social media

QRCA Panel Speaks Out on Social Media Recruiting

“Social Media.”  Everyone is talking about it.  Everyone wants to use it.  Everyone is trying to figure out how.

At the QRCA Conference in Montreal, I recently participated on a panel discussion titled, “Social Media Recruiting: Way of the Future.”  The goal was to discuss how social media is currently being used to recruit face-to-face and online qualitative.  The panel was organized by the QRCA Field Committee and led by Michelle Finzel of Maryland Marketing Source.

Some of my take-aways related to social media sites were:

  • Most “social media” recruiting started with Craigslist.  Craigslist still has a bad reputation though its discussion area is really no different than other social media sites.
  • Linkedin seems to have promise for B-B recruiting, but so far few have found methods that work.
  • Facebook is the primary social media site used for qual recruiting.  Facebook is being used in two ways.
  1. Many firms have their own Facebook pages that they use to troll for participants who have previously “Liked” them.
  2. Firms are getting adept, through trial and error, at paid advertising for particular respondents on Facebook

Social media recruiting seems to work best with consumer recruits.  Facebook and others are able to target ads at specific consumer demographics or other measures they can access.  Such targeting can make certain difficult-to-recruit consumer groups much easier.  However, if such criteria is not available, difficult recruits can be extremely expensive since the recruiter must pay/click for each respondent who clicks through to the screener.  For low incidence studies, this can be cost prohibitive and, therefore, not helpful.

The panel discussed the ethics of client disclosure.  Do we need to disclose to clients that the recruits came from social media sites?  Generally, the panel agreed that, in most cases, such disclosure was not necessary.  The burden is on the recruiter to ensure that the participant qualifies in every way regardless of the respondent source.  If the recruiter is doing his/her job correctly, the source is largely irrelevant.

Bottom Line:  Social media recruiting can help with certain recruiting problems.  However, the panel agreed that traditional recruiting rescreening and verification steps still must be taken.  Social media recruiting is a way to broaden the recruiting reach but it does not relieve the recruiter of the responsibility to thoroughly screen and verify their respondents.

Social media recruiting is likely here to stay.  However, it is not stand-alone.  It still requires some form of traditional recruiting process to ensure that ethe right respondents fit the right project.

QRCA Members can go to the QRCA Website to get a copy of the presentation.  I was honored to serve on the panel with Ben Smithee of Spych Research and Jeff Henn of Baltimore Research.

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.

2012 Tech Predictions Impact Research

Happy New Year!

With the turning of the calendar and the sense of renewed optimism always brings a new wave of predictions.  As someone who enjoys thinking about the future, I find them interesting, and sometimes quite amusing.

So far, my favorite tech predictions are from VentureBeat.  This is my favorite so far because 1) I agree, and 2) the article is short enough to hold my attention.  The article is titled Five Tech Industry Predictions for 2012.  Though it doesn’t relate directly to the market research industry, there are many research implications.  Here are their 5 predictions:

  1. Social Media will lose its sizzle. Will we finally have rational discussion about our ability to conduct research via social media monitoring?
  2. The bubble will pop for the current crop of tech IPOs. Will this prediction hold true in research where M&A is more common than IPO?  We have seen a lot of M&A activity.  Will it slow and/or will values fall?  Frankly, I don’t think so.
  3. An explosion of the tablet market driven by sub-$100 tablets. WOW.  Think of the implications for online qualitative research if respondents can participate ANYwhere.
  4. Voice recognition goes mainstream. I’ve been thinking about this since I bought my iPhone 4S and got to know Siri.  She is a clever thing that I did not have to train.  If respondents can participate online without typing…..hmmmmmm…using their sub-$100 tablet maybe?
  5. “Cloudburst” shakes the tech industry.  Data security is the monster in the closet.  Can the market research industry take advantage of the “cloud” and secure its data properly?

Do you see additional trends?  How will they affect market research?

Welcome to 2012!

MRA Conference Quotes: Bill Neal and Marshall Toplansky face off

The MRA Conference started Tuesday with a bang!  Industry veterans, icons really, Bill Neal and Marshall Toplansky, faced off on a debate about the future of the industry, specifically social media.  The debate was fun, opinionated and wide-ranging.  Some great quotes emerged.  Here are some of them that may make you stop and ponder.

