Social media research isn’t the solution to your marketing problems

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

17 October 2011

Social media is a lazy researcher’s crutch

Social media does have promising opportunities for marketing, but only as another venue. Don’t assume it is the answer to your marketing problems without context. As I’ve always said, social media must be approached like any other form of marketing. If you don’t have the right message, it doesn’t matter how many blogs you write, tweets you tweet or Facebook updates you link. Now comes an even more sinister, proposed use of social media: Using social media research in place of market research. IBM recently completed a study with chief marketing officers to find out how much they are using social media and in what ways.

“Checking what’s said online is something all CMOs must do, but don’t think it means all that much.”

social media researchWhat caught my eye was that less than half of them are checking blogs, third-party reviews and consumer reviews and rely mostly on market research to get a reading of the pulse of their target audiences.

Good for them.

Checking what’s said online is something all CMOs must do, but don’t think it means all that much. They are qualitative in nature, much like focus groups and online questionnaires.

The group dynamic dominates focus groups; meaning honest answers are rarely given. That’s why we never do them. And online research means you have a self-selected audience taking part in the questionnaire. You only get the extremes (hate you or love you) without having projectable data that can tell you if your brand is resonating and why, and what you need to do to make it more meaningful and move the needle.

Social media research only gives you shadings, and what you find there must be tested in market research. As it is in marketing, social media is only a tool.

Even more shockingly, the authors of the study suggested that social media research could be a way to evaluate current marketing and enable CMOs to initiate change within a company. Return on their marketing investment was considered the best way to evaluate by CMOs and the study’s authors suggested social media was better than that.

I have a different way to evaluate. How about measuring if your company or brand is stealing market share? Isn’t that the whole point?

See more posts in the following related categories: market research Social media Social Media marketing social media research


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