Recently, we had a chance to talk to Ian Lewis about the findings from The 2011 Cambiar Future of Research Study. Ian pointed out that by 2020, three in four researchers expects that marketing issues will be addressed by mining existing knowledge rather than initiating a project. We did a quick scan of what could be the possible sources of existing consumer knowledge? No surprise there – social media was an easy candidate. So what’s keeping researchers from drawing insights from social media?
While marketing has moved to more innovative uses of social media, research seems to have lagged behind the curve. Researchers have traditionally found fewer valuable insights from social media data, and to their credit, some technical aspects of social media can be rather confusing for researchers. However, researchers should not give up on social media just yet.
Over the past few months, the Market Research Executive Board interacted extensively with social media experts, and found that research on social media had the potential to supplement and partner with traditional research. Presented below is the key guidance on unlocking insights from social media:
- Avoid Broad Monitoring: Researchers may think “more is better” and conduct broad-based listening on social media. This is a futile approach, as collecting vast amounts of information will only generate vague “boil the ocean” results.
- Start with a Focused Hypothesis: Successful analysis relies on narrowing the broad data into relevant information by focusing on the search process. The most important focusing tool is not a piece of software but, as with all research, a strong hypothesis.
- Partner with Social Media Vendors, Not Their Technology: Social media vendors use similar technology for analyses, but vendors who better understand their clients’ business problems are more likely to deliver relevant research results.
MREB members can now access our whitepaper titled Unlocking Insights from Social Media , which includes learnings from companies like Sony, HP, and Colgate Palmolive.