Tag Archives: social media and market research

Why refusing social media research is a risk

A recently published press release by Gartner on “communication by social media” made me think about market research and its positioning opportunities in the future.

The prediction that within the next two years ‘responding to inquiries via social
media channels will be the new minimum level of response expected’
also has
implications for our industry, regardless of whether this will come true 1:1 or
not. As critical communication between consumers and brands on social media
channels is growing, these channels will gain significance for market research

Although we all perceive an increase in methodologies and approaches embracing changes in communications behavior among consumers (MROCs, Big Data Analysis, Social Media Analysis to name a few) most of qualitative and quantitative methods used today
are traditional.

If social media communication will extend to the amount predicted,
this probably will have to change.

If refusing communication via social media is risky for brands, what about refusing social media research?

For marketing, finding the right way of responding to consumers’ social engagement obviously is a challenge. The learning curve of those who do so is still very steep and a lot of effort comes from learning by doing. The same is true for market
research. So all we will have to do is to keep on probing around and learning from
our experience?

Maybe this is not as easy as it looks like’ 

Historically, we think in products and MR-services from most of the vendors come along as products (with a lot of ‘TM’-extensions). This is not suitable
for social media research anymore due to tremendously fast change of technology
and behavior. Maybe it is good to use a product for customer satisfaction
measurement, but for social media research? I am not sure… Whenever somebody is
turning up with a finished social media research product I would be skeptical’

Furthermore we try to focus too much on tools, that we know from former times. Mainly quantitative (but also qualitative) research should notice that the social media world is moving on and traditional online research – especially the kind that is still using forms and questionnaires of face to face research – has to be replaced by more innovative approaches.

Maybe it is a good idea to learn from each other in order to benefit from each other’s experience with the new MR toolkit. And I know a
good place to do so.

Join us this fall at The Market Research Event 2012 in Boca Raton, Florida. For more about this
year’s program and ‘The New MR Tolkit’-session, download the agenda.

Today’s guest post is from Christian D??ssel (@olympiamilano). Christian is Senior Research Director at MM-Eye, a market research and research consulting firm in Hamburg / Germany. He
has worked for TNS, TBWA and other advertising, strategy and market research
agencies helping clients from industries such as finance, transport and
logistics, telecommunication and entertainment to understand consumers through
market research and to increase implementation excellence. He will be live
blogging from The Market Research Event 2012 this November 12-14 in Boca Raton, Florida. If you’d like to join him, register today and mention code TMRE12BLOG to save 15% off the standard rate!

Low level of social media connection and social media spirit for Germany’s MR industry

Recently Q ‘Agentur f??r Forschung and linkfluence released an inventory of the German market research network. You can access the interactive dataviz here (which is highly recommended).

What can we learn from the results?

Well, first of all we learn, that the internet network of market research in Germany not yet developed and divided into two parts.

First of all there are traditional market research players (left side) that exist on the internet mainly isolated and ‘for themselves’.

And then there’s the networked side of the industry (right side). Here you find blogs and social network presences of agencies or individuals who produce (also) market research related content (including my German blogs Olympiamilano and FOYER for dedicated market research).

The degree of linkage between the two sides is rather weak and limited to a few connection points. Although the market research industry as a whole picks up momentum in the social media world social media agencies and specialized player are very active and much stronger located in social media than “classic market research”.

In addition, you can see that the German market research blogosphere is relatively small and personal. While in other communities the content is mainly delivered by bloggers and they discourse on issues play a central role, the market research blogging scene is very ‘manageable’. You probably won’t find open discussion on market research topics currently in the market research web. It therefore can be considered rather a Web 1.0 experience than Web 2.0. The German market research web is not dominated by user generated content or active exchange, but mostly by news, press releases or articles.

One could assume that the German market researchers have moved to a presence in social networks like Twitter and Facebook. But this is not the case. Here, too, German market researchers are very cautious and reserved. There are only a few active presences and little more intense exchange. #mr-Buzz is limited to a few activists. Public discourse or even public controversies are rare.

Explanations are easily found:
1. Traditional understanding of “secret”: news from the fields of techniques, methods, products or results are ‘ from the inside perspective ‘ highly confidential information that cannot be made available to the public under any circumstances
2. As long as the fear of lifting industrial secrets is that large, the exchanged and visible information thus is superficial and unsatisfactory. Exchange doesn’t exist.
3. Open and honest opinions and provocative theses are only very seldom to be found in the German MR-network. One of the main reasons for this is the perceived fear of negative consequences caused by the employer. The dominant opinion that it is not appropriate as an employee of a reputable company or a reputable agency to set up a provocative thesis on the future of market research or even comment this. Finally, you have to stand behind your corporate philosophy
4. Another explanation for the fact that almost nobody actively participates in knowledge sharing across the web 2.0 lies in the fact that they don’t receive any instruction from the management level for this. There is rather the attitude “I can take without giving”.

