Wick Communications

What experimentation means

In Ideas on May 6, 2016 at 8:24 am
Geneticist and cytologist Margaret Mann Lesley (1891-1988) earned a Ph.D. from University of California in 1921. She was presumably a better experimenter than I.

Geneticist and cytologist Margaret Mann Lesley (1891-1988) earned a Ph.D. from University of California in 1921. She was presumably a better experimenter than I.

I have been thinking a lot about experimentation and what comes after we try something new.

See if this feels familiar: You hold a meeting. You decide to use some new tool and see how it goes. Maybe you are going to post a lot of photos from the Little League Opening Day on Instagram, or cover a street fair on Periscope. You make it happen in some imperfect way. And … then what?

I love this piece by Robin Kwong of Financial Times. He says something that, for me, is very important and has taken me some time to get my head around. Among other things, he says that using some new toy isn’t by itself an “experiment.”

… it is important not to let the tool frame your goal. So, for example, instead of setting a goal of “using Snapchat for the first time,” you could frame it instead as:

“To figure out what type of stories lend themselves to live Snapchat coverage.” Or: “Our target audience is on Snapchat. We want to figure out how we can reach them there.” Or: “We’ve tried it once before and got good results. This time, let’s figure out whether we can simplify the logistics so we could be doing these once a week.”

This is partly because the goals of the tool or platform may not be the same as your own goals. For example, your organization’s intention to drive traffic back to its own site could clash with, say, Snapchat or Instagram’s goal of keeping users on their platforms. …

I think that is why some of my “experiments” with platforms feel so unfulfilling. The platform’s goal and mine might overlap, but that isn’t enough to sustain the relationship. So I let it peter out.

I also often lack the follow up. Kwong speaks to that as well. He has a short list of things to do after you try something new. It’s really good stuff. Read it.

Clay

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