Tom Webster, writing and speaking

Planting A Flag For Quality

Added on by Tom Webster.

NewImageFriends of mine often send me links to dubious research. Sometimes, if I can abstract a more general point from these studies, I'll write about them, but this isn't really a "gotcha" kind of blog. Anyway, to have someone in the business of selling research pillorying other studies isn't really a strategy I'd adopt. What I'd rather do is plant a flag for quality, and rally around that. Still, there are lots of studies, infographics and other factoids floating around out there that, to say the least, aren't really helping your brand. Whenever I speak at conferences about "doing the work" to determine how your customers use social media, and their expectations of your brand, my clarion call is often to stop relying on other people's data, and ask your own customers or prospects directly. Clickstream data is only half of the equation. Listening plus asking equals insight.

There is great value in aggregate data, and general population studies--obviously, since we produce a fair amount of both. But this kind of data should never be your stopping point; rather, it should be the start of your inquiries. What I often hear at conferences is this: "I agree with you, Tom. I wish we could afford it!" This is the phrase that pains me, for three reasons:

1. Sometimes, it's not true--the specific inquiry that your brand has might not actually be that difficult or expensive to answer, but the attempt is not made out of the belief that custom research is prohibitively expensive.

2. Sometimes, it's because the person I am talking to either has a budget of zero, or has chosen to allocate a budget of zero, to asking what their customers want.

3. And sometimes, it is true, because the cost of doing a custom research study solely for that brand or product might in fact be out of their non-zero budget.

So, for 2012 I set a goal: to solve #3 by planting a flag for quality and coming up with a way for brands and companies to "do the work," gain real consumer data to map against their clickstream data from social, at a quality level that we at Edison would be proud of AND would be available at an affordable price.

Today, I am pleased to announce our new effort, The Social Habit. Edison will be regularly fielding a significant survey to a random, national sample of 3,000 social networking users, asking important and topical questions, and making the data available at an unprecedented price level for research of this quality. We will also be offering brands and companies questions in this survey, which can be purchased for a fraction of the price of conducting their own bespoke custom survey.

What's more, the Social Habit will be more than just a "data dump." Joining us in this venture are three of the sharpest folks I know in social: Jay Baer, Jason Falls and Mark Schaefer. They will serve as the initial "editorial board" to help us develop our lines of inquiry, and will also be working with clients on the back end to derive insights from the data. And, even more importantly, we need your help.

We'd like to know what one thing would you ask a sample of social networkers about their habits, behaviors and purchases? Want to know if "pinning" means anything? What customer expectations are for a given vertical? Whether or not influencers influence? This is your chance to add your question to the next edition of The Social Habit.

We'll review your submissions and pick one next week--for now, please get your questions in to us by this Friday, July 27th. And don't worry about forming "the perfect question." That's our job. Just tell us what you'd like to know.

Thanks for joining us on this ride.