The ISO issue that has created a stir on various online discussion boards has also raised another question: does the MR industry need a grassroots voice? Say what you will about firebrand Tom Anderson, but he is a pioneer in harnessing the power of social media for research, is passionate about our industry, and he raises a good point in his recent blog post An Ode to Disruption: Social Media’s Impact on Research-As-Usual:
Fortunately, that system is now being turned on its ear with the advent of social media, which has ushered in a new era of transparency. Issues that affect the MR industry in the future will likely be debated openly on channels like NGMR and countless others, not behind closed doors.
This will encourage participation from a much broader spectrum of industry stakeholders, and give voice to a much richer variety of perspectives, which I believe will ultimately benefit the industry as a whole.
I do tend to believe that social media has leveled the playing field; we see the impact in politics, marketing, business, etc… on a daily basis. Perhaps it’s time to channel that power and use the broad-based access of SM for our industry to find it’s voice and for our trade associations to listen to what is being said. Our clients have established SM as a listening channel to hear the voice of the customer and often they devote significant resources to address individual concerns as they are raised on social platforms; why should those whom we’ve positioned as leaders of our industry do any different? This strategy will ensure that the opinions of the majority of the industry are heard and taken into account before potentially divisive policy decisions are made and will allow our trade associations to harness the power of SM to help drive the growth, innovation, and protection of an industry that is faced with unprecedented challenges and opportunities.
As of today, there are three primary SM-based channels of communication for our industry: LinkedIn Groups (there are dozens, if not hundreds that represent the interests of the broad global industry), Twitter, and the Market Research Global Alliance. In my mind, all three should be used as conduits for helping our associations listen and respond to the grassroots of the industry, but the MRGA may be best positioned to help organize the grassroots of the industry and present a comprehensive and cohesive voice. To my knowledge they are the only stand-alone social network devoted to global MR that is not driven by any personal or organizational agenda. Their model is the same as Facebook and other popular sites; simply to build a platform that attracts users. This creates an opportunity for all of the global MR associations to establish a presence there and use the platform as a means of gaining insight into what is important to the industry and engage the members in working to help lead the industry forward. It can become the premier channel for our trade associations to hear the voice of their constituencies, and engage them at an unprecedented level.
Full disclosure: the GreenBook, and I individually, have a relationship with the MRGA already because we see the potential of such a powerful platform. Like any social media offering, the MRGA thrives on content, engagement, and providing value to it’s members with no other agenda in place other than that. That is a unique offering in the industry, and so of course we’ve developed a relationship in order to be a part of this exciting evolution in how we all communicate. Yes, they sell advertising and do charge for some specific business services, but what social network does not do that? Something has to pay for the technology to support the network!
The point of all of this is that MR is at a critical juncture, and we as an industry, especially our trade associations, need to utilize every tool at our disposal to understand what’s happening “on the street”, channel the power of our collective experience, wisdom, and vision, and chart a course for the future together. Social Media presents the best means of accomplishing that, and there are existing platforms that can easily be adapted to make it happen. Now trade associations; which of you is going to be first to truly lead in this direction? The podium is yours….