“The (technology) train has left the station.  If the research industry does not get involved, it will relegate itself to the dustbin of history.” Marshall

What bothers me about our industry is that the answer to “It isn’t perfect” is I won’t bother with it.  In technology, the answer to “It isn’t perfect” is “I’ll work to fix it.” Marshall

On Corporate Trends:

“Corporate researchers are investing in ongoing, real-time information systems.  They started with financial systems and they are moving to marketing systems.  They are moving from a focus on strategic research and into performance indices.” Marshall

“Our role is to be the arbiter of the voice of the customer in the C-suite.  Unfortunately we do not have a voice in the C-suite today.” Bill

“Corporate researchers are not able to make judgments to understand what is good research and what is not.  They want the top numbers to pass up to those paying for it.” Bill

“Big M marketing is waning; Little m marketing is increasing.” Bill   (Big M = branding and long term positioning.  Little m = tactical marketing to result in short-term sales.)

“The fundamental flow of information to the decision makers is inadequate.” Marshall

On Social Media as a Research Tool:

“I don’t care how big the data set is, if its not representative then its not valid.  There are gobs of people that are not represented in social media…I’m not sure its ever going to get to the point where it is representative.” Bill

“It’s the “why” part of it that a lot of this new technology is not addressing.” Bill

“Despite what I have seen at this conference, social media research has not reached the point where you will bet the company on it.” Bill

“Gobs of data does not relieve us from conducting statistically reliable and trustworthy analyses…(and) relieve us from making reliable projections that can be defended in the court of reality” Bill

I remember when people stood up and said “Scanner data is going to end all research.” Bill

“I remember when people said that scanner data was no good because we didn’t know anything about the people that the data represents.  It wasn’t long until loyalty cards were invented to solve that problem.  We will solve these problems with social media.” Marshall

“I am concerned that this drive to use social media as quantitative information is going to lead too many people to drive off the cliff.  I guess that’s my major problem with it.”  Bill

“I want to address this idea of “representativeness.”  Do you realize that this whole idea of “representativeness” is a load of crap?…We are stuck in an old paradigm that even Proctor & Gamble is moving away from.” Marshall

“We have a herd instinct going on with social media and we have a lot more work to do to make it predictable.” Bill

“I don’t think you appreciate the scale difference between social media and traditional research.  To give you a sense of scale, just in consumer electronics we analyze and collect 120 million comments a month.  We are looking at this as the law of large numbers.  A lot of the comments we would normally delete in a typical research project get bled out in the millions of comments from social media.” Marshall

“So woman comes on and complains about diapers and more moms agree and add on.  Eventually the discussion cascades and the entire social media discussion is about a topic that may or may not be important to the majority of moms.  This is one of the problems I have with social media.” Bill

“Its (social media) not the end all, its just another tool.  Don’t oversell it.  Don’t overuse it.” Bill

QRCA Conference: Should qualitative research care about social media?

Should qualitative research care about social media?

Kathy Doyle of Doyle Research posed this question to the qualitative research practitioners at the QRCA Conference in Philadelphia today.

Her answer: YES!!!!

When it comes to social media, Kathy said qualitative research should “own it…and right now we don’t.” Social media monitoring is a listening exercise by definition. Though some providers do offer charts and graphs to summarize the social media findings, there is little understanding behind those graphs. Therefore, researchers are better served by utilizing qualitative analysis techniques that understand the comments in context.

Qualitative research should lead the way in developing social media analysis. After all, effective social media analysis is a natural fit to the qualitative researcher’s skill set.

There are five primary outcomes from qualitative analysis of social media research results.

  • Discover issues related to the brand. Why are they talking about us?
  • ID target segments. Who is talking about us?
  • ID Consumer language. How are they talking about us?
  • Category analysis. What are people saying and and feeling about the brand and competitors?
  • Enhance secondary research. What are the motivators behind the trends we have identified?

Kathy Doyle believes the field is wide open for qualitative researchers. Marketers want it, and monitoring services provide the data, but qualitative researchers are not providing the analysis and interpretation. Kathy is adamant that it is time for our industry to step up and own the social media space.

QRCA Conference: Future of Qualitative Research Is Bright

Maybe it’s the end of the recession or maybe it’s just eternal optimism of qualitative researchers, but the mood at the QRCA Conference is generally upbeat. Most researchers are reporting that business is significantly above last year’s recessionary numbers and approaching the levels of 2-3 years ago.

Also, Greenbook recently released their Research Industry Trends Study showing that research practitioners were upbeat about the future. Overall, expectations for increased spending on research increased from 47% in 2009 to 73% in 2010. However, we should moderate our enthusiasm by the additional finding that research buyers were less enthusiastic, with only 45% expecting increased research spending. Still, that number is up from 31% in 2008.

Ben Smithee, Spych Market Analytics, argued in his presentation that the future of qualitative research is “bright” but that researchers will need to adapt to a new normal. His presentation focused on the need for qualitative researchers to embrace various methods of research such as social media, online qualitative research and collaboration in addition to traditional focus group methodologies.

The world is changing — faster than ever. If we want to survive and thrive, we will have to adapt faster than ever, too.

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