Market Researchers Are Discovering Social Media

Recently, I attended a social media and marketing conference. Digital Athens, as it was called, focused on how social media can and has been used to strengthen brands and generate sales. Adam Naide spoke about how Cox Communications uses social media to engage potential customers, and stand out in an industry generally associated with poor customer service and cable outages. Chris Tuff of 22squared displayed a social media campaign his agency built for Buffalo Wild Wings which generated lift during the summer, when their restaurants normally experience a slowdown. Back when I was an intern and junior account coordinator at Definition 6 we released a Facebook campaign for True Blood that allowed a fan to insert him or herself and their Facebook friends into a special video, building a connection with the brand and generating buzz about an upcoming season. Social media has been used for marketing for quite a while now, to my recollection starting with the music industry getting on MySpace.

A newer, and really more logical business purpose for social media has been found. Social media by definition is meant to be social, and while that offers brands an opportunity to be more personable, it also creates resistance to their involvement. The hordes of people online discussing everything imaginable create an opportunity for marketing research. Marketing researchers can leverage social media in two different ways.

Firstly, for recruiting. I’ve been involved with some recruiting via twitter for marketing research online communities. Twitter offers the ability to target customer’s based on who they follow, what they’re talking about, or with tools such as Insightpool to organize the millions of people on twitter by geography and/or keywords in bios. In my experience, we were able to provide higher quality participants than what the researchers were previously getting through traditional methods.

Secondly, qualitative marketing research itself can be done on social media. Social Media listening tools such as Radian6, now owned by Sales Force, allow companies to track the sentiment of the online chatter buzzing about their business online. While it’s probably unwise to view it as true quantitative research it would seem to be rather useful for uncovering potential issues with a brand. It can help “identify issues to explore further with more traditional qualitative methods.

I think we saw PR and marketing jump on the social media bandwagon, and to some success, and now we’re seeing marketing research get involved.

Expect more sports and politics posts to come soon with baseball season not to far off and a national presidential election just waiting for a GOP nominee.

Source: Quirks: Qualitatively Speaking

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