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Cole & Weber United's "Project Butterfly" Study Explores What Makes People Sociable

Sep 18 2012 12:00AM


ThumbnailThe first slide from the Butterfly Project overview.LogoTracker

SEATTLE, WA -- (Marketwire) -- 09/18/12 -- Seattle-based creative agency Cole & Weber United has revealed the findings of an innovative research study called "Project Butterfly," a qualitative study aimed at better understanding what makes people really sociable. What it revealed was that brands have a lot to gain from thinking and acting more like people than corporations. Sociability is about how a brand behaves, not a channel it uses.

Cole & Weber partnered with research consultancy The Palmerston Group to conduct the study, which used a diverse range of research methods including immersive ethnography, social psychology, digital anthropology and social experiments -- in six cities across three months -- to dissect the DNA of highly sociable people (dubbed "Sociable Butterflies"), how they behave both on and offline and how they are different from hyperconnectors -- people who are extremely active on social media and think of themselves as highly influential.

The study found that people who are truly sociable have distinct characteristics that are very different from what people often think of as highly social behavior. The traits that many regard as belonging to highly social people (thousands of Facebook friends/Twitter followers, high Klout scores, multiple posts/check-ins per day, etc.) are actually the traits of a hyperconnector. Hyperconnectors are all about self-promotion, influencing others, getting attention and seeking validation. They are excellent at initiating contact but they lack the requisite skill to maintain the connection. Their connections are very one-way and, consequently, their relationships tend to be shallow. Unfortunately, this is also reflective of how most brands approach being social -- being highly active among lots of people and accumulating friends.

In contrast, truly sociable people are very good at initiating, facilitating and maintaining connections. For them every relationship matters and they designate roles for each of the characters in their social circles to maximize the potential energy of their connections -- bringing the right people together around the right topics at the right moments. Most important, Sociable Butterflies are both interested and interesting. Being interesting attracts others to engage and interact. Being interested in what others have to say encourages them to stay involved and make their own contributions. Sociable Butterflies are outstanding at obtaining and incorporating feedback from their environment. In other words, they contribute to a conversation rather than just starting one.

An overview of the findings -- along with six ways that brands can become more sociable -- can be downloaded here:

"This might be the social age, but just being in social media and accumulating 'likes' doesn't make a brand sociable," said Britt Peterson, Partner and Director of Growth Strategy at Cole & Weber United. "We wanted to truly understand the elements that contribute to human interaction and involvement. After immersing ourselves in a variety of communities -- from coastal skate parks to suburban supermalls -- and examining people's social conventions, we're able to use this knowledge to help brands become more naturally sociable, both on and offline."

About Cole & Weber United
Cole & Weber United is a creativity company known for creating innovative campaigns that go beyond traditional advertising to solve business problems. Founded in 1931, the Seattle-based agency has established a reputation for producing insightful, creatively disruptive, award-winning work. Cole & Weber United is a member of WPP's Voluntarily United Group of Creative Agencies, a global network of communications entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit

About The Palmerston Group
The Palmerston Group is a communications consultancy with specific expertise in qualitative market research involving hard-to-reach demographics. They are constantly developing cutting-edge research methodologies and techniques while acquiring hand-picked talent from the world's leading market research and advertising agencies. To them, market research is only as good as what can get passed around and talked about at the client side after the agency is gone - as such they strongly believe in the "theatre of research." Palmerston has built a multinational team of experts in their fields with a strong balance of academic credentials and professional experience. Their consultants come directly from backgrounds in world-class research and advertising agencies such as Research International, Hall & Partners, Synovate, TBWA\ and Young & Rubicam.

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Press contact:
Patrick Wentling
DiGennaro Communications

Source: Marketwire

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