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.

Focus Group Fingers All Over Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl commercials generate more conversation in Monday morning meetings today than almost anything else. With social media, the conversation following a Super Bowl ad is immediate. Last year, you may remember Groupon’s commercial about the troubles in Tibet resulted in a backlash on Twitter, and a formal apology. It will be studied in business schools as a marketing misstep.

One of the lessons from that failed 2011 commercial was the alleged lack of testing that preceded its airing. Marketers weren’t going to make that mistake with 2012 Super Bowl commercials. According to a Wall Street Journal article, focus group feedback resulted in the adjustment of creative for one Hyundai commercial, removing sexist comments from the older man in the commercial and replacing them with comments about how to be successful in business.

A Chevy Sonic commercial from yesterday’s Super Bowl was met with skepticism from focus groups, who didn’t believe the stunts to be real. Chevy’s spot ended up with a text treatment at the beginning of the ad noting “100% Real Stunts. Don’t Attempt. Please.”

Of course, focus groups don’t always predict success, or what may get a marketer in trouble. Some commercials were released ahead of time, or the trailers were so extensive. Marketers weren’t willing to risk something blowing up in their face. Marvel released trailers of its Super Bowl commercial to gather input from social media viewers.

Many groups are doing in-game focus group testing, like USAToday/Facebook’s AdMeter. Groups, and events like this were held around the country.

What were the results of your Monday Morning Focus Group’s judgment on this year’s crop of commercials?

Qual360 Conference: PANDA STORE key to online success

The Merlien Institute hosted the Qual360 Conference last week in Milan, Italy.  As with all conferences, there were some great presentations and some that were less than stellar.  Since many readers of this blog are ‘in the trenches” qualitative practitioners, I wanted to share the highlights of a very practical presentation from my friend Josephine Hansom on “10 Ways to Improve Online Qualitative Engagement.”

  1. Personality — Be human.  Be yourself.  Just because its online doesn’t mean you can’t relax and have fun.
  2. Active listening — Prompt, probe.  Don’t simply load and forget.
  3. New language — Remember that online language is more familiar and people often use  slightly exaggerated speech.
  4. Digital Trust — Contrary to expectations, people are very trusting online.
  5. Assimulate — Be willing to use various methods in combination within a single study.
  6. Sense of Shared Wisdom — People like to share with others.  This can be a very powerful moderating tool.
  7. Tasks — Don’t be content with asking questions.  Be imaginative in assigning tasks that will engage respondents and interface with their offline life.
  8. Offline Context — Assignments and questions can focus easily on offline behaviour.
  9. Re-Sharing — Remember that people like to affirm or re-post statements or links when participating.  Be careful that their responses are their own.
  10. Experience — Create an experience.  People will enjoy it more and be willing to put more into the project.

The easy way to remember this when designing your project:  PANDA STORE.  Once her presentation is uploaded, I’ll post it.

Josephine Hansom is Associate Director, GfK Innovation Team and works in London.

Why Researchers Shouldn’t Be Afraid of DIY Research

Ask most any researcher what they think of DIY research and the answer will probably involve some grunts and groans and maybe even an expletive or two. That’s because most professional researchers are afraid of it. They see DIY research—in which client-side researchers conduct research projects without the assistance of an outside market research professional—as a threat to their careers, not to mention a joke to their profession (despite the fact that many client-side researchers have experience in the market research industry.)

But it’s time to stop being so negative about DIY research, explains Dana Stanley in a recent post on the Research Access blog. “Enabling customers to make choices is a very good thing,” she says. “Thanks to the Internet and technology, we are in a new age of customer empowerment. Some form of DIY is an inevitability in nearly every industry.” (Driving that inevitability in ours is online research software, as well as other online qualitative research tools.)

But that doesn’t mean DIY research will replace the need for market research professionals. “There will always be an important role for trained research consultants,” she says. “Smart companies know when to bring them in and when they are superfluous.”

And when they get it wrong? Well, they’ll pay for it— “Those who misuse DIY research will fail just as do those who misuse assisted research.”

Warning: Quirk’s Cover Story Not About Online Qualitative Research

I got excited glancing at the cover story in the latest issue of Quirk’s. The theme of the issue is international research and I just knew the cover story—a case study about how Platinum Guild International used qualitative research to help launch a new website—was going to read like a success story in using online qualitative research tools to reach geographically dispersed respondents quickly, easily and without spending too much on travel.

But I was wrong. In fact, the study was all in-person. QRi Consulting, the London-based research firm they worked with, conducted 32 in-person interviews in the United States, Japan and China—three of the guild’s biggest markets.

Now, despite our obvious affinity for online qualitative research, we’ll concede that it’s not always the best choice for every qualitative research project. Yes, there are some cases when in-person makes more sense. But, after reading the article, I’m torn on whether I agree with their reasoning for doing the interviews in-person.

