Market Researchers new and experienced can agree on one undeniable fact, research methodologies continue to evolve and the presence of social media cannot be overlooked. Due to an explosion in social media platforms and users, the ability to engage with ones’ target market has never been easier. But before you jump on the social media research bandwagon, you need to understand that life is not always better in the fast lane.
Beth Kelley at Deloitte Digital recently wrote, Focus groups and traditional market research are better for collecting answers to very specific questions for very specific demographics, as well as offering in-depth purchase decision-making criteria. A few types of research in particular are less likely to benefit from the social media trend as discussed in Annie Pettit’s The Promises and Pitfalls of SMR.
Campaign Research: Social media tools do not measure awareness. To gauge awareness of a particular product or service you need to utilize samples of your targeted consumers. With social media research you run into the question, “does the lack of awareness signify a lack of interest, a lack of online presence, or an actual lack of awareness?”
Usage & Attitude Research: Social media requires sufficient levels of date capable of being measured. While social media captures the opinions and views of those aware of a particular product or service, it does not capture the opinions/views of consumers who are unaware or do not use a particular product or service. Focus groups allow you to capture both sides of the story.
Segmentation Research: Social media is a great resource for capturing in-the-moment data; however a limitation of social media research is its inability to capture demographic data. Through social media research, you are limited to the data that users are willing to disclose, whereas, traditional methods enable you to recruit the desired demographic breakdown.
Both traditional and social analytics have the same goal: to organize consumer opinions into useful insights, says Pettit. Together, traditional research and social media research can thrive. The challenge lies in integrating the tools available and a willingness to accept the presence of social media in the market research industry. As We Are Social depicted in their Digital Snapshot Series , social media is here to stay. But for all the numbers and figures, one thing that cannot be lost in the phenomena of social media is good old fashion conversation. People have opinions, and they want to share those opinions. And sometimes, believe it or not, 140 characters are not enough.
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