Is Social Media Killing the Survey?

A recent article in AdvertisingAge entitled, “Will Social Media Replace Surveys as a Research Tool?” caught my attention. With that title, how could it not? Of course, this isn’t a new topic. We’ve been debating the impact of social media on market research for some time now. But, through the lens of consumer products companies, this article discusses an argument – one increasing in volume almost daily – that market research needs to become more “methodology agnostic.”

The article is based on a recent presentation at the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:Think 2011 conference in New York. The presentation was made by Joan Lewis – global consumer and market knowledge officer of Procter & Gamble Co. (a company with $350 million in annual market-research spend). Here’s what she had to say:

“The industry should get away from “believing a method, particularly survey research, will be the solution to anything… We need to be methodology agnostic.”

The more people see two-way engagement and being able to interact with people all over the world, I think the less they want to be involved in structured research,” she said. “If I have something to say to that company now, there are lots of ways to say it.”

The author of the article also spoke with Joe Tripodi, Executive VP and chief marketing and commercial officer of Coca-Cola Co. He expressed a frustration that many seem to be feeling in light of shifting consumer behavior:

“I would gladly pay a lot more money to our agency partners in the research area if they delivered for us that game-changing insight,” he said. “Absolutely, where do I sign up?”

If leveraged properly, maybe social media will be the death of the survey. And maybe that will be the best thing to happen to the market research industry in a generation. What do you think?

About Joshua Hoffman

Joshua Hoffman is Technology Specialist at Microsoft and a frequent contributor to Research Access.


  1. Amit Bist says:

    Hi, This is a good article and worth reading. I have been reading all these articles regularly. These are providing amazing insights. As far as social media is concerned if we talk about india 84% of the rural population not aware about internet according to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association Of India.

    So the question comes back and here we need to think again that how in a country like India where nearly 65% of the total population is agriculture dependent and living in rural India can access any of the social network sites. How we can replace the survey methods in these areas. Do we really have any innovative method to bring all these rural inhabitants together.

    Time to think again. Seeking reverts.

    Warm regards,
    Amit Bist

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