But the above frameworks don’t tell the whole story. To truly understand the fit or relevancy of each source, you must dive deeper and understand the nuances of each platform. Next, we’ll look more closely at three types of social data sources.
Consumer review sites are a goldmine for product and competitive insights. And with 95 percent of shoppers reading reviews before purchase, they are also key to manage and improve over time.
Sources: Amazon.com, Tripadvisor.com, Trivago.com, Sina Weibo
Nature of conversation: Authors describe their real-life experiences pre, post, and during a product purchase. They are evaluations. Readers gain functional insights that inform their next purchase.
Content Structure: Compared to traditional social platforms, reviews are longer formed and follow cleaner case and syntax rules.
Value: Surface high-quality product and competitive intelligence. Structured data, via star ratings, allow for tracking of product performance.
Micro-blogging sites like Twitter surface in-moment, opinion-based discussion.
Sources: Twitter, Sina Weibo, Tencent
Nature of conversation: Twitter and other micro-blogs serve as soapboxes for airing grievances, rapid transfer of trending information, and producers of pop-culture and viral content.
Content structure: Short form due to character limitations and unique use of hashtags. Heavy use of slang and disregard for syntax. Increasing use of videos.
Value: Good to find ‘in the moment’ experiences, new trends, customer experience issues, feedback on events, etc. As it is one of the places global brands have branded channels, it is also relevant for campaign impact analysis.
Forums are typically interest-based discussion groups that promote questions and answers among a community. Reddit is the prime example of a forum. And we all know it’s influence is growing.
Sources: Reddit, Yelp, Quora
Nature of conversation: Forums are interest based communities, that, above all, promote question and answer style discussions. Authors and readers mostly exchange product and experience-based information. While mostly functional in nature, many forums also instill shared feelings, opinions or emotions across its community group.
Content structure: Longer in form than micro-blogs, forums tend to adhere to syntax rules and are predominantly text-based.
Value: Because of their question-based style, forums are great for unearthing challenges or friction points across the customer experience. The long form and honest exchange of information unveils deep insights related to unmet needs, concerns and recommendations.
Of course, the above list is not exhaustive. But as you can see, each platform produces unique conversations. Knowing the nature of these conversations and their corresponding value helps you define the most relevant sources and obtain insights faster.
The opportunity with social research is vast and not fully tapped. By installing best practices and shared knowledge, however, we can introduce rigor and more consistently find the insights we desire.