Tag Archives: TMRE Live 2010

Avis Budget Group & 3 Types of Research

By Kathryn Korostoff, Research Rockstar LLC, twitter @ResearchRocks

Speakers: Jeff McKenna from CMB and Becky Alseth, Avis Budget Group

Session title, ‘Systematically building strategic insights into the decision-making process.’

The speakers opened with some context about Avis and the car rental market:

  • ??Avis has 80%+ unaided brand awareness
  • ??There are 7 main brands
  • ??The category is very much like buying a consumer good. Every airport has a row of brands from which to choose’similar to looking at a grocery store shelf.
  • ??In the car rental business, having a reservation does not mean you have a sale. A lot of people will make 3 reservations for a single occasion! So 30% of reservations are not completed.
  • ??Car rental customers are promiscuous (this point was accompanied by an amusing picture of the Jersey Shore cast).
  • ??Brands can’t differentiate by car model. The rental companies usually have the same or similar car models.

But as the Avis speaker points out, there is always opportunities to change a category, to find a new opportunity’if you just think about your consumer. Zipcar’s phenomenal entrance shows us that!

Also, Avis had acquired Budget’so they need a two-brand strategy that worked.

So what makes research successful at Avis? Three key points:

  1. 1. Align insights with business objectives.
  2. 2. Find the right customers.
  3. 3. Ask the right questions. Quoting the infamous Henry Ford quote :If I asked people what they needed, they would have said faster horses.’ That’s the wrong question.

Research Process

Avis and CMB have had three key areas of research, building over 7 years:

  1. 1. Segmentation
  2. 2. Lost Rentals
  3. 3. Voice of the Customer

While this sounds like a lot, Becky says that Avis is actually doing fewer, better studies’and then repeating them.

(As an aside, they refer to researching lost accounts. But weaving this with Dan Heath’s keynote, I wonder if they also look to study the ‘bright spots’ that Dan referred to).

Segmentation Results

Defining the scope of the research required careful thinking: are we focused on occasions or people?

The segmentation revealed 7 groups, varying on price, services and products. For example, ‘Car Enthusiasts’ ranked higher on the Products axis. Car enthusiasts are also willing to spend much more, so Avis now gives them access to a ‘Cool Car’ program.

Lost Rentals Results

This research measures the number of times customers have rented with Avis, and in total (so including competitors), which allowed them to group types of renters:

  1. 1. Those with no primary preference for Avis
  2. 2. Those that prefer Avis’but for business only.
  3. 3. Those that prefer Avis’but for personal only.
  4. 4. Those that prefer Avis’but for both only.

For example, turns out there is a big group of people who are loyal to Avis for business, but not for personal. But even from this group, there are 2.3 million lost rentals (although this was unclear if this was for a year or other time frame of measurement).

The analysis also show how these groups vary by brand switching’and to which brands.

Not surprisingly, the reason for switching is most often price.

VOTC Research Results

In the past year, over 800,000 people have participated in the VOTC research. Many are repeats, so they can track changes over time.

While traditional VOTC research displays a lot of data, they decided to symbolize the data with green happy faces, red sad faces, yellow moderate faces. Using pivot tables in Excel, CMB built a tool that allows Avis to see the happy face results by location, day, or even filter by keyword. Visually, it looked a bit busy to me, but it does allow a user to quickly glance and see’one a given day’did we have a lot of red? And then click on each sad, red face to see the individual scores. The key is actionability: The quick visual/color patterns makes it easy for them to spot a bad day at a specific location’and find out why.

BTW’Avis ties peoples’ compensation (even counter people) to the scores. When a low score is entered, a dialog box opens up for the customer to add comments. And even counter employees are held accountable. Site managers have 24 hours to respond to complaints, and if they don’t, their boss knows.

Session Summary

  • ??Market research must tie back to business objectives.
  • ??The results need to be able to sell a wide array of internal clients.
  • ??Asking questions and presenting results in a way that everyone can understand is critical.

In her conclusion, Becky enthused about the importance of socializing research, ‘Before I came to Avis, the researchers kept research in their file drawers. Now, they are all on shelves, indexed, and accessible.’

TMRE 2010: Injecting Emotion into Market Research–from by Dan Heath’s TMRE Keynote

By Kathryn Korostoff, Research Rockstar LLC

Our first keynote today was Dan Heath, a generally well known author and columnist, perhaps most well known as the co-author of ‘Made to Stick.’ His keynote focused on his most recent book, co-authored with his brother Chip, ‘Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.’
Dan acknowledges that “Change is hard.: and “People hate change.” Those were two of the most common things he and his brother heard when they began to work on the book.

