FEATURE1 January 2012

Diary: Greeting, tweeting and fame so fleeting


A roundup of things that caught our eye in and around the research industry this month.

To kiss or not to kiss

In the lead-up to this year’s Research Awards, there was some anxiety here at Research about the etiquette of greetings. Our editor Brian Tarran took to the stage to present the awards, but was he supposed to greet each winner with a manly handshake or lean in for a kiss on the cheek with the ladies? Or two kisses? Three?

We must be grateful, then, for Debrett’s guide to etiquette, which highlights social kissing as a “potential minefield” and offers some reassuring tips. “The key is to make your actions clear to avoid embarrassing confusion,” advises Debrett’s, going on to specify that “cheek skin must make brief, light contact” and that “sound effects and saliva traces are to be avoided at all cost”.

In Diary’s opinion it was a dark day when the whole continental cheek-kissing palaver was introduced to Britain – a nation with quite enough social awkwardness already. That awful moment when you have to work out how many kisses the other person expects to give or receive just adds another layer of tension and doubt to the situation.

In the event, Tarran kept it to handshakes, but next year he is considering experimenting with kisses on the lips, and, for the recipient of the Best Agency Award, tongues.

The bleak midwinter

The Research team are lucky enough to receive a number of Christmas cards from agencies during the festive season, some via email and some the old-fashioned way. Our favourites this year included Voodoo Research’s card featuring the same wide-eyed furry creature who inhabits their website.

But the best of all was the one from ESRO Research, which simply bears a photo of the scene outside a kebab shop in a town centre at 1:37am on New Year’s Day. The seasonal merriment depicted is the kind that comes from drinking 10 pints, losing one of your shoes and throwing up on the night bus. Happy new year everyone!

Season’s tweetings

As well as the Research Awards, December saw the announcement of the winner of our first #MRX Tweet Award: Tom De Ruyck (@tomderuyck) of InSites Consulting. De Ruyck tweets enthusiastically about research matters, particularly social media-related stuff like online communities and netnography.

The runners-up included Lenny Murphy of the GreenBook Blog (@lennyism), Cathy Harrison of CMB (@VirtualMR), Kristin Luck of Decipher (@kristinluck) and Tom Ewing of BrainJuicer (@tomewing), all of whom we recommend you follow for the latest research chit chat. As well as @researchlive, of course.

“The year’s fastest-falling Google search terms are dominated by social networks on the wane, including MySpace and Hi5”

Finger on the pulse

Google’s annual Zeitgeist report of the fastest-rising search terms always gives a fascinating insight into what the world has been unhealthily preoccupied with for the past twelve months. The list for 2011 is largely made of supposedly famous people who Diary has never heard of, most notably Rebecca Black, who tops the list, and seems to be best known for singing a song about Fridays entirely through her nose.

But the most interesting part this year is the fastest-falling search terms, a list dominated by social networks on the wane, including MySpace, Hi5, Meebo, the German site Wer Kennt Wen, Belgium’s Netlog and the Polish social network Nasza Klasa.

Diary wonders whether they will be joined next year by Google’s very own Google+, which was the second fastest-rising term in 2011 thanks to a sudden burst of attention when it was launched in the summer. But the buzz faded fast and, as various bloggers pointed out, only two of the company’s 18 senior managers were still using Google+ themselves four months after its launch, while most had zero or no activity and some didn’t even bother to set up an account.

To examine the data yourself, visit googlezeitgeist.com, where Google has prepared a baffling 3D infographic to make the experience more confusing for you.