‘Lifestreaming’: Research on Social Media takes off
‘Traditional methods like interviewing and surveys seem to prevail and have of course proven their value along the way.’, is what I stated in December last year when discussing research on Social Media. And of course these will remain a, if not the biggest, factor in (market) research, but research in different ways seems to be more and more present.
I also used Harris Interactive as an example of a company that was already starting to use Social Media research as a means of adding to traditional research. Traditional because online surveys and private communities might be ‘new’ but they’re still quite traditional in their essence. The blog ‘Research Rants’ pointed me to a new initiative by Harris Interactive where they’re asking you to connect your ‘social’ profiles to an engine that will analyze your actions in Facebook and/or Twitter.
It seems like they’re using their normal polling panel to build a new panel that uses social media activities instead of surveys to make data-points and build a profile of your opinions and behaviors. We can only guess (thus far) about what and how they will analyze you, but it’s certainly an interesting development.
What do you think, is this ‘paneled’ approach a good thing, or is there a future where researchers will analyze everyone’s tweets, which are usually public anyway? (ie: ‘The web is the panel’) How is the panel used, is it used to make a sample and then include the (pre?) analyzed communications, or is it the other way around? Both ways seem to have advantages.
As I commented on Research Rants; ‘ survey might be online now, but it’s still a survey (quite often with little extra options/tricks over a ‘paper’ one), maybe even an online version of one that was (is?) conducted offline as well.’. This Social Analysis could add a complete new dimension to research, but it could also turn out that in fact all these communications tell us about the same as traditional research…
5 reacties op “‘Lifestreaming’: Research on Social Media takes off”
It’s all the analysis baby! The internet offers gigantic amounts of data, that open and accessible to anyone willing to analyse them. And there lies the problem. Quantitative researchers are trained in dealing with huge amounts of data, but only data that are some way reducible to numbers. The challenge here is qualitative analysis, which is unfortunately often overlooked in methodology courses.
[Sorry, I should have edited my post before clicking submit.]
I figure the approach Harris is taking here is reducing the data by setting it up as a panel, which makes sense but of course takes away the advantage of having “all” the data available for analysis. (Then again one can argue that this is hardly ever possible)
I agree that the challenge lies in qualitative analysis, though I suspect that the opportunity to do quantitative analysis on what used to be more or less the qualitative realm (ongoing conversations) is something that can’t be overlooked either.
‘Open and accessible’ data on the web present us with both privacy and ethical issues as well as with methodological issues. (Which, I suspect, are in some sense the same as sampling issues one has with non-probability samples)
Despite a modest amount of fanfare over the Summer, Harris has yet to publicize where even a single client has utilized the approach to address a marketing issue and/or applied the claimed benefits of research lifestreaming for actionable, monetizing results in the marketplace. Even the most forward-thinking brand and market research senior managers will have to breath deeply before digging into tight budgets to spend on something like this.
Well, Michael, I think why your digging into your tight budget for something is always something worth considering. I do feel that even though ’traditional’ research may sound safe it can have it’s downsides as well. But yes, I’m with you on the fact that Harris doesn’t seem to have too much to offer potential clients after their initial announcement of this over the summer. They certainly don’t seem to present much information as to why this might offer a good alternative for the budget spendings.
So I would agree with you there. After all as with any new idea, especially in MR, clients would like to see why this is at all worth the risk spending money. I would say, that one has to win the clients over for such a new challenge by offering something along the lines of outstanding research, making use of this new methodology, first. Thus far I haven’t seen that, so either it’s disappointing or someone is failing at bringing it out to the public. Time for a followup post, perhaps?