With 1.7 billion people using social media globally, social media communication is now undeniably a mainstream activity. Tapping into this, there is now a healthy industry dedicated to tracking brand reputation using simple keyword-based platforms. As researchers, we should be asking ourselves how we can harness insights from this huge source of qualitative data to help our clients understand people and their needs better.
As both a social media and a qualitative research agency, this is something we at FACE are always thinking about. And we thought it was time to share more. So here are 3 use cases that go beyond brand tracking where social data is increasingly being used to answer research briefs.
1. Problem Tracking for Innovation
When you’re thinking innovation, asking people what products & services they want to see has an obvious drawback: these things don’t exist! So people find them hard to describe.
Image by Flickr User Jason Bolonski
You can often learn more from what listening to what people don’t want, or what they hate than asking them what they do want. And the advantage of social is that you don’t just tap into the dislikes of 15-20 people in an online community – but potentially 15-20,000 responses in social media discussion.
Using a skilled keyword search strategy you can isolate conversations around product and service discussions in most categories. In the past year we have worked on numerous innovation projects where social data has been used early in the process to identify consumer needs.
A good example is one of our haircare clients who have been tracking how women talk about their hair frustrations across 6 markets. From this our analysts have dug out unmet needs – and just as importantly, a detailed understanding of how those needs are expressed in consumer language.
Using social data in this way combined with strong qualitative analysis has helped this client uncover insights in a matter of days and at a fraction of the cost of their usual international group methodology.
We’ve also used social media to identify needs in a project for Nokia.
2. Social panels for consumer understanding and profiling
Social listening can go beyond tracking keywords and is increasingly focused on tracking specific groups of people’s conversations in what we describe as social panels.
Image by Flickr User Deb Nystrom
With more sophisticated social research platforms such as Pulsar you can identify discrete groups of people such as brand followers, bloggers, mums, tech experts in fact the list is endless.
We are currently working with a major UK retailer to track groups of their customer conversations to identify opportunity areas for the development of more personalised shopping experiences.
Social data helps to profile customer with a richer layer of behavioural and qual data. When this is combined with existing data sets it gives clients powerful insights on a scale – and timeliness – that is impossible to achieve with other types of research.
For an example, take a loot at this previous project we’ve done, profiling a brand’s audience with @O2.
3. Content tracking for creative development
Lots of media spend has moved to social media in the past few years, and brands understand that they need to evolve to become creators and publishers if they are going to engage people in social. This means that developing compelling content and intelligent seeding strategies is crucial to achieve ROI on this media spend.
Clicks and impressions tell some of the story, but seeing how content is shared and is talked about is crucial to understanding how stuff spreads successfully.
We have been working with Twitter UK over the past year using advanced network analysis to help them demonstrate to advertisers the dynamics of how to create compelling content. This type of behavioural social tracking is a necessity to conduct research in the area of content development as it is the only way to get the full picture of how and why things spread amongst online communities.
Want to learn more about how social data can help you spread your content? Join our Viral Video Webinar, October 23rd at 4 pm BST/11 am EST to see how 4 viral videos were passed around the web – and what you can learn from them.