Jupiter’s New Social Media Report Looks Fishy

by Chris Kenton on July 10, 2007

Jupiter Research is touting a new study that purportedly shows Social Media has little impact on influencing online retail sales. But in the first paragraph of their press release, they betray a study bias that seems to contradict their own headline, and throws the relevance of the study into question.

…despite the growth of social networks and online communities, they have little effect on influencing online retail sales. … social and community sites are only driving about 12 percent of online shoppers to buy more than planned.

So “influence” in the report refers only to the ability to drive shoppers to buy *more* than they planned? And even with that narrow a definition of influence, they report that social media still drives *12%* of shoppers to increase the size of their online purchases? How does that translate into “little impact”? That seems like a substantial impact to me.

Later on in the same press release, although they talk in broad terms about “social media”, they lament that while 53% of shoppers go to directly to an online retailer to shop, only a paltry 3% go to ~blogs~. Who shops at a blog? If you’re researching a product purchase there are many social media sites more effective than blogs, including forums, consumer opinion sites, and product review sites. Blogs are much more about keeping up with new products, features and problems than providing substantive research to inform purchase decisions- -though there are certainly exceptions. And if a consumer goes to Google and comes across a well-positioned blog post that eviscerates the product they’re considering, you can bet that will have an impact. But in the context of Jupiter’s study that user would probably report that they first went to a search engine to research their purchase- -the blog just happened to be a relevant search engine result.

I’m *really* suspicious about the quality of this study. I’m trying to get my hands on a copy of the report to dig into it more deeply, but there’s no way I’m paying $1500 for it, based on what I’m seeing in the press release. Make no mistake–I’m interested in critical analysis of the impact of social media, and I’ve seen some good critical reporting at ClickZ, like this post from Sean Carton. But if Jupiter’s just getting on the bandwagon to slam social media, it’s going to show in their report.

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