Research on Social Media; is anyone doing it yet?

Text-analytics on data present on the internet, in a way a sort of quantitative way of doing research that is traditionally qualitative seems to hold a lot in store for research. But despite the fact that this is actually one of my personal favorites for the future of Market Research, little seems to really take off. Sure there are talks about doing research on twitter, but very few real efforts have been made or at least way less than one would maybe expect. For now most of marketing efforts seem to regard online communities as just another advertising space, but things slowly start to change.

Harris Interactive, a company in the Market Research Industry, has started using text analysis software from Clarabridge to add an extra dimension to their traditional survey based research. For their Harris Poll they will use this tool to measure this important source of opinion. According to Research-Live, the first test was done to research opinions on Obama’s healthcare reform initiative.

Of course there is the question on how one can possibly take advantage of this huge stream of information without getting lost in the amount of data gathered (or that could possibly be gathered). Indeed the idea that it is hard to make something out of this ever growing stream of conversations seems to be one of the causes for the hesitation to adapt any of the upcoming technologies and integrate them with other research. Then there is, of course the sense of tradition that seems to lurk over research, be it market-research, social-research or any other type of research.

Traditional methods like interviewing and surveys seem to prevail and have of course proven their value along the way. Clarabridge is (of course?) sure about the added value of their technology. They emphasize the possible richer perspective this type of research can add. Their analytics should be able to both filter out any non-opinion conversational data and quantify positive and negative comments. Maybe the first breakthroughs for research on “social media” will be in 2010, after all the chatter there was about it in the beginning of 2009.