Editor’s Note: Because we’re in the business of understanding and communicating to a great extent, it’s no wonder that we often start our process by looking inward. As we become comfortable with the sea change that social media has (so far) produced in our species it’s also imperative that we get a handle on the dynamics of the new paradigm. Of course, understanding that from a marketing perspective is a major focus area, so Ray Poynter asks whether those of us who use social media are actually creating real impact for our brands or just talking into the echo chamber. It all comes down to measuring ROI and the work/benefit ratio.
I’d have to say that we walk a fine line between just creating monologues that create no measurable impact and actually engaging others to drive real change, brand awareness and ROI. I’ve written before on my views on the magic formula to ensure that we stay on the productive side of that line, and my own journey and experience validates my view that (for the most part) those of us who have built influence via social media are ahead of the curve.
There are a few initiatives in the works right that may help us understand all of these questions more effectively. First, there is an international consortium of forward looking researchers working on doing a global netnographic segmentation study of social media users in research, focusing on developing a sense of their profiles based on personal usage rather than just business usage. Second, we’re revamping GRIT right now and a component of that will likely be a deeper dive into the social media usage of researchers as it pertains to marketing their own brands. And of course, Research.live and Dollywagon are continuing to track various aspects of social media usage with the research space each month.
I think our propensity for navel gazing isn’t likely to lessen, but hopefully we can turn it into a motivation for achieving real understanding of a broader trend and turn that understanding into advice and action.
By Ray Poynter
On Tuesday I ran a social media workshop for ESOMAR as part of their Summer Academy in Amsterdam, as part of my remit as Director of Vision Critical University.
The workshop was well attended with about forty people attending from places as diverse as Iceland, China, Chile, Japan, and Australia.
As part of the warm up for the day the delegates were asked what social media related approaches they had used this year and which social media they themselves were a user of. The tables below are not a representative picture of market research; they represent the 33 people who were at the workshop when it kicked off at 9am. The absolute numbers are not relevant, but the relative highs and lows are, perhaps, interesting – particularly as they are quite typical of the feedback I get when I run courses for organizations such as AMSRS and MRS.
Some people may be surprised that the scores for Facebook are not 100%, but the range of countries represented should be kept in mind – along with the fact that some people simply choose not to be on Facebook. It is clear that despite all the news that Pinterest has attracted, amongst this group it is bracketed with Foursquare and Google+ as marginal.
Amongst the 33 people in this group, 11 had used an MROC or Community panel this year, a finding which supports the view that this is the most significant aspect of NewMR.
Formal Social Media monitoring/listening tools were used by 8 people in the group, but the free tools of Google Insights and Search.Twitter were less likely to have been used. (BTW and as a consequence, VCU will be publishing notes on using Google Insights and Search.Twitter shortly).
Looking at the tables above, and thinking about the 200+ people who have attended social media workshops I have run this year for market researchers, I am struck by the gap between the ‘usual suspects’ who are visible all over social media (Tom, Tom, Tom, Annie, and of course Lenny*).
Are the social media heavy users in #MRX ahead of the curve, creating reputations and gaining first mover advantage, or are they simply talking to each other? Perhaps they are simultaneously ignoring the mainstream and being ignored by the mainstream?
* If you know who Tom, Tom, Tom, Annie, and Lenny are without me typing their surnames then perhaps like me you need to get out more? Or, maybe you are simply ahead of the curve?
Ray is the Director of Vision Critical University, the author of the Handbook of Online and Social Media Research, and the founder of NewMR.org. Ray can be found online via @RayPoynter and http://uk.linkedin.com/in/raypoynter.