For real information, watching what people do is way better than asking them what they think, what they did, or, the worst case, what they intend to do. That’s why I like this new click-based and search-based research so much. Don’t go with what people say; go with what they do.
A great recent example is Marketing Profs’ In Social Media Era, Facebook Rules. The data is fascinating; but the methodology, and the tool used, is even more so.
This particular post, for example, uses Google Trends to illustrate the comparative rise and fall of the common phrases. You can see at the bottom of this post how the trends chart shows the rise and fall of the three terms “new media, web 2.0, social media.” You can look at the chart here – taken from that post, which, in turn, highlights research done by Justin Kistner posted on socialfresh. He’s saying that social media is the new third wave of the Web, and he uses the Google trends search and news charts to illustrate. I hope you can see it on the chart below. In Web searches, on the top, “new media” gradually fades from 2004 to now. “Web 2.0” goes up fast in 2005 and 2006, but peaks, and then falls. “Social media” goes up gradually, but seems to be accelerating. In Web news reports, on the bottom, social media is taking over.
That’s done with Google Trends. Try it. Go to the Google Trends Web tool and start typing in search terms to see what the whole online world has been looking for, and finding, for the last few years. Try it with the terms “hamburger, sushi” and then with “Twitter, blogs” and you’ll see what I mean. I like what I see for “accountability,” which I think is increasing in importance these days.
This is a great tool for thinking, and planning. Educate those guesses.