Social Media: A Wealth of Information
by Kathy Doyle, Doyle Research
What do I do with social media information once I have it? Five tips on how to leverage your qualitative research.
We are finding increased opportunity to leverage the power of the social Web for high-impact qualitative research. Whether spontaneous conversations, ad hoc community formation, Web-cam videography, or citizen reporting, a wealth of information is only ever at an arms length, waiting for us to reach out and grab it.
Of course, this raises the obvious question: what do I do with it once I have it?
Discover issues for further exploration
Unlike traditional data collection, social media gives you access to massive amounts of information without requiring prolonged research timelines. This provides an opportunity to identify and assess issues in real time, as they develop and evolve. And that gives you the chance to act quickly, in a way that is relevant and meaningful to your audience.
Identify and define target audiences
Part of the power of social media is that it revolves around people; real, living, breathing, decision making people. Taking the time to listen to what’s being said about things important to your business gives you the opportunity to pinpoint audiences that may otherwise be obscured by historical biases. Audiences begin to show themselves not because you’re looking for them, but because you’re listening to what they have to say well before you know who they are.
Understand the life and language of your consumers
Social media is built around community, and community is built on common language. Listening in on conversations that happen within these social spaces provides insight not only into what’s important to your audience, but how they talk about it. Understanding the words and symbols they employ can affect how you reach out and communicate; and how your audience ultimately responds.
Supplement traditional research BEFORE taking on a major initiative
Perhaps one of the most important benefits social media analysis provides is the opportunity to corroborate and enhance traditional qualitative research before making high stakes decisions. Social media analysis gives you qualitative information on a quantitative scale; and that means plenty of opportunity to support or refute current assumptions about a range of critical business questions.
More than just a trend
While we won’t go so far as to say social media analysis is a replacement for time-tested qualitative methods, it is without doubt a very powerful tool in a rapidly changing landscape--one that belongs in every business toolkit.
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