Due to the overwhelming rise of consumer opinions about companies, brands, and products on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, it has become easier for companies to mine the opinions of users. Earlier, companies used to employ traditional methods such as consumer surveys, focus groups, expert interviews, feedback forms, etc. These methods are still being followed but to a lesser extent. With the advent of innumerable social media listening tools (such as Synthesio), it has become so much easier to have a quick look at the likes and dislikes of customers. Here are six varying methods researchers can use social analytics.

Let’s look at the advantages of using social media analytics:

  • It is faster, cheaper and real-time as compared to traditional methods.
  • The consumers give an honest and unbiased opinion and are not restricted by limited questions.
  • Companies can reach audiences in different parts of the world in a matter of hours or days, compared to months via traditional methods.

However, there are certain drawbacks with this approach, which cannot be overlooked:

  • The sample represents only the consumers who are active online and does not represent the entire set of consumers.
  • Studies have shown that 85% of the online reviews are generated by 29% of the consumers who have an online presence.
  • It is difficult to reach certain age-groups, professions or particular demographic groups (as people may have hidden this information or given false information).

 So, social media analytics vs. traditional market research – what is the right solution? 

Why choose if you can use both?!! It’s been proven that the best information on consumer preferences, can be availed by using both these approaches.

In fact, it is beneficial and time-saving to use social media listening tools in the beginning to have a basic consumer understanding. This will help to improve the survey and interview questions. This will also help to tweak advertising campaigns and help in optimizing them. Complementing and not substituting will generate the best insights.

Synthesio has identified 6 ways researchers can use social analytics to generate actionable insights:

  1. Audience Segmentation & Profiling: Social media helps in finding and segmenting targeted groups to participate in existing research streams. Speaking finding the right people, social media can be a value-add to traditional recruitment strategies as well. Synthesio’s Great Book of Insights is a compilation of over 30 examples of best practice uses of social intelligence from some of the world’s leading brands.
  2. Traditional Research Validation: Social media insights, like other traditional methods including desk research, can be used to create the survey design and to validate findings from survey projects. To keep it simple, as mentioned earlier, 85% of the online reviews are generated by 29% of the consumers who have an online presence. Hence, we could use this 29% to confirm if both social insights and your survey (i.e. quantitative data analysis) are aligned.
  3. New Product Development: Social media listening is a great tool to drive innovation. The social media data collected, could be segmented using behavioral, demographic, and geographic indicators, and further used to analyze unmet needs, potentially resulting in ideas for new product development.
  4. Marketing Optimisation:  With social, marketers can measure real-time campaign insights, launches and changes to brand reputation, and go on to take “right-time” actions. Join our webinar on the benefits of right-time marketing vs. real-time marketing, to learn more.
  5. Trend Tracking: Qualitative insights gathered from social media, over a significant amount of time, could be quantified to measure the impact of key market events (like event sponsorship, competitor’s product launch, a new marketing channel, shifting loyalty towards your brand ambassador, etc.) on your brand. Download our case study on measuring sponsorship ROI for Barclays Premier League event.
  6. Competitive intelligence: What is the share of voice? Who are the key influencers? What are the customer perceptions of your brand and your competitors? Social media listening and analytics can provide answers to above and more. View our on-demand webinar on “The Power of Influence” to learn how to turn influencers into allies.

In conclusion, the key takeaways are that social analytics and the generated insights can be used as an early indicator of changes in brand intelligence. It also provides the color commentary that can be leveraged to understand movements in measures such as Synthesio Ranking. Intelligent social listening can pick up on positive/negative sentiments, and attitudinal shifts that will eventually show up in traditional structured measures.

What is your take on social media analytics/intelligence replacing traditional market research? Share below.