Well, what do you know?

By Paul Grant

This phrase is just one of those human communication oddities: normally a rhetorical question, perhaps thrown out idly in a dead conversation or even as a greeting. It’s quite a strange thing to ask really, as more often than not, the answer is more complex than it at first seems. Sadly, the enquirer doesn’t always want to know the true answer. Still, for an organisation that wants to improve online engagement, it is a perfect starting place.

So, what do you know?
“About what?”, you may ask.

Well, about your target market… about the way they use the Internet… about their expectations of your organisation online… about their ideas… about their motives… about the efficiency of your website… about the other websites they visit… about how many friends your website visitors have recommended you to… and that is just for starters.

The truth is that right now you can probably look at some of these questions and confidently give a reasonable guestimate. You may say that with a bit of forewarning you could put your hands on most of this information, although it is not to hand just at the moment. Secretly, you may look at a couple of the questions and gulp, knowing that at present you simply have no idea.

Actually, it could be even more complicated than that, as there are exactly four different types of knowledge that you have –  even as you read this;

Everything we know (or don't know) can be placed in a quadrant

That which you know you know

You inevitably have a pile of reports sitting in a folder on your computer or in your drawer, each one comprehensive yet strangely disconnected and in isolation from everything else. You might have a CRM system that gives you reports every week or month. You may have a website reporting tool. You most certainly know the information you need to report to your line manager or senior management. Admittedly you may not have actually collated the information, but you are possibly the sort of person that can present numbers as if you had been pouring over them for hours on end.

That which you know you don’t know

It has happened to all of us. Someone asks a question, and you simply don’t know. You don’t even have a remote idea – in fact, it is plain and simple, you just don’t know – and you know you don’t know. There is nothing you can say, except “I’m sorry, I don’t know”. Being an astute professional, you probably have at those times made a ‘note to self’ – “find out about this and make sure to never be in that situation again”.

That which you don’t know you know

This here is potentially the most exciting of all. It is the low-hanging fruit that can instantly catapult you into a new dimension of strategy. You have a wealth of information at your fingertips – but you never knew it was there to be used. Hidden, dusty, filed away, or perhaps residing in an online account which nobody ever gave you access to. “I never knew that”, you may say. Someone smugly replies “No, I guess you didn’t”.

That which you don’t know you don’t know

Oops. This is the stuff that can really trip you over. Have you ever heard “Ignorantia juris non excusat”, meaning “ignorance of the law excuses no one”. Regulations, legislation, codes of practice and the like are the most notable trip hazards. More importantly, there are probably quite a few things which you perhaps really ought to know, but haven’t yet had cause to discover. Sometimes we find out the hard way, sometimes just in time. Sometimes, sadly, never at all.

Measure everything, and a few other quick tips

Perhaps you are starting to think there is more you could know about your online engagement activities.

The range of online and offline measurement tools available in a digital age suggests that there is really no excuse for not knowing what the bottom line impact of your social media engagement or online marketing is.

  1. The most simple first step is to ‘Measure everything’. Naturally it helps if at the outset you know what you are looking for, but even if you don’t – start collecting data.
  2. The next step is to take the time to reconcile, collate, amalgamate, collect, and process. Crunch the numbers, make sense of the metrics. You are looking for trends, insights, patterns, inaccuracies, irregularities and more. Maybe the software can help, although usually the human mind can see things more worthy of note.
  3. Act on it, for knowledge is power. With your new-found wisdom you will be able to articulate strategies and initiatives that are completely informed.

Even better, you will now have all the answers, be worth more money, and will make less mistakes. Wow.

If you are in the position that you would like to know more about your online presence, or perhaps don’t have time to conduct a thorough analysis personally, contact us and speak to one of our consultants.

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Meet the Author

Paul Grant