Pinterest Users in America 2012 – NEW Data from The Social Habit

In the Fall 2012 edition of The Social Habit research series, we took an extended look at Pinterest to see just how the popular “pinning” service is being used by social media users in America. We looked at who was using Pinterest, what activites and behaviors they were engaged in, and what kinds of products they were pinning and why.

I’ve already written about Pinterest’s unique demographic skew–it’s the only major social network that is so heavily female-driven–but for the first time we are reporting that amongst American Women 18-44 who use social media, Pinterest is the third most widely-used social network (behind Facebook and Twitter.)

We have decided to make our new Pinterest data available in a stand-alone report called Pinterest Users in America 2012. This data, extracted from the most recent Social Habit research series, provides more than 30 all-new, data-rich charts of data about the popular service, including the following:

  • Demographics
  • Comparative usage to other social networks
  • Impact of Pinterest on purchase behavior
  • How Pinterest browsers buy products seen on Pinterest
  • What types of products are pinned
  • Differential pinning reasons for 12 categories of products, including Food, Fashion, Gadgets, Travel and more
This report also includes a methodology statement and selected implications of the data, and is available for immediate download for $99. Current Fall 2012 Social Habit subscribers will be sent this report for free. We hope you find enormous value in Pinterest Users in America as you plan your 2013 social strategy!

Price: $99.00

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Why Pinterest Matters

Why Pinterest Matters

In the fall, 2012, edition of The Social Habit, we inserted a whole raft of questions on Pinterest–not only to learn who uses the pinning service, but why and how they use it, and how that usage correlates with purchase behavior. We explored a number of platforms in The Social Habit, of course, but Pinterest stands alone for one very notable reason.

First of all, take note of the overall demographics of social media users in America (ages 12+):

Social Media Demographics by Edison

What is remarkable about this graph is that there is absolutely nothing remarkable about this graph. In other words, Americans who use social media essentially look like Americans, period. Social media usage is a mainstream behavior, and gone are the days when it was concentrated with any one demographic group.

Now look at the demographics of Pinterest:

Pinterest Demographics by Edison

Not only does this graph tell a very different story, it tells a unique story among all the major social platforms we explored in The Social Habit. Pinterest doesn’t just lean female, it leans a lot female (Google+, by comparison, is a stag party.)

For this reason alone, Pinterest is worth a more considered study–which is why we have an entire section in the paid Social Habit report on what kinds of products women (and men) pin on Pinterest, why they pin them, and when, if ever, they buy them. Want to know more? Head over to our products and pricing page and learn about The Social Habit, Fall 2012 Edition.

The Primacy Myth Of Search

The Primacy Myth Of Search

There are certain bits of received wisdom about the role of search in the purchase process. If I were to ask you, for instance, what percentage of purchases “started” with a search, what would you guess? Two-thirds? More?

There is no doubt that search plays an important role in purchase behavior, and there are a crapton of clickstream-based studies which demonstrate that search is involved in the majority of online purchases. It is, however, a far different thing to say “is involved in” than it is to say “instigates.” Consider this: we meet at a conference somewhere, and you ask me where I got my snazzy blazer. I tell you it’s a Kroon, and that I got it at Nordstrom. Now, because we are talking in real life, I don’t have a affiliate link to give you–I simply show you the label.

So, you go back home and Google/Bing/Lycos/Altavista “Kroon Nordstrom.” Your clickstream consumer journey started with search, but your actual consumer journey did not. In fact, in this all-too-common scenario, search was merely a commodified utility; a handy link shortener to quickly access the page you already knew you wanted.

Now, this is not to say that search is unimportant; nor is it to belittle the importance of SEO. In fact, had I told you that my blazer was a Kroon, but NOT that I bought it at Nordstrom, it would have been Nordstrom’s SEO prowess that would have led you to buy the blazer from them, and not from another retailer. But you were still going to buy a Kroon, and search had nothing to do with that decision.

So, I am not challenging the importance of search, merely the primacy of search. What I suspect is this: the more purchase risk, the lower the importance of search (and, of course, the converse would necessarily be true.) If I need a VGA dongle for my MacBook, search might be the beginning and end of my consumer journey. But if I want a snappy blazer to go with jeans, a gas range, or a Ph.D., search may be part of the process, but it might serve as little more than a helpful road sign for a destination I already had in mind.

In our most recent Social Habit report, we actually collected some data on the consumer journey and the roles of search, social and word of mouth in that process. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the data we are sitting on:


When we asked a representative national sample of 3,000 American social media users, ages 12+, what they turned to first to learn about a product or brand, “Search” had a plurality but nowhere near the majority of responses. The global take-away from this graph? Seven in ten social media users in America start their consumer journey somewhere other than search. Search may play a role, deeper into the funnel, but social media users are more likely to begin with word of mouth (either online or offline).