But, he also observes that some change is good. Wedding photos are full of happy faces’and this is a HUGE change. Having babies, also a huge change.

So why are some changes hard, and others are easy’even joyful?
The answer comes from the fact that we have two systems in our brains. the rational/deliberative side, and the emotional/automatic side.

When these two systems align, change can happen. When they’re not, change can be painful.
So, how do we make these two systems work well together?

The Heaths’ thesis is reflected in a metaphor.

To switch or change, we need to recognize there are 3 parts of the system:

  • ?? The rider, our logical person, who is quite small compared to the elephant. May be a naysayer’who says stop and think. And who thinks he is in control, but he’s on an elephant. In a disagreement, who’d win?
  • ?? The elephant is our emotional person. Needs to be fed. It is big. Bigger than we care to admit. The elephant needs motivation.
  • ?? The path, which is the direction. The rider needs direction.

BTW, as Dan amusingly points out, the elephant doesn’t care about PowerPoint.

The elephant tells you to eat ice cream, check your email over and over when you should be doing ‘real work’, or to call an ex when you are drunk.

But the elephant is also good. It’s what gives us cool new ideas. It is the fuel to make progress, change.

But this all points to a problem. In a lot of situations, we have objective information’but a desired change is not happening. In market research, this can be that we have delivered some amazing data pointing to a new product opportunity, but we can’t get the management team excited enough to actually take action with it.

At this point, Dan made a transition, bringing in the topic of how we find out how to solve problems. His key point here is that we have a flawed approach:

We tend to ask what’s broken and how do we fix it, instead of what’s working and how do we clone it.

Why do we do this? Psychologists say bad is more powerful than good. We remember bad stuff longer. We look at negative pictures longer than good ones. When asked to recall experiences, people more readily recall negative things than positive things’whether about a place or a person.

Dan’s suggestion is that we need to study success as diligently as we study failure. He calls this, ‘finding the bright spots.’

We also need to be crystal clear that knowledge rarely leads to change. Lots of products have warnings’even cigarettes. Factual information rarely impacts us.

In businesses, we can deliver facts, figures’and it rarely leads to change. We need to produce a feeling. To illustrate this, Dan shared the case of John Stegner, a gentlemen who worked at a huge manufacturing firm, in the finance department. Stegner decided they could save a lot of money by centralizing purchasing, and he even had a spreadsheet that showed $1 billion in savings over 10 years. A billion dollars’anyone should pay attention to that, right? Apparently not. During his presentation, his colleagues nodded, they were polite. But nothing ever happened. So one summer, he hired an intern. He had the intern go round the company and go to every factory and collect a sample of a work glove purchased by that factory. Turns out the company buys over 400 types, with each site’s average cost ranging widely. Then, Stegner takes over a conference room, and dumps the 400+ glove samples, with average price tags attached, and brings in the colleagues. They come in, they see the gloves. They see the various prices. They have emotional reactions. They are shocked at the price variations. They are stunned at the number of different styles. Within months, Stegner had approval to centralize purchasing.

He had a spreadsheet that’s showed $1billion saving. Then he dumps gloves on a table, and they are ready to move. WOW.

Dan’s take away from this is that even for organizational change, we need to see and feel and that is what gives us the desire to change.

And then Dan did something many keynote speakers from outside of the research world don’t do. He tied this all into market research. Dan observes that in market research we don’t instill the emotion into the process.

He observes that our process is to focus on data, then insight, and hope for change.

He points out we need to inject emotion into the process: we need data, insight, emotion, and then CHANGE.

As an example, he cited a Microsoft research project where the researchers found that 6 out of 20 users couldn’t use a feature in a product they were testing. But the developers didn’t buy in to the results. So the researchers had the developers join the focus group process. By having the developers observe the research, they found inspiration (I also think of this as an issue with proximity to data, which I wrote about awhile ago here: ARTICLE ).

As Dan correctly points out, market researchers understand data. We all know how to collect great data. What can make us stand out, as researchers, is our ability to add the emotion so that actual change occurs. His bottom line?

When people change it is because they have clear direction, motivation, and a clear path.


