Market Research Takes a Seat at the Social Media Table

With social media getting so much attention from the marketing community these days, it was inevitable that the market research community would be jumping in.  Since I wear both hats— marketing and market research—I am always searching for ways to integrate what I am doing from a marketing perspective with what I am doing from a market research perspective.  That said, integrating social media marketing and market research techniques was definitely puzzling to me. 

So what did I do?  I went “social” to get the answer.

The market research industry is vast, yes there are a lot of research geeks like me out there.  I have found that the best place for me to locate best practices and forward thinkers in this industry is to go to my key LinkedIn groups: Next Gen Market Research, Market Research Bulletin and Market Research Professionals.  After reviewing what the market research community was saying and a bit of my own experience, here’s where I stand with respect to social media and market research.

Where market research fits in social media today:


  • Competitive Intelligence—this is the best source of competitive intelligence out there!  For me, twitter is the best source of information gathering on competitors.
  • Industry Intelligence—similar to my feelings on competitive intelligence, you will find more critical and insightful information about your industry on Twitter and through blogs than you will find anywhere else. 
  • Communities—Now more than ever, having an online community for your company is critical.  Whether you build it yourself or pay someone, you need to build it.  These communities can provide you with a wealth of knowledge about your customers, your prospects and your products/services—at relatively little cost.


  • Study Recruiting—Companies such as LinkedIn and Peanut Labs are harvesting sample from social networks, why not you?  I love LinkedIn for recruiting the hard to find business decision-maker.  It is also great when trying to find experts in specialty fields such as medicine, technology and gaming.  Facebook and twitter can be a great way to recruit for consumer and business studies as well.

Message Testing

  • Twitter—for me personally, I would use twitter to test headlines.
  • Linkedin—this is a great forum for testing messages, particularly if you have the right group.  These types of tests can be more complex than ones tested through Twitter and Facebook.
  • Facebook—this one is tricky, but you can obtain great information about your products, services and messages from your fan page, but I think you might have more of a “respondent focus problem” on Facebook than you would on your own community or a LinkedIn community. 

But, watch out for the pitfalls of social media market research!  You are a slave to the social media application you are using. Thus, you are at the mercy of the LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook webmasters.  Here’s some of the pitfalls I have seen/experienced:

  • Your Twitter account gets turned off for no good reason—someone listed you as a spammer
  • Twitter meltdown day—messages won’t go through for minutes or hours at a time
  • Limited invitations—LinkedIn only allows 50 invitations at a time
  • Deleted images—Facebook and LinkedIn will delete, without notice, pictures that others have deemed as offensive

I would love to hear your social media market research stories…both good and bad.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I took a seat at this table a while ago and haven’t looked back. Though surveys and focus groups continue to serve a very great need, social media research is opening an entire new world of listening to people who may have never been listened to before. I find it fascinating to read their thoughts in their own words, not constrained by the professionalism of the survey trappings.


  2. Posted by sharonmarkovsky on April 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I totally agree! It is great to get their thoughts in their words…not just a bunch of ratings.

    Thanks for your comment!


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