context do you look at when you’re assessing your social media success?


Author: Amy Jauman

Dr. Amy Jauman, SMS, is the Chief Learning Officer at the National Institute for Social Media and author of the Comprehensive Field Guide for Social Media Strategists. Amy is also one of 58 members representing 12 countries in the inaugural class of the Prezi Educator Society. Previously she was the Social Media Director for Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota (WeMN) and she currently serves as the marketing director for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Speakers Association. She is also an adjunct professor in the St. Catherine University Business Department and the St. Mary’s University of Minnesota MBA program.


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