Practically speaking, what does this mean? Well, based on this keynote, it seems we need to do at least 3 things:

  • ?? Pictures. Photographs that make a point’even if extreme, or humorous.
  • ?? Proximity. Keep research users close to the process, so they can experience the research’and not just get a slide deck three months later.
  • ?? Find our bright spots, and clone them. What was the last great project you did that had real impact? What was different in that project?

TMRE 2010: How To Get Your Research Truly Understood

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty

David Santee, former Research Director at H&R Block has some really interesting slants on a familiar precept: know your audience.

Along the way, David pointed to a possibly sad but certainly unavoidable fact: market research is a hard job today. Like so many other responsibility areas, research is no longer parsed into traditional discrete functions. Today’s market researchers need to be multi-function experts in gathering, analyzing, communicating, synthesizing, and recommending solutions suggested by data. They (we) must deliver insights and continually demonstrate value.

How to make any of this happen?

Part of the answer is learning how to get the attention and investment of the audience for research: the management decsion maker.

We’ve heard that… “Decisions are made emotionally and justified rationally.”

We’re used to that in designing consumer and B2B research. We know that purchase decisions are made emotionally no matter what the buyers want us to believe … David’s breakthrough thought was something like “Hey! This doesn’t apply just to consumers of our products, but consumers of our research.” Manager decisions are made emotionally as well. Managers are people too.

You can get the full presentation from the web. The most striking insights for me are that in order to get attention, research must tell a story, must have a point of view, must be presented forcefully, and must be tailored to the end user audience that needs to be influenced.

TMRE 2010: House lines or land lines? REI takes a look

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty -
REI determined that the rising percentage of cell-phone-only users makes land lines an unreliable sole-source approach method. Then they run into the problems with cell phone: more expensive to source and reach, require an incentive, not location based, ratio of cell phones to landlines not known, not able to cross off a household after reaching a number (as you can with a landline).

So on to online sampling: guess what, Anne-Marie cites the GRIT 2010 study indicating a large percentage of research professionals think online sample is less reliable than the market generally appreciates.

Fascinating study by Washington Mutual indicates that respondents who take 5 or more surveys annually are less likely to desire financial products than others. Survey experience alone could account for up to 7% variation in their results. This suggests applying scoring algorithms to sample including, among other things, extent of participation in online surveys. Panel providers take note.

With problems in every conceivable approach, what to do?

REI does an annual brand health study using RDD with landlines… historically no stratification.

This year did 7 markets online, 2 markets by cell-phone at same time as normal landline fielding. Cell phone interviews were only n=35 in each market.

They found striking differences in brand awareness between landline and online methods, also in ad recall and % of respondents who shop REI.

Online figures were higher for online

Demographic comparisons revealed more Causcasians and more college graduates.

Online panel sample seems to be a difference audience from a landline sample. Perhaps a panel rewarded by retail incentives is more aware of and engaged with retail. Not projectible for REI.

Comparing landline and cell samples, awareness, recall and penetration of REI shoppers showed little difference.

Demographics suggested a reach into populations hard to reach by landlines.

Next year REI is going to test ABS with landline and cell phone data collection. They can match sample to cell or landline numbers at about 65% – 75%.

REI has rejected online sample and is harking back to a previous era in bringing ABS to the fore for 2011. It is an evolving experiment, but they expect that ABS with sampling shared by cell and landline phone outreach should provide more representative sample than previously obtainable.

Okay, online sample providers … I did ask.

I asked Anne-Marie whether she was saying that online sample is unreliable and unprojectible and should be eschewed in favor of phone. Didn’t come out that way, but that was the gist. I wanted to know whether there was something peculiar to REI that made the demographics of online sample unrepresentative of their universe.

Unwilling to go that far, Anne-Marie simply restated her opening thesis: that marketers should ensure that their sample is sufficiently representative of their markets.

I also asked, just prior to that, why she had been unable to weight the online sample to census. The rub seems to be that the panels were unable to provide sufficient penetration in key markets.

TMRE 2010: Explor Awards Finalists profiled

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty…

After a great presentation by Chris Anderson the Explore panel got off to a bit of a late start.

During setup Matt Dusig and Beth Rounds did a pretty fair imitation of an NPR comedy special intro – vamping for time as well as I’ve seen.

Matt led with a video clip from Simon Sinek, featuring his Golden Circle of innovative thought. Thesis? Innovators like Apple, MLK, Wright brothers think in a very different pattern from most of us.

We tend to start with what we are doing or want to do, go to how we would do it, and sometimes (pretty rarely when you think about it) trouble to arrive at why we do it?
Innovators start with the why and end with what.

