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In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris discuss the importance of transparency and disclosure in research and data. These are troubled, uncertain times – not for the macro situation, but for our willingness to collectively accept statements of fact without verifying those facts or inspecting the methodology behind a piece of data. They also look more deeply into the new Trust Insights report, Social Media Audience Trends During The Pandemic. Tune in now to hear about the research and what went into it.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn
In this week’s In-Ear Insights, we’re talking about social media audience. And for those who may have missed it, we released a paper about this recently on the Trust Insights website, you can hop on over there and get it. And by the time this, this episode airs, we’ll done a webinar with our friends over at Talkwalker. So I want to talk about two things. This paper number one, I actually got some interesting, constructive criticism or just criticism, I guess, from a few folks who said, it took too long to get to the point they were 10 pages up front of like charts and things like that, and not enough like action up front just like hit people with the conclusion. And one of the things I’ve responded to a few of these folks about was, I feel like there’s so much information right now, especially this is being dumped on people’s heads that has no source, no methodology, no explanation. People just present data as as unassailable fact. And my whole logic for putting the methodology and the data Up front was to say, like, Look, we’re not pulling things out of places where the sun doesn’t shine, we’re actually pulling things out from real data and research. So Katie, what’s your thought about? Do you just go straight into the hard hitting stuff, put the methodology in the back and hope people sort it out and figure out or do you walk people through the method by which you draw the conclusions so that they can understand the conclusions have validity? How do you feel about that?

Katie Robbert
You know, I, I can see it from both sides. So in terms of writing, you know, any kind of research, I was trained academically, and so a lot of the methodology has to be put up front because you have to demonstrate the validity of the thing that you’re doing. But it’s a little bit different in the marketing world where, unfortunately, methodology just doesn’t exist. And so I think that the approach that we’ve taken is a little bit more academic and it’s something that It’s unfamiliar to people who are not accustomed to reading academic style research papers. And so I think the bottom line is that the methodology belongs in the research that we’re doing, we feel very strongly that, you know, we want to demonstrate that we’re not just making it up. You know, however, I can definitely see the argument for a little bit more of the executive summary, the so what up front, even if it’s just like, a couple of bullet points to say, in this paper, you will learn the following three things and then go into methodology. I mean, that’s the other thing is people can skip over the methodology and go straight to the conclusion. There is nothing. It’s sort of that same thing of like, if you don’t like something you see on social media, just keep scrolling. Then, in this sense, it’s a digital paper, just keep scrolling. But I do think that having the methodology, clear and put right out there They’re in people’s faces is important. And you know whether or not they choose to read it, totally a personal preference. But then we know at the end of the day that we have done our due diligence to say, this is validated research, we’re not just putting numbers on a pretty slide and saying, Here you go, here it is.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, that was my feeling as well is having it be a little bit longer to the conclusions is, to me, okay, I know, it’s not as interesting particularly for folks who don’t want to do the methodology review or, you know, maybe don’t have the, the statistical background to dig through it. But I feel like from a values perspective, you know, we one of our core values is we are we are transparent and open like, Hey, here’s how the, here’s how we did the thing. So that if somebody says, Yeah, I don’t agree with you, we can say great, explain how you would have done it differently with this same data because we want to learn to we know for Sure, we’re not using the best of the best out there, there’s always something better. There’s always something more thorough, there’s always something to be learned. And I feel like having that transparency and openness helps us communicate to people, we are open to learning more.

