Category Archives: Business Research

Is Your Business Social Media Worth the Time and Effort?

Are you using social media for your business? Is it working for you? Last week Jim Blasingame, the small business advocate, asked his newsletter subscribers — not a random group, but one that does represent a lot of small businesses — this question:

Are the results of your social media strategy justifying the time and investment?

Jim Blasingame Small Business Advocate social media small business

Here’s what they said: 

16%
Yes, we’re using social media very effectively.
48%
Not yet, but we believe it will eventually be justified.
21%
No, and we’ve discontinued our social media efforts.
15%
We never started because we couldn’t see how it would produce sales.

I’m not surprised. Actually this matches what I’d guess from just talking to people. 

I believe two underlying truths explain this data:

  1. Most of the 15% who don’t see how it would produce sales don’t realize what they’re missing. 
  2. Most of the 21% who have discontinued their efforts were caught be the myth that social media just happens, in your spare time, without regard to business objectives, tactics, and actual execution. 

Can Research Make You Dumber?

Can research make you dumber? It can if you believe it. 

I just read Can Facebook Make You Fat and Poor? on Mashable. It’s a post by David Mielach, of BusinessNewsDaily. 

In particular, the researchers found that social media users were more likely to binge eat and have a higher body-mass index. Frequent Facebook users also were more likely to have certain financial problems, including a lower credit score and higher levels of debt.

But wait. It says the research was based on the responses of 541 Facebook users in the United States. So what does that really mean? What does this research really mean? And to be fair, I haven’t gone into the actual research. I’m just commenting on the coverage. Maybe they did everything right and avoided the problems I see. And maybe not. 

First, who’s in the sample? Is it Facebook users, really, or Facebook users who answer surveys? Those are different sets of people. Is it balanced for age, demographic, technology, geography?

Maybe people who answer surveys have less self control, which is part of the reason they answer surveys. And maybe people who answer surveys have less money, caused perhaps by the behavior that finds time to answer surveys. Maybe they are just younger, on average, and that causes the money difference.

Research depends on the sample. So that’s a good reason to be skeptical.

So maybe what it really shows isn’t about Facebook users but rather about people who answer surveys. Maybe they — survey answerers have less self control so they couldn’t resist taking the survey really know is that people who answer surveys on Facebook have less self control — that’s why they took their time to answer the survey. And maybe people who answer surveys have less money — because they waste their time answering surveys. 

And there is that whole issue of causation and correlation: Could we just as easily say living in a large house makes you rich, or attending college makes you young? That’s as logical as saying Facebook users have less self control and less money. Right? 

Here’s a direct quote from the research: 

These results are concerning given the increased time people spend using social networks, as well as the worldwide proliferation of access to social networks anywhere, anytime via smartphones and other gadgets. Given that self-control is important for maintaining social order and personal well-being, this subtle effect could have widespread impact.

So now it’s widespread impact. The emphasis above is mine. Wow: Is this looking for a news lead, or rather reaching out, stretching to the ultimate, to look for a news lead? Or what? 

I’m not saying that information is bad. Misinformation is. 

I’m not saying that research is bad. Believing it is. Question the research, question the assumptions, look through it, and then take what’s valuable in it. Never just believe it. 

Five Social Media Tricks Every Entrepreneur Should Know – Forbes

Nice one: Five Social Media Tricks Every Entrepreneur Should Know at Forbes.com:

  1. Humanize your brand
  2. Conduct budget-friendly research
  3. Provide efficient customer service
  4. Build relationships with reporters
  5. Crowdsource product development ideas

If you’re at all engaged in either Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+, then I think you can figure out how relevant all of these are. Okay, I’d rather say “media people” or “writers” than reporters, since blogs and websites are as important as “reporters” in standard media. 

The post, written by Jenna Goudreau, does a good job of fleshing out the details. 

2 Pictures, 200 Words, Lots of Ideas.

Pictures, words, lots of ideas. If one picture equals 1,000 words, how many ideas does it generate? Is there a transitive property there? I had time over the weekend to pick up two unrelated pictures. Each covers something entirely different. Both are full of ideas.

The first, a chart by Seth Godin:

From Seth Godins Blog

From Seth Godin

This is one of those things that must have been hard to come up with, but makes sense when you look at it. A map of communication. On the horizontal axis of the chart, from book on one end to a conversation at the other. With a book, the writer writes it at one point in time and the reader reads it at an entirely different time. With the telephone and coaching, both parties of the communication, sender and receiver, are involved at the same time. On the chart’s vertical axis, how much bandwidth is involved, from mail and graffiti at the low extreme, to movies and coaching at the high extreme.

The Second, from Pingdom:

from pingdom.com

From pingdom.com

This one is one of several on that post — Report: Social Media Demographics 2012 — that are fascinating to me. As always with this kind of research, accuracy depends on how they sampled, but even if it could be off by a bit, it still gives a big picture of the main social networking sites (which is what I assume the acronym SNS stands for) usage by age. I have no conclusions to draw, but maybe you do. Apparently the more well-known platforms have older users, except Twitter spreads out over more ages. That same post has some interesting data on usage by gender, as well. Good stuff.

2 Pictures, 200 Words, Lots of Ideas.

Pictures, words, ideas. If one picture equals 1,000 words, how many ideas does it generate? Is there a transitive property there? I had time over the weekend to pick up two unrelated pictures. Each covers something entirely different. Both are full of ideas.

The first, a chart by Seth Godin:

From Seth Godins Blog

From Seth Godin

This is one of those things that must have been hard to come up with, but makes sense when you look at it. A map of communication. On the horizontal axis of the chart, from book on one end to a conversation at the other. With a book, the writer writes it at one point in time and the reader reads it at an entirely different time. With the telephone and coaching, both parties of the communication, sender and receiver, are involved at the same time. On the chart’s vertical axis, how much bandwidth is involved, from mail and graffiti at the low extreme, to movies and coaching at the high extreme.

The Second, from Buzz Networker:

from bizzia.com

From bizzia.com, buzzworker

This one is fascinating to me. As always with this kind of research, accuracy depends on how they sampled, but even if it could be off by a bit, it still gives a big picture of the main social networking sites (which is what I assume the acronym SNS stands for) usage by age. I have no conclusions to draw, but maybe you do.