Monday, January 16, 2012

The BlogHer Consumer Electronics Study: How Women Shop for Tech

I can't believe I forgot to post this here last week when we released it. I guess I was caught in the CES whirlwind.

So, BlogHer released the latest in our series of proprietary research studies, this time digging into women's perspectives on purchasing consumer electronics devices. We surveyed a BlogHer Network sample and a general population sample to see how those two groups are align and differ. As has been the case for quite some time, the two samples were directionally very similar, differing by degree more than by fundamental perspective or motivation.

The key findings include:

-I know amazing TVs were a centerpiece of CES this year, but women consider TV to be a distant third-place on the hierarchy of indispensable devices. We know we can get entertainment, communication and productivity out of single devices now, and they top our priority list.

-Women continue to identify peer advice and recommendations online as both reliably informational and highly influential. Meanwhile, we continue to turn to manufacturer and retail sites for specs and information, but do not consider that information to be influential to the final decision. Out last two studies have been on fairly technical verticals (automotive and now consumer electronics) and this distinction was stark in both studies: Manufacturer sites were a top information source, but ranked last or next-to-last for influence. You know what else continues to not get much traction as a marketing approach? Celebrity endorsements and "woman-y" products. We just like things super-fast, super-functional, and super-simple.

-Finally, there were some interesting stats about mobile usage...some surprising, some not. Mobile apps aren't yet making a dent as a top information source for tech purchases, but people are clearly reviewing online content about such purchases on their mobiles. It's a huge factor so your content better look and function well.

One other stat that I personally found very interesting was in how different groups identify themselves as shoppers. Now the #1 answer across all groups gender, age, race) is still "Price-Conscious". Clearly we are still concerned about the economy and tech devices are still a serious purchase and serious investment. But 50% of African Americans self-identify as either "early adopters" (defined as pre-ordering or buying day one) or "leading edge" adopters (defined as waiting to make sure there are no catastrophic bugs before buying). This is significantly higher than any other group. Combined with the fact that 70% of AfAms report using a mobile during the tech purchase process, and you get a picture of a highly connected highly tech-savvy population.

Anyway, I hope you will review the study, we think it reinforces a message that manufacturers and retailers still don't seem to fully embrace: Women are buying tech devices, and women want to hear from people they trust about how those devices work. And the people they trust aren't corporate spokespeople. They're "people like me".

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Twitter vs. Google: Clash of the big babies

Today I had a little Twitter rant about Twitter's problem with Google's announcement about their search changes.

It went like this:

Gut reaction is: @twitter is being a baby. They have WORST SEARCH possible for their own product. Why should @google be their search b*tch?

We all know @google algorithms for ranking is proprietary & can change on whim, right? If their results sucked they wouldn't be dominant.

I would use @twitter search (and did use @summize). It's a JOKE how ridic Twitter search is. And they have no one to blame but themselves.


I don't have too much more to say about it.

I may be a Twitterholic, but I've also always been pretty underwhelmed by Twitter's customer service. They ruined search, and they're completely unresponsive to people trying to talk to them via their own tool. Frankly, they ignore support issues via email too.

So, my sympathy level? Low.

but you could probably tell that.

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

PSA: Blogging is not just what *you* do.

As the year draws to an end, it stirs a natural impulse to review and reflect. Analyze and assess. And being human, and therefore naturally self-absorbed, it is also natural to make the most common of blogging faux pas. it goes like this:

I used to have a joke: Everyone thinks "real" blogging is how *they* blog.

Today my joke would be: Everyone thinks that how their own blogging has evolved is how all of blogging has evolved.

The posts about the end of tech blogging as we know it. The posts about returning to blogging, unsatisfied by the snack-sized communication in other forums. You may have read them, but then again, maybe you haven't. It's entirely possible that such posts were written in the echo chamber of other old-timey bloggers like me, who are often mostly paying attention to each other!

So, here are two data points to chew on.

1. According to comScore, the aggregate traffic to "blogs" has increased year over year the past two years at the same rate as the aggregate traffic to "social networks". Now, I get that "social networks" probably is made up of Facebook and a handful of other sites, while "blogs" represents hundreds of thousands of sites, but the point remains: Blog reading is up (and likely ever more disaggregated across the long tail). But this may not be visible to early blog proponents.

Check out Slide 7 of BlogHer's 2011 annual social media study for the comScore stat for the previous twelve months.
You can also check out Slide 8 of BlogHer's 2010 annual social media study for the same comparison for the previous twelve months, but be forewarned, that's a big ole' PDF file.

2. According to Pew, it's entirely true that teenagers don't blog anymore, and adult Millennials show a slight decline in blogging. But every older generation, GenX, Boomer and Senior, shows an increased rate of blogging. (In fact, blogging has increased overall for adults 18+.)

Some have proclaimed this to mean that blogging is dying, but I think it means something quite different: We simply have better tools now for small talk and chatter and transactional connections and activity. Remember how everyone used to joke about not wanting to read blogs because they didn't care what you had for lunch? Well, that joke's about Twitter now. And Facebook. And so on.

[Side note and off my main point: I think we *do* care what our friends had for lunch. And what the weather is like where they are. And how their mood is in general. That's called small talk, and humans do it. We do it in person, and we do it online.]

I think it's pretty natural that as your life goes on, and inevitably gets more complicated, that you look for more outlets for self-expression and more ways to codify your life. Some of those complications may be about career...advancing your career by advancing your ideas. Some of those complications may be about personal life...more relationships, from partners to children to in-laws to parents. Some of those complications may be about the world...more opinions, more passions, more causes.

So, simple stuff has a better outlet now, and it's not blogging (and in case you haven't noticed, it has a real tendency to get broadcast-y...Twitter, I'm talking to you!). I've said it before, and I'll say it again now: Blogging remains the place where substantive conversations can and do happen.

Blogging isn't dying, nor being reborn. Blogging is steady as she goes.

It just may not be where you're used to looking for it. And it may not be about the same things, or by the same people you're used to reading.

The 2005 exhortation to look for new voices that spurred the founding of BlogHer is just as relevant today. Widen your circle, you might be surprised!

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