Introduction to research4 Set up in April 2008. Most of my career in research spent on the client side I am passionate about helping companies in using cost effective methods of market research, and I think that my interest in social media as a research tool has stemmed from that.
I would like to spend the next 20 minutes giving you just a brief insight into how social media and social networking platforms can complement traditional research methods. I will start by trying to define and demystify social media for the benefit of the uninitiated. Then I will look at the proliferation of social media. tracking its meteoric rise into the public consciousness providing examples of the growth (and decline) of just some of the platforms I will look at some practical uses for social media using some real life examples from projects I have been involved in. Then I want to conduct a reality check exploring some of the drawbacks and potential pitfalls of using social media in market research Then by way of summary I will aim to pull it all together by answering the initial question that we posed.
I think it is first important to define what we mean by Social Media. Straw Poll your experience of social media. Who Tweets? Who pokes? Who regularly updates their status? Who is networked on Linkedin? Who uploads videos of themselves onto Youtube? Ive presented some examples of the better known social media platforms. FriendFeed is a social aggregator that consolidates the updates from social media and social networking websites such as blog entries, social bookmarking, blogs and micro-blogs. Definitions: 1: Social media are primarily Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings 2: A category of sites that is based on user participation and user-generated content. 3: Social Media is the collection of tools and online spaces available to help individuals and businesses to accelerate their information and communication needs 4: Social media is a communications medium that relies on its audience to create, modify, or distribute its content The common theme amongst all this is the concept of user generated content. My social media life: Linkedin, and Twitter for business and Facebook for pleasure. ( A social media system)
Facebook has surged into the lead amongst social media and networking sites thanks in the main to its open source platform allowing for constant modifications and user generated content., making it a fun and engaging place with which to interact with friends . More than 200 million active users , More than 100 million users log on to Facebook at least once each day , The fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old and older, More than 4 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide) , More than 1 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) shared each week More than 50 translations available on the site, with more than 40 in development so it is truly global. A recent funding deal has placed its value at around $10Bn So if we just look at the chart which demonstrates reach the key point here is that 18% of global internet users visit facebook. In the last 3 months this reach has continued to grow by 20%
In stark contrast the death knell has been sounded for the once seemingly invincible myspace, demonstrating the fickle nature of social media participants. A recent survey by Entertainment media research has shown that the number of world wide internet users with an MySpace profile is down from 39% in 2008 to 21% this year. Estimates from comscore show that myspace unique users have fallen 18%, from 8.5 million in April 2008 to seven million one year later On the chart we can see that over the last 3 months reach has dropped by 7.76% A deal with Google relating to Advertsing revenues , struck by owner News Corp is coming to an end in June 2010 and with it half of Myspace revenues.
Twitter has gone from no where in 2008 to 11% of consumers claim to be using the micro-blogging site in 2009. In Feb 2008 it has 475,000 page visits – 7m in February 2009. On the chart we see the 3 month change from May to June has shown a massive 235% increase in global reach. Twitter has benefited from a number of high profile celebrity Tweeters notably in this country we have had Stephen Fry, Alan Carr, and Jonothan Ross. In the US Ashton Kutcher who went head to head with CNN to get 1000,000 followers, Basketball star Shaqeel O’Neal and Oprah Winfrey. This publicity has helped push twitter into the mainstream and momentum has been maintained as politicians , government bodies and news sites have recognised the benefits that posting content and news to twitter can bring . In a poll carried out on Linkedin recently (we will come onto Linkedin Polls) 30% of respondents voted for twitter as the most important Social media site for small businesses
With 41 million members in over 200 countries worldwide. Linkedin is THE business networking site. Covered in more detail later: Steady upward trend with a 39.6% increase in reach over 3 months to May 2009.
1: Economy : These trends are likely to continue as companies look for more and cheaper ways to engage with the consumer driving greater online participation – as big brands get involved this is legitimising the whole social media experience 2: Broadband Penetration and the increase of high speed internet access. 3: The open source nature of social media platforms meaning there is a democratisation of the platform management. For the people by the people. 4: Convergence of mobile devices making it easier to upload video and pictures via a 3G connection 5: Social search has become a realistic challenger to the dominance of Google in the search arena.
