On using social media for research
The above link is from Faris Yakob, the Chief Innovation Officer at MDC. MDC is one of the large advertising holding companies. It owns Crispin Porter.
You can read his post if you want, but here are the two reasons he thinks all market research is wrong.
1. We don’t know why we do what we do.
We don’t know why we make decisions, but we’ll happily tell someone when they ask And basically, we’ll be making it up.
2. The gulf between claimed attitudes [and intentions] and actual behavior is vast.
Asking people if they intend to buy something is analogous to asking them if they intend to go to the gym – the results may not correspond well with future behavior.
Since he has a big title at MDC, his post got some attention around the interwebs. He’s obviously trying to be provocative, and get dialogue going, and all that. Some people have commented on his post.
Here’s my take.
On point #1:
Social media offers the rare chance to listen to people when they don’t know you’re listening.
Yes, if you get people in a room and ask them about stuff, their response will have a bias. For that matter, when people review something on a Yelp or some other review-like social network, you risk getting response bias. Meaning people review when they are really happy, or really pissed, but not when they’re content. So the data skews to the edges. That said, when you’re listening, if you know these things, you can interpret accordingly. And again, that doesn’t mean you take the data and fudge it, it means that if you know where to look, and where to listen, then you can catch people when they are thinking about what they want to do. And that can be helpful.
On point #2:
The web offers the chance to examine behaviors.
Just this week, Trulia released a study on home prices. It talks about the cumulative data of many home sellers and begins to make assumptions about the behavior of a home seller. It doesn’t ask home sellers if they will sell their house for 10% less than asking price if they had to make a reduction because some home sellers would say no. And let you know that they would stand firm on their price. But the data tells a different story about their behavior.
This is but one case. Another is AdLab learning a little about people’s behaviors on photo-sharing sites.
These insights come from listening and searching social media. And as people’s participation in these tools increases, so does our opportunity to research them.
- If Your Agency Kicks Ass Without Market Research, It’s Not Wrong (adverlab.blogspot.com)
- Social Market Research from ListenLogic Answers Brands’ Most Challenging Questions (eon.businesswire.com)