“The subject matter is deeply personal,” Simon Patterson, CEO of QRi Consulting, told Quirk’s. “Jewelry, especially bridal jewelry, is something precious. It’s intimate and emotional. We didn’t want to try to capture such a significant experience online, when being there in person could maintain the humanity behind the whole experience.” Patterson also notes that being there in person helped overcome the obstacles inherent in multinational research—namely cultural differences. That’s why he sat in on each interview. (Hello, frequent flier miles!)

As an aside, that may not have been the best idea either: At the ESOMAR conference in Vienna last week, researchers from India presented on the extreme bias that can occur in some cultures when the moderator simply shows up. Those cultures attached a high status to those moderators. Therefore, they do not behave normally and, often, even answer to please the moderator. Caution should be taken when anyone, particularly a westerner, shows up to do research.

But let’s get back to the issue of online vs. in-person. The article explains: “The in-person interviews created an opportunity to clearly observe how respondents navigated the site. Patterson could see their posture, body language and facial expressions. This up-close experience allowed for observations of personal and cultural attitudes and behaviors and it also allowed for conversation and probing to dig deeper into the respondents’ thoughts as they navigated the site.”

Do you see why I’m torn? There’s nothing in that description that today’s online research software couldn’t overcome.

Here’s the real reason I think they did in-person interviews: “The Platinum Guild and QRi Consulting agreed from the beginning that doing the interviews in a face-to-face environment was very important for the study,” explains the article. The client wanted it done that way, and sometimes that’s reason enough.

What are your thoughts? If you were the researcher on this project, what would you have proposed?

Download Our New eBook on Hybrid Research

There was a time not long ago when qualitative research meant focus groups or phone surveys…and that was about the extent of it. But that’s no longer the case. Today’s researchers have myriad tools and
techniques at their disposal, from the same tried and true face-to-face techniques to multiple options in online and mobile. These tools can be used alone to gain deep insights—or they can be combined to achieve even richer results. Just as the best houses are not built with just a hammer, the best research projects are often not designed with a single research tool.

But how do you combine methodologies AND stay on budget, not to mention schedule? That’s usually the question we hear from researchers. They understand the value of mixing methodologies, but when it comes to execution, they come up short.

If this sounds like you, check out the latest eBook from 20|20 Research. The eBook, Mixed Methodologies 101: How to combine research methods to achieve deeper insights, outlines the process—soup to nuts—for three popular hybrid research designs:

1. Quantitative to Qualitative:
2. Online Qualitative Research to Online Qualitative Research
3. Online Qualitative Research to In-Person

We also help dispel the most common myths about hybrid research design. (Like why hybrid research isn’t necessarily more expensive or time-consuming than using just a single methodology.)

The bottom line: Today’s researchers are responsible for designing projects that produce insights. More and more, hybrid designs produce results that were difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in the past.

Download the eBook, Mixed Methodologies 101: How to combine research methods to achieve deeper insights.

How to Optimize Online Concept Testing

We love it when we hear good things about one of our online qualitative research tools. The latest comes from Chris Efken, a qualitative research specialist at Chicago-based Doyle Research Associates. She recently put QualLaborate 2.0, our new image markup and concept evaluation tool designed specifically for qualitative research, to the test. Chris was in the middle of planning out a pair of concept testing projects with her client, a major food manufacturer, when QualLaborate launched. It was perfect timing.

So how did QualLaborate perform? You’ll have to read the full case study, “QualLaborate Adds Insight, Speed to Concept Evaluation,” for all the details, but here’s the bottom line from Chris: “QualLaborate takes concept testing to the next level.”

Participants seemed to enjoy using the tool, and both Efken and her client were impressed with how quickly QualLaborate helped them narrow down the concepts.

“Before QualLaborate, you really had to read through the transcripts to get to the bottom of it,” which can be a time-consuming process, she says. “With QualLaborate, all you have to do is look at the heat maps to see what’s working and what isn’t. It’s a really great visual tool in that it makes it that much easier to see what pops. You could literally see the energy behind the concepts.”

How to Use Online Qualitative Research for Co-Creation

This week Jim Bryson mentioned to me that he loves the moment when a researcher first discovers how a 20|20 Technology platform can expand their ability to create meaningful insights. These researchers often are reluctant to try new methodologies, so the “aha moment” is particularly revealing and invigorating. Recent experiences have shown how the new QualLaborate concept evaluation tool can be used in Qualboard for co-creation to generate those “aha moments” researchers long for. The new how-to we’ve posted in the 20|20 Research Learning Center will explain how to use online qualitative research tools for co-creation.

Developing new products with consumer input has long been considered one of the best ways to develop new products. The underlying presumption is that consumers are better at creating products for consumers than marketers are. But companies haven’t always been eager to use the methodology, mainly because it has been a tedious and expensive process typically conducted at a location that is convenient to the product development team but not to the vast majority of consumers. Not anymore, though, thanks to online qualitative research. Read the full article to see exactly how it works.

The article is the first in a new series. We’re planning to outline how to utilize online qualitative research tools for at least three other methodologies. Check back soon for the next installment.

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