Katie Robbert
Well, you know, it’s interesting too, because while methodology and research is very objective, the way in which we individually think about it and approach it is very subjective in the sense that, you know, you and I might look at the exact same data and come up with a slightly different interpretation of it. And so, having the methodology of how all of the numbers came together is important, but we’re never going to be able to detail the methodology of how we actually individually thought about it. And I think that’s what makes it a little bit more unique. And so, you know, if I recall that another piece of the feedback that you got was why aren’t Are you putting it all out there for people to see how you did the thing and I, I’m in the same camp as you, Chris, were number one, our values, you know, promote transparency. But number two, just because we tell you how we got the numbers doesn’t mean that you can replicate how we thought about it. Because that then comes from our own personal and professional experience of doing this for many years and our training both formal and informal. And so I have zero issue with putting out the methodology because someone else who’s trying to replicate it will not necessarily come to the same conclusions and if they do, that’s great, then that means that we have helped taught people how to fish instead of giving them the fish.

Christopher Penn
As Jay Baer likes to say having the recipe doesn’t make you a chef. This is something I don’t have as much background. As you do. Can you talk through briefly what it means for something to be peer reviewed in the academic world obviously, it means that other people qualified people have looked at it and your conclusions and said, well, doesn’t look like you did anything obviously wrong.

Katie Robbert
I mean, that’s essentially what it is. And so, you know, let’s say you are a prominent, you know, researcher and child behavioral issues. If you are doing, you know, an academic study or a clinical trial, then when you submit your paper for peer review, then other people who have similar backgrounds, similar credentials, maybe even slightly more experienced, and have also had peer reviewed, peer reviewed published, academic papers will then read your paper, and sort of what they’re trying to do is make sure that anything that goes out is as validated and foolproof as possible. So they’re looking for, you know, does this methodology check out, do the numbers add up, and so it’s an academic version of A QA process essentially. And so in our instance, if, you know we at Trust Insights are doing this research paper, it’s one of the reasons why we partner with a company like Talkwalker, because they are the experts in their own data. But they’re also the experts in the data that it polls in this instance, social media platforms. And so they are the ones who are peer reviewing our information for us to say, you know, what, we’re in our data every day, this doesn’t make sense, or this is really interesting insight. I didn’t even know we could pull this out. Let me see if I can work backwards and get to the same thing. And that’s how we’re peer reviewing. And it’s one of the things that we find really important for the way that we work, because we’re so close to the work that we do. And we really value those outside opinions and peers and feedback to make sure that the work that we’re putting out is as good as it can be.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, now,

Christopher Penn
at least you’re consistent. We just spent the first eight minutes of the show talking about the methodology. Let’s talk about. So the big thing that we’ve noticed and and there’s a lot, the approach to this is looking at search data. And the reason why is people will type things into Google, that they wouldn’t necessarily say aloud. This is not in the paper by this is a podcast exclusive. I was actually in a discussion group of markers over the weekend. And one of them was saying, I bet there’s gonna be a huge baby boom, you know, after this whole pandemic. And when you look at all the search terms around things like birth control, or supplies for personal intimacy, those actually dropped by about 20% across the board at the start of the pandemic, because people in many cases isolating by themselves, so I’m like, I don’t know that that baby booms actually going to happen. It will be interesting to see if if the medical data bears that out. But we took all the search data about the different social networks and how people use them. Looking for account creation. logging in, reset my password. And the big things were yes every every digital channel except for LinkedIn saw a big boost in terms of amount of use and and or a search intent I should say for the big ones up front Facebook, no surprise there early on it was the place to go and actually dropped off in popularity to the number two slot about late mid to late April. YouTube took the top spot then and YouTube is still the the largest network that people are using. Again, understandably so Pornhub was number three important it was interesting in that it stayed consistent. It didn’t see huge jumps on like 11 to 12% jump, which meant that people were already using during the work day I guess and just not telling anyone. And then you had Instagram Pinterest and Twitter as sort of the rounding up the big text. The places we saw a huge growth zoom obviously 20 200% account growth during the during the start of the pandemic and Animal Crossing the the average For morphic video game where you and your friends get together and essentially do like, household chores as anthropomorphic animals visiting each other’s homes.

