Statistics are loved by marketers. It is as if they provide us with a sense that our art is based in science, that we can somehow use this real time, freshly harvested data to predict future patterns of consumer behaviour and that this, then, is the key to the executive suite.
Certainly, statistics are an important aspect of marketing, but they are not the be-all and end-all. They are merely indicators:
- Improving reach indicates we are now able to interrupt even more people with our messages
- Greater recall indicates that our repetitive messaging is seeping into the minds of our customers
- Strong intention to buy indicates that people are still willing to lie to us because that’s what they think we want to hear
But it is amazing what a little analysis will bring to the data. And this is really what is valuable to marketers – data-based analysis.
Earlier this year, with this in mind, Jeremiah Owyang pulled together a great list of social network related statistics for 2009. Take a look at his full post, and at the corresponding statistics he compiled for 2008.
One of the references Jeremiah makes is to the TechCrunch coverage of ComScore’s social network visitor statistics which showed that Facebook continued to grow.
But only a month later, Cnet publishes this list showing that Twitter had catapulted into third spot behind Facebook and MySpace.
Clearly this is what we mean when we say that it is hard to remain relevant (or to claim “expertise”) when the landscape in which digital strategists, planners, and marketers operate continues to shift. Throw the odd celebrity endorsement into the equation and you are likely to see significant changes in these figures again (think Oprah and Ashton Kutcher) – as shown below.
But the underlying trend here is widespread adoption of social networking platforms. The spikes that we see in usage indicates that our attention and our interest is shifting away from the broadcast media channels and settling into spaces where we can connect with likeminds, converse with those who share our passions and find community and purpose around shared goals and causes. This is why, for brands and businesses, understanding the mechanisms of social judgement will become increasingly important – and why we will continue to need the services of smart folks who can interpret the data, the trends and deliver the types of actionable insight that will help us make business decisions. It’s common sense, really.