Big, Little Data

You can’t throw a bag of kale down the kombucha aisle without hearing someone talk about big data, predictive data, or AI. And for good reason. DLA Piper famously used data analytics to predict which clients were in danger of severing business ties. I’ll be speaking later this month at Legal Tech West on how to use content data analytics to drive and course-correct content strategy.

It all sounds very big and impressive. But Adrian Lurssen of JD Supra reminded me recently that some of the best information is found in “small data.” Given the seduction of “big data,” “small data” sounds like small potatoes. Far from it. Think of big data as quantitative data and small data as qualitative data. Which is harder to come by? Exactly. Big data is available to anyone, at a price. Small data is your private vein of gold. It is based on discrete, individual interactions with your content. As such, it has incredible potential to foster authentic connections—if you respond appropriately. Acting on small data, rather than focusing on growing readership and metrics, is almost always worth the time. Here are some examples of what I mean. An industry blogger includes a link to your recent post on their monthly newsletter. Reach out. Thank them, and include a few thoughts about a post of theirs that you found helpful. Connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter. Genuine connection is worth far more than increasing follows and likes. It’s about using these platforms to foster living relationships. A reader likes or retweets a post of yours on Twitter. You can do more than follow them and like their tweet. Reach out and ask what they would like to hear more about. Regulations or litigation? Net neutrality or blockchain? Creating personal connection is the Holy Grail of social media; it wasn’t meant to supplant relationships, but to supplement and strengthen them. I recently had a breakout post of sorts on Attorney at Work. Why? I’m not entirely sure. How can I find out? Ask. Reply to or DM readers who liked or tweeted the post and ask what spoke to them, what they found helpful. (One reader spelled it out in a retweet so I was ahead of the game for once.) This is the kind of connection between writer and reader that is there for the taking, if we act on the readily available “small data” about how our content is faring in the marketplace. Go beyond learning who is reading your content and use these touchpoints to foster meaningful interaction. Adrian and I will be covering this and more on a panel this month, with John Page of Kilpatrick Townsend, at LMA Tech West. We summed up our collective thoughts on small data this way in a recent JD Supra post: “Spend an extra hour or two a month sorting through the small data points that show interaction with your content, and turn the high-value engagements into action items. Follow up! More importantly, these readers have self-identified as interested in your content, and will likely welcome more. If you have high-value readers, it can be worth tailoring content to match their interests. Sometimes the best strategy is to think small.” --stet-- Susan Kostal is a legal marketing consultant and content strategist located in San Francisco Bay Area. Find her monthly column on Attorney at Work & check out more great content here.This post originally appeared in Susan Kostal's Legal Marketing Bits & Bites Newsletter. Sign up for more content here.

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