Startups Need to Think Bigger than One Social Channel

Look at this personality graph the Internet created for me. Now you know everything about me.

Five Labs | Lee Schneider | Lee Schneider 2014-06-11 10-02-40 2014-06-11 10-02-43


By the way, you don’t really know everything about me.

The plot, created by a startup called Five, is intrusive, funny, and maybe kind of accurate. Kind of, because it’s based only on what I post to Facebook. That’s a small slice of my reality, since I don’t use Facebook all that often. Big corporations are using information like this to market to me. If they only used this information, though, they’d be working with only a small slice of who I am. Good idea? Not really. Small slice, limited data set, limited view.

No quick judgements.

It would be nice if there were a really fast way to put people into categories, like Klout tries to, but it’s just not possible. I think the best you can do is find likeminded people who are (knowingly or unknowingly) building a culture together. That sort of research is going to take a little time, but what you learn will be richer.

Learn more by asking questions.

Say you’re a startup. You’re trying to learn about your customers, both potential and current. You want to know who these people really are, how they feel, how they spend their day. If you look at their Facebook personalities, you’ll see one data set. If you look at what they post to Twitter and Instagram, you’ll see more. Not everybody posts to every network equally, and some of us don’t post at all. Yes, there are people you might want to reach who are not on Facebook all the time, getting pigeonholed as Extroverts or Neurotics. You have to do the hard work of asking them questions to find out more about how they tick.

You need to engage them with email campaigns, ask them questions using surveys, invite a phone call, Skype or Hangout, do webinars, free classes – you get the idea, I think. Grouping people is valuable, but conversations are better.