Yes, Virginia – You Need Both Social Media AND Research
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:53
We hate to break it to you, and because we do research this may sound defensive, but YES! You need to do research in addition to your social media listening. Why you ask? Because social media listening is NOT research. There are some very important differences and as result you need both. The nature of listening is to attend. Research in its most basic form is to inquire, to examine. There is a rigor to research. Research begins with a question and the question helps you formulate your approach or methodology. While listening may be employed as part of your research methodology (focus groups, IDIs), research suggests that you are discovering or testing facts or theories.
Sentiment analysis, content analysis, and Twitter search are not the same as doing research. Listening is definitely good; there is a lot to learn. Social media listening, although an important tool, is not going to give you the insights into customer behavior that you need to innovate and gain competitive advantage. With social media listening, you'll know exactly what your competitors know.
However, social media listening is not the same as identifying the questions you want to ask and getting the answers. Relying on the voice of the customer as it is expressed online is a reactive, rather than proactive approach.
Research enables you to:
If these are important to you, then conduct research.
Social media listening is a great exploratory methodology that can play an important role in customer research:
Today's marketers need to remember that one of their primary jobs is providing the rest of the company with a window into the customer. This takes research. Over the years we have watched company after company reduce their research budgets until all they cover is a smattering of syndicated research. It there is money available for more tailored research, it is typically only enough to cover secondary research or an online survey or two. In our work, we find that even the best-in-class marketers fall short when it comes to developing insight to understand customer behavior. As you tackle 2013, this is a good time to reexamine your priorities and determine how to allocate their resources to improve your ability to retain and grow business with existing customers. Make the investment in research if you want deeper insights into buyer behavior.