Most of what you think you know about social media buzz is wrong -- because most of the conversation that you think is happening is not really there. Most posts on controversial topics are fake, or paid for, or they are from people who just aren't very interested.
The social media buzz that we're all so hyped on? A awful lot of it is not conversation at all, but a figment of unqualified data. (It is, of course, difficult to generalize from just one study, and these results may be specific to controversial topics.)
KDPaine & Partners has just released an in-depth study of a year's worth of social media conversation about three of today's most controversial topics: high fructose corn syrup, GMO foods, and vaccinations. The research examined almost 300,000 tweets and responses from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and forums to determine the nature of the authors and conversations.
Here are the basic findings:
- 64% of posts were from individuals who posted only once or twice on the topic, with little conversation or discussion.
- 6% of posts were from very frequent posters, that are usually bots and pay-per-clickers who post about popular topics in order to drive traffic to their sites. Many of them are purveyors of alternative solutions or competing products.
- The most authentic conversations took place among medium-volume posters, who posted primarily on forums and personal blogs. They were heavily engaged in specific activities such as body-building or organic farming, and frequently had lively and informed discussions about the topics in these forums.
So the next time you see a “controversy boiling up,” take a closer look at the bubbles. Much of the apparent buzz is actually advertising in disguise, or one-shot posts from the decidedly unengaged. Although marketers are attracted to the large numbers on Facebook and Twitter, that is where the pay-per-contents posters and content farms ply their trade. If you want true engagement, look to the smaller, more focused sites.
Download the fact sheet on the research here: Download DissectingBuzzFactSheet
Download the full report here in Word format: Download KDPP2012BuzzAnalysis
Or download it as a pdf: Download Kdpp2012buzzanalysis.pdf
Click here to read coverage of this report in Food Navigator.