The Resolution Effect

by Chris Kenton on January 7, 2009

escala de cargol a Tivoli, Ferragosto 2008As many of you know, I’m running a startup in the social media intelligence space. I spend an inordinate amount of time scanning blogs, forums, social networks and such, studying trends in online conversation, both for my customers and my own company. December was an anomaly. In at least two completely separate non-retail industries, there was a measurable decline the number of posts as the holiday approached—not dramatic, but noticeable. I’d consider that pretty intuitive.

What was not intuitive is that the number of sources posting content and the quality of posts, as measured by relevance, went up noticeably. Many of the posts were part of a spike of 2009 predictions and 2008 in-review. But many were just good quality analytical posts on their respective industries. Which got me to thinking about the cause for this spike in quality. Not surprisingly, I have a hypothesis.

If you’re connected at all to your industry online–not only through social media, but through the Web sites of traditional media sources–you can’t help but be saturated with analysis of the year past and predictions for the year ahead. In psychological terms, this is induction. Reflective analysis of the environment and the systemic drivers of phenomena that govern your life. And it being the end of the year, we are naturally and culturally inclined to reflect on transition, on new beginnings, hopes and resolutions for change. Very reflective stuff, even if you hate it.

So. My hypothesis is that social media is amplifying the resolution effect. The traditional media channels post their reviews of the past and expectations for the future, bloggers add their own voice and their own opinions, which people comment on, post links to on Twitter and Facebook, and soon we’re saturated in ambient reflection. The increase in sources I mentioned–the suddenly rise in voices in the fray–I suspect are dormant bloggers gearing up for their own resolutions to start posting on their blog more diligently in 2009. Just like the thousands of people crowding into gyms right now to make the most of a new start. I’ll be interested to see if the trend continues much past January.

Photo credit: Perrimoon

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

JanSimpson January 25, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Nice posts. I was a little surprised by your people are more honest than we give them credit for statement.

I am from Mississippi and Mississippi people are honest and good people. They try to do the right thing, they don’t believe someone’s loss is their gain. If you lose something or need help, Mississippi people feel it is their duty as a member of this planet to help you get your belongings returned. Something we are taught and I as far as I am hearing Mississippi people are still being taught that way – must be the mint julips LOL.

People aren’t bad because they want to be, they really want to do the right thing, however sometimes society beats them down so far that why try to do the right thing when society believes otherwise. I also think some are just crying for help in our very fast, non-emotional train.

Albeit, your exercise in finding your belonging from one taxi driver in a large city such as New York shows determination, passion and caring that all those things you hadn’t done, even though you should have taken the time do so, was not going to get the best of you. Good for you. Sometimes we hate that the universe likes to kick us in the butt to say, “told you so” and ensure they may have been right in the what they warned, but you are going to do enough work to ensure it ain’t so.

Thanks for the comical way to look at what could have been a peaceful sleep at the hotel, to getting your blood pumping through your heart to stay up long enough to all that done. I bet the next day was full of energy as well.

Again, nice post. Thanks for showing that the world hasn’t changed all that much – people still want to lend a hand.

Jan

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