“Social dominance”: a Research Magazine debate

ResearchI was invited to take part in a debate for Research Magazine recently.

The question posed was whether social media research can ever be a replacement for traditional methodologies.

My opinion is that social media analysis complements existing research methods and, like any methodology, doesn’t act as a direct replacement for another.

Different methodologies work in different contexts and help you to answer different questions.

At Precise, for example, we recently helped a company understand why customer churn was so high using social media research. They’d been struggling to discover why this was the case through traditional research methods.

We discovered that, within the wider industry, the company had an unusually positive image and performed very well on trust, particularly in comparison to its competitors.

However, when we looked at various strands of conversation we found a particular issue which suggested a gap was growing between its perception for excellent customer service at a one-to-one level and listening to its customers en masse. This had resulted from more customers moving to its online service and having different expectations, fuelled by the direct access social networks like Twitter provided.

We were able to provide them with a recommendation for a new digital product which they immediately introduced to help quell this growing dissatisfaction.

The project won gold for innovation in social media measurement at the recent AMEC Awards.

In this instance, social media research was the best approach and enabled us to make a clear recommendation. However, we also have to recognise when it is not the best approach.

This means recognising it has a place, not the place in market research. And that means accepting its limitations, as well as underlining its strengths.

You can read the full debate here: http://www.research-live.com/features/head-to-head/social-dominance/4010466.article