Data overload is real. Yes, this is coming from the guy who has said on more than one occasion that the biggest problem in digital analytics isn’t too much data, but rather too few insights. I still believe that to be true, but in this case I mean marketers are bombarded by research (saving for a moment any editorial commentary on whether that research is good or bad) that attempts to identify cross-platform digital trends. Think for a moment about all of the various blog posts you have seen over the last few months presenting data about how Facebook Timeline is performing (or not as the case may be). Those posts alone are enough to leave marketers wondering what works, and who spiked the punch of researchers claiming to have answers to a “problem” that is entirely too complex to answer by aggregating unrelated data points. Oops, editorial commentary slipped in there…
There are, believe it or not, reliable sources of trend data out there for marketers to reference when making strategic and tactical decisions. One such piece of research was just released by Edison Research and Arbitron called, “The Social Habit.” During BlogWorld & New Media Expo in New York this week, Tom Webster, VP of Strategy for Edison, presented some of the top-level findings from this year’s report. This report, by the way, is in its 20th iteration, which likely means it has delivered significant value to its consumers over time. At any rate, Tom delivered the data in a very useful way with some high-level findings for everyone in the audience to take back to their jobs. What did I find valuable from the study? Quite a few things, including:
- Social networkers check their profiles often – Of the survey participants, 66% of people checked their social sites daily, with 25% checking their Facebook page at least five times per day. What does that mean for brands? One of the things that initially popped to mind was the importance of optimizing your content for day of week and time of day. Now, I’m not advocating that you use the existing data on this subject, as most of it is improperly aggregated and not useful. If you haven’t done this research for your brand, it is now time to start.
- Understanding the mobile experience is critical – It will come as a galloping shock to nobody that people utilize their mobile device to access social sites. What may come as a surprise, however, is that 33% of people view Facebook most via phone. The number is slightly less for Twitter (25%), but still substantial. How important is mobile for social networks and brands to get right? Answering “very important” would be a pretty good response.
- Visual content is king – By now we have all likely encountered the statistic that about 65% of people are visual learners. The people who are active social networkers are no exception to that rule. In this survey, 55% of social networkers have “watched video clips or other Internet video programming from YouTube in the last week.” When looking at the general population of this survey (online Americans aged 12+), the number is still a staggeringly high 37%. Have you taken a look at your YouTube channel recently? If not, now would be a good time.
- Users of social networking sites are following brands now more than ever – This is one that you might expect wouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone “in the business,” but when Tom talked about this during the presentation I was stunned. Consider that over the last two years brand-following behavior has almost doubled, with 79% of Facebook users following a brand and 9% doing the same on Twitter. To assume your customers aren’t watching you on those channels is folly, yet there are still those brands that doubt the value of social. Knowing that the customer is watching should be a powerful motivator for those skeptics.
- Facebook does impact buying decisions – In this survey, 47% of respondents said that content on Facebook had impacted their buying decisions. If you are managing a brand page right now what are you doing to ensure that you are delivering the right content at the right time to drive that conversion? No, it isn’t all about the sale, but when so many openly admit to being influenced by what they see on a platform how could you not pay greater attention?
- It is not all about the coupon – THANK GOODNESS! Respondents were asked in the survey why they enjoyed following a brand, and 56 times they said coupons/discounts. Now, that was the number one answer, but only about 16% of the responses. Also frequently mentioned were a favorable opinion of the business or product, learning about new products and content/ideas. Please retailers; do not fall exclusively into the coupon/discount game. This survey shows that your Facebook consumer cares about a lot more than just a 10% savings this weekend.
Those were just some of the key highlights that I gleaned. To download the rest of the data all you need to do is head over to SocialHabit.com and enter some quick information. Hopefully you get as much out of the report as I did.