Other aspects of these data worth noting: first, don’t abandon those company websites yet–after search, those are the most common starting point–and also, note the 7% of social media users who indicated that their consumer journeys start with social media. Don’t be fooled into thinking that’s a “small” number–it isn’t–and don’t forget: the question refers to what source social media users turn to first. Other data we have in the latest Social Habit report indicates that social does indeed play an important part of the consumer journey–but that role may not be at the top of the funnel.

That fact alone should dramatically inform your marketing strategy and significantly alter your tactics, especially if your brand involves a high-risk purchase, and you are using social media to generate awareness.

What do you make of this graph? And what are your thoughts about the role of search in purchase behavior?

Note – “The Primacy Myth of Search” originally appeared on

Forums Outperform Blogs? Srsly?

Forums Outperform Blogs? Srsly?

While analyzing the sources of online conversations for the banking industry recently, I was stunned to find that 90% of the conversations about banks and bank products were coming from forums and message boards. Even if my methodology were imperfect, 90 percent is a baffling number. As I combed through the various conversations and looked deeper, I discovered the broad statistics weren’t lying. When people talk about banks and bank products, they do so more on old school social media platforms. From my gut-check analysis to date, forums are far more prevalent in online conversations for other industries, too, though at varying degrees.

For marketers, this poses an interesting problem. Forums have never been at the forefront of their social strategies because there are far too many of them, thus fracturing their focus. And forums are often protected by administrators and self-moderating users who shun marketing messages and toss around the “spam” accusation freely. But if these channels are hosting so many conversations — many of which are purchase decision-oriented — what are marketers to do?

In order to confirm or refute this notion that forums and message boards might be an untapped conversation point for marketers, we included several questions in The Social Habit that might better inform us. We started with usage.

Use of You Tube, Forums and Blogs - Last week

It turns out that nearly two-thirds of respondents (American social media users 12 and older) read online message boards, which is more than read blogs. We also asked the same question, though pointed at the last 24 hours rather than week.

YouTube Forums and Blog Use - Last 24 Hours

The numbers go down, but correlate to the weekly responses. More American social media users 12 and older read forums and message boards than blogs.

And yet, where is your forum strategy? What message boards are you participating on regularly to drive your business?

Certainly, there are demographic and even industry differences in these responses. Many of those cross-tabulations can be made with the full data set of The Social Habit (which you can access by purchasing the Premium Consulting Edition). But the results of both these questions and the other information we’ve seen recently with source of conversation investigation would lead us to believe forums and message boards should at least be considered and contemplated as a potential channel for your outreach, monitoring or marketing efforts.

So what say you? Are message boards important to your industry? If so, which ones? The comments are yours.

Loyalty and the Real Case for Social Media Success

Loyalty and the Real Case for Social Media Success

Every time I look through the results of The Social Habit, I find some new, fascinating tidbit that makes me think (or rethink) assumptions about social, consumers, and media consumption.

I’m champing at the bit to get even more of these findings out there (and you can be first to know by becoming a Social Habit subscriber. Packages start at just $347, and you get exclusive access to our subscribers-only grand unveiling Webinar on October 11, which you do not want to miss). But I’ll keep giving you some good stuff bit by bit, including this one: 53% of Americans 12+ who follow brands in social media are more loyal to those brands.

Loyalty To Brands On Social Tapers With Age - Edison Research

Measuring social media continues to be a challenge. Even though divining social media ROI is 100% possible, it does require some effort to calculate. The truth is that many companies don’t have the resources, inclination, or expertise to calculate true ROI. Nor do they calculate the precise ROI of newspaper ads, golf balls with their logo on them, or trade show attendance.

So the day-to-day reality is that many companies believe in their bones that social media works, but aren’t sure precisely how, or where, or in what fashion. Simultaneously, many marketers are under the impression that social media (Facebook, in particular) is a top of the funnel tactic. A survey of corporate marketers by Wildfire (now owned by Google) this year found that 44% of respondents viewed Facebook as a good place to acquire new customers.

I believe the opposite to be true, that social media (and Facebook, in particular) is mostly a retention and churn reduction tactic, the thing your company uses to keep customers coming back for more and telling their friends (not unlike email, incidentally).

This new finding from The Social Habit ratifies the potential effectiveness of this “focus on your existing customers” approach and gives companies a path to understanding the actual financial impact of social.

But as with all things in social media, your results may vary.

It’s fascinating to me that our findings show that increased loyalty to companies followed in social tapers with age, once adulthood is reached. 66% of 18-24 year-old Americans who have followed a company in social are more loyal to those companies. It’s 60% among 25-34 year olds; 53% among 35-44 year olds; 45% among 45-54 year olds; and just 39% among the 55 and older set.

