Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We laugh, we cry, we eat, we smoke….

There have been a few posts about the British Medical Journal’s publication of a 50 year study on human behavior (see here, here and here). Sidenote: They’ve narrowed the effect of happiness down to geography – indicating your percentage of happiness in terms of kilometers from your happy friend.

It turns out happiness is contagious. It turns out most things are contagious.

This isn’t new. It is officially new, but the thought that we act similarly to our peer group…isn’t that what your parents always warned you about? “Just because Billy’s parents let him [insert verb/noun] doesn’t mean you can”.

Also new: how we respond to this information. 50 years ago when this study began there were no blogs, no websites, no computers, no social media. But there were letters, conversations, communities and books. In a time before ‘social networking’ and ‘consumer connections’ what relevance would a study like this have?

A lot.

It proves an inherent need that is part of the human fabric. We’re social. It isn’t Twitter, blogs, the internet, YouTube, Google, Facebook, Digg, and every other form of online communication or savvy ‘social’ marketing. The fact that we’ve titled the consumer human need to connect with other consumers humans with words like “Social Networks” is just another way to repackage what we already know – that people like to communicate with people.

A person’s entire frame of reference is based on the social community that surrounds them. As a marketer, this is the single most important aspect into consumer insight and should be the number priority with any communications strategy.