If Apple were like the rest of us? They would say something like “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Want to buy one?” That’s starting with the USP and proceeding to the pitch.

What they really do is start with their “why”: We believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently. We do that by making all our products beautifully designed and friendly to the user. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?

The finalists, as you know, are eBay, American Water, and ANZ Bank (New Zealand, which earns the “here from far away” award as soon as we get it back from the bronzer.

Later presentations this afternoon will present the nominated case studies in detail. Here we’ll just talk about the themes that emerged in the panel discussion.

What caught my ear first and wouldn’t let go for a while: American Water’s TIP (Target Identification Project) apparently delivered them new ways of opening and maintaining channels of communication between their management and the civic and business leaders who are their primary stakeholders – taking them beyond the relationship sell. Since almost everything we read stresses the importance of establishing and keeping up relationships with customers, I can’t wait to hear the details on that one.

A larger point is that innovation can be revolutionary and broad brush, but it can also be incremental – an accretion of small and continual improvements in product and process.

Part of eBay’s story (much more to follow) involved using storyboards to research product innovations by showing the consumer how the product would affect them and their experience.

Selling innovation within upper managment? It has to be done. Innovation can’t survive without buy-in and continuous support from upper management. But upper management doesn’t care about innovation in research or innovation qua innovation. They care about outcomes and advantage.

Moral for research? We care about the sizzle and internal researchers do as well. But we have to sell management the steak. What’s in it for them and what difference will it make?

And passion is important. Within conservation organizations like American Water, there is a reflexively cool reception to innovation. Selling a new approach must be justified by effects on the bottom line but must also be sold and resold by passionately committed managers. If you want them to believe, you have to believe double.

For at least two of the research providers on the panel, innovation is part of the DNA. Invoke was founded on an innovative platform and continues to involve clients in developing and refining their product and service offerings. Touchpoint, the ANZ partner, is a technology based company which eats innovation for breakfast and is founded on curiosity. As a technology resource, they interface with a wide variety of categories and are able to cross-pollinate by adapting innovative practices from one vertical for another.

Ian Lewis, from the floor, asked the panel to identify the most disruptive and innovative techniques and trends that would influence market research in coming years (hope I got that right, Ian).

I think we would have had a strong discussion except for the time constraints that squeezed the debate. Whatever the enabling technology or process, the panel agreed that the most important concerns are broadened and active and full duplex communications between the organization and the stakeholder, between senior managers and internal researchers, and between research buying clients and research providing suppliers.

The winner will be announced this afternoon. Stay tuned.

TMRE 2010: Tablet Computers, Closed Internet Applications and The Future of Research

by Kathryn Korostoff, Research Rockstar LLC

[This is an article inspired by Chris Anderson, Author of 'Free: The Future of A Radical Price,' ' The Long Tail,' and Editor of Wired magazine, who was our morning speaker.]

I must start with a confession. When Chris started his talk, he stated that he was not going to be addressing the planned topic (the one that appeared in the show schedule)’which was to be on his popular book, ‘Free.’ Instead has was going to discuss his current passion, the rise of tablet computers.

The ‘Free’ topic had intrigued me. After all, as market researchers, pricing research in many markets gets rather complicated as we deal with the increasing notion ‘of ‘free’ and ‘freemium.’ I was looking forward to learning more about the topic.

But after awhile, Chris had me hooked.

His talk opened with the topic of, ‘The Web is Dead”a cover story from a recent Wired magazine issue. I had read the story in the magazine when it came out, and you can read for yourself here (LINK)’complete with some cool graphics. But the key point is all about applications. He sees a rising tide of ‘closed gardens’ on the Internet’and that is where is the best content and applications will live (relegating the ‘open’ web to enthusiasts, amateurs, and those applications that are only valuable if everyone can access them, such as shopping sites).

He also shared some fascinating data about the impact of tablet computers. According to Anderson, tablet computers (the iPad or any of an emerging plethora of choices) fundamentally change behavior as compared to laptop use. An anecdote that was light-hearted but telling: he shared that his wife bans laptops from the bedroom (keyboard typing sounds are not acceptable), but he is allowed to bring his iPad to bed. Anderson is clearly a fan of tablets; he also stated that his current laptop is probably his last’his future devices will be tablets, he asserts.

Ultimately, he focused on the idea of the web and laptops, versus the internet (closed applications not visible to Google) and tablets. His thesis is that there are trends towards both Internet-based applications and tablets that will fundamentally change what is possible (products, pricing) and how customers will behave (physically, product usage, and purchase behaviors).