As we age, does the siren song of social interaction begin to fall on deaf ears? Is resistance to the charms of companies in social part of the aging process? Or as we age are we just exposed to so many more companies that our decisions about loyalty are made on a more practical, prosaic level than anything ephemerally nifty that’s served up in social?

I’m not certain. But, this data does make a case that brands targeting a younger customer may see a greater revenue/profit impact from social over time, given the much higher loyalty effect in play.

Beer Pong + Social Media = Awesome.
Metamucil + Social Media = Maybe Less So.

Is Facebook replacing the morning cup of coffee?

Is Facebook replacing the morning cup of coffee?

Has Facebook replaced the morning cup of coffee?

According to the latest data from The Social Habit, American social media users 12+  roll out of bed and check Facebook … and another survey question confirms that about the same number check it out right before they go to sleep!

As you can see in the chart above, nearly 30% of Americans who use social media check out YouTube in the morning and more than 20% read message boards, blogs and Twitter.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of some of the amazing data Edison Research has collected and displayed in the new Social Habit report.  The survey looks at detailed social media habits and usage levels across demographic categories and includes other questions such as …

  • Is the usage of social media platforms such as Facebook, Google Plus and Pinterest going up or going down?
  • Trends regarding clicking links, social sharing and other online habits.
  • Social media versus other types of recommendations and the influence on purchasing decisions.
  • Where people are getting information about their favorite brands.
  • Critical links between social media and expectations for service response.

And there is so much more. This is incredibly important and impactful research because it isn’t your typical social media survey of “my blog readers” or “magazine subscribers.”  It was completed by Edison Research, one of the most respected research firms in the world.

When I first saw the first cut of the information that is going to be available in this report, my reaction was “WOW. This is mind-blowing.”

There’s still time to subscribe to this edition and also to connect with myself, Jay Baer, Tom Webster and Jason Falls on an October 11 webinar discussing the results.  This is a great value that even small companies and solopreneurs can afford.  I’m not prone to the use of grandiose adjectives, but this truly is the most valuable piece of social media research I have seen. And I hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to create competitive advantage for yourself and your company!

Why Email Marketing Is Alive And Thriving

Why Email Marketing Is Alive And Thriving

With the advent of any new, exciting or sexy way of doing anything, the advocates for it will proclaim the old methods to be dead. The Internet was supposed to kill print. It hasn’t. Television was supposed to kill radio. It didn’t.

Lately, social media has been said to be the next great “killer” driving things like email marketing to its death. That notion was largely behind my reason to pen The Rebel’s Guide To Email Marketing with DJ Waldow. Social will kill email? No, it won’t. Or at least that is our supposition. But why suppose? Why not ask? It’s kinda what we do here.

In the latest edition of The Social Habit, we asked a representative sample of over 3,000 American social media users 12 and older if they read email from brands products or companies. Of those who responded, 61 percent say that yes, they indeed do read emails from such entities. Email marketing is dead? We think not.

Further, we asked those who responded with a “yes” the question, “Why do you typically read email from a brand, product or company?” And the answers are rather interesting. The top response (and our subjects could pick more than one reason) was to get deals, discounts or coupons. But it wasn’t the only response and understanding all the others is pertinent for marketers wishing to dive into an email marketing program. Some 70 percent of those that read emails from companies do so for the deal. More than half (53%) say they do so to learn about new products and 41 percent want news and updates from the company.


Perhaps the content marketing mantra of “don’t talk about yourself” is less applicable than we have been led to believe? That question certainly cannot be answered by this set of data, but it’s interesting to consider.

Of course, we’ve also broken down the reasons by sex, age, ethnicity, income and a variety of other subsets in the tabular data, so investing in The Social Habit’s Option 3 product can help you get to more specific information on this front. But what do you think about the numbers for email marketing responses? Does 61 percent surprise you? How about the 70 percent that do so for the deal? The juxtaposition from the expectation is what normally intrigues me about looking through data. How different are these numbers from your expectations? Tell us in the comments.


Are Consumer Expectations for Social Customer Service Realistic?

Are Consumer Expectations for Social Customer Service Realistic?

The provision of customer service via social media channels has become nearly axiomatic, especially in B2C industries with high volumes of contact. It’s become one of the Big Three customer service channels, joining phone and email to form the triad of support modalities. Certainly, you could use postal mail, fax, or live chat for customer service, but those are just drops in the bucket compared to the Big Three.

