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Is it ethical for social media monitoring providers to use Tweetbots?

Should social media monitoring firms use TweetBots to increase their website’s SEO?

Its happening and it sure seems unethical to me.

Here is how it works:  There are several firms that will re-tweet for a fee.  The firms are used for marketing and to increase a company’s website’s SEO.  One is called PayPerTweet.  Here is a quote from their home page:  “PaidPerTweet lets you hire Twitter users to blast your link, ad or announcement to 100s of thousands of Twitter followers in an instant.”  Another provider is called Retweet.it.  Their website claims, “We have built an amazing community of retweeters that are eager to share one another’s tweets with the world. And with a wider reach of your message, your traffic will greatly improve.”  Retweet.it doesn’t even claim to have people re-tweeting.  They likely use Tweetbots. These are just two providers that represent the industry.

So, does it break the bank to get one of these firms to re-tweet for you.  Nahhh….For $180, Retweet.it will re-tweet your message 1000 times.  Here is their price page.  PaidPerTweet has a little different model.  They run something like a re-tweeter auction.  Anyone can hire people to re-tweet for them.  I saw prices ranging from $.02 to $3.

So, why is this a big deal?  Simple.  Social media monitoring firms pull a lot of data from Twitter.  These re-tweeting sites, and others, use artificial means to knowingly increase the presence of the social media monitoring firms in social media.

Is paying for retweets an ethical practice for a social media research firm who are in the very business of selling social media research as a valid research technique?

Clients need to understand, not only the ethics, but also the implications.  Are the Social Media monitoring firms letting clients know of these sites?

Next week, we will explore how someone with a grudge and a few hundred dollars can really give a brand manager heartburn.

 

 

Google Breaks Old Research Rules…and New Ground

They say one of the keys to innovation is to break a rule that really doesn’t matter anyway.  Google has done it again.  This time, they have broken the paradigm that a respondent must answer an entire battery of questions.  Why was this necessary before?  Simply because it was the most efficient way to do it…back when we were doing paper surveys.  Today, it is simply not the most efficient way. Congratulations to Google for seeing through the cloud of common practice and providing a faster and cheaper way to obtain research data.

As reported the past few days by Bob Lederer of Research Business Daily Report, Google Consumer Surveys now offers survey questions a la carte for as little as $.10/response.  Its pretty simple.  In the past, to access a free premium content site, you often had to sit through a 30-second ad.  It was irritating but bearable because you knew that it paid for your free content.  Google has replaced that ad with research.  Answer a question, you get access to content.  Its faster for both the reader and the researcher, a win-win.

Some researchers express the concern that people won’t take the question seriously.  Seriously?  Do they really believe that respondents will be any less serious when they have to answer a single question than when they are 18 minutes deep in a 25 minute survey?   This concern is typical of the industry when innovation comes along.  It will prove to be moot.

So, who really benefits most?  DIY researchers.  Its easy.  Its fast.  Its cheap.  Time will tell about the validity.  If privacy concerns and legislation do not stop this train, this type of research will grow into a major option for researchers.

Will this be the end of survey research?  No.  Like the telephone, CATI and online before it, it will prove to be yet another tool to help make research faster and better.

As I have said before, this is the most exciting time EVER to be in research!

Market Research Radio: Love It!

Radio is so much fun!

Over the years, I have bee fortunate to do a good bit of radio. I hosted a 3-hour show once on the #1 station in the market and had a blast.

Today, I tried something new, Internet radio. It was even more fun. I joined Kevin Lonnie of KL Communications as guests on NewMR Radio. We discussed the state of online qualitative research and its future. The discussion was uninterrupted by advertising and will be available on demand at NewMR Radio.

Among other things, Kevin talked about the immenent threat of “big data” and the need to step up respondent engagement. I talked about the oncoming train that is data security and the huge potential of reliable, in-context text analytics.

Thanks to Lenny Murphy and Ray Poynter for hosting the show. It was a great discussion and I hope to do it again. I only wish we had more time.

Where are the social media research successes?

Would someone please share a social media research success story with me?

This week I was with a multi-billion dollar, multi-brand, company that is generally considered a thought-leader in the research industry.  The person in charge of “listening” (i.e., social media monitoring) said they really have not figured out how to use social media to generate brand insights.  It turns out that people are much more likely to talk about their kids than brands.  This researcher said that sometimes “listening” leads to research, but it is never the research itself.

A few months ago in QualBlog, chronicled the statements from Bob Pankauskas, Research Director at Allstate last year when he said they were pulling back on social media because there was simply not much meat there.  Following that post, I received several comments via Twitter using the fact that many major companies employ social media monitoring so it MUST be a great tool.  I challenged those researchers to give me a single decision that had been made using social media monitoring as a primary research method.  You could have heard a pin drop.

