Task 5 – Using social media for research

What do you think of the techniques described above?
The methods described above expose the subtle genius behind social media research, as these techniques are both cost-effective and provide instant, detailed feedback. However, the use of Social Network Profile Data and Behavioral can be easily seen as intrusive, particularly as the Social Networks which ask permission for Profile data often don’t mention how the information will be used. The internet trickery of behavioral data is also covered by networks giving ‘cookie warnings’ on certain sites, however, most internet users don’t understand what ‘cookies’ are. Nevertheless, having advertisements tailored to, what your internet history suggests are, your personal interests is both advantageous for the consumer and Advertiser, for example, an independent filmmaker would prefer to see adverts about film-related products than adverts about diet plans.

What are the advantages of using social media for research?
The dawn of social media advertising research has given companies, from huge conglomerates to smaller independents, numerous ways in which they can learn all about their potential customers. On social networking sites, particularly Twitter, #trending topics can provide a monitor on how well a product’s been received across the web, why it’s been received this way and where it’s being received the most. This can encourage the company to make changes to the product, encourage changes to the current campaign or influence future campaigns. A company may even locate a new target audience by using other sites to measure success.

Facebook pages can work as forums where a community of subscribed fans can respond to advertisements and promos posted straight onto the page. Within seconds, the company can get an understanding of the posts success, particularly as they now mention how many people each post has reached. The amount of people who like the page gives an estimate as to how many people the company are reaching in general.

An essential benefit of social media research is that its “a fraction of the cost of conventional market research”, according to Sean Hargrave. This has allowed much smaller, independent companies to make use of what social media research has to offer. The traditional alternative was to send out questionaries by post which would take a while to produce and process. Sending, receiving and processing collected information is quite effortless in the digital age of mass storage filing systems.

Are there any problems with the article itself?
As all publications do, this article has aged since it was written in 2010. This means that over the last 3 years, social media research has probably advanced even further, creating new research methods which, of course, don’t appear in the article and perhaps may now be prioritised over some of the techniques mentioned. You could also argue that its wrong of the writer to not mention any of the negatives of social media research, particularly the more obtrusive ones.

Another example of social media research

John Lewis, the department store chain, uses its Facebook page largely to promote its own products and interact with its followers. It has been noted that John Lewis often answers questions posted by users and the John Lewis social networking team usually identifies themselves by name when addressing a user question or comment. Sometimes John Lewis launches Facebook campaigns, a prime example being when fans were asked to post their old sport kits in return for a suggestion by John Lewis for an in-store alternative. The facebook page is also used to collect user feedback about its official website.

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