We’ve all said things that have come off the wrong way. It’s one of the short­com­ings of the Eng­lish lan­guage. So many words in Eng­lish are open to inter­pre­ta­tion, and leav­ing things open to inter­pre­ta­tion around my house can some­times mean I wake up on the couch. What­ever it was I said, or failed to say, can take time and com­mu­ni­ca­tion to sort out. Mov­ing for­ward, I store the knowl­edge I glean from con­ver­sa­tions with my wife and then never repeat what I said again—or at least I change my ver­biage to some­thing that res­onates bet­ter with her. In doing so, I’ve learned how to com­mu­ni­cate more effec­tively with my wife. Luck­ily, she’s the under­stand­ing sort who allows me to explain myself so I get a chance to apply my newly acquired knowl­edge. This is an exam­ple of inter­act­ing directly with one per­son who already knows and likes me. Now imag­ine try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate an action­able mes­sage to lit­er­ally mil­lions of peo­ple who either do not know you or have a pre­con­ceived idea of who you are.

I do a lot of pub­lic speak­ing. I mean a lot. Any­one try­ing to con­vey a mes­sage to a large group of peo­ple in per­son can tell how well things are going by tak­ing cues from the crowd. Are they fid­get­ing? Are they engaged and atten­tive? Did they laugh in the right spots or am I hear­ing crick­ets? All these cues, and many more, fac­tor in. A good pub­lic speaker knows that not all crowds are the same; each has its own char­ac­ter­is­tics. As a speaker you have the ben­e­fit of imme­di­ate feed­back from the audi­ence and can act on it to hold their atten­tion and get your mes­sage across. Social media does not give you those cues directly, so you have to go get them. That means text min­ing, which is sim­ply col­lect­ing people’s text-based reac­tions from social media out­lets and cat­e­go­riz­ing and quan­ti­fy­ing them. Instead of ana­lyz­ing a few hun­dred peo­ple with what I can see and hear, I can observe mil­lions of them in thou­sands of ways.

Pre­dic­tive pub­lish­ing means mak­ing the right call before the mes­sage gets to the crowd. By gath­er­ing and cor­rectly apply­ing quan­ti­ta­tive data, we can increased the like­li­hood that social media mes­sages are received with enthu­si­asm by the tar­geted mar­ket. Pre­dic­tive pub­lish­ing looks at social media usage, phrases used, and sen­ti­ment as well as other fac­tors to help social man­agers deter­mine who best to address, what to say, and when and how to reach them. The guess work is taken out entirely, and spray and pray adver­tis­ing tac­tics are eliminated.

I’m going to stop pick­ing on my wife now and say that social media adver­tis­ing is a lot like skip­ping rocks across a pond. The tossed peb­ble is your mes­sage, while the num­ber of skips you get for your effort is your ROI. If your peb­ble (your mes­sage) is the right size and shape you can skip your rock much fur­ther than if you use a large, round rock. What this means is that hav­ing the oppor­tu­nity to bet­ter shape your mes­sage and direct it to the right mar­ket increases your chances of get­ting redi­rects and min­i­mizes bounces– or inter­net users who pop into your site, then right back out again.

Social man­agers are toss­ing huge num­bers of small rocks into the pond, hop­ing one skips. The wasted resources asso­ci­ated with “best guesses” and solely instinc­tual social adver­tis­ing is stag­ger­ing. Pre­dic­tive pub­lish­ing helps shape your mes­sage and allows you to angle it onto the social net­work pond in such a way that you will get the most skips (reposts) of your effort. What’s more, those mes­sages will drive your tar­get to action.

To learn more about the social pre­dic­tive pub­lish­ing fea­tures being added to Adobe Social, read here.