So no wonder that awareness and interest from outside the industry for the subject of market research is sometimes low. This is quite a shame as that here is an opportunity missed to directly interact with clients and customers and to design the role of market research more active.

Social media, networking and market research be on the agenda in Orlando, Florida at The Market Research Event 2011 , hosted by IIRUSA. Looking forward to having interesting chats about this.

About the author: Christian D??ssel is blogging about market research in German language here and here. After having worked for TNS, TBWA and other strategy and market research agencies he now holds the position of Senior Research Director at MM-Eye in Hamburg / Germany with special responsibilities for MM-Eye’s new media and online research approaches

Social Media Research Debate Raises Questions About Industry’s Future

Social Media Research Guidelines: Regulatory Preempt or Potential Handicap?

By Marc Dresner, IIR USA

In case you haven’t heard, market research has officially entered the age of ‘Big Data.’

This revelation came not by way of proclamation or edict, per se, but manifested itself in the earnest efforts of several key market research industry trade organizations this summer to wrap standards around the collection, analysis and use of data sourced from social media’primarily from an ethics/privacy standpoint.

ESOMAR in cooperation with CASRO respectively released guidelines for social media research (the latter’s are still in draft stage) and the UK’s MRS issued a discussion paper on the subject that will presumably lead to creation/adoption of standards along similar lines. I expect our other trade organizations will in short order follow suit with their own rules and/or officially defer to their sister orgs’ lead.

The primary concern and ostensible reason for these guidelines’aside from obviously trying to preempt regulation that could potentially harm the industry’centers on anonymity and informed consent with regard to data harvested in the online public domain (as opposed to conventional opt-in MROCs and comparable private gardens).

The problem is that these social media research subjects are not respondents, and securing informed consent is, under the circumstances, an unreasonable and unrealistic expectation. Protecting people’s identity is also more complicated than it seems, and proposals to ‘mask’ individuals’ remarks, while promising, probably need a little more thought.

The only solution appears to be to apply principles akin to those governing passive observation practices in public spaces in the analogue world to the digital space, with a particular emphasis on two rules of thumb: 1. Do no harm and 2. Don’t sell.

Sounds perfectly reasonable. But as you probably already know or suspect, the matter isn’t quite cut-and-dried.

For those not up to speed, I strongly recommend as a primer listening to the recent ‘Great Market Research Privacy Debate’ webcast organized by NewMR, MRGA, GreenBook and Next Gen Market Research.

Fascinating conversation on several fronts, not the least of which being that the panelists’including representatives from the trade organizations mentioned above’to varying degrees addressed the question of whether or not the imposition of any guidelines governing social media research is a fool’s errand.

Compelling arguments were made on both sides, but the jury is still out.

Personally, I’m inclined to agree with GreenBook’s Editor-in-Chief, Leonard Murphy, who hosted the debate and blogged afterward that such guidelines, while well-intentioned, are unenforceable. (Check his full commentary here‘an exceptionally insightful and provocative read!)

I would also stress that they may potentially put law-abiding research citizens at a competitive disadvantage.

Facebook, for example, has been dogged by privacy complaints for years, but I could see why a research provider would rather put the onus on Facebook’s ToS than defer to a trade association’s guidelines in a world where companies that don’t fit the conventional research mold and don’t have any interest in doing so are unencumbered by the additional layer of rules I’m following.

I’m not suggesting that the ability to effectively compete and adherence to research guidelines are mutually exclusive, nor that researchers should abandon core principles, but I wonder whether the industry’s efforts to self-regulate in order to avoid being regulated in this case may handicap it.

Here I’ll circle back to the ‘Great Market Research Privacy Debate,’ whose purpose was, in part, to explore how to reconcile research orthodoxy with today’s reality.

Panelist Ray Poynter, EVP at Vision Critical and author of ‘The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research,’ suggested that in an ‘attempt to stay ever purer’ the industry’s professional organizations are effectively narrowing the definition of market research to methodologies and practices that constitute a shrinking portion of the overall sphere of commercial insight/information services.

Panelist Tom Anderson, CEO of Anderson Analytics and Founder/Chairman of Next Gen Market Research’an outspoken critic of research association policies in the past’argued that non-traditional techniques like social listening and text analytics are an entirely different animal from traditional response-based research and shouldn’t even fall under the jurisdiction of establishment research organizations whose primary constituents, Anderson suggested, lack the expertise and incentive to craft suitable guidelines. (Tom elaborated on the topic here.)

