Not exactly a control-group, but social networking certainly provides access to opinions
By taking the time to get to know your social networking buddies, you can develop a phenomenal resource to pull from when opinions are needed. Some days I just want to hug all my Facebook friends, Twitter pals, LinkedIn connections, etc. etc.
Somehow, z11 communications is currently working on three initiatives that pertain to cooking outside, grilling, barbeque, and tailgating.
By asking a simple question this morning regarding grilling and purchase decisions, I've received more than 50 legitimate and useful responses in less than an an hour.
I realize that the statistical sample is limited to those within the realm of social networking, but the data is still very useful. Also, trends are very quickly noticeable regarding the responses, based on the platform they reply from as well.
For those that continue to question it, this is just one of the many valuable benefits of putting some time and energy into social networking.