Body of Work: Community and Social Network Research

Ill be up front, writing research is one of the hardest parts of the job for me, it’s an area I end up putting extra time in.

Despite the extra effort I have to put in, looking back I’m very proud of my body of work. You’ll notice that there’s a strong body of work on community and social networks, all designed to help a brand with their community strategy from soup-to-nuts. Here’s some highlights of what I’ve been working on in the last 16 months:

Body of Work: Community and Social Network Research

Strategy: Online Communities: Build Or Join? (Hint: the answer is ‘when’)

Resources: How to Staff for Social Computing (Like any business program, key people are needed, and here’s there two roles you’ll need to succeed)

Best Practices: Online Community Best Practices (I interviewed 19 brands that have done it right, and to find out how, remember: only 20% is technology)

Best Practices: Best And Worst Of Social Network Marketing, 2008 (we scored 16 brands who conducted marketing efforts on social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo)

Best Practices: What works in Online Company Forums (lead by Cynthia Pflaum, we published this report to help brands understand what works)

Vendor Selection: Forrester Wave on Community Platforms (This recently launched report scrutinizes 9 of the 100 vendors in this crowded space)

Technology: I’ve done a piece on Facebook’s engagement ads and Google’s Opensocial, while I tend not to like to focus on technology as a driver, these were both innovative ways for marketers to reach communities.

Soon to be published: My upcoming publications include the social technographics of baby boomers, and our predictions for social computing for 2009, you can setup a ‘research alert’ on the right nav of my profile page to be alerted to upcoming reports.

I’m very proud of the hard work we’ve put in, and I’m thankful for my very tough editors, researchers, research associates, editing team, web team and management for supporting this process. Although the research is never done, the current body of work is designed to answer the most critical questions during key milestones for brands who want to understand community. In most cases, while these reports help brands get their strategy in order, I’m often asked to present the reports to their staff, conduct custom research, or make specific strategy and vendor suggestions, I’ve noticed an increase in demand and it’s keeping me very busy.

Upcoming Reports:
I’ve two reports that I’m working on, both I hope you’ll find interest in. The first, which is focused on how brands are changing their spending and behavior towards social media during a recession. We conducted a survey, and I found it interesting that most marketers certainly leaned one direction when we asked them “are you going to increase or decrease social media spend”. I am also seeking case examples of brands that have conducted social media efforts since sept 08 and have seen success during times of resource scrutiny. Secondly, I’m working on a report to outline the future of social networks, you may know about the roundtable I hosted in Oct, which is just the precursor to this vision piece. I’m seeking to speak with thought leaders that can see how technologies like, social networks, mobile, ecommerce and corporate websites will evolve to impact the marketing and purchasing process.

If you have research examples you want to submit, you can contact me at jowyang at, lead in the subject line “Research Report Submittal: X”

Social + Research
In my opinion only, I’m well aware of the impacts of social technologies on research and analyst firms. Although it hasn’t been done correctly yet, the market could self-organize and provide community based research to each other, bypassing firms. We’ve not seen this happen yet, as then quality of community based research is still low and lacks a directional strategy it certainly is possible. Like I tell my marketing clients, the power is in the hands of the participants –so participate!

My employer has taken note of how I’ve used social technologies to improve research, increase thought leadership, and to share the findings with the market, I’ll be working with fellow analysts to help them understand what works and what doesn’t. Blazing trails is always risky and sometimes fun, but what really matters when it helps a company become more efficient.

Feedback needed
If you had your say in my 2009 research agenda, I’d love to hear what you think is missing. We’ve a pretty solid plan based on what we think the market is asking, but I’d love to hear your opinion as well.

19 Replies to “Body of Work: Community and Social Network Research”

  1. I’ve been enlightened by the results your hard work. So Big Props for your contributions and more importantly – sharing! IMHO, you are the top 1% of 1%

  2. I’d be happy to talk about our experience working with brands inside of Social Networks. Our experience has been this is an area of growth for most brands.

  3. Jeremiah- Thanks for this summary and all the hard work on this research. You’ve become a go-to source when talking to brands about their Social Media initiatives…

  4. This list is very timely – Social Media and Social Marketing are subjects that are leaving many “traditional” sales and marketing teams behind. I’m going to be doing my best to bring it to the attention of the clients I work with, my blog readers and our team.

    My simple premise is that if you are going to provide services on the Internet, you need to leverage all the tools available to reach your target market. Social media is fast becoming the tool that every marketing group needs to have a strategy now – if they don’t already.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed the review of your research even though I read your blog frequently via my reader. Because I am an educator, I would be interested in research on the effects of social technologies on the delivery and marketing of online education, both at the K-12 level, but especially at the college level.
    Reading your line “has taken note of how I’ve used social technologies to improve research, increase thought leadership, and to share the findings with the market,” I thought of educators working in the same way using social technologies as their tools of choice to share the work they are doing in this area.
    At a point in time during which education will have to find even more ways of reducing expenditures, it seems to me that online education, especially at the university level, will increase. Therefore, research that focuses on the marketing strategies for those universities, colleges and even K-12 institutions that have entered or are thinking of entering the online education community, would appear to be of great value.

  6. Jeremiah,
    I really enjoy your coverage within the Social Media/Community space. Very detailed and all inclusive. The 1 thing that I would like to recommend is that everyone pay a little more attention to the Management and Moderation of these communities. Tom Humbarger has some solid figures on his blog pointing to the fact that Community Management is essential.
    Above and beyond that is the actual Moderation of the community. I am afraid that Companies may not be fully aware of how much work is involved in both (Managing and Moderating a Community) – and how essential is it throughout each and every stage of your “Life Process of a successful Community”.
    I look forward to what you have to say in 2009. Thanks for everything

  7. Mike

    That’s a good point, more resources are needed on that. I glance over that in the ‘how to hire’ and ‘community best practices report’ but that may be a new discipline that needs research on.

  8. Jeremiah

    I think you have a great start. The are only two categories I’d like to see added:

    Metrics: What tools, how to measure, what to measure, how often, etc. There seems to be a real dearth of solid anlaytics tools to measure communities.

    Consultants: Take someone like Deb Schultz or Chris Brogan. Companies hire them to help make sense of social media. P&G and Deb have a well publicized relationship. I’d argue that creating clarity in this area is CRITICAL. There are so many posers and people called experts that just have no real experience. It’s these people that make it very hard to sell through smart social media strategies…because they are often offering up the wrong information.

  9. Adam

    Thank you. We have some research on general social media measurement, but it’s not as detailed as I’d like to see it.

    I’d want to do a report on ‘community KPIs’ or other ways to do standards around measuring success.

    Yup, the services one is very tricky, why? There are thousands of people who claim to be social media consultants, and only a few of them really can help large enterprises. The effort would be even more work than the Wave report (filtering 100 vendors). Also, unlike community platforms, this list will likely change. As a result, we would likely end up analyzing agencies, and not consultants.

    I agree, it needs to be done, but I’m not sure we’ve seen enough of a leader set emerge, nor the fakers fallen off yet.

    You are spot on.

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