Getting Into the Social Habit

A few of my friends are putting together a fascinating new piece of research called The Social Habit, providing a wide range of insights into how consumers use social media. I’m really jazzed about their work, for a number of reasons.

1.  Hero Worship

Look, let’s just get this out of the way first — these guys are da bomb. But you may be surprised to learn that the greatest share of my adoration goes not to the top-notch social media experts involved in the project — Jay Baer (my buddy and fellow airport layover drunkard), Jason Falls and Mark Schaefer — but to smartypants Tom Webster and his team at Edison Research.

Trust me on this — there are plenty of folks out there doing shoddy research, and plenty of businesses basing major strategic decisions on the insights of eight people in a stuffy room. The folks at Edison are a shining beacon for all of us striving to do research the best way it can be done. (OK, that sounds a little florid, but I get all heated up about good practice.) I’m thrilled about the rigor that will apply to this project as it does to all of Edison’s work.

2.  Data + Guidance = GOLD

If you’ve read anything I’ve written, heard anything I’ve ever said at a conference or unfortunately got me ranting over a beer, you know that I feel strongly on this subject. Too many decisions are made without ANY DATA AT ALL TO BACK THEM UP (or, possibly worse, with bad data — see point #1).

Unfortunately, even when companies decide to take the time and money to secure quality data about their customers, often it’s not offered with any guidance as to how best to use it for marketing strategy. Instead, a researcher (not a marketer) delivers a thick sheaf of charts and confidence levels and leaves the client to figure out what to do with it. Combining research acumen with marketing expertise is one of the core philosophies of Audience Audit, and I love the approach that Tom and the guys are taking to do the same here.

3.  I WON!

A couple of weeks ago the Social Habit team asked folks to submit questions they would like to see incorporated into the first run of the research. They received about 100 submissions, and selected three — and mine was one!

I’d like to know which motivations are the driving force for various types of social media users, and what roles social media plays for them. Also what other activities/tools “compete” with social to fulfill those roles for each group?

As you might expect, my question is about the “Why” of social media. (I had a nice chat with Jason Falls about it, which you can read here.) The other selected questions, from Steve Dodd and Rhonda Hurwitz, seek to better understand social media’s role in the purchase decision process and revenue stream — excellent questions, and ones that will surely be answered through this study with better data integrity than ever before.

Because our questions were selected, Steve, Rhonda and I will receive a copy of the results of this first round of The Social Habit research (which is awesome!). But the work is ongoing, and I’m sure will bring many additional insights as the team digs deeper into the role social media plays for American consumers.

The fact that Edison and these social media movers and shakers are shedding light on the realities of this space is SO exciting, and I know will provide lots of insights I’ll be able to bring to bear in my own work helping clients understand their little corner of the consumer corn patch.

If you want to see the results of The Social Habit for yourself, the team is offering everything from a copy of the results (accompanied by a webinar sharing the team’s interpretation and discussion) to the ability to insert a custom question into the research. I encourage you to consider participating — you won’t find research into the social media space with this level of statistical reliability, quality and practical utility anywhere else.

(By the way – both Tom and Jay are speaking at this year’s BOLO conference — my all-around favorite marketing powwow for digital agencies — in October in Phoenix. Registration is underway, so if you’d like to meet the big brains in person I’d encourage you to join me in attending this very worthwhile event.)


  1. Susan, you said it best — data + guidance IS gold and like you, I am really looking forward to finding those “nuggets” that help us sharpen strategy. thanks for mentioning me in your post!

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