When the researchers tested so called "friends" of a user on basic questions like those found on social networking sites, the information did not help users figure out what others were "really" like. Instead, the researchers found that users' personalities were much better understood if they posted things on their profile like their most embarrassing or proudest moment, or their spirituality.
What can marketers learn from this study?
To me, I think it says a lot about a brand! If a brand posts very light information on a Facebook company page, has few conversations in the blogosphere, and isn't really engaging, I expect the researchers would say the same about the brand - people don't know what it's "really" like.
But if the brand is creating interesting content, commenting in the blogosphere, reacting to postings with senior leaders, and maybe even having a misstep or two online, in my eyes it makes the brand real. Now I'm not saying to let it all hang out and anything goes online. But if you can tend toward letting go of your defenses and creating some controversy, perhaps you will be much better understood.
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