Social search is a type of search powered by informed human interaction and contribution Here are two major drivers: 1: our growing hunger for real-time information and the coming convergence of search and social networking. Social networking adds a layer of trust to traditional search that helps us qualify sources Benefits of the RTW The introduction of 'human judgement' suggests that each web page has been viewed and endorsed More current results - Because a social search engine is constantly getting feedback it is potentially able to display results that are more current or in context with changing information.
Search carried out on Twitter search on Wednesday Hashtags which allow for more targeted searches around a term or phrase. Example here we have #tubestrike. So we have a very small snapshot of mid morning Wednesday but the results clearly demonstrate its effectiveness Ruth Barnett : Twitter correspondent at Sky News Streetcar using it for advertising Neo: we enter the banal So we see people are searching for information in real time and getting immediate relevant feedback.
If you had only just got your head round web 2.0 web 3.0 is just around the corner. Google wave - is a combination of email, instant messaging with additional social media and collaboration functionalities. The collaboration element allows colleagues in separate locations to build, improve and discuss a single document, simultaneously, with changes appearing live Semantic Web - The father of the WWW , Sir Tim Berners Lee is championing this next generation view of a Semantic web…..getting computers to understand what is the meaning behind a website . Computers can present you with information but can’t understand what the information is. The Semantic Web, on the other hand, is about having data as well as documents on the Web so that machines can process, transform, assemble, and even act on the data in useful ways. In terms of its implications for social media Web 3.0 will combine the Semantic Web with social media, enabling a new generation of richer, more shareable and ultimately more searchable ( and researchable) content.
So by way of context we are continuing to move towards the use of more online research techniques To truly explore and leverage new research opportunities online requires a new way of thinking about research methodologies Market research has to reflect the markets we “research” Explain data.
You can use social media search tools to search online content (blog entries, comments, tweets, images, video, audio, etc) for the following: 1: Footprint, which describes the size or amount of individual mentions related to a given search term. This is typically measured in raw sum counts of blog posts, tweets, comments, images, videos, etc. 2. Frequency, which describes the rate at which content was added to Social Media platforms. Frequency can be measured in terms of addition rate for content as well as for users (which can then be used to identify potential influencers for a given set of keywords). 3. Sentiment, which describes the tone of the content added to Social Media platforms. Sentiment is usually measured in terms of positive, neutral, and negative terms. 4. Longevity, which describes the lifetime of the content footprint relative to frequency. This is typically described as a trend using graphs showing when a trend for a given set of keywords began, peaked, and ended.
In more practical terms: Brand monitoring - This is the most common type. Marketers want to know what consumers are saying about their companies and their competitors. (eg to follow) 2. Trend analysis - Marketers also ask for analysis on the current trends in a market, and where the market is heading. 3. Customer information - Marketers also ask for more information about their current and potential customers. Blogs provide particular insight and the posts can also provide information on the best language and tone of voice to use when communicating to customers. 4. Unmet needs - it is also possible to collect information about what products consumers wish they had. – People are happy to talk about products they wish they had often within the relative comfort of social media 5: Preliminary research – Good for drawing initial hypotheses before then directly talking to customers, or for getting an understanding relating to a particular market issue ( Linkedin is particularly good at this) 6: Competitor intelligence – find out what your competitors customers are saying about their products or alternatively use Linkein to uncover your competitors strategies ( example coming up) 7: Recruitment of respondents - Social media is becoming a valuable source of online sample….. sample sourced from social media and communities has established a healthy niche (around 4%) and that this will double in 2009 ( from the peanut labs report carried out in Feb 2009 )
So how do we harness this power. Lets look at brand monitoring. This search was done the other day after the announcement of the 87% increase in price for the mid range iphone from o2. We’ve taken a snapshot in time to demonstrate the point. Brands no longer have a passive relationship with their customers What we have here is clear evidence of people power and collaboration : remember back to the real time web and that layer of trust.
