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Read Before ReTweeting: The Curious Case of the EConsultancy Social Media and Online PR Report RTs

Posted by Lynn Miller on Fri, Oct 08, 2010

A flurry of ReTweets about a new EConsultancy social media market study caused me to raise an eyebrow late Friday afternoon.

“NOT a surprise… metrics aren’t there yet…. Investment in social media still modest: report via @Econsultancy” said one.

“Big #brands are still reluctant to invest in social media via @Econsultancy #socialmedia” said another.

I was surprised. Really. These findings just didn’t square with what I’ve seen from major brands like Ford, Dell, IBM, Pepsi, and too many more to name. It didn’t match what I heard at the recent BlogHer Business conference, nor with numerous other well publicized case studies,  nor with my own experience with my clients’ successes.

Intrigued, I downloaded a free sample of the EConsultancy report, determined to find out which brands were reluctant to invest in social media. Were they brands that served the female market? As Ad Age reported after BlogHer, the big American brands are aggressively entering the social media space, particularly when it comes to the lucrative “Mom” market. I wondered if the Econsultancy report was skewed toward the European market.

Sure enough, when I looked closely at the Econsultancy report sample, here’s what I found:

  • Only 12% of “supply side” survey respondents (agencies and consultants)  were based in the U.S. The remainder came from the UK (62%) and continental  Europe (11%).
  • The average “modest” investment reported is 5000 pounds UK – that’s just shy of $8,000 U.S.  Hmm…that doesn’t even come close to the amount of money spent by even the smallest brands at the sold-out BlogHer conference, which landed 100 sponsors eager to engage with social media savvy women.

When I pulled up the EConsultancy press release about the reports, with its Edinburgh dateline, it was very clear that this was a European-focused report (unlike the original tweets and the RTs).

But the press release was more bullish than the tweets I had seen.  Huh?  I went back and looked up the tweets from Econsultancy’s survey partner, BigMouthMedia. Clearly upbeat about the prospects for social media,  @BigMouthMedia  proclaimed, “83% of businesses expect social media spend to increase next year.”

What’s more, once I looked carefully at the @Econsultancy tweets, I realized the RT sentiment was decidedly more negative than the original tweet sent by @Econsultancy, which merely stated, “Investment in social media still modest: report .”

The lessons here?

  1. Be careful what you RT. Be aware that like an online version of the childhood game “Telephone,” each RTer may add his or her own “spin” to a tweet, gradually causing it to lose its original meaning.
  2. Read the links in full.  Do you agree or disagree with what you’re RTing?
  3. Think about context.  Twitter is global now. Is the original tweet relevant to your target market, or is it referring to trends in a region far removed from your own?

What about you? Do you always read a link before RTing, or do you pass it along if it’s from a trusted source?

– Lynn

Tags: Twitter, Social Media