Today we focus our methodological article on how to take advantage of the big information ocean delivered by social media when it comes to market research techniques.

Currently, social media data is clearly the widest and most offering database of insights in regards to human behavior and lifestyle, opening new opportunities to understand individuals, groups and society, in general. It has become a vital part of our social lives. And it should become the core of business and research activities, as well. Why so? Because social media enables companies and organizations to engage with people, while allowing them to take part in business decision processes. Therefore, converting social media content into key insights is crucial for generating knowledge and developing future marketing strategies.

Regardless if interested in brand awareness and usage measurement, products assessment and improvement, or advertising impact analysis, companies should seek to utilize social media information in addition to traditional research. This would also help brands to keep up with the changes in customers’ behavior, and the emerging trends.

Despite the wide availability different programs and applications facilitating the work with huge amounts of data, and the constant developments meant to find new ways of automatically collecting, combining and analyzing the content, researchers still not benefit of the available data to its fullest, mostly due to the overwhelming and unstructured amount of information. Unlike the traditional market research techniques, the amount of information generated by social media, does not follow a clear structure, yet it covers a wide range of topics, over extended periods of time. Even so, researchers should deepen their understanding and knowledge of social media content analysis tools in order to bring valuable insights in the “big data” world we live in.

Other drawbacks in using social media content analysis refer to the ”social media bubble” effect and the belief according to which only opinionated people are commenting on this channel, hence not being representative for a specific brand’s audience. Even more, this type of “social media personas” are more focused on offering negative feedback, than trying to be constructive. Even so, understanding which elements of a business are generating that sentiment allows brands to take action.

Bottom line, social media content analysis opens new ways of gaining insights on consumers’ needs, behaviours and lifestyles, which was not possible in the past.
And it’s free, we just need to take a look out there 😄

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