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Charting the Roiling Online Waters

Charting the Roiling Online Waters

By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012
The blogosphere is a noisy and chaotic ocean. Whirling discussion currents constantly change direction as consumers of all shapes and sizes vent, praise, compare and discuss their experiences. Social media _ the ever growing body of publicly-available blogs, message boards, and social networks like MySpace, Blogger and LiveJournal _ can offer insights into the trends and feelings of consumers, but the sheer, indiscriminate volume of noise there makes it hard to make sense out of the deluge of data. Until now, that is.

J. D. Power and Associates Web Intelligence Division has pioneered the transformation of the blogosphere's unstructured Web conversations into usable information and market insights that companies can use to better understand and serve their customers. We employ proprietary advanced natural language processing and machine algorithms to accurately look behind the simple numbers of volume to understand the who, what and when behind those online conversations.

We're focusing that unique research power onto areas where consumer and business attention is generating waves in the online community that increasingly forms a central part of everyday life. Concern about the impact of our activities on the planet is one of those areas. The J.D. Power and 2008 Sustainability Study provides a first-ever comprehensive look at consumer conversations in the evolving blogosphere about environmental sustainability, global warming, purchase trends and user demographics.

We conducted a cutting-edge analysis of more than 40 million blog posts collected during the past six months to uncover what people are talking about -- and who is doing the talking -- when it comes to environmental sustainability. Those "green" conversations reveal some very interesting insights.

  • More than 320,000 spontaneous conversations about environmental sustainability, global warming, conscious consumerism and related topics occurred in English-language posts in the public blogosphere between January and August 2008.
  • Sustainability is a topic that's hot and getting hotter. Discussion volumes increased by 160 percent during 2007, and another 250 percent during the first six months of 2008.
  • Even though there are more females in the blogosphere, men are currently the ones doing the most talking about sustainability, swapping information and debating how to best solve the issue
  • While younger people (Gen Y) do most of the blogging in general, slightly older bloggers (Gen X, Baby Boomers) are highly engaged in the sustainability topic as well, indexing at almost 2-times their share of the overall blogosphere.

So what are some of the key learnings from analyzing all the buzz about sustainability?

  • The debate is shifting from "is there really a problem" to "what can I do about the problem."
  • Consumers are increasingly looking to brands to help them achieve a more sustainable lifestyle.
Despite high profile efforts to promote alternative energy sources, there is still skepticism around solutions like bio-fuels and ethanol.

You can find more information about the J.D. Power Sustainability Study at
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