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. The topic is being addressed to different degrees by different vendors, and this year the ARF devoted significant energy to this space as well. As this is such an important area for MR to grasp – and sooner rather than later -- I’m devoting a report to understanding how and when market researchers should use social media for their work, be it in gathering insights, uncovering unmet needs, building sample, or even communicating their work internally. I would be completely remiss, then, not to use my own social tools (this blog), as part of this research.

I’ll likely address all of the above topics in varying detail, but I’m looking for input on what I should focus on most, as well as where I might be able to tap into for case studies or success stories.

What I want to know is:

  • How are you as market researchers listening to conversations on Twitter, blogs, open communities, and other social networks? What tools do you rely on to sift through all this information, and do you partner with other parts of the organization to help integrate and communicate these findings?
  • Can social media be used to gain insight directly? Or are they best relied on to get directional information on what you should be testing further with other ressearch tools?
  • Do you engage in social networks and social media activities to help educate yourself on MR best practices or communicate your findings to a wider audience (either internally or externally)?
  • Do you use social media to actually recruit sample or conduct surveys? What are the advantages and pitfalls of doing so?

I have plenty of secondary research on most of this, and what I’m looking for now are individuals who have experience in this space and with whom I can have more in-depth conversations, either on or off the record. So please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via this blog, on Twitter, or via email at

Looking forward to your thoughts and input!



re: How should researchers leverage social media?


Big fan of your blog(and Reineke's). Its good to see a cohesive outline for Social Media applications & MR. Curious too see which "new" segments will surface in the coming year!

My expertise surrounds sample, via social networks, for traditional quantitative research (primarily consumers). The initial model works much the same as an online panel (quality, best practices, industry standards).

However, the methodology (for recruitment, incentives, engagement & population reach) amongst social media environments offers a completely new approach for online sample. Interesting stuff!

Would enjoy sharing more details for your research, as well as learning your thoughts on the topic - will send over a DM, via twitter, to coordinate.


re: How should researchers leverage social media?

I'm not a market research professional, but see implications for education research in the questions you raise, especially as it relates to the spread of innovation.

re: How should researchers leverage social media?

Krista and Gary, thanks for the comments. Krista, would enjoy talking further about your experience and views, so feel free to get in touch through email or twitter. Looking forward to it.

Gary, are you talking about research on the field of education? Education policy? There are absolutely implications for using social media in the innovation process, although probably best used at the beginning of the discovery phase in research.