Social media, as everyone is aware, is dramatically changing the way we conduct research. A recurring theme within the blogosphere is whether we can use social media listening for research, leaving clients from every sphere of the market research spectrum asking the same questions: When and how should we use social media data in our research? And more importantly, how much is too much?
I recommend using a two-pronged approach to data integration.
The first approach involves traditional online surveys with an important twist – a social media sample that is opt-in and conducted while members have discretionary online time and are engaged in the social media arena. Surveys embedded within social networks and applications enable interviewing actual users of the social media sites. This also ensures that surveys are presented only while the profiled and opted-in social media survey respondents are engaged in a social media site or application; no bothersome and potentially leading email invitations that may or may not be replied to in the near future. The key is to provide respondents with a survey only when they have indicated they want to offer their opinion.
The second part involves social media measurement and analysis. In order to build a great brand, you must listen – and by that, I mean listening through channels where your consumers are conversing. Look beyond social media monitoring in order to correctly gauge and understand what your brand consumers are talking about. Utilize a research analysis tool, as true market research data needs to be in-depth and offer something more than just a social media web crawler.
The future for social media, market research and data integration is evolving at tremendous speed. Therefore, traditional market research and social media listening must complement one another in order to make research better. Now is a critical time to make intelligent marketing recommendations that provide valuable insight to understand and act upon what is happening through social media.
About the Author: Rick Wilson is the Vice President of Strategic Accounts at Peanut Labs and has worked in the market research industry for over 20 years. Experienced in all phases of the market research process, he brings with him valuable insight and expertise in the industry.