Monthly Archives: October 2011

Facebook and Your Brain

Sometimes study findings are just too good to be true. Or in this case, too sensational to be true.

We recently came across an interesting new study that says the bigger your Facebook friend roster is, the larger your brain is.

Researchers at the University College of London took brain scans from 125 university students, all of who are active on Facebook, and compared those results with the number of Facebook friends each individual has.

Wait a minute, let’s stop right here! 125 university students? Active Facebook users?

So right from the start, we are dealing with a very specific sample demographic. If you aren’t a college-aged student who spends countless hours hanging out on Facebook then these results need not apply.

Phew. Now that us “adults” have covered that little demographic issue, we no longer have to live each day thinking our brains are smaller than average.  Now on to the findings.

According to the researchers, certain focal regions of the brain, specifically the areas responsible for processing, social perception and memory, have a higher gray matter density in the students with more Facebook friends.

Data also supports that a high number of online friends and a high number of real-world friends are linked to the same areas with high gray matter density.

Long story short, scientists are consistently finding trends in biological studies of the internet and human interaction.

So while the information doesn’t conclude whether the larger brain is a result of having more friends, or vice versa, the data is still a useful tool towards understanding how and if the internet is changing our internal wiring.

We have a feeling there will be more studies like this one coming out real soon. Stay tuned…

Merchants: Beware the Power of Consumer Influence

A glaring example of the power of social media in the hands of consumers was in clear focus when I checked my twitter feed this morning. A tweet from @TheBelleAgency alerted her 2,000 followers that an assistant manager at a particular Enterprise location treated her father with less than superb customer service.  What followed was a string of public complaints…and public apology.

It’s interesting to me that with a few strokes of a keyboard one consumer, or even a relative of a consumer, can influence so many others.  It’s the world we are living in now. In the PR perspective, to manage one of these accounts for a client is a never-ending battle, one I’ve watched my co-workers conquer each day, so I have a lot of respect for the person on the receiving end.  What’s awesome is that @BelleAgency gave the customer service handle @enterprisecares some love after they resolved the issue rather than let it hang to dry in Twitter land.

So, what is the moral of this post?  Don’t be a rude, especially if you work in customer service. You just never know how far reaching that person’s social media influence is and how damaging it can be.



The New Form of Surveys

Gone are the days of long surveys and how-do-you-feel questionnaires. We now have social media.

Last week, a unique new study was released that analyzed the emotions of individuals at different parts of the day. The unique part – it wasn’t done in the conventional way. Sociologists at Cornell University used Twitter, not the standard questionnaire or survey, to discover that our moods are at their best in the morning and right before bedtime.

Now some of us here at Daum Weigle may question those numbers because we find it hard to believe that the world is happiest after hitting the snooze button a couple times, but for now we are willing to overlook that. The important part is that social media is changing how we study human behavior.

And while some could have guessed that this was inevitable, it is still no less groundbreaking. Now we can eliminate the margin of error and leaning of surveys that steer respondents towards a certain answer.  Social media brings pure, uncensored data.

So with this new wealth of public data for researchers who knows what we should expect to see analyzed in the future.

Maybe a study on what people do most during their workday commute? Or maybe a study on mood swings during sporting events?

Whatever the next topic may be, we can be guaranteed one thing – thanks to social media in the public domain, less people will be asked to take a survey for a 1 in 10 chance to win a $20 gift card.