Is it Worth it? Key Considerations for Social Media Research

By: Terry
Lawlor, EVP Product Management, Confirmit

The role of social media in delivering
business insights is a tricky business. While most researchers consider it to
offer real benefits, the big question is ‘how do we do it properly’? In our
recent survey of Market Research professionals, we asked respondents about
their feelings towards social media. Overwhelmingly, the most popular response
from the five choices offered was ‘A
useful addition to a Market Research project if we can bring the data together

The word to look at there is ‘if’.
For many businesses, that ‘if’ is
surmountable, and for others it isn’t ‘ at least not yet. There are a number of
things to bear in mind.
is Your Audience?
The changing dynamic of the consumer has a
significant impact on research. Millennials behave differently when it comes to
researching, buying and complaining about products. The audience you’re
targeting has a huge role to play when it comes to establishing the part that
social media has to play in your business.
Takes More Than Technology
There’s no silver bullet for social media.
It takes a combination of people, process and technology to be successful. You
need technology to sift through the vast quantities of information ‘ to find
and filter data sources, provide intelligent sampling of massive amounts of
content, and perform categorization and sentiment analysis. However, you will
still need people. In our recent study, Political Buzz, we used social media
(as well as traditional surveys) to monitor topics for the UK election. One of
our key findings was that the role of people was critical in researching the
key social and online media channels, and in building the taxonomies on which
your technology must function.
More Than Just Social
When thinking about social media, most
people immediately think of Twitter and Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, perhaps
YouTube and Pinterest. There are actually many more social media sites than you
think, and there are many different feeds within each social media platform.
And there is a huge array of online media, where people post comments and
stories, and review sites that cover many different categories of products and
services. So you need to think about online media as much as social media, and
you need to think about data sources that amount to tens or hundreds of
thousands of different media channels.
Double-Edged Sword
As with every ‘next big thing’, social
media research is a double-edged sword. On one hand, because it is largely
unsolicited, you can uncover insights that you never anticipated. However, also
because it is largely unsolicited, it might not address anything useful for
your research program. You may want to research a particular topic but no one
is discussing it, or your target audience just doesn’t use social media.

the Author: Terry Lawlor has the responsibility of all aspects of product
management, including strategy development, product definition, and product
representation in client and marketing activities. Terry is a seasoned and
highly professional enterprise software executive who possesses a wealth of
expertise in the Market Research and customer experience markets.