Katie Robbert
So, you know, it’s it’s funny, there’s like, there’s an old Simpsons reference in there where Marge, the mother is trying to get her son Bart to rake the yard, and he won’t do it. And he’s like, I’m gonna go play video games, and he’s playing a video game of himself, raking the yard. And it’s just, it’s, I find those things fascinating. It’s like you have no problem doing it digitally. But you can’t just go and do it in real life. That’s a whole separate episode.

Christopher Penn
That’s Yeah, that’s a whole behavioral psychology episode. And then the third big area of course, were all the home based things currently Instructables, daily burn and all these different networks where you’re doing stuff around the house. So the big conclusions for people was from marketers were looking for opportunities. actually isn’t where people are spending their time. Even though that’s sort of, you know, I would classify as the obvious thing. What’s not obvious is what people are talking about. And this is where the social media monitoring part comes in. When you look at Kirby’s discussion thread since the beginning of the pandemic, the number one thing people are searching for is like home office improvement tips. That gives you ammunition for being able to how to talk about your content marketing on every channel. So in our slack group analytics for marketers, which is at TrustInsights.ai dot AI slash analytics for marketers, you want to join got over 1000 marketing professionals. I put out a discussion thread a few weeks ago when I was putting together that part of the paper, asking people Hey, what are some of your home office hacks? And guess what people start piling into the discussion thread saying, oh, I’ve got this got this. And so the insight the big takeaway I think people need to come away with from this thing is us. You now identify the networks that show the growth show where people are, but now monitor The content so that you are talking about things that are on topic with what your audience clearly cares about, because this is where everyone’s spending their time. If you want to know, how do I improve the lighting from my webcam? How do I stop shooting video up my nose? These are all things that people want to know. And by tuning in to this with social monitoring software, you will do a better job of creating relevant content in the moment.

Katie Robbert
So two things one, I agree, I don’t think that there’s going to be a baby boom, but I would be interested to see people searching out divorce lawyers after this. And then the second thing, can we take a step back for a quick second? And can you Chris, define what the criteria is for a social platform in the context of this paper? Because you’ve mentioned a couple of different platforms insights that actually were a little surprising to me that they’re considered social like zoom for example, like zoom to me is Like virtual web meetings, but how is that classified then also as a social platform,

Christopher Penn
so a social platform and the context we use it in is any platform where the primary value is derived from the participation of other users. So, for example, a blog by itself has the same value. So you as a reader, whether one person reads it, five people read it, or million people read it, right. You read the blog post, you got value out of it, you didn’t. Cool. Book, same thing. It doesn’t matter. If one person reads this book, or a million people read this books the value to use the same. A social network is different because the more people who use it, the more value it creates. If you have a zoom session open, and there’s nobody else on it, there’s literally zero value to you, right? Because this doesn’t know what you’re talking to yourself. I know some people love to talk to themselves. That’s a bit far but the more people Who have access to it, the more people who use it with you, the greater the value increases. If you look at something like Animal Crossing, doing digital chores by yourself kind of boring, doing them for your friends less boring because you’re not interacting with them. And so the value is not the game, the value is the network that that is the same with YouTube. So much of YouTube’s content comes from other people, YouTube with only your videos would be really boring. Same with, I’ll pick any network in this thing, GitHub, for example, when you commit code to other people’s repos. That is a value. So our definition of a social network is something where the participation of others increases the value that you derive from it.

Katie Robbert
That makes a lot of sense. And I think that that’s what I what I personally aside from all the insights that you gleaned out of the data, what I found interesting in the paper was it really broadened my own personal definition of a social network. And so I think that in doing so it’s sort of it starts to change what social media marketing actually looks like. Because I think that there’s still, you know, this narrow focus of, we can advertise on Facebook, we can advertise on Twitter, we can advertise on LinkedIn, boom done. And what you’ve provided us with is this expansive, you know, list of social platforms where marketers are missing opportunities to reach their customers.

