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Marketing

Published September 27th 2012

The Changing Face of Traditional Market Research

Whether you’re just starting your research into finding the best social media monitoring (SMM) tool for you, or have been using one for some time, you may be wondering where SMM fits in with your traditional market research methods such as surveys, focus groups and so on.

Firstly, think about the order in which you carry out your research, as this will impact what you do:

  • If you carry out SMM research first, you will be able to use the data to decide who you’d like to include in focus groups and/or which topics you’d like to focus your questions around
  • If you carry out focus group research first, you can use the outcome to decide how you’d like to segment and categorise your SMM data

Some of the most interesting insights will come from comparing and contrasting your findings – it’s likely they will be different depending on the source/method (e.g. survey vs. social media). Whereas focus groups and surveys allow you to ask and receive answers to very specific questions, social media monitoring may reveal topics and trends in conversation that you had not even considered.

You may also find that the views expressed differ, as social media is a very different platform to the controlled environment of a focus group and conversation tends to be more emotional and less restrained.

However, you should aim to have a consistent approach to the different types of research you carry out (e.g. focusing in on similar types of people or asking similar questions from the data) in order to ensure that you are able to tell a story when you pull the different sources together.

Embrace the differences and use them to pull out interesting themes and contrasts. Your different types of research should complement each other, not clash.

Method of research

Once you have considered the method and order for your research, it’s important to consider how you are going to go about getting the data from your SMM efforts. First to decide is your approach to finding the conversation you are interested in:

Researching brands: Searches about a specific brand should always be compared and contrasted to competitors or similar brands, in order to see the data in context.

For example, the number of mentions of a brand is, generally, useless without knowing how it measures up to similar brands/products.

Researching topics: It’s also possible to set up searches that bring back conversation about a broader topic, rather than just a specific brand or product. Due to their nature, they are slightly more complex than brand searches to set up.

You will need to ensure that the data you bring back is broad enough for qualitative analysis, but not bring back so much irrelevant conversation that quantative analysis is impossible. This can usually be achieved by an iterative search-string writing process.

Researching target audiences: It’s also possible in Brandwatch to set up searches to bring back mentions from specific authors and/or sites. This can be useful if you are looking for conversation from a specific type of person, such as mom bloggers or car enthusiasts.

You can find these authors or sites by running a topic search (as above), or you may already have the sites/authors you require in mind. You can then carry out broader analysis into what a particular audience enjoy talking about and the content they consume.

Categorisation

Once your searches are set up, you may want to group your mentions in order to gain further insights. In Brandwatch, your mentions can be automatically or manually sorted into categories that you have set up in the tool.

Automatic categorisation involves creating search strings to be set up as ‘rules’ to segment data into your required categories as mentions are found.

Manual categorisation requires time to read mentions and manually assign them to the categories that you have set up. This can lead to greater accuracy and insight, but is more time consuming that automatic categorisation.

Filtering by groups of sites, locations or authors

In order to segment the data further, creating lists of specific websites or authors based on common interests, or of particular locations, is a great way of understanding not just what is being spoken about, but who is speaking about it and where. These can then be created as ‘groups’ within Brandwatch and then used to filter mentions.

Analysing your data

Once you have the means to compare and filter data, creating a bespoke workspace within the tool you are using that shows all the key metrics and charts you need to analyse your found mentions ensures that you are able to methodically review data and return to the same data at every stage of analysis without any faffing!

Hopefully these tips will get you well on your way to social media monitoring success and help you integrate valuable SMM into your traditional research methods.

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