In a business environment where everyone's looking to disrupt the status quo, brands need to move faster than ever before to confirm hunches, deal with setbacks, and bring projects to fruition. One way businesses can operate more nimbly is to incorporate social media research, a valuable but often mis-understood resource, into their insight studies. Our sister agency Fizziology is a leading social media research firm – and increasingly, we build their proprietary offerings into our approach to solve for a variety of insight challenges.
Brands have long used social media for marketing analytics, customer relationship management, and content distribution. But social media can also deliver important consumer insights around intent, purchasing, and emotion that can make a huge difference for your brand and products.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms make it easier than ever to tap into those insights. When examined with a research lens, rigor, and a strong focus on benchmarking, social media analysis can reveal a wealth of information about consumers.
Quick reads on social conversations allow companies to tap into the zeitgeist and gear their strategies toward the present moment. Are the movie rights to a best-selling book worth bidding on? What do your consumers think of a particular ingredient or benefit? When a brand doesn’t have time for an in-depth research project, social media analyses can provide direction quickly, sometimes in as little as a few hours.
By gleaning social media clues, companies can also get reads on what audiences think of specific celebrities. Before you hire an actor as a spokesperson, you might want to know—does your target audience admire her?
Social media research goes beyond "reading" tweets and Facebook posts—it can also analyze imagery. Analysis of social photos can help companies determine the colors their target market is wearing, the context their products are being used in, or the wider visual codes acting in that category.
Don't Try This at Home
Anyone can enter a hashtag into a Twitter search and see what people are saying about it. But drawing conclusions based on one data dump or one trending word is a dangerous experiment, especially when sentiment can turn on a dime. Two ways we’ve overcome those challenges include using benchmarks and human coding:
Benchmarking is a critical tool for actionable social analysis. A science fiction movie will generate far more buzz on social media than an adult drama, but that doesn't mean another sci-fi reboot will be more successful than a low-budget, high-concept drama. Now that social media has been around for a decade, we can use baseline data to contextualize the online conversation. Not every social post has the same value.
While AI is making great leaps, we use human coded and validated social data, ensuring that the insights generated are real and worthwhile, to sort through the noise on complex conversation topics rather than relying on algorithms that miss cultural nuance.
The possibilities are countless, though there are, of course, limitations. Researchers can't directly engage with their subject or ask follow-up questions. Since certain audience demographic information, such as household income, isn't available, you can't directly map audience segments to individual opinions found online.
But there are tremendous advantages to social research. Other forms of research actively employ methods to reduce and eliminate response bias, which is the inclination among survey subjects to give misleading responses. With social you don’t have to account for that bias. People do not know they are being listened to—they are just sharing their thoughts with friends and family. And these thoughts are registered in the moment, providing timely information in the context of the conversation.
The immediacy of social media, as well as the insights gleaned from social media, work in concert with traditional research methodologies and compliment each other. We combine in-depth research methodologies with fast moving organic social data—creating seamless bundled solutions that give clarity on where to find opportunity.
Social media analysis can help in a variety of ways. At the beginning of major research studies, it can be a fast and affordable way to test early hypotheses and sharpen a study’s focus. It can provide ongoing data and insights between traditional research waves. And it can even be used to dive deeper into traditional research findings—helping researchers understand the “why” behind an insight, including real-world examples.
Where will your next big idea take you? Creating nimble, iterative learning plans that combine both in-depth learning plus social media analysis can shine a light on the proper path—keeping you one step ahead.
Insight Strategy Group is proud to be part of the MarketCast Family alongside Fizziology. Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more about how to dial up the impact of social media research within your Brand, Insight or Innovation activities.