social media monitoring

Guerrilla Warfare in Social Media?

Social media monitoring is hot and a lot of companies are putting a lot of money into social media monitoring.  We did a little investigating and found several firms who provide “tweet for hire” services.  So, how does one person with a grudge and $500 give a engage in guerilla warfare with a major brand?  Actually its not difficult.

We did a quick analysis of social media volume of a couple of well-known consumer brands, one fairly large and one not-so large.  Tweeters mentioned the large brand an average of about 40 tweets an hour or 960 tweets a day.  The smaller brand averaged about 100 tweets a day.

Now consider the world of “tweeting for hire.”  In a previous post, I talked about some of the re-tweeting sites that people are using to increase their SEO.  Even social media monitoring firms use them, so they are no secret.  These firms make their living from increasing website SEO which requires a high volume of social media at a low cost.  Therefore, they have devised methods to sell high volumes of tweets for very little.  For example, here is the pricing page for

So, for $150/month, this site will re-tweet your message 125 times a day.  What would that do to a brand’s social media monitoring charts????  For a small to mid-major brand, it would be more than half the total tweets they see.  If taking on a major brand, a single person could provide a third or more of the daily tweets (375 of 960) for $450/month.

So you ask, “Can’t I easily block re-tweeting from my social media monitoring?”  Of course you can.  However, also provides the following option,  “Alternatively you can just give us the message you want promoted and we will create the original Tweet for you.”

You might say, “Well, it would be monitored so all those identical tweets would be discounted.”  True.  But a person could include different messages to make the process more difficult.  Plus, the tracking data would get really unreliable.

If you had a devious mind and a little cash or if you were an unscrupulous competitor, what could you do?  A little subterfuge would go a long way to create chaos among the brand team or to alter marketing and branding decisions.  At minimum, such an attack would undermine the trustworthiness of the system.  Its the very definition of guerilla warfare.  Its simple.  Its inexpensive.  Its effective.

How long would it take a few guerrilla attacks on brands to undermine the credibility of our industry?

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?


IIR Tech Conference Report: Communities Down, Engagement Up?

Isaac Rogers, our Director of New Product Development, is attending the two-day IIR Technology Conference in Chicago. So far, he’s checked in with four observations:

1. No real talk about communities. This either means one of three things: 1) Everyone who wants one has one; 2) Everyone is bored of talking about them; or 3) They aren’t the hot-button item they once were. After my discussions with the other attendees, I’m leaning towards #3. Funny, a couple of years ago that’s all anyone wanted to talk about. Now, there seem to be three new buzzwords: mobile, social media and engagement (for real!).

2. Mobile qualitative research is everywhere in this conference, but there is still some debate about where it fits in the research toolkit. Is it a niche tool? Is it a primary go-to? Is it a compelling add-on? It seems there is a lot of value getting derived from the mobile experience/customer sat work going on, but people are talking about it as just another data collection method.

3. Social Media is a big topic at this event. However, there still seems to be this kind of “So what?” question hanging in the air. I think the presenters did an excellent job talking about how they use social media for additional insight into trends, and how the concept of “looking for your specific brand” is really not a great approach, but most of the questions from the audience seemed to leave me wondering if we’ve really got this social media monitoring figured out yet.

4. Engagement. This has been the subtle undercurrent of this conference, from my vantage point. Lots of these techniques and tools discussed allow us to create a more engaging participant experience, and how that can benefit the overall research. There is almost this “respect” for participants that is refreshing and signals continued growth for qualitative research.

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