Social Media Research- Why We Trust Strangers Online

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How to conduct statistically relevant social media research with Tom Smith, CEO & Founder of the Global Web Index, a market research company with technology at the heart.

Tom shares best practices for determining global social media penetrations rates, what types of products and services are most talked about online and why marketing professionals trust the opinions of total strangers more than the mainstream news media, experts and pundits.

Show Notes:

1:28 – How to use the iPressroom to host and engage in online conversations. With the iPressroom you can easily and reliably add and manage RSS feeds, blogs, streaming video or a custom online pressroom to your organizational communications efforts.

3:56 – Tom Smith on his Power to the People Social Media Tracker, a global web usage tracking program he devised for Universal McCann, and how that led to the Strangers Report.

5:46 – Tom Smith on the methodology of the Strangers Report, which involved interviewing 17,000 people around the world, and on the differences between conducting online and offline research, and the statistical relevancy of his data.

6:50 – Tom Smith’s new online market research company Trend Stream, which offers global research studies on web usage trends to corporate clients.

8:09 – Tom Smith on the global trends revealed by the Strangers Report, including higher levels of adoption and content contribution in Asia and India, the explosive growth of online video and the widespread international growth of social media.

9:49 – Tom Smith on the global and regional levels of trust people have for consumer opinions online, whether they know the person responsible for posting those opinions or not, and the fallacy that social media is popular primarily among younger audiences.

10:45 – Tom Smith on how cultural traits impact social media trust levels and the correlation between adoption rates and trust levels region by region.

11:54 – Tom Smith ranks online passive consumption channels and online content creation channels by popularity.

12:38 – Tom Smith on how the average size of an individual’s personal online social network varies worldwide, which user groups by country have the biggest and smallest networks, and the impact of Facebook on average network size in those markets where it has achieved penetration.

15:14 – Tom Smith contrasts social media marketing against mainstream marketing, likening the former to direct marketing, and lists the defining criteria by which successful social media marketing programs should abide.

16:36 – Tom Smith on digital friendships and how the internet has expanded the number of connections people have, albeit in a digital format, and how the opinions of digital friends impact corporate reputations.

18:36 – Tom Smith on the myriad of ways people are sharing opinions online and how self publishing tools have lowered the barriers to entry for influencing opinions via the Net.

19:54 – Tom Smith on peer reviews as the most trusted source of information for consumers making purchasing decisions.

20:31 – Tom Smith defines the levels of trust people have for different sources of consumer opinion, ranking Amazon and other consumer rating sites against blogs and online media sites, and describing how user generated content hosted by branded online offerings is considered more trustworthy than content hosted by unbranded online sites.

22:00 – Tom Smith on the product and service categories that are most talked about online, the biggest surprises his research revealed about discussion levels by product and service category and the excessive online chatter he found about products that are not ecommerce purchases.

25:25 – Tom Smith defines “super influencers” and their role in creating online social phenomena.

27:18 – Tom Smith on why marketers need to be very wary about how they approach social media channels, and the importance of using transparency to govern their social media strategies.

29:32 – Tom Smith on selling social media marketing initiatives to organizations through research and the danger of not participating in online conversations about the categories in which you compete.

31:46 – End

Eric Schwartzman (@ericschwartzman) is the founder of online newsroom software as a service provider iPressroom (, and creator of the New Media PR Boot Camp, which has been attended by more than a thousand public relations and marketing executives from the private, public, government and nonprofit sectors. In addition to advising clients on best practices for online newsroom design, deployment and management, Schwartzman offers a portfolio of new media training courses to accelerate the acquisition of social media communication skills.


Get a 60-day free trial to online newsrooms provider iPressroom's Press Release SEO Wizard by calling 310-499-0544 ext. 504 and mentioning that you heard about it on this podcast. Or tweet @ipressroom.

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