Useful social media research…yes, really


The problem with most social media statistics and “research” on the web is that it’s hard to know what to trust.

All too often the methodologies behind so-called evidence are weak. Sometimes conclusions are drawn or meaning inferred where the sample size behind the numbers is far too small.

And then there are the ones where even though no methodology was given in the first place, because there are enough websites ready to repost anything vaguely related to social media, the research seems to gain currency by being reposted so frequently.

So I do spend a lot of time deleting social media research I am sent unless it comes with enough information to determine its usefulness.

In the past week I’ve had two interesting pieces of research come my way though – both are worth checking out.

The first is the Chartered Institute of Marketing‘s twice annual social media benchmark report.

It’s based on a snapshot of marketers and looks at current and future usage of social media by marketers in the UK. The fullreport is paid-for, but CIM members get it free. However there’s plenty of useful insight available for free on their infographic here.

The general picture is of social media playing an increasing role in the marketing mix, but still very much at the experimental stage for many organisations. Time and skills seem to remain a key barrier to adoption, but it’s good to see social media analytics featuring highly on the priorities for investment in 2012.

The second piece of research that caught my eye comes from BDO and looks at social media use in local government. You can read the press release about the research here and get the full report here.

It’s a nice rounded bit of research which sets out well many of the key issues around social media adoption in local government. It’s also got a lot of useful case studies which demonstrate the range of potential applications of social media, although some pf the case studies could do with a bit more assessment of outcomes achieved rather than outputs (in my opinion).

The report also goes through a useful process for evaluating return on investment for social media activity.

All in all it’s a really useful piece of research for anyone working in local government who wants to get a good grounding in how to use social media well.