I inferred from this that Tom considers social media analytics to belong to a new incarnation of the research industry, one that includes players that don’t necessarily identify as market research companies.

If that’s the case, is market research suffering from an identity crisis? What distinguishes ‘legit’ market research from, say, information services provided by Facebook?

At the end of day, I believe it’s really the client’s call.

Coca-Cola’s current global research head, Stan Sthanunathan, predicted a few years ago that Facebook, Google and the like will eventually become major competitors with top Honomichl firms. And he stands by this claim today. (I know because I just interviewed him for our podcast series, The Research Insighter’shameless plug, I know.)

And Michelle Adams, PepsiCo’s head of shopper insights, recently remarked that research ‘has become a game of connecting the dots, thinking like a consultant and being able to pull all kinds of disparate information together to tell a story that will grow the business. The skills and expertise required for the role today make staffing for success difficult. There’s enormous pressure to evolve the function into something much more than it was historically.’

Adams also said that ‘social analytics is where we’re moving, and data analytics will be the research currency of tomorrow.’

So as the industry draws its line in the sand in a world of rapid, continuous change, are we at risk of regulating ourselves into irrelevance?

Online access panels, natural communities and online research communities ‘ what, when and why?!?

About the author: Christian D??ssel is blogging about market research in German language here and here. After having worked for TNS, TBWA and other strategy and market research agencies he now holds the position of Senior Research Director at MM-Eye in Hamburg / Germany with special responsibilities for MM-Eye’s new media and online research approaches.

Online, Social Media Monitoring, Research Communities ‘ It has been a long time ago since market research was affected by that huge amount and speed of change. Not only in order to marketing their own services, but also to face the challenges new words, phrases, tools, brands and so on have been established.

No wonder that confusion sometimes is still quite large.

One approach that became a popular representative of new methods in a short time is the approach of online research communities, also known as Market Research Online Communities (MROCs).

There are different definitions of Online Research Communities, but they all have a common base: “An Online Research Community is a platform that is used exclusively to generate a deep understanding of needs, attitudes and the reality of life of specific target groups.”

So we don’t talk about access panels with a focus on quantitative research and we don’t talk about natural communities full of customers’ conversation, like brand communities, Facebook pages or topic related community sites.

But of course these sources can help us finding and recruiting the right participants for an appropriate Online Research Community.

But we have to make sure to keep advantages and disadvantages in mind:

For example people from Online Access Panels are used to the internet, but they are probably not used to community tools and have a lack of willingness to participate over a longer period of time.

On the other hand people from a natural community like a branded site or a Facebook page have rich experience with a specific topic as well as with the community tools but maybe they don’t want to participate in market research. And sometimes, especially if you are not the owner of the natural community, it might be difficult to talk to the community members.

We will learn more about research communities at The Market Research Event 2011 in November. If you look at the program you will see that IIR USA has planned a whole track for this topic. It will be interesting to follow the “Social Media & Communities” track on Monday.

What are the advantages to conducting market research online?

InPharm recently looked at some of the advantages to conducting market research online. The Insight Research Group of Great Britain weighed in on what they thought were the benefits of adding social media market research to the repository of data collected by traditional market research methods.

 They included:

  • -New data collection options in addition to traditional data collection methods
  • -Data rounds out and contributes to a better view of the whole story researchers are trying to capture
  • -Online market research allows for a quicker collection of results
  • -The need to spend less because fewer resources (such as no need for a venue and to pay for travel) are needed
  • -Relationships are built with those you’re collecting data from and as a result, conversations grow overtime, creating richer data collection.
  • -There are no geographical boundaries because of the online data collection.

What do you see as some of the benefits of online market research?  What else would you add to the Insight Research Group’s opinions?

    Social Media Marketers Declare Success

    eMarketer.com reports that The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has followed up on its 2007 and 2008 studies of social media usage by the Inc. 500. Adoption and awareness continue to trend upward, with 91% of firms using at least one social media tool in 2009 and three-quarters describing themselves as ‘very familiar’ with social networking.

    Social networking and blogging have seen the most growth in adoption, while other technologies have flattened or even declined in use, including wikis and online video. Twitter usage, of course, has caught on quickly’more than one-half of businesses reported tweeting in 2009. This was the first year respondents were polled about Twitter.

    Social Media Marketers Declare Success

    We’ve seen the success of social media marketing in market research; but how about you? Are you seeing success with this new marketing medium?