What Kind of Model (Data) Are You?

abstract model image

abstract model image

As a marketer, I pay attention to how corporations are leveraging the latest digital marketing channels to promote their brands.  For example, I recently enjoyed reading this post, “Five examples of brands that are nailing Pinterest.”

I’m just as, and maybe more so, interested in how individuals are using digital channels, like Pinterest, to promote their individual selves today.  In some cases, individuals on Pinterest are giving corporate brands a run for the money in terms of their number of account Followers – for example, one individual, Joy Cho, has more than 15 million people who follow her Pinterest account.

The majority of digital channels today make it easy for individuals to convey and share their preferences related to a multitude of subjects.  For example, Pinterest provides almost a literal picture of the interests and preferences of its users.

Other digital channels, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, also make it easy for individuals to indicate and share their preferences (on Facebook and on LinkedIn, you can hit the “Like” button to indicate that you like certain content, while on Google+, you can hit the +1 button to indicate your preferences).

Have you ever asked yourself why the latest digital channels include functionality that so strongly promotes individual preference sharing?  As I’ve stated in a prior post, online behavior is being tracked more and more often by companies who want to identify and target more individuals as potential buyers of their products. New digital channels providers are capturing and making the preference data of their individual subscribers available to those companies, usually at a some cost.

Also, many companies today are using software solutions to collect online data, mine the data, model the data, and then create visual representations of that data – all in an effort to gain new insights and knowledge that their organizations can use to propel their businesses forward.

Speaking of data visualization, I enjoy seeing different data visualization examples on the Information is Beautiful site.  What about you?  Have you ever stopped to think about what kind of model all of your personal, historical online data would create if summarily captured?

Would your online behavioral data present a Kate MossKurt Cobain-waif-like image, or would it reveal a more robust Kate Upton-like visualization?  What trends or secrets of your life would be revealed? Which of your data points would surface as uniquely beautiful, like the mole over Cindy Crawford’s lip or the gap in Lauren Hutton’s front teeth?

When I was a young girl, I dreamt of being a model.  I had no idea that I would actually fulfill that dream to the extent that I, like you no doubt, have become a data point in someone else’s data model.

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The Knowledge Timer is Set to On

Coleman Yard Stake with Outdoor Mechanical Timer

Coleman Yard Stake with Outdoor Mechanical Timer

Christmastime dilemma:  last year, you bought a fantastic timer to control exactly when your outdoor Christmas lights would turn on and off.  This year, you’ve located the timer and the outdoor lights, but you can’t remember how to work the timer and can’t find the timer directions.

What can you do?  Google the answer, of course (I know a certain married couple who actually solved this same dilemma yesterday by doing so).

It seems that answers to holiday questions and myriads of other question types are only a few clicks away in our modern mobile computing age.

But, can you remember a different time when information wasn’t so readily available?

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s while growing up down South, I can remember how access to certain information was hard to reach.  For example, there were only a couple of ways that my sisters, mother and women friends of ours could gain access to knowledge about the latest “New York fashions.”  We could watch the daily wardrobe changes of TV soap opera characters like Erica Kane, try to catch Elsa Klensch’s fashion segments on CNN or take actual trips to NYC itself, which we occasionally managed.  With our limited access to related information at the time, the fashion world in NYC and other global cities like Paris seemed so exotic.

This year, when I accessed actual New York Fashion Week runway segments directly on my computer via Live Runway, I had to smile inside, imagining how excited I would have been as a teenage girl with that kind of direct access to the latest trends in global fashion.

No doubt, computer technology has helped to democratize our access to all types of information, fashion-related and otherwise.

My question is:  now that so many of us have more access to the information that we seek, what are we doing with our enhanced knowledge?

What about you?  What kind of once-hidden information has today’s technology provided to you, and how are you using the new information that you’ve learned?

Last, in this age of Big Data and in these days of information deluge, what critical information do you think remains hidden?

What Are You Searching For?

Google search image

Google search image

When was the last time you searched for information online using Google’s search engine?  Yesterday?  One hour ago?  Thirty minutes ago?

