Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Certain uncertainty.

Last week, an infographic defining audiences for Twitter and Facebook was making the rounds. BrandSavant had a great follow-up article calling out the comparison as descriptive, but not necessarily predictive. As noted, many Twitter users are also Facebook users and vice versa. The two are not completely isolated. Networks are evolving and the platforms are used differently. Definitively predicting follower vs. liker brand or service acquisition is uncertain. 

The rise of uncertainty.
In 1927, physicist Werner Heisenberg introduced a crazy idea that challenged everything from core scientific capability to basic philosophical theory – The Uncertainty Principle. Determinism became a myth. Order went back to chaos. Scientific limitations were exposed. It was a turning point for analytic thinking. What if a fact could never be a simple, indisputable fact?

Imperfection gives us direction.
Though there are many interpretations of this principle, overall, it exposed process as imperfect. It's filled with variable contradiction and human influence. Uncertainty determines where we'll go next, and it's a back-and-forth journey.

Everything affects everything.
By observing, we can actually alter the outcome of the observed. And, the observer determines what is and isn't observed. This is where the source of content becomes just as important as the content itself. (Or, if you figure out a way to time travel, don't mess with anything. We'll call that the loosely connected McFly Principle.)

Uncertainly engaged.
Captive audiences are gone, and brands must engage socially. Unfortunately, social ROI is uncertain. We want to predict solid outcomes. However, it's more important to be relevant and adapt. Focus on awareness. (One thing is certain – if your brand is not confidently at the party, it will not engage with anyone.)

On being uncertain.
Uncertainty brings us clients. It drives better solutions. It's a risk-driven challenge fueled by intuition and probability.

There's a thrill that accompanies uncertainty. It encourages us to lead our lives as certainly as we can today, knowing that we await an onslaught of uncertain tomorrows. That we may never have all the answers, but we'll learn along the way. And, of that much, I'm certain.

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  1. I read a book called "Predictably Irrational" that I found fascinating. You can never be completely certain that your actions will have the outcome you intend, but the more you understand the irrationality of people the better your chances of influencing people's actions. But it's the uncertainty that keeps things interesting.

  2. Thanks for the book recommendation Adrian, I'll have to check it out. I also like Faris Yakob's thoughts on rational vs. emotional decision making. He links to some great previous posts here as well: