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Social media and customer research: Opportunities, weaknesses and threats

10th May 2010
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Social media listening and measurement tools can provide businesses with valuable information regarding their brand, competitors and the needs of people.

Many businesses use this information to make strategic discussions and integrate social media in techniques for customer and market research. The same goes for research companies.

However, this is not without risks. Users of different social media have a specific profile that varies depending on the medium and businesses should be aware that you cannot  extrapolate insights that are gathered via social media. This seems obvious but I have seen many press releases from companies saying that “the average consumer finds that…” and then later in the article it becomes clear that all this is based on a Twitter poll. This is entirely wrong, of course.

With so many discussions to be picked up everywhere and so many resources for market and customer research, you may be tempted into thinking that companies specializing in research and surveys are now doomed. This is of course untrue. What is true is that most  research companies include social media in their research methods, often in very creative and well-developed ways. Why wouldn’t your company do the same?

There are plenty of possibilities, from Twitter surveys to direct feedback and contact. Many companies embrace social media as a solution for research and even co-creation, whereby the customer or ‘community’ is given a role to play in the definition of strategies for product development, communication, etc. (crowdsourcing), as you could read in some recent case studies. Research companies even use social media to set up panels, although this is often done in an integrated framework.

J-P De Clerck's blog continues here.

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