Eye tracking studies, social media for emergencies and more: Round-up of recent Web news

August 13, 2010

I set out to write a nice little news round-up piece to share some of the many interesting articles I’ve read lately. As I started digging through my notes, I noticed a trend among the pieces that caught my eye: they’re all from the same website.

ReadWriteWeb.com is an intelligent, thoughtful blog dedicated primarily to documenting and analyzing the latest news in the social media space. Though many of the site’s posts are geared toward an audience of Web-based start-up entrepreneurs, an overwhelming majority of the content is directly relevant to the work of any Web-minded marketer or communicator. Add this site to your reading list.

On to the news.

Here’s one of those items you can file away for the next time you need to fill a slide in a presentation with some stats to explain the significance of online engagement and social media adoption:

Marketers take note: a new study from research firm Gartner has discovered that a majority of today’s consumers rely to some extent on social networks to help guide them in purchase decisions. Despite this fact, social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and others, while critical, are currently an underutilized aspect to the marketing process, the report says.

But not everyone using social networks is worth targeting equally, as it turns out. Instead, there are three types of online personalities that make up just one-fifth of the consumer population but are the key influencers in the purchasing activities of 74% of the population. Gartner calls them Salesmen, Connectors and Mavens.

Check the RWW post for more.

Is 74 percent some sort of magic number? Another piece from RWW reports that 74 percent of social media users expect their “cries for help” to be answered within an hour. But we’re not talking about “Hey Comcast, my Internet is broken!” cries; we’re talking cries for real help. The RWW article shares findings from an American Red Cross report that also found 69 percent of respondents believe emergency responders such as FEMA and the Red Cross should be monitoring social media sites in order to quickly send help in emergency situations. I know what you’re thinking, but the @911 Twitter account is already taken (and has since been suspended).

If you’re a geek for Web analytics, you’ll enjoy this post examining the Web’s top sources of referral traffic. What social networks drive the most traffic to other sites? How about social bookmarking tools? How does Yahoo stack up against Google? This sort of data can help shape your own content strategy, but keep in mind your unique circumstances: Examine your own Web traffic data and your own marketing goals before deciding, say, Twitter is more important than LinkedIn.

In the spirit of saving the best for last, I have to share this piece about eye tracking and its potential to change how we create content for the Web. Starting with an introduction to early eye tracking studies, the piece goes on to explain how some groups make eye tracking possible today and where it’s headed in the not-so-distant future. Designers and content strategists take note: Web development could on the cusp of some significant shifts if this technology becomes more commonplace.

What interesting articles have you read lately? Share them in the comments below.