key benefits = Groups where you can find communities of professionals who share a common experience, interest or passion. Groups allows you to extend your network and also to post very specific research questions to a very targeted audience. I find it useful for prospecting as well as carrying out research. Review groups
Polls -A very simply way of getting some “quantitative” data quickly. You can either target certain business professionals ( only US) or send to existing contacts. Answers - More qualitative questioning. You ask a question, categorise it then sit back and wait for answers. I have a used answers in projects as part of a market sector profiling study to 1: Get some preliminary information to start to draw hypotheses 2: To recruit Gurus to take part in further qualitative interviewing I have to say I was amazed at the responses I received. People monitor these questions and set up RSS alerts so there is an element of looking to build profile or pitch for paid for consultancy ( I do) but also people who are just keen to engage in the process and share their expertise.
Changed the names to protect the innocent (or should that be guilty) It is traditionally very difficult to add value especially in niche industrial or in B2B markets. Because of the nature of Linkedin and its use in recruitment often people want to make an impression , so they are often likely to cut and paste parts of their CV onto their profile Profile for a Sales Development manager at Vodafone we find out that: 1: Vodafone has an Enterprise sales strategy” which is aligned to the UK business plan 2: In 2008 they wanted to focus on the property logistics and utilities sector 3: Also sales structure that he had 8 Corporate Account managers working for him This I found very quickly for the purposes of this presentation but with more rigorous research it is possible to uncover a great deal more.
Narrow slice : According to a recent Harvard Study 10% do 90% of the tweeting on Twitter, so you get a very narrow slice of opinion. Fickle nature of social media : 60% of twitter sign ups fail to return the next month and the once dominant Myspace, friendsreunited and Bebo now in decline. Biased towards certain personality traits and SM participants are a highly self-selective group. And you have very little idea who these people are, either by standard demographics or attitude Directs attention away from real research – We need to fight our corner to prevent Maverick marketing managers from “ doing the research themselves” . We can only protect our interests and add value by understanding the benefits and draw backs of mining SM platforms for insights.
So it is clear that Social media is not for everyone , but momentum has been generated and the whole concept cannot be ignored. We need to create research methodologies that are relevant to the times we live in and 200M world wide active users of Facebook are a reality. This trend towards the real time web and social search means that information is now available instantly and companies need to work smarter to harness this knowledge to inform their marketing activities – something that is particularly relevant in today’s economic climate. We are living in exponential times and as an industry we need to keep ahead of the game by applying our expertise - developing propositions that exploit phenomena like social media. With Web 3.0 around the corner we need to act to ensure that legitimate market research methodologies remains part of a company’s ongoing marketing process.
Demonstrate the power of SM Dubbed the “ hairy Angel” by the daily Mail, The key to making a good viral video is to have good content in the first place and to understand our target audience and then create something we think will appeal to them. Or as in this case shock them with the unexpected.
If Social media isn’t for you! – adopt an offline approach.
Social media platforms: Can they complement traditional research methods? (and what Susan Boyle teaches us about Social Media) John Clay – June 2009
Things don’t stand still Google Wave launched later in the year The semantic web will change How we interact with the internet
A continued shift towards online research methodologies Research carried out amongst research companies and research buyers in Feb 2009 % of work carried out by methodology compared to the previous year (2008/2009)
Search tools give us the ability to search in the past, near time, or real time
Social media platforms: Can they complement traditional research methods?
Research4 was set up by John Clay in 2008. John is a market research professional with 10 years experience from both client side and agency perspectives. He is passionate about helping companies get answers to their business questions through the use of cost effective market research. John’s background prior to setting up research4 was with another research agency where he had responsibility for desk research, market and competitor analysis. Prior to that he worked on the client side where he was Research and Insight manager at Calor Gas a leading UK energy provider, and Head of research and Planning at ATS Euromaster. He works alongside a number of other research agencies providing specialist desk research support. John has an MA in marketing and is an a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Research4 has experience of a diverse range of market sectors and research disciplines, and has particular expertise in the energy, energy efficiency and sustainability markets, helping companies to maximise the opportunities presented by a low carbon economy. To find out more : www.research4.co.uk http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnclayresearch4 http://twitter.com/John_Clay_R4