Social media can be helpful.  Like my client, it can prompt questions that should be followed up through other means.  It has some use in identifying trends.  However, so far, I haven’t found it is the promised “treasure trove” or “rich river of information” that many have promised.

Would someone please share a social media research success story with me?

 

Social Media Gets Poor Grades for Oscars

Research Magazine reports that social media experts tried their hand at predicting the Oscars based on social media analysis.  Based on the article “And the Winner Isn’t”, here is my report card for their performance.

Grade F.  Professor Jonathan Taplin (Annenberg Innovation Lab) at the Univ. of Southern California) predicted Midnight in Paris for Best Picture.  WRONG.

Grade F. Banyan Branch predicted The Help would win Best Picture; Viola Davis for Best Actress and Brad Pitt for Best Actor.  WRONG.  WRONG. WRONG.

General Sentiment added bookmaker’s odds to the mix for their predictions.  They picked The Artist for Best Picture, Viola Davis for Best Actress and Jean Dujardin for Best Actor.  RIGHT.  WRONG. RIGHT.

Of the 7 awards included in this post by 3 firms, 2 were correct and they were the ones where social media was combined with the opinions of those who actually have skin in the game…bookies.

To be fair, consumer opinions have no voice in the Oscars.  So, maybe this is a reminder that social media should be used for what it is:  consumer sentiment.  Social media is not a predictive tool and certainly not a tool for crowd-sourcing, at least not beyond the consumer’s area of expertise.

Let me know if you know of other prediction efforts and how they graded.

Mobile surveys, mobile qual look to explode in 2012: GRIT report

A sneak peek at the 2012 Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report reveals an anticipation in the rise of mobile surveys this year.

That’s one of the highlights of a fascinating examination of what research firms anticipate and what clients see as the techniques that will drive market research budgets this year. The GRIT report, which will be published in the next few weeks, supports the idea that online communities and social media analytics will become a prominent and “mainstream” research technique, and research firms and clients both concur with that forecast.

Mobile surveys look to be at a tipping point. While actual use of mobile surveys in 2011 were around 20 percent (17 percent as reported by clients, and 24 percent as reported by research firms), expectations are much higher for usage in 2012. Fifty-three percent of clients expect to use mobile survey techniques, and 64 percent of research firms expect to do so.

Mobile survey usage may actually be underreported, according to the GRIT report, with budget that is actually going toward mobile being attributed to Computer Assisted Web Interviewing (CAWI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI).

Mobile qualitative looks to undergo a big jump, as part of the shift toward mobile. With actual use somewhere around 13 percent in 2011, that number looks to accelerate upward in 2012. According to the report, 31 percent of clients, and 46 percent of research firms, expect to use mobile qualitative in 2012. 20|20 is at the forefront of this rise in mobile qualitative with the recent introduction of its second mobile qualitative application, QualBoard Mobile. QualBoard Mobile includes both a fully featured bulletin board access capability and an innovative new journaling application.

Forbes says CMOs Misunderstand Social Media Motivators

A recent article in Forbes titled, “A Wide Divide Between Brands and Consumers in Social Media” cites a survey of consumers active in brand social media sites and CMOs who are responsible for those sites.  As the title suggests, one of the most surprising findings was that consumers go to brand sites for games or coupons or something they can “get.”  Marketers tend to believe they come to learn or express themselves.  If you are responsible for a brand’s social media presence, this is a key finding that should cause you to pause and think about how you engage your brand loyalists.  But what does this have to do with research?

For me, this study was interesting for its impact on how we manage and grow our panel.  20|20 maintains a research panel of over 300,000 North American consumers with a 60,000 member smart phone panel.  Sometimes we think that they are a part of our panel because they like doing research,  sharing their opinions and learning about products through research.   While there are some who definitely participate for these reasons, we must remember that most of them participate for the money or because we provide some type of very fun activity for them.  This article was a good reminder to do what we researchers are supposed to do so well…put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.  When we do, I think we will be a bit better at engaging our panel.

QualBoard Mobile…Born-On Date: February 1, 2012

Sometimes introducing a new product is a little like birthing a baby. There is a lot of excitement and expectation followed by some intense pain leading to pure joy and pride at the result.

Today, 20|20 Research has “birthed” QualBoard Mobile. It has been in development for a while, caused some pain as it came to fruition and has created tremendous pride here at 20|20 in the end product. QualBoard Mobile (QBM) is an innovation that delivers on the promise and expectations we have anticipated for mobile qualitative research.

