With the amount of noise in the "social media" space, given all the social media "ninjas," "gurus" and "experts," it can be easy to miss some of the truly ground breaking-research. Over the past couple of weeks, two reports on social media were released that I feel fall into the "can't miss" category if your job description includes understanding social media. Ironically, one of the reports points out that every employee should understand how to engage in social media. So I guess that means everyone should read the reports. (:
The first must-read report was released by Razorfish and is called "Fluent: The Razorfish Social Influence Marketing Report." This focuses on how important social media is to purchase decision-making, at all points in the purchase funnel. Razorfish asks the right questions of consumers, and is able to demonstrate that even though people claim they don't "turn to social media to make purchase decisions," social media certainly heavily influences purchase decisions. The study provides some great data to back up the argument I made in "Report Claims Social Media Fails As Marketing Medium -- I Claim Bullshit" -- that a prior report claiming social media is a poor marketing medium was asking entirely the wrong questions.
In my view, here are a few keys points from the Razorfish report:
The other can't-miss report recently released was put out by Charlene Li and Wetpaint. The report is titled "Engagement: Ranking The Top 100 Global Brands." While there is a lot of back and forth over the term engagement as a metric, this study takes a more holistic view of how "engaged" brands are with their consumers over various social media channels. I won't get into more details here, but I can't help but give you the tease that will have you printing out this report right away. From LI's blog: "These Mavens on average grew 18% in revenues over the last 12 months, compared to the least engaged companies who on average saw a decline of 6% in revenue during the same period. The same holds true for two other financial metrics, gross margin and net profit. Note that we are not claiming a causal relationship -- but there is clearly a correlation and connection."
I highly suggest reading both of these studies if your job involves social media in any way, especially if you want to be a social media ninja, expert or guru someday! What gets me excited about the level of detail and process that went into these studies is that we are seeing the social media industry grow up right in front of our eyes -- noving from an experimental playground, to a necessary part of business, and specifically of the marketing mix.
Drop me a line and let me know what you think and continue the conversation on the Spin blog or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joemarchese.