So rather than further paraphrase his talk and the ‘Web is Dead’ article, let’s get right to the point: what does all of this stuff mean to market researchers? What are the specific opportunity and threats we will be facing?

1. Opportunities in Finger Tracking
Finger tracking will be a huge source of behavioral data. Analogous to eye tracking, finger tracking on a tablet gives researchers an objective measure of what ads get touched, how fingers move across a screen of choices, and so on. Tablet applications capture this data whether online or offline’so the data is objective, and whole. Amazing. Just sitting there I imagined how many fellow audience members are now plotting to open up agencies and technology providers dedicated to harvesting this new data source!

2. Tablets as a Data Gathering Device
Tablets are a reading device. According to Anderson, an analysis was done on one of Wired’s sister publications (he did not reveal which one), about average reading times per mode. The result?

  • * Print (a standard magazine as published on paper) 60 minutes average reading
  • * Web (reading the magazine on a web site) about 5 minutes (ouch)
  • * iPhone client 55 minutes
  • * iPad 100 minutes

That’s right, according to Anderson, for this particular publication the iPad average reading exceeds the amount of time the magazine is read in print. By a lot.

The things that can be done on a tablet, and perhaps even just the physical form factor’s size and weight, seems to have an impact on attention span, and willingness to engage. Could this apply to survey design? Could we see a resurgence in mall intercepts? Even (gasp!) door-to-door research? Other on-site research? All fueled by tablets? Could we design surveys with more media stimuli, more questions, if participants are more engaged?

3. Emerging Challenges for Social Media Research
Sentiment monitoring requires web scraping, and that depends on access to content. What happens if, indeed, the web is dead? If more real user behavior and chatter moves to the walled gardens from which sentiment monitoring tools are blocked? (For example, Google can’t see into Facebook discussions). If more premium content moves to closed systems, the very concept of being able to measure customer sentiment by monitoring consumer behavior and commentary online becomes challenged, does it not?

4. A New Form for Research Reports
Wired Magazine is selling an average of 30,000 iPad subscriptions a month. They are using the new device to totally redefine what a magazine is. Anderson invoked the image of Harry Potter’s wizarding newspaper, the Daily Prophet’where images and text move and seem alive. A magazine can now include animation, audio, video, social interactivity and so on.

So maybe that can also be true for market research reports? I remember years ago (and I do mean years) when most research reports were written (for you youngsters, that means as in a Word document instead of a PowerPoint or Keynote file). We all moved to PowerPoint as it became so easy to create visually compelling content in graphic form. All of the data could realistically be illustrated as charts and graphs. And soon followed the demise of the written research report.

Perhaps with tablets, we’ll see another massive change? Multimedia reports that balance the logical flow of the written word with the compelling visual impact of graphs, videos and animation? That can tie into team interactivity for shared highlighting of key points? Would our report reading times also nearly double? And wouldn’t that be amazing?

Thanks to Chris Anderson’s talk, I easily identified four potential changes for market research. And while on a deadline! I am sure there are many more. What ones can you add?

[Are you at TMRE? I have 5 copies of my book, 'How to Hire and Manage Market Research Agencies' to give away. Normally available on Amazon for $17. Just stop me and ask!]

Social Media: ‘Convenience Samples’ without the guilt?

by Kathryn Korostoff, Research Rockstar LLC

Two of today’s social media track speakers helped shed light on a great issue: using online communities as a convenience sample, and doing it well.

One was Dawn Lacallade from ComBlu. She spoke twice today, though I only had the pleasure of observing one of her sessions. I also enjoyed the presentation by Sean Bruich, from Facebook. Sean generously shared a lot of examples with real data, collected by Facebook. Sitting in these two sessions back-to-back gave me a great list of specific ways to think about the credibility and reliability of social media-based research.

As a starting point, let’s be honest: one of the challenges with social media research is, indeed, perceived credibility and reliability. Lots of folks are a bit skeptical that all of this ‘social media research’ hype is, well, a bit too hypey.

Now before I begin, I want to note that while may people use the term ‘social media research’ to be about sentiment monitoring, both of these speakers were more focused on using communities’whether private, branded ones (such as a company might build) or a broader one (Facebook)’as a place to conduct research. So the context here is online communities’open or closed, brand-hosted or not’as a sample source.

