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Apr 3, 2008

NEWS: Behavior Targeting Issues

Study: There is No Tipping Point, Blog Readers Are Skeptical

A new study by Canadian research firm Pollara has surfaced data indicating that Malcolm Gladwell's popular theory about key influencers moving markets may not be valid. Gladwell's arguments in the 2000 book The Tipping Point had reached levels of cliche approaching The Wisdom of Crowds, in large part because of its seductiveness to marketers.

A number of thinkers and now the Pollara study have been arguing that large numbers of people do not make decisions based on the advice of a small number of powerful influencers. The new data from Pollara does say that people use online social networks to make buying decisions, but they trust the advice of their friends and family on those networks far more than they do high-profile bloggers. There are a number of things about blogging that may facilitate this, as well.

From MediaPost today:

Of more than 1,100 adults polled in December, nearly 80% said they were very or somewhat more likely to consider buying products recommended by real-world friends and family, while only 23% reported being very or somewhat likely to consider a product pushed by "well-known bloggers."

"This shows that popularity doesn't always equate to credibility," said Robert Hutton, executive vice president and general manager at Pollara. "Marketers might have to reconsider who the real influencers are out there."

Ed: Headlines different from product recommendations. Repetition/reach of brands matters. Like voting, final decision may lean more heavily toward the opinions of friends.

Your Facebook Profile Isn't Really "You"

A recent study at the University of Texas shows that you might not know your online friends quite as well as you think you do. The study, which utilized a Facebook getting-to-know-you type application, "You Just Get Me," showed that the typical information posted on social networking sites, like favorite books, movies, and music, favorite quotes, majors, hometown, and other similar personal information, does not always give others an accurate impression of you.

Psychology professor Samuel Gosling and collaborator David Evans created the "You Just Get Me" Facebook application and web site, where users could answer forty questions about their personality and then compare their answers to how others view them. The users would rate each other based on these answers, letting their first impressions be their guide. People could be rated as anything from lazy to ingenious to quiet or rude or any of several other unique personality traits.

Surprisingly, answers to most of the basic type of questions, like those found on social networking sites, did not help users figure out what each other were "really" like. Instead, the researchers found that when a user posted things on their profile like their most embarrassing moment, proudest moment, or spirituality, their personalities were much better understood.

A Typical Facebook profile

Even by just posting a link to a funny online video, other people were better able to "get" the other person's personality more accurately that by basic questions alone.

Gosling was drawn to this research because he believed that how one is perceived online is more important than ever these days since social networks are often where other people get their first impression of you. He also mentioned that your social networking profile could also impact your employment opportunities as savvy employers have learned to search out the online profiles of potential new hires.

The full details on the findings of this research project will be presented Monday at the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media in Seattle.

Ed: Profile, actions, friends views may differ.

Below is the a list of the top 20 ways we saw people tweet and a graph showing the Twittersphere share of the top 10 post methods:

  1. Web 56% (20734)
  2. IM 8% (2975)
  3. Twhirl 7% (2754)
  4. Twitterrific 7% (2462)
  5. TXT 5% (1683)
  6. Twit 3% (1182)
  7. TwitterFox 2% (1114)
  8. movatwitter 2% (718)
  9. P3:PeraPeraPrv 1% (459)
  10. Netvibes 1% (266)
  11. TwitBin 1% (260)
  12. Twitter Tools 1% (222)
  13. TwitterPod 0% (159)
  14. TwitterIrcGateway 0% (152)
  15. Snitter 0% (147)
  16. BeTwittered 0% (106)
  17. Tweetr 0% (95)
  18. NatsuLion 0% (84)
  19. Facebook 0% (79)
  20. PocketTweets 0% (70)

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