Social Media Research – It’s important, but is it that important?

In an article titled “Social media market research – are you listening?” written by Helen Leggatt, she makes the following statement:

Social Media ListeningOver three-quarters (78%) of respondents to a recent survey conducted by Valued Opinions said they had shared their thoughts on a product or service via a social media site. Most opinions were of a positive nature with just 5% of comments relating to negative experiences. So, if people are being upfront and  generous with their opinions online, is there still a need for traditional marketing research approaches?

I think the answer to her question is simply, “Yes, there is absolutely still a need”.
Although 78% of respondents in a study of 5 countries said that they shared their thoughts on a product or service via a social media site, how would we have known this without conducting a survey? – and what about the other 190 countries in the world?! This study is only good for one thing, telling us that a lot of people in developed countries like to talk about things online, but that who and what are up for question.

We often lose focus of those “negative” experiences that consumers have and often do not report. If someone is not moved enough emotionally to write about something online, then is it simply unimportant? No, it may be of enormous importance to the managers of that brand/product/service.

The largest brands in the world may be able to get a small read of what their online presence is and what people think about them online, but the simple fact is, most brands have much too low awareness for social media research. Besides, people who share online through blogs, news comments, forums, chat rooms and social networks  have not proven to be the same kind of people as those who don’t share online. Who are these people representative of exactly?

Where do you think social media research is headed in 2011?


Sean Copeland is a certified marketing research professional (CMRP) known for his broad knowledge of the research workflow, his disruptive approach to problem solving and for building strong client relationships. In over 5 years Sean has developed, sold, executed, and managed hundreds of consumer research studies using a variety of new and traditional research methodologies.

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