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Are you going overboard with social studies?

2 min read

Marketing Strategy

Whenever a really meaty study about social media usage comes out, it’s tempting to write a post proclaiming that a particular platform is “dead” or that a given network is the “next big thing” or that one platform will inevitably replace another. It’s low-hanging fruit, I know — oh-so-very tempting. I’ve even done it myself once or twice.

But there are two things to remember about these studies, even when they come from sources as reputable as the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

  1. This is just a snapshot of a window in time. It doesn’t predict the future.
  2. Whether a platform is important to your organization shouldn’t be based on a knee-jerk reaction to a study. It should be based on a careful consideration of your organization’s long-term goals.

So take today’s Pew study. It finds that 14% of teenagers blog, compared with 28% in 2006. The study also found that in 2009 just 15% of Web users between the ages of 18 and 29 say they blog, compared with 24% in December 2007. Does that mean blogging is dead? No, because at the same time, 11% of Web users over the age of 30 say they blogged in 2009, up from 7% two years before.

Before you decide what that data means, think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you targeting teenagers? Then you might want to diversify your online presence to take advantage of the increasing popularity of social networks — except for Twitter, which has not caught on with the teenage set just yet. If you’re targeting older consumers, you may want to do the exact opposite. If you’re looking to attract a mixed audience, you may need an even more nuanced strategy.

Before you run out and make a decision based on the latest data, take a step back and ask if what the survey covers really relates to what you’re trying to do. Social media pundits may love declaring things “in” or “out” — but hasty judgments are never in style.

What does this study tell you about the markets you’re trying to reach? Am I being too hard on hasty prognosticators? Anybody feel like pronouncing blogging dead anyhow?

Image credit, sachinbee, via iStock