Social media research rests on the belief that in order to understand consumers, we must listen, not ask. While distinct from classical survey based market research, this method allows us to understand and analyze what the market openly says on the internet space.
We have found that consumers often divulge their thoughts more spontaneously compared to the survey method, either regarding their favorite brands, or about topics like new campaigns. While the method is thus a more current, dependable and honest view of consumer sentiment and behavior, it is still a growing methodology, with limitations including directional demographic availability, a large variance in data depending on brand popularity, and a growing need for complex text analytics based on brand names or multiple languages.
Social media research can be used to ameliorate a classical study, or to assess the buzz for the market with respect to changes in a brand’s strategy (new advertising, product launches, reaction to regulatory changes, etc.). The method can also help monitor perceptions about a brand and its competitors over a given time period, allowing for an accurate sentiment analysis by making the context very current.