The times they are a-changin’ 3

not my car

If you checkout “on this day in history” you’ll see, among other things, that 5 years ago on 31 January 2007 Cars.com published a list of the 10 most memorable cars from TV shows. Top of the list was ‘K.I.T.T.’ the black Pontiac Trans-Am GTO from the 1980′s ‘Knight Rider’, followed by the red Dodge Charger named ‘General-Lee’ from ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’, also from the 1980′s.

not my car

Cars.com republished their review a little over 2 years later but their top 10 list had not changed. What does this mean?

  • Their survey respondents had reaffirmed their assertions and that no new cars had appeared in more recent TV shows to replace any of the 10?
  • Their survey respondents had not been revisited and asked to refresh their choices so the list had become stale, and yet was nevertheless republished?

Even if we can be certain that the publishers of the data had revisited their sample, we might need to know who made up that sample. The results might be skewed by high proportion of petrol heads choosing the General Lee, or Sci-Fi nuts choosing K.I.T.T., or kids choosing ‘The Mystery Machine’ from ‘Scooby-Doo’.

Even then, to assign real value to the results we might also ask how the survey was framed and what question was asked. The result might be different if the question was “Think of your favourite TV show that featured a car” versus “Think of your favourite car that featured in a TV show”.

These days we don’t have to rely on the crafted and possibly leading questions asked by survey companies and pollsters. We have at our fingertips the whole of the Internet and every snippet of comment or opinion that anyone chooses to publish in a variety of ways. People tweet to their followers, comment to their friends, ‘like’ images, articles, blogs, pages and websites, and by association the companies that they represent.

Rather than take note of possibly stale, skewed and analysed statistics, we can run our own search across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more, looking for public  comments to or from people or companies, or about people, companies or products, or even just mentioning something of immediate and transient interest – far more relevant that a survey carried out some time ago.

The same technological change that enables this kind of immediate capturing of public sentiment also gives us the opportunity to respond immediately where we see a potential new customer, or an existing customer with an issue. This also might be the only way we can discover or identify individuals who are influential in our chosen field.

Of course there is an amount of work involved in doing all that searching, and then organising the results to be able to make sensible use of the information found. Making use of such information involves responding directly and/or openly to the person at the source. We can also benefit by publishing our findings directly through our own social media channels including Twitter, Facebook or our own website.

Social Churn is a tool designed to do just those things. The worlds of information gathering and publishing have both changed significantly over the last couple of years. We must all move with the times, and that might mean doing our own research and analysis of public sentiment concerning our product, our company, or even our clients.

Cars in TV shows illustrate another point. Very few of those once thought of as ‘memorable’ are still current, even if they are fondly remembered. These days times have changed so much that its hard to think of a current TV show that features a car in quite the same way.

Can you think of one? And if you can, what do you think needs to happen to make sure that public perception doesn’t lose contact with it forever?