Historically, customer expectations for phone support are far different than those for email support. We don’t have data on phone support in this version of The Social Habit, but I think we can stipulate that when you use the phone, you expect a synchronous response – even if hold times can become excruciatingly long when “call volumes are abnormally heavy”. Email is different. You send a support email (or fill out a contact form, which is the same mechanism), you expect a response in a few hours, or a day or so.

But what about social media? Are our expectations for response more urgent and similar to phone, or less urgent and similar to email? In this edition of The Social Habit, we asked a sample of American social media users 12+, and our findings paint a difficult and resource-intensive picture for businesses.


Among respondents to The Social Habit who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes.

Also, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. Is your company prepared to handle social media inquiries within the hour? A few are. Most are not, in my experience, which potentially creates a disillusionment gap between customers’ anticipated response time, and your actual ability to provide a response.

Certainly, consumers understand that social media staffing patterns change at night, and on weekends, right? They don’t expect round-the-clock support, do they?

Actually, they do in many cases.

Our research found that among those respondents who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.


When you hear talk about the need to “scale social media” this is one of the reasons why it’s an important conversation. Are customer expectations realistic? And can you possibly meet those expectations with a centralized approach to social customer service?

Note that this isn’t some “we asked 42 people” survey. The respondent base – just the people who HAVE reached out to a company for support via social – is 690 persons from a representative sample of over 3,000 American social media users. Real data = real answers for your business.

We have many more eye-popping findings in The Social Habit research. I’ve seen the raw data, and it’s a mind-blower. There’s still time to subscribe to this edition (which also gets you exclusive access to our grand unveiling Webinar on October 11), so if you haven’t parted with your dollars yet, please do so. It’ll be worth every penny, and then some.


Announcing The Social Habit Fall 2012 Online Event

For all of you who have ordered the next edition of The Social Habit–thank you. The data is back from the field and Team Edison has polished it to a shine. We’ll be spending the next few weeks pulling out the important insights and findings for the final report, and preparing for our inaugural online event, which we can now announce will be on Thursday, October 11th.

We’ll have more details on the time and how to logon for Social Habit subscribers very soon. We’ll also be premiering a few tidbits in this space prior to October 11th to give you all a sneak peek into the value of this incredible dataset. Mark, Jay, Jason and I will all have a few key insights to share on this blog leading up to our online event, and we’ll also give some early details of some of the other reports we’ll be announcing soon in the Social Habit series.

And if you haven’t yet purchased the Social Habit, now’s a great time to be sure you are on the list for next month. Do eeet!

The Dayparting Of Our Social Habit

The Social Habit survey is in the field for the first edition of our new, unified effort to improve the quality of social media consumer research available for you. In this first quarterly edition, we’re asking some custom questions, which you can ask in future editions, but we’ve built a far more in-depth range of questions about the habits of Americans 12 and up and their use of new and social media.

A series of questions we’re asking revolves around what social channels people use at various times of day during a typical weekday. Looking at the major social channels — in this iteration Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Path, message boards, blogs and YouTube are identified as such — we’re asking if people typically check or participate in these networks right after they wake up in the mornings, while working, in the evenings and right before they go to sleep.

English: The face of a black windup alarm clock

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the surface, it might seem that we’re simply trying to ascertain what time of day people typically participate in social media. But it’s far more leading than that. Dayparting, a broadcast media term, actually does far more than tell you when people do things. It also can tell you what they prioritize and depend on rather than just use. For instance, if you spend an hour on Facebook each day, but in the evenings when you have time to kill, it could be considered a “when I get to it” behavior. But if you check Facebook first thing each morning before you even shower and dress, there’s an implication of higher engagement, priority and even need.

While we know that we don’t know the answers yet, what if we discover:

  • Facebook users participate right before they go to bed and right after they wake up, but not during work hours
  • Pinterest users are far more engaged in the evening than other times of day
  • Twitter users typically Tweet while at work, but not in the evenings
  • Any other combination of these possibilities

The types of possible answers may be more revealing about just how addicted or dependent upon certain social activities we are. We are looking at the Habits of social users. Perhaps answering “Yes” to using a certain network in all four time frames indicates a far higher level of engagement for one network’s users or anthers than we ever anticipated.

Certainly, we can guess at the answers. But if we were to go to bat with our guesses we may as well swing blindly and without consideration of the type of pitch coming. Understanding not the time of day, though that may be relevant, but the stickiness — or lack thereof — of each individual network, gives marketers some revealing information with which to make decisions.

Fortunately, we’ll also be asking a lot of other questions that when cross-tabbing with this type of information will be even more discovery-ripe. So make sure you are subscribed to the research so your brand can get smarter about its understanding and use of social media.

What other insights do you think can be extracted from understanding when a person might engage with certain social networks? We’d love your thoughts in the comments.

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