Run field experiments to make sense of your big data — Duncan Simester

MIT Sloan Prof. Duncan Simester

MIT Sloan Prof. Duncan Simester

From Harvard Business Review

Making marketing decisions based on an analysis of Big Data can be risky if not done properly, because data seldom reveal the causal links between correlated events. Take the case of one large retailer we studied. The company noticed that customers who purchased perishables also tended to purchase large-screen TVs. Based on this observation, the company made a significant investment in marketing activities directed at increasing purchases of perishables, in the hope that this would trigger more TV purchases. But while they sold more perishables, they didn’t manage to shift any more TVs, and the profits from selling extra perishables weren’t enough to cover the marketing investment.

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Why the ice bucket challenge proved such a runaway success — Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

From Yahoo! Tech

As social media sensations go, this one had it all: Emotion, social currency, money, and a sense of derring-do. It involved your social network and mine, but also celebrities, professional athletes, and even a former president. It was, on one level, silly and tapped into our deep-seated can’t-look-away tendencies, but it was also on a deeper level inspirational and supported a worthy cause.

I am referring, of course, to this summer’s social media phenomenon: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

For the uninitiated, the Ice Bucket Challenge involves dumping a pail of cold water over your head, posting photographic evidence of the pour on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and then challenging friends to do the same within 24 hours or give $100 to A myotrophic l ateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Many did both.

As a fundraiser, the Ice Bucket Challenge continues to be, in the words of Forbes magazine, a “philanthropic blockbuster.” Not only has it raised more than $100 million for ALS, the progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, but it has also heightened awareness for a disease that many Americans knew little about.

The challenge has been such a success that every professional fundraiser in America is no doubt thinking: “How can we start our own Ice Bucket Challenge?”

Trying to imitate the Ice Bucket Challenge, though, is a mistake. A winning social media campaign is not about tweaking an existing idea; it’s about coming up with something colossally original. And a bucket-esque challenge that requires participants to do something distasteful but that won’t kill them — drinking a bottle of vinegar water, say — isn’t going to cut it. Perhaps the first onslaught of copycats might be able to piggyback on the idea — the Rice Bucket Challenge, where participants donate a bucket of rice to someone in need and click a picture of it to share online, got some brief attention in India because of its cutesy name — but on the whole, marketing mimicry is doomed for failure.

Read the full post at Yahoo! Tech

Catherine Tucker is the Mark Hyman Jr. Career Development Professor and Associate Professor of Management Science at MIT Sloan.

The challenges of using social media for marketing purposes — Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

In an era when marketers spend billions on managing social media, is that investment worthwhile? Should firms actively guide, promote and shape online conversations, or leave them to grow organically?

To investigate this, my colleague Amalia Miller from the University of Virginia and I recently studied what happens when hospitals started to actively manage their profiles on Facebook. We focused on Facebook because it’s the most visited media site in the U.S., accounting for 20% of all time spent on the Internet. We also chose it because the Facebook Places initiative created a page for every single hospital in the U.S., allowing organizations to choose whether to actively manage their pages or not.

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The branding of an American president — Ellen Tave Glassman

Ellen Glassman, Director of Visual Design at MIT Sloan

Ellen Glassman, Director of Visual Design at MIT Sloan

From The Conversation

These days, a website, a YouTube video and a kickoff speech will often accompany each presidential campaign rollout.

And all will be accented by a campaign logo.

So far, Hillary Clinton’s logo has received the lion’s share of media attention for its polarizing design (more on that later).

But what about the others? What do these symbols say about each candidate, their messages and the zeitgeist? And, more broadly, what makes a good logo?

Applying this lens, one major trend that emerges is the increasingly important role technology and social networks play in winning elections.

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VW needs massive marketing campaign to regain consumer trust – and survive — Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

From The Conversation

Over the years, we’ve seen quite a few scandals in the automotive industry. However, the recent one at Volkswagen sets the bar at a whole new level. This isn’t your garden variety crisis involving a mechanical or safety issue.

While many of those (think Toyota and accelerator pedals) have been huge, the VW scandal involves years of deception to the public, and there are currently more questions than answers. It’s not unreasonable to ask if VW can survive this. In the weeks and months ahead, it faces a raft of questions that will greatly influence its fate.

Public trust

The company has recalled 11 million diesel cars worldwide, but what is the actual solution? The company will remove the software that cheated on emissions tests, but can it make the cars perform as promised during actual driving conditions? If not, how will it adjust its marketing message about those cars? As for the environment, what will it do about the revelation that those cars produced as much as 40 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant linked to asthma and other respiratory problems?

Other companies will have to address questions related to this crisis too. For example, automotive manufacturers of diesel cars face the prospect of random emissions audits to ensure they don’t have similarly deceptive software installed. Those companies are surely wondering if the public mistrust of VW is contagious and will spread to all diesel cars. If so, then the diesel industry could also experience fallout.

Perhaps the biggest question – and one that must be addressed head-on for the sake of long-term survival – is whether VW will be able to rebuild public trust. After all, the deception at VW apparently went on for six years. That is remarkable!

Everyone is now asking what happened. How could this level of deception have existed for so long, much less at a German company known for its attention to detail, skilled engineering and commitment to the environment?

Read the full post at The Conversation.

Neal Hartman is a Senior Lecturer in Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management.