Christopher Penn
And not only that they’re missing opportunities to reach their customers at lower or no cost. Facebook, yes, his Facebook ads are less expensive than they used to be before the pandemic because there’s a lot of inventory and companies not spending but it’s a terrible place to try and actually find people because it’s so gigantic. It’s like, it’s like the difference between sitting at a at a coffee shop with a few friends, right and ala meeting somebody randomly there in the coffee shop. For a book club, and going to like a massive convention at a conference, you know, with 50,000 people and you’re like, I can’t meet anybody here because it’s just so insanely huge. That’s Facebook compared to some of these more niche social networks. There are things like discord and slack. I think slack and discord are great examples where if you join a specific Discord server, like around a particular franchise or whatever, you’re going to be talking with people who are hardcore fans of that. And that’s all they want to talk about and you’ll meet people you never thought you would meet who have the same interest whether it’s you know, left handed crocheting or, you know, frozen fan fiction or baking pies without gluten, whatever the case is, there is a place out there for that and if your company can serve that need, you can jump into that community participate, listen a lot first. And eventually be a part of the community and derive highly qualified business from it because you know, everybody Is there for that specific reason only. And if it’s aligned with your brand, you’ve got a golden opportunity that your competitors probably don’t even know about.

Katie Robbert
Well, and something that you said is really important, it bears repeating, joining those communities do a lot of listening first, I think that, you know, if you’re on a marketing team, and you find some of these niche communities, if you just immediately go in full court press and say, buy my thing, buy my thing, you’re going to get booted, and people are going to hate you. And you’re actually going to be doing a huge disservice to your own company. But if you go in, as someone who shares that same interest and you listen and you learn, it will start to inform your marketing plans versus you going into selling to that community. The purpose of you joining those communities, is really to get just a better understanding of how people think and behave, what they want and the words they’re using. So that you can then mimic that same behavior in your marketing, and then start to reach them in other places other than their own communities. Because for a lot of people, those are their safe havens. Those are their, you know, that’s where they go to be themselves and to have marketing teams go into those communities and start selling stuff that was but I’ll say, you go in and start selling shit, you’re gonna get kicked out.

Christopher Penn
And to your point, you’ll ruin your reputation as a brand with the most ardent advocates in that community, which is just disastrous. The other thing I would say in terms of guidance on that is don’t go in as a company. You go in as a human being one person and you will, you know, be honest, so don’t hide that you work for a company. But be honest, like yeah, I’m here because this is my job. But I also actually like to sing we hope you actually like the thing. And as a result, yeah, listen, participate offer helpful advice. He was a helpful Don’t sell like the whole concept of what can you do to provide value to people that lets you earn the right to sell later on. And that, especially in niche social networks, is where you need to set your strategy earn the right to sell by giving value first. And that does not mean just sharing this week’s blog post.

Katie Robbert
Absolutely. So Chris, to sort of bring it back full circle. So we’re recording this on a Monday, on Tuesday, May 19. You’re doing a webinar in conjunction with Talkwalker, who you also wrote the social media paper with. The big takeaways for marketers are not just where people are spending their time, but what they’re talking about on those channels. And so what else can people expect to learn from this new paper?

Christopher Penn
So you’ll learn those those three major niches and then there’s three or four takeaways and yet In each of these, um, things that you need to do, like, for example, going through YouTube Creator Academy is is so important if you want to be creating good video content, being able to use social media monitoring software to extract up those key trends, what to think about and look for influencers in niche communities because it’s different than mainstream influences. So we’re going to cover all that the replay will be available at the Trust Insights website. So if you go to TrustInsights.ai dot AI under the webinars and stuff, we’ll have the recorded edition up below, download the video, audio, the transcript and all that stuff. Hopefully we’ll, we’ll see you either at the live or the recorded version. If you have follow up questions please leave them on a comment on this post or this video, video which depending on where you’re seeing this, and again, hop on over to the slack group over at TrustInsights.ai dot AI slash analytics for markers. Thanks for listening and I will talk to you soon one. Help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems. This is Trust insights.ai today and let us know how we can help you


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