The ongoing evolution of technology has influenced virtually every industry, and the Market Research industry is certainly no exception. In fact, Market Research has shifted dramatically and by all accounts it will continue to do so, which means researchers will be challenged with keeping ahead of (or at least keeping up with) the curve.
Moving from phone and paper surveys and in-person focus groups to online surveys and virtual discussions are just some of the changes that have taken place over the last 5 years alone. Now researchers (and marketers, for that matter) are grappling with the newest kid on the block: social media. How do we tap into this global communication movement, yet still remain true to our roots of analytical methodology? Or can we?
Certainly there is value in considering information gathered via social networks, at the very least using it to supplement quantitative studies. Like open-ended responses designed to expand on close-ended questions, this kind of insight often helps illuminate the facts by providing examples marketers can relate to.
But the challenges are many. A unique skill set is required to ‘listen’ to, gather and analyze social media buzz in such a way that it has research-based meaning. Any existing tools that monitor social media are not designed to easily aggregate detailed information, so manual monitoring is the only reliable way to ensure proper context is captured. And of course this has major time, and ultimately financial, considerations.
Data collectors should begin to determine how to integrate social media insights into their capabilities now, as the road to figuring out exactly how to do it may not be easy.