Word of Mouth - old tradition versus new world?

Jam, I-level's social media unit takes a look at the changing practice of making New Year's resolutions.


Chart: Peak times for discussing New Year's Resolutions, Source: Onalytica

New Year's Resolutions - everyone claims to have one or several to start the new year.  With January being the traditional time for these, usually self-imposed goals, Jam - the social media unit of i-level - looked at whether the ‘old favourite' resolutions such as deciding to stop smoking, aiming to get fit or general self-improvement were still the preferred pledges, and more importantly whether people felt the need to publicy discuss them online?

The buzz around New Year's resolutions begins in the middle of December - like the other big January tradition: "The January Sales".  But the main focus is still on the last few days of the year with the first of January being the biggest day to discuss resolutions online.  Some people still leave things a little late though, and you can see a resurgence in the middle of the first week back at work (probably spurred on by colleagues trying to outdo each other with their festive excess stories).

Chart: Share of debate by topic for New Year's Resolutions, Source: Onalytica

So, does the timing of when someone makes their New Year's resolution make a difference?  By looking at the levels of buzz around the main topics, as it changes over time, we can get some insight into this.

Chart: Share of Buzz for common New Year's Resolutions topics, Source: Onalytica

The first thing to notice from the chart above, is how relatively little share of buzz there is for the common New Year's resolution topics around giving up/cutting down: smoking, eating and drinking and get healthy topics.  That is not to say that people are still not considering them, but they are less likely to write about them online as they strive to stand out and not appear to be doing the same old thing.  So while they may declare to the world they are going to get a better job and save the environment, they are likely to be saying to themselves that they will also try and give up that nasty little habit of theirs. 

Chart: Absolute coverage on common New Year's Resolutions brokendown by topics over time, Source: Onalytica

Looking at how the buzz changes over time, the early resolvers focus on the less traditional subjects such as resolving to do something about their environment, job and money; suggesting that forward thinkers are looking at the wider issues not just their own current health.  As the New Year approaches and the Christmas excesses start to kick in, more and more people look at their personal goals and issues such as health, losing weight, drinking less and giving up smoking become the more prevalent focus.

One of the surprising elements was the altruistic trend of the resolutions - often the motivation for the resolution was for partners, immediate and wider family.

Of the top 10 influencial sites, Wikipedia is one of the key sites used - while a variety of platforms allow declarations via Twitter, Live Journal and Squidoo.  A bespoke resolutions site, 43things.com, allows users to state their goals and track their progress as well as finding like-minded people for support, helping individuals to achieve their goals.







Live Journal



Bicycle Retailer



New York Times






Financial Times






43 Things






The Guardian



Top 10 influential platforms for discussing New Year's Resolutions, Source: Onalytica

Overall people's declarations online are pretty bold statements of intent for the coming year; and they are looking to the internet as a place to announce these to the wider world.  The act of publishing our resolutions, instantly transforms a promise to themselves into a promise to the world - therefore compelling the writer to stick to it.  The one thing the buzz can't tell us is whether people are more likely to keep their resolutions, only time will tell. 

Methodology: Jam uses data from buzz analytics firm Onalytica to track conversations across the web. Influence is a weight, which is calculated by analysing the structure of references between all participants in the debate.

www.i-level.com / www.onalytica.com

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