My vote for the best social media study of 2013

renee1The Institute of Public Relations has once again contributed valuable content to the white-hot subject of social media. In a just-released report, IPR’s social science of social media team (CSI: SSSM?) listed what they believe to be the top 10 research studies during the first half of 2013.

Ah, but those cunning IPR researchers have purposely left the 10th spot wide open, and invited the rest of our industry to submit recommendations. In Repman’s case, that’s akin to waving a red flag in front of a bull.

So, here’s my submission for the 10th spot (and, please note that I believe my entry should be topping the list, and not bringing up the rear):

10.) Spreadable Media”  I’d recommend the Spreadable Media project, found here. This collection of 34 articles are case studies and cultural analyses written by academic researchers in media studies, cultural studies, film studies, communication, journalism, sociology, history, anthropology, business and marketing, design, English, and American studies, at institutions from MIT, UC-Berkeley, NYU, and USC to Universidad Veritas, Queensland University of Technology, North Carolina State University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a range of other universities. The collection also includes media and marketing industry professionals at places like Microsoft, Bluefin Labs/Twitter, Godrej Industries, and Hill Holliday.

The IPR has put together a list of nine important social sciences studies about social media in the first half of 2013 that all PR professionals should read. This seems like a solid collection of the latest empirical research about how we might best understand social media use in our field. At Peppercomm, however, we staunchly advocate that truly understanding what’s happening in the lives of the audiences we seek to reach for our clients must involve balancing quantitative research with both qualitative research and analysis, on the one hand, and on listening to the patterns that are happening in our culture beyond specifically how people are relating to organizations. The top nine reports lack a true listening component.

For anyone wanting to balance quantitative research about the latest ways people are using social media with a deeper understanding of case studies and research into how people are using social media in the culture more broadly, this collection is a good place to start, with some of the leading researchers on new media today. The collection covers topics like how companies value engagement, why the word “consumer” might undercut the value audiences bring to brands in a digital age, what we might all learn from how Swedish indie bands use the digital spread of their content, the use of Twitter among Iranian citizens in the 2009 elections, how people engage with digital media in the workplace, the value of customer recommendations to brands, and a range of other subjects.

All the articles are available free on the web, as part of a book project published earlier this year called Spreadable Media. (Full disclosure: I should note that Peppercommer Sam Ford is co-author of that book and also co-authored one of these 34 essays.) Some of these pieces focus on marketing, advertising, and public relations; many focus on larger cultural trends. But it’s a great sampler platter for the sort of cultural knowledge and learning of which any PR professional who is going to lead this industry through the 21st Century needs to stay abreast.

So, what say we storm the ramparts of IPR’s opulent headquarters, and demand Spreadable Media be properly listed at the very top of their social media research list, as the perfect balance for the social science research they highlight?

3 thoughts on “My vote for the best social media study of 2013

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