So How To Improve The Perceived Reliability and Credibility of SM-gathered Research?

1. Trust but verify. As Dawn suggests, ideas or results from a specialty community can be vetted at the brand’s website as a single question poll. For example, if you learn in your community that feature X is critical, ask a simple question on your website. Is it? Sometimes you may find that the larger group is aligned with the smaller, more specialized one. But in any case, you don’t want to over promote the results from the community without first vetting with a larger population. This will help overcome legitimate objections to community-based research results’such as, ‘how can we trust data from a group of people obviously already biased towards our brand’?

2. Educate research clients about the community, as a preemptive strike. Your audience may be making some incorrect assumptions about the community profile. Sean from Facebook shared some data that would make even the biggest cynics of convenience sampling take a second look. Here are some highlights:

  • ?? Analysis shows that the Facebook poll results about recent election outcomes were nearly identical to those from Gallup and Rasmussen. In fact, the FB results were closer to each than they were to each other!
  • ?? Facebook gives excellent international access; indeed, most users are non-US. And anyone who does global research knows how challenging data collection can be in some parts of the world.
  • ?? Research by Facebook suggests that a convenience sample from Facebook matches well with any sampling from the overall Internet population on nearly any measure.

3. Demonstrate affordable innovation. One of the powerful examples was from Facebook, on the topic of ad testing. Consider this scenario: Brand X plans to start a new ad campaign and wants to test effectiveness. On FB, the target market can be selected (based on interests, not just demographic data). Then the target is exposed to the ad, likely in multiple versions, while a small percent is held out as a control group. Next step: post a 1 question poll to the target market. The question might be on brand recognition, brand preference, purchase plans’whatever is relevant. One can compare these results easily between the ad-exposed group and the control group. But in this way, the brand can tie the ad testing to the polling question with whatever timing it wishes (even same day). Cool.

Bottom line

Many researchers maybe feeling skeptical about gathering data from communities. But as these points illustrate, it may not be as risky as one might assume. And also, we all just need to be realistic’nobody is saying this replaces the need for all traditional market research. Still, after these sessions, I am more convinced than ever that it will replace some.

[As a tangent, both speakers happened to emphasize the value of the one-question poll. It gets a much higher response rate than a link to an online survey. And since you are working with a known community anyway, tedious, invasive questions about age, gender, and such do not need to be gathered. So get to the point, don't abuse the audience, and ask a single question.]

Understanding the New Social Rules of Youth, with Mary McIlrath and Amy Henry

At left, Amy Henry, Vice President of Youth Insights, C&R YouthBeat and Mary McIlrath, Vice President, C&R Research

By Dana Stanley, Vice President, iCharts

Amy Henry and Mary McIlrath presented some conclusions they’ve made from YouthBeat, a syndicated study by C&R Research of youth (born 2000 to 2003), tweens (born 1996 to 1999), teens (born 1992 to 1995) and parents.

The presentation focused on how today’s youth navigate the social world. Today’s social environment is very different than it was when today’s adults were young, but young people’s needs for social connection is as important as it has always been.

Following are Amy and Mary’s five rules of socializing today:

Social Rules are Not a One Size Fits All Proposition ‘ The way kids interact socially online varies a lot as they get older. Friends become increasingly important. Around age 12 is when online social networks come to the fore. The means of communicating change over time; for example, now many kids consider instant messaging to be pass??.

Socializing Means Shared Ideas, not Shared Spaces ‘ The online world is primarily a social space. Technology allows kids to socialize even when they are not together, and friends are never really out of touch.

Social Spaces Defy Definition for Today’s Youth ‘ We cannot box kids in based on our adult conceptions. For example, many brands that kids consider cool online (Abercrombie & Fitch) are not the ones they are most comfortable with in an in-person context (Wal-Mart).

Socializing Isn’t More Superficial ‘ It’s Smarter ‘ Many adults feel the way kids socialize online today is somehow less genuine than what they remember from their own past. However, we should take into consideration that today’s is more efficient, and, importantly, requires a different and, arguably, more sophisticated understanding of social dynamics. For example, teens posting to Facebook must think long and hard about the implications of each post, and they feel pressure to make their posts pithy. There is even more strategy involved in cultivating friendships today than in the past.

Social Models Reflect Social Consciousness ‘ Youth value intimacy and authenticity in their online social role models. For example, kids prefer the type of character portrayed in Glee than the aggressive characters in Gossip Girl. Also, many youth use sites like Facebook to create their own brand of social activism.