Geoff’s Market Research Bulletin – 1st Edition

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In an effort to better serve readers with value added content, every month “Geoff’s Market Research Bulletin” will be sent to interested readers. The Bulletin encapsulates all of the new interesting market research studies over the past month that seem worth sharing in one place. Sign up today if you are interested in this free email newsletter.

The below is an abbreviate version of the first newsletter sent to subscribers yesterday.

Geoff’s Market Research Bulletin, September, 2011

Curated by Geoff Livingston, written by Henry T. Dunbar

Social Networking Growth Slows

A new study from the Pew Research Service’s Internet and American Life Project reports 65% of all American adults online are using some social networking site (which is up from 61% a year ago). This is the first time we have seen social media growth drop to single digit rate, indicating the late majority and final phase of adoption has begun.

A more interesting milestone might be that for the first time, a majority of ALL Americans are using online social networks (there being a small percentage that don’t use the internet at all). Furthermore, the growth is coming largely from older demographics. The under-30 age groups were stable while the 50-64 age group grew from 20% to 32%. Finally, the study also reported that most users gave a positive response when asked to describe their experience in social networking, indicating that once they’ve tested the waters, many are opting to stay.

Like It or Not: You May Be Defined by a Single Search Term

For an interesting peak behind the curtain of marketing research, read comScore blogger Eli Goodman’s August 29 post. In it he reviews three sets of comparative search terms and demonstrates how market researchers can parse the demographic data available to help deliver relevant results (read ads) to the searchers. This is a practice he says is being used increasingly and with more sophistication.

By breaking down the data on who searches for Google+ vs. Facebook, iPhone vs. Android, and Red Sox vs. Yankees, Goodman shows how market researchers quickly deduce from that lone word that a Google+ searchers are younger and wealthier, cellphone searchers are generally about the same, and that Yankee fans are much more geographically diverse. While is generally known that this is going on (we all see the interesting ads that pop up on our screens) it’s another thing to see how they do it. It is also enough to give us pause we turn to our browser to find the latest new gizmo.

Location Apps Are Popular

In looking at groups of location-based applications on mobile devices, the Pew Research Service’s Internet and American Life Project recently reported that 28% of American adults have used at least one of them. The services included using phones to get directions or recommendations based on their current location, using phones to check into geosocial services such as Foursquare or Gowalla, and setting social media service to automatically report their location.

Most cellphone location service users fall into the first category, with latter two of these activities only representing single-digit percentages of cell and internet users (5% and 9% respectively). Digging a little deeper into the report, there are some obvious finds (younger people use location services more) and some interesting divides (whites are more likely to seek location data while minorities — particularly Hispanics — are more likely to disclose their location).

3rd-Party Apps Usage on Facebook Reduces Engagement by 80%

There’s an old adage that if you want results, you have to do the work. There are no shortcuts. And it applies to social media, too. A new report from the makers of EdgeRank drove this point home last week, noting that its analysis of more than 1 million Facebook updates on 50,000 pages show that when users post updates using a 3rd-party applications like Hootsuite or TweetDeck, engagement drops, on average, by about 80%.

Theories abound as to why there is such a huge drop (that Facebook penalizes the apps or collapses their content, or even that communities regard these posts as spam), but the fact remains this is a big blow to effectiveness. What good is saving time on posting if the messages are only 20% effective? (On the other hand, using 3rd-party apps will save a lot of time on the back end because there will be no comments to respond to.) Bottom line: social media is like anything else, you get out what you put in. Take the time to manage your posts, tweets and updates from within the platform.

Why You Want the Link Love

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Recent news from Google has increased the value of good, old fashioned blog links. The dominant search engine has declared war on content farms, effectively wiping out an estimated 11.8% of front page results, primarily those that use black hat SEO tactics such as copying others content. Now more than ever, inbound links are the lifeblood of your content marketing effort.

Links are the currency of the social web, driving word of mouth, third party credibility and earned search engine optimization. The hallmark of the social media revolution — and now the online networked economy — is the referral to someone else’s content. When someone gives your site a positive link, it’s an endorsement of the content. Peer-to-peer recommendations are the foundation of word of mouth credibility. We tend to trust people like us.

While peer trust has declined recently as more people have grown accustomed to social’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s still a critical component of developing earned media impressions and trust. Fostering referrals from other bloggers and content producers through strong editorial strategies and outbound links is the heart of word of mouth development.

Beyond word of mouth value, an editorial recommendation via a link helps increase page rank, a critical component of search algorithms, forming the t backbone of search. You need this for search engine optimization. Without inbound links, Google and other search engines will consider your site irrelevant.

Search engines treat blog links like gold currency because of their frequently updated content. The better ranked the blog, the higher the link quality. Quantity and quality of links drives SEO and blog rankings in a variety of metrics, including indexes like the AdAge Power150, which measures Yahoo! page rank.

And yes, you will receive traffic from inbound links. No, not as much as a real media outlet delivers. This is the long tail of media, but additional traffic is certainly welcome. Who would be foolish enough to complain about more traffic? Consider it gravy on top of the word of mouth and SEO benefits (The Nonprofit Marketing Blog was yesterday’s sixth leading referrer to this blog. Thank you, Katya!) .

So go out, and participate in the generous social web. It’s the best way to earn what you want: Link love.

Do you believe in link love?