Market Research Trends 2012: Part Four – Social Monitoring and Panel Communities

Magnifying GlassOn December 14th 2011 the Market Research Trends 2012 webinar featured moderator Ivana Taylor and panelists Lenny Murphy and Romi Mahajan discussing the most prominent trends for market research in 2012.  

Today we bring you the full text of the fourth part of the webinar, a discussion of social monitoring and panel communities.

Here is a list of all the parts of the webinar with links, to be updated as each section is published:

Ivana Taylor

Ivana Taylor

Ivana Taylor:  OK. Now let’s talk a little bit about social monitoring. Who wants to jump in first?

Romi Mahajan

Romi Mahajan

Romi Mahajan:  Social monitoring to me is– if you look at the social web for a moment and you’re look at four different aspects of it, they really make some very compelling propositions. One is that the amount of information on the social web, as Lenny pointed to earlier, is growing geometrically. It’s growing at this incredible rate. And in fact, they’re saying that every year the amount of information available triples.

The second is that the information on the social web, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or any other sort of formation, is sentiment-based. It’s emotional-based. It’s often ungrammatical. It’s asyntactic. It’s not like reading a book that’s been edited and so on and so forth. And as such, there’s a huge sort of data problem we have in terms of deciphering what that is.

The third thing is the social media. Social media, it’s always on. 24/7, 365, multi-geography, multi-polar. It’s everywhere.

And the fourth thing is, no matter what we say about it, it is affecting all of our brands. And so how do we go monitor the social web in a way that is easy to understand, that puts all the content in categories and allows us to act on it? And if I might plug my company, Metavana, we built an engine to do just that, where we point our engine at different domains, learn the domain, and then help a large company or a small company or an individual figure out what exactly is being said about it, him, or her on the social web and help them act on it.

So when I think about social monitoring, I think about thinking about the social web as the new authentic, and for people to understand that every bit of brand equity, just like you have a stock ticker that tells you your stock price, people are soon going to have a brand equity ticker that measures and monitors what’s being said about them on the social web. So that’s my perspective on social monitoring.

Ivana Taylor:  Got it. Leonard, do you have anything to add to that?

Leonard Murphy

Leonard Murphy

Leonard Murphy:  Not really. He really covered it. I think it’s the great untapped pool of data and information that is probably, as we pointed out earlier, one of the major pillars of all of these things that we’re talking about. Like without the social web, a lot of the ideas that we’re discussing would not be practical. And I think that the impact of social media on us as a species, we’ve just begun to understand how it’s impacted us. I think it really is almost an evolutionary shift forward, and we’re going to see that continue to have profound impact over our businesses over the next few years.

Ivana Taylor:  Got it. All right. Let’s move on to panel communities. I think we’re going to talk about this– again, everything that we’re talking about is basically interconnected, so I hope we have time to sort of bring them together. But actually, Leonard, I’d like you to start chatting a little bit about panel communities.

Leonard Murphy:  Sure. Well, I think panel communities, it’s the microcosm of the social networking aspect. The old panel model was you got a couple million people and you threw a couple bucks at them, and you just hit them over and over and over and over again with surveys. That was the panel model. That’s still the panel model.

The panel community model is different. The panel community model is more akin to the idea of combining the large reach of a panel– although not necessarily in the millions, generally more in the hundreds of thousands– with the more targeted and collaborative process of an MROC, of a Market Research Online Community. So you’re able to engage with consumers in a very different way.

It’s no longer a commoditized process. It is now a deeply value-driven engaged process where consumers are giving their feedback and they’re sharing information. And they’re sharing with one another as well, and brands are getting value from that in an ongoing way, instead of kind of a drive-by relationship type of thing, what I think of the usual panel paradigm.

This is more of a we’re dating, we’re involved in a relationship. So there’s more investment on both parties, on both the business and the consumer, to make that work more effectively. But I certainly think that it’s the great compromise between the old panel model and the community model, and will probably be one of the major drivers of how brands engage with consumers outside of social networks, in a more structured way, over the next 5 to 10 years.

Ivana Taylor:  Absolutely. Romi?

Romi Mahajan:  Yes, I think what Lenny said is good. The only think I would add is maybe it’s just sort of a sound bite, which is I look at panel communities and I think about us moving from what I call the episodic to the constant. The old model, whether it was enterprise feedback or surveys or panels, was every now and then you punctuated your little marketing plan with a thing. And then you did it the next quarter and maybe the next year, and there was really no continuity, no shared intelligence, no sort of sustainability of the community.

And so I think we’ve got to move way from episodic to continuous or constant. And I think this is the beginning of that. And I actually do applaud Survey Analytics and you, Ivana, for putting this together, because I think one of the themes that we’re seeing emerge from this is the movement from the punctuated, nodal, episodic to the constant. So thanks, certainly, for bringing out all these different trends that are connected in these ways.

Yes. And I think from a small business perspective, that doesn’t have a lot of money, one of the things that’s profound to me is that when I think about running panels 20 years ago, when I was in corporate marketing, this was a major, major investment. And it really wasn’t available to people who did not have the resources to fly people in or to engage in some high end research with them. And now I think the technology that we have now, whether it’s the crowdsourcing, such as like an IdeaScale, where you kind of have a community there, or whether it’s through using the mobile technology with SurveySwipe, or whichever way you are using the panel communities, to me the cost is exponentially lower and it makes it so much more accessible to those companies that maybe don’t have a presence on the social web, like with a broad consumer audience.

Ivana Taylor:  So excellent. Thank you for that, you guys. OK. User experience.

That’s it for Part Four – Social Monitoring and Panel Communities.  Next up is Part Five – User Experience.  Make sure not to miss it by subscribing to Research Access email updates.


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Photo Credit:  Jeffrey Beall


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Dana is the Editor-in-Chief of Research Access.

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