Considering recent Statisticbrain.com stats on the average number of Google user searches that occur daily and annually, no doubt, it’s likely that you’ve used Google’s search engine recently.

Marketers today who are focused on search engine optimization (SEO) want to know your search behavior.  The more SEO-savvy are using free and paid online tools to discover the actual keywords that you’re choosing to type into the Google search box when you’re trying to locate the information that you’re seeking online.

For example, the Keyword Tool inside Google Adwords can be used by marketers to reveal that North Carolinians who are searching for information about the upcoming North Carolina State Fair event are actually typing in keywords such as, “NC state fair,” or, “state fair,” when conducting their online searches.

Have you ever noticed the auto population feature of the Google search engine?  When you begin to type specific search terms into the Google search box, you will automatically see several suggested search terms that represent the most commonly used search terms of other users in your surrounding geographic area.

Even if you’re not a marketer by trade, you can use Google’s auto population feature to discover the most common types of information that those around you are seeking.  How?

Try conducting a simple A-to-Z letter search approach.  Simply go to the Google search box and type the letter, “a,” and look at the automated suggested search terms.  Then, do the same for the letter, “b,” and the following letters in the alphabet. It’s a fun exercise.

I must confess, the other day, I used the A-to-Z letter search approach and found the results to be fascinating. For example, when I typed the single letter, “c,” into the Google search engine box, I saw the below auto populated search term suggestions:

  • confessions of a CF husband;
  • confessions of a homeschooler;
  • confessions of a dangerous mind;
  • confessions of a shopaholic;
  • confessions of a glamaholic; and
  • confessions of a cookbook queen.

Typing the letter, “d,” yielded these associated search suggestions:

  • dictionary;
  • delta;
  • durham bulls; and
  • dominoes.

As a blogger, I appreciate how this A-to-Z letter search approach can be a great tool to find content ideas that are current, relevant and popular for inclusion in future posts.

If you’re not a marketer or blogger, then learning the search habits of others may not be one of your primary concerns.

At the least, I hope the subject of this post reminds you of one of life’s truths:  sometimes when you search, you can find more than you’ve ever dreamed.

You can doodle this…you can doodle that…

Yesterday, August 6, 2011, I tweeted about the fact that Google debuted its latest interactive Google Doodle to its site visitors. Yesterday’s Doodle interactive design celebrated what would have been the 100th birthday of comedian Lucille Ball and featured a TV image containing interactive remote control buttons that aired clips from Ball’s famous, “I Love Lucy!” show.

Seeing yesterday’s Doodle, I remembered previous interactive Google Doodles that I have enjoyed viewing.  I was excited to see the initial interactive Pac-Man Doodle that Google released in May 2010 celebrating the 30th anniversary of the popular video arcade game.  And, I had fun using the interactive Doodle that honored the life of American jazz and country guitar artist Les Paul to create my own “Doodle song.”  Beyond the interactive Doodles, I also enjoy viewing the creative images captured within Google’s standard Doodles.

From a corporate marketing perspective,  I have enjoyed witnessing Google as a company achieve success in maintaining its strong corporate logo and brand identity while simultaneously being “playful” with its corporate logo.  I also admire the fact that Google has created its Doodle 4 Google contest for K-12 kids.

On a more reflective note, the Doodles remind me how an attitude of openness to change, of thinking beyond the status quo and of positivity and even playfulness can have far-reaching positive effects in carrying us forward in both the personal and professional realms.  I wonder how many people who clicked the TV remote buttons on the Lucy Doodle yesterday didn’t smile and reflect on past and future possibilities?  I know that I certainly did.

Apart from all of my positive comments above, I do have some questions about Google. I recently downloaded the e-book, “The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry),” to my i-Phone, and I look forward to reading the book and learning more.

For now, I’m content knowing that, like Google’s logo, I, too, can continually evolve, change and refine my perspective.  To put it in “Google terms,” when it come to my life, I can “doodle” this, or I can “doodle” that.  It’s up to me!  So, how do you like my avatar?
Ruth Dobson-Torres’ avatar

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