QualBoard Mobile has two primary functions.

1. QBM allows mobile access for QualBoards. Using the QBM app, respondents participate in a QualBoard bulletin board discussion from anywhere using their mobile phone. This capability alone dramatically increases QualBoard’s research functionality. Participants can make entries from anywhere. More importantly, researchers can design projects that respondents can complete untethered from their PC.

2. QBM includes LifeNotes. LifeNotes is a true breakthrough because it enables participants to upload pictures, video and comments from their mobile device from anywhere at anytime. Because LifeNotes is outside the QualBoard Q&A, it can serve as a “streaming ethnography” recording moments and opinions throughout the day independent of the QualBoard structured discussion.

For pure “cool factor” I’m excited about the voice-to-text feature. Respondents can leave their comments using the voice-recognition feature of their mobile device and it is fully incorporated into QBM. No more hassle with those tiny keyboards! Plus, it simply makes participation easier.

Also pretty cool is the geo-tagging feature. With the respondent’s permission, the researcher can geo-tag each mobile entry that ties each entry to its location. Think of the implication for shop-alongs and other out-of-home experiences.

To round out the offering, 20|20 is also announcing its smart phone panel of 60,000+ potential respondents. 20|20 has been known for its recruiting and services for over 25 years. This is yet another example of our focus on helping our clients do better research.

Yes, its a proud day at 20|20. Thank you for being a part of it.

Learning from Social’s Influence on Mobile: Applications for Qualitative Research

As we discussed in a QualBlog post earlier this month, mobile qualitative research methods are becoming a necessary component of market research. With mobile’s ability to reach a diverse, global sample of participants in their real-time context, market researchers are avidly seeking ways to best use its capabilities to their advantage.

A recent TechJournal article, Social and Mobile Interplay a Major Consumer Trend, cites a Pivot Conference study that may provide a new way to approach mobile qualitative research efforts. According to the research, smartphone users are spending a large amount of their mobile-focused time on social media apps. Specifically, 30% of the apps accessed on an Android are social, while iPhone users devote a whopping 44% of their mobile access to social apps. Of all the apps available, Facebook Mobile dominates consumers’ time, with 83% using it. And the most commonly shared information among all social app consumers is music and video, with location check-ins as a close second.

What does this mean for market researchers? Consumers have now made it clear that they want their mobile space to revolve around engaging their social network, learning from others’ content and interacting directly with brands through a social exchange. And what’s more, they have proven that they will devote time to apps that meet this criteria.

Transferring these needs to qualitative market research could be the key to more successful mobile research. By creating an app that engages a participant’s social network, encourages the sharing of related content and gives incentives directly from the brands that the participant discusses and evaluates, market researchers may be able to position mobile users in their preferred mobile environment. The resulting app could provide a more interactive message board to keep participants actively engaged in the research studies in a way that would provide more valuable data and insights.

What else could we learn from to enhance mobile qualitative research’s capabilities?

Year in Review: Best QualBlog Posts of 2011

Before we turn the page to 2012, we wanted to provide you the highlights from the 20|20 QualBlog in 2011. Here are the five most popular blog posts from 2011. If I can see a pattern from the most popular posts, I’d say you are interested in research methodology, saving money on research, and understanding what is going on in our industry conferences. Have a wonderful 2012, as we look forward to continuing to provide you the tools and content support to do better research.

1. Brand Creative Testing Using Mind Clouds
Struggling with how to reveal your advertising during qualitative research sessions? This post reveals the limitations of showing your ads first, and it offers an innovative solution. Read on for a method that exposes both the subject’s opinion of a brand before exposure to advertising and the degree to which your ads can change pre-existing notions.

2. Brainstorming with Word Clouds
If you didn’t add word clouds to your brainstorming repertoire this year, you may be missing out on an innovative new tool. View this post to discover the possibilities of word clouds for your qualitative research and your business.

3. MRA Conference Hits a Home Run
Our favorite conferences make an impact on the listeners through well-researched, timely and high level content. This post details one of the best we attended in 2011, and it could provide some tips on how to focus conferences in the future.

4. New eBook: How to Save Time and Money on Your Qualitative Research Projects
Looking for a tutorial that will open your mind to online research and new methodologies? Of all of our 2011 eBooks, this one was perhaps the most innovative.

5. Taco Bell Qualitative Research: Fast, Cheap and Internal
Striving to learn from other companies’ qualitative research techniques, we often include new methodologies in our blogs. This one highlights Taco Bell’s Facebook research community, which has enabled them to perform qualitative research on a quick, internal scale.

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