I read a lot of books about marketing. I read a lot of blog posts, attend a lot of conferences, and follow a lot of marketers on Twitter. I’m saddened by the overwhelming amount of superstition-based advice I see. I call it unicorns and rainbows—snake oil adages such as “Be awesome,” “Engage in the conversation,” and “Have a personality.” These things sound great. And they’re hard to disagree with; I’m not going to tell you to be not-awesome. But they’re not based in anything more substantial than what sounds right.

And when we do get data about social media platforms, user behavior, or digital communications channels, much of it slowly emerges out of the scholastic system, produced by academics isolated from the marketing trenches. Science like this is interesting, sure, but it’s largely data for data’s sake, devoid of applicable lessons. We need more street-smart work conducted by researchers with real-world marketing experience. This kind of work is useful and efficient. It allows you to decide how to apply it so that you can do your job better.

As a social media scientist, I use data, experimentation, and real science to understand how people behave online and how we, as marketers, can leverage that behavior. I want to give you the data you need to get stuff done and to be successful.

But it is important to understand how to apply marketing science to your business. Think about the difference between how research works in fields such as physics and how it works ...

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