The Market Research Opportunity For Listening Technology Vendors

Whenever I talk to clients about social market research, the conversation inevitably and quickly turns to listening platforms and how/if market researchers can use them. Platforms like those from Radian6 and Alterian are attracting a lot of attention right now due to the fact that social media have become so mainstream among online consumers in the US and increasingly so in Europe. And the hope among researchers is that these conversations, when tracked and analyzed appropriately, will yield meaningful insights that would have been hard to come by through other means.

The reality is that listening platforms require a significant human touch in order to sift through mountains of data and extract golden nuggets of insight. I truly believe that it’s not too much of a stretch for market researchers to get comfortable with the methodological challenges of this kind of research, such as the fact that you never know the true demographics of the sample. Instead, what’s holding market researchers back is that it’s hard to do this research in an efficient and meaningful (read: insightful) way using just a platform alone.

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Trends And Challenges In Social Market Research

Has an inflammatory tweet about your brand ever caused a panic in your company’s executive ranks? Has your market research department ever attempted to put into context how representative that one tweet might (or might not) be of your total market? For many companies we work with, the answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second question is more likely to be “I don’t know.” Well, the time has come for market researchers to understand the implications of social technologies for their role.

After many months of talking up my social market research report on this blog, via Twitter, and with many vendors and clients, my report is now Web live! It’s aptly entitled “How Can Market Researchers Get Social?”, as this was the core question I began asking myself at the very end of last year when I kicked off this project.

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The Race Is On For Selling MROCs To Agencies

On Tuesday, Passenger announced that it is officially selling into agencies in the digital marketing and market research space. Here are some quick reactions on what this means:

First, this puts it in competition with other vendors (such MarketTools, Vovici, Globalpark) that will also sell into agencies and have a proprietary platform that they can decouple from their services.

Why would Passenger announce this as an explicit strategy? I can tell you from the calls I have with agencies that they see MROCs as a value-add to clients they are working with on social media or research. Also, community services (planning, ongoing management, facilitation, reporting) are the most expensive part of the equation, and it’s likely that many of the agencies that Passenger sells to either already have some services capabilities or will be willing to take more of them on at some point. This move meets a market need and diversifies Passenger's business channels with a potentially higher-margin offering.

Second, this announcement got me thinking about where the market for MROCs is headed, and I’ve got three main ideas:

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Learn To Set Your MROC Up For Success

Recently, I’ve been having conversations with clients who know they want to start up their own market research online communities (MROCs) and know what they want to learn through this kind of research, but they are overwhelmed with where to start. For a lot of market researchers who are dipping their toes into using private communities for research, this is a common pain. Anxiety can easily creep into the MROC ramp-up process when it comes to vendor selection, recruiting, research planning, and reporting – to name a few. And, although many vendors and conferences provide case studies on how MROCs have delivered amazing results, it’s hard to find client case studies around the do’s and don’ts of building one successfully.

I’ve presented and written around this very topic in the past, but for Forrester’s Marketing Forum in LA this April, I wanted our audience to hear from the ”frontlines” of companies who have actually been through this process themselves. If you are trying to navigate the ins and outs of community research, please join me in LA on April 23 for a panel discussion, entitled “Elevating Market Research Through Real-Time Community Insights.” I’ll be leading the conversation with three well-known brands as they talk about their challenges and successes with integrating MROCs into their insights processes. Each of the panelists uses different vendors and they come from distinct company cultures, so I anticipate a very informative 45 minutes.  

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Three Key Considerations On Social Media For Market Research

For my current research on social media and market research, I’m interested in listening platforms (and the text analysis that’s usually packaged with them) for the purposes of mining the social Web – be it on blogs, open community sites, social networks or the like. 

There’s a lively debate around the value of social media listening for market research, and there are many people willing to share their opinion. Last week, I attended a Webinar on this very subject, hosted by Peanut Labs, with multiple guest speakers from the industry. Here are some of the key points that market researchers should consider when assessing the need for – and effort in -- social media research. 

“Process and methods need to be developed to make social media data be another source for Marketing Research” -- From Jean Davis, co-founder of Conversition, and former president of Ipsos Online, North America. This means:  Platforms need to be created with the market researcher in mind.  They must be able to reliably sift through online conversations to sort out low-quality data; apply weighting schemes to that data reflects that true share of volume that different sources have online; and create constructs so that data from social media can be proxied to represent common measures such as five-point scales and top-two boxes. 

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Hispanics’ Use Of Social Media – Is It The New Mainstream?

It’s been almost 18 months since I wrote Hispanic Social Technographics Revealed, which highlighted this consumer segment’s very strong inroads using social media of all types. And in that time, the volume around how, why, and when companies should use social media has grown even louder. Likewise, Hispanics' engagement in social media has grown.

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Godiva’s MROC Gives Way To A New Product

I thought I would share a recent MROC case study from an event I highlighted in one of my previous entries. These are the main points of a presentation from Rich Keller, the global business director of Godiva. The real kicker in this story is that Godiva doesn’t even have a research department. The research fell to marketing, and one very passionate leader in Rich.

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How should researchers leverage social media?

In a previous blog post, Reineke Reitsma summarized market research in 2010 with one word: Listening. And in today's socially connected world, many researchers are grappling with how to use social media for listening in a way that adds value to the MR role.

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Innovative Research Ideas From Three Vendors

I recently attended a unique event hosted by three vendors who are, at times, competitors: Communispace, BrainJuicer, and OTX. It was a nice change from industry events, and a place to interact with top executives of each of these companies as well as a very nice mix of their own clients from large brands that any of us in MR would recognize.

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Qualitative Research For Hispanic Marketing

Lately, I’ve been having quite a few conversations with clients on the subtleties of understanding preference for and use of Spanish in marketing to US Hispanics. After attending some recent focus groups in which we spoke to both English and Spanish-speaking consumers, I was reminded of some key tenets on language use for this group:

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