Social Media, Conflicting Data, and the Search for Truth

the social habit, social media research

A few months ago, I hired an SEO company to do some work on behalf one of my clients.  After just two months, there was an indeed a tick up in traffic to the site and the SEO company was using this data point to claim victory and justify a second phase of the program that would run my customer upwards of $10,000 a month.

I asked the SEO company, “How do you know that this was truly a result of your effort and not seasonality or normal variation in web traffic?”

“Well, you have to understand,” they said, “we have been doing this a long time and we have a feel for these things.”

“Did you use an appropriate statistical test to sift out variability?  Did you compare this to historical data to see if there is a 95% probability that this result came from your work and not something else?”

They just looked at me with blank stares.

The lack of real data in this business is shocking.

This scenario is not uncommon. I am amazed at the shoddy state of research on the social web and what people are trying to pass off as “science.”  Not a day goes by that I don’t see conflicting information about the value of Facebook “Likes,” the correlation between online conversations and buying behavior, whether blogging is going up or going down, and whether small businesses are adopting social media marketing or rejecting it, to name but a few.

Even the most “trusted” sources are taking shortcuts with the data to rush consulting services to market. One recent “research report” drew a conclusion from a 15% positive response rate from their sample population. If you looked at the numbers, that meant they were basing their new claim on the opinion of TWO PEOPLE! And yet this new insight was tweeted and reported and posted as fact thousands of times.

This is irresponsible. We are building our social media plans on a foundation of quicksand.

No place to turn

I realize that in our time-crunched, info-overloaded state, perpetually-stressed state of being, we need shortcuts and trusted sources and we don’t have the time to even question whether something we are reading is accurate or not.

But if you are trying to run a business, you cannot take shortcuts by taking a guess on data. Data is the heart of marketing, the soul of strategy.

It was time to stand up and do something about it. I’m part of a new project called The Social Habit and I’ve teamed up with three other folks who are also fed up with the state of data crap on the web: Tom Webster, Jason Falls and Jay Baer.

Here is what we are going to do: Change the game of social media research. We are bringing you real, actionable data backed by Edison Research, the company trusted by NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX and the Associated Press to be the sole providers for U.S. Election Exit Polling, and the authors of some of the most widely cited media research in the world.

In other words, they kick data ass.

Although The Social Habit has already put out its first free social media research, we are officially kicking off our website and new service offerings today.

This is a solution for us all

Whether you are a small business with no budget, an agency looking for a keen competitive edge, or a company sorting out the true value of its social media efforts, The Social Habit has something for you:

Free stuff. That’s right. free research! We will publish regular reports free for all to use, share, and enjoy. We are taking aim at the data hucksters and infusing data-backed conclusions and reasoned interpretation into the field of social media science.

Affordable research packages. By leveraging an experienced, highly-trained staff of Edison field researchers, we can conduct the type of quality research for you that used to be within the reach of only the largest companies and agencies. This valuable research can serve as a base for decision support for any organization seeking to optimize their social media efforts.

Custom questions. A truly extraordinary opportunity to tap into one of the world’s best research teams to solve problems, capture valuable brand insight, and discover powerful consumer attitudes and behaviors that translate into competitive advantage. This exclusive research will also provide brands and agencies with enormously valuable insights on where social media is going, and what they need to do to capitalize on both present and future trends. Examples of research topics would include:

  • Usage of various platforms and how users interact with your brand.
  • Interactions between brands and social influencers
  • eCommerce and social shopping
  • Mobile trends and usage patterns
  • Correlations between specific social media behaviors and awareness, trial, purchase intent and brand advocacy
  • Inputs for practical ROI calculations

You can be involved!

Now here’s the fun part. You can be part of our next research report. If you had one question to ask about social media that you could have answered in a national research program, what would it be?  All you have to do is click here to become part of Social Habit Research

You can learn more about the products and services The Social Habit will provide and stay up to date on the information and opportunities we’ll provide by visiting The Social Habit’s new website and signing up for our email list. You can also subscribe to our blog which will feature select data and analysis, plus discussions about social media research in general, for free.

It’s going to be fun to watch this grow and evolve, but most of all, it will be refreshing to have a conversation about social media based on FACTS. I hope you’ll let me know if The Social Habit can help your business find the truth about your social media marketing efforts and your customers.

Illustration courtesy BigStock Photo

All posts

The Marketing Companion Podcast

Why not tune into the world’s most entertaining marketing podcast!

View details

Let's plot a strategy together

Want to solve big marketing problems for a little bit of money? Sign up for an hour of Mark’s time and put your business on the fast-track.

View details

Share via