Posts Tagged ‘research’

Goodbye Surveys and Focus Groups

Social media can be many things, but its role as a powerful research tool can be overlooked.

Even as a marketer or PR practitioner, you should at least use it in this way, irregardless of any reluctance  to embrace social media as an engagement, sharing or publishing tool.

Beyond the facts it happens in real-time, social media is global and completely voluntary – key facts when considering its value and legitimacy as a research tool.

It is a great way to get insight into your competitors. You can see not only their campaigns but also their tactics and online personality. How they are connecting with their online audiences can be invaluable as you craft your own digital strategy.

As well, social media is a great vehicle to research potential strategic partnerships. This can include bloggers or smaller companies on the precipice where your insight can be valued and shared.

When planning and executing a social media strategy, it’s easier to measure than print, TV and radio campaigns. The amount of data that can be captured and analyzed from social media is impressive, and a complete boon to any future strategies, campaigns and tactics.

The research capacity of social media can also help you in the offline world. It is simply an enormous bank of information and data.

 

Who Knew! Inane Tweets Are Disliked

I’ve been fascinated with inane tweets. You know, people who tweet about their need for a coffee, how they’re not feeling well, the statement of mind of their cats or dogs, their affinity for pickles or the ultra-annoying “Good morning!”

They’re the kind of tweets that make me wonder: Why do people feel compel to spend the time to share these kind of tweets, which, at best, have a limited audience or have no interest to any but the author? It is because people have nothing better to do with their time? Do they really think other people are interested, or they provide a shred of value?

For anyone curious about why these tweets happen, you’ll be interested in a study called “Who Gives a Tweet: Evaluating Microblog Content Value” by researchers Paul André of Carnegie Mellon, Michael Bernstein of MIT, and Kurt Luther of Georgia Tech.

After spending a year studying 43,738 tweets, they found the three most strongly disliked categories were “presence maintenance, conversation and Me Now”.

In particular, “Me Now” tweets only had a 22% chance of being read even though there might be an expectation their followers would be interested.

“Analyzing the free text responses to understand the reasons, we found many cases in which the follower was not interested by the tweeter’s life details, e.g., “sorry, but I don’t care what people are eating”, “too much personal info”, “He moans about this ALL THE TIME. Seriously,” the study said.

Foursquare Check-Ins a “Special Hatred”

The study  said a “special hatred” was Foursquare location check-ins: “Foursquare updates don’t need to be shared on Twitter unless there’s a relevant update to be made.”

To get a better handle on the tweets that people like or dislike, the study rated tweets in worth reading (WR) and not worth reading (NotWR). In the NotWR category, the tweets were described as “arrogant, boring, depressing, mean”, while WR tweets were “funny, exciting, useful, informative”

In conclusion, the reachers suggest if people should do the following to improve the chances of their tweets being read:

- Embed more context in tweets (and be less cryptic)

- Add extra commentary, especially if retweeting a common news source

- Don’t overuse hashtags and use direct messages (DMs) rather than @mentions if more appropriate

- Happy sentiments are valued and “whining” is disliked

- Questions should use a unique hashtag so followers can keep track of the conversation.

More: Business Insider‘s Megan Garber has some thoughts on the study.

Is Your Target Audience a Mystery?

When I meet with companies about their interest in social media, one of the key questions is “What’s the target audience, and what kinds of social media services are they consuming?”.

It’s a straightforward question because it is important to know where you should be telling stories, having discussions and focusing your time and effort.

What never ceases to surprise me is how so many companies have no clue about how their customers, potential customers, suppliers, partners, investors or even employees are using social media. No formal or informal surveys had been done to determine whether the target audience is using social media and, if so, any particular services.

There doesn’t appear to be anyone looking at analytics information to see if any social media services are driving Web site traffic.

Instead, there’s a huge information void. This means two things can happen: a company can invest the time to discover social media usage among its target audience, or it can take an educated guess while creating a strategic and tactical plan for social media.

In most cases, the latter option is selected due to time constraints, or the sense most people are likely using a particular platform (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) so there’s a good chance their social media efforts will hit the target audience. In other words, companies are taking calculated risks rather than taking the time to prepare themselves.

When you think about how companies operate other parts of their businesses, and the research that goes into making strategic and tactical decisions, it is surprising social media decisions happen with less information.

It may have to do with immaturity of the market, or perhaps a reluctance to spend money to do research on a new initiative with uncertain returns. Hence, there may be a less enthusiasm to spend money on research.

In an ideal world, companies would know the social media services being consumed by their target audiences. This lets them embrace the right social media services and, as important, deliver the right content and information.

This is a better approach than throwing a plan into the wind on the hope it manages to resonate with the right people. Sometimes, it works. But in some cases, a company’s social media efforts will flounder, which causes a lot of frustration because so much work and money have gone into it.

The reality, however, is a company could have given themselves a better chance of success by simply doing some research before they got started.

What do you think? How important is it to do research in getting ready for social media?