Monthly Archives: September 2011

Innovative approach towards market research sampling

Historically great effort is put in getting the right sample for market research. A few thousand set-top boxes define the rating of every television show, an exit poll of 1000 voters define who’s going to win a general election and four groups of 15 people define the positioning statement of your favorite products. When millions of people view television, vote in an election and use a particular product, the onus on these select few to collectively make a definitive statement to the general public is gigantic. And that in turn defines the importance of sampling in market research.

When we use social media for market research, one of the great luxuries and benefits is the availability of large amount of data to tap into to draw insights. But on the flip side, it also brings with itself complexity of dealing with large amount of data. Talking about sampling, couple of important things are the sample size and the recruitment process to form the sample.

The sample size for drawing insights in social media is usually much larger as compared to what traditional market research uses for the same purpose. But what is the right size? Is it a few thousands? Tens of thousands? More? This is a very interesting question, but before answering this, we should touch a bit on the recruitment process.

While traditional market research focuses more on the people participating in the research, we focus more on the information people are sharing. We use this information to find out what are their viewpoints and opinions. We also consider the people behind the opinions to account for the impact they are creating, but that is done in context to the conversation they are having. This way we make sure that the sample we have gathered is completely random, as it should be in a good market research study.

We do not define the size of sample in our study but let the study results define it. We keep collecting the data and keep analyzing it till patterns start to emerge and clusters start to appear. After doing this for considerable amount of data, the patterns get solidified, themes become clear and insights are apparent. This process of getting to insights from data is just beautiful and the insights are credible as well as actionable to help you make great business decisions.

Chaos in Social Media

Social media as a whole looks like total chaos. 200 million tweets flying around every day (stats as of September 2011), a billion or so Facebook posts every day and more than a trillion YouTube videos. If you think 200 emails in your inbox Monday morning is chaotic, try to comprehend this. It’s like every common person out there with a microphone allowed to speak what he or she wants to speak. In other words, chaos at its absolute best!

But just like chaos theory in mathematics, this social media chaos when deciphered using technology and looked upon by expert eyes has to do with there being great order in what looks like total randomness. And when you look closely enough at this randomness, patterns start to emerge which are nothing but absolutely beautiful.

Take for example a Presidential debate. People watch it on their televisions and use social media to express their opinions. Immense volume, contradicting opinions and complete chaos. But by using thematic analysis to extract the core themes out of the noise, we can find patterns in people’s opinions and their support towards a candidate. We can use predictive modeling to figure out what the candidate should speak or what she should not by analyzing the trends and sentiments in the conversations happening on social media.

The same technology and techniques can be applied in social media to find anything from how to spend millions on an advertising campaign to learning how a deadly disease is spreading in a country, from inferring the impact of a brand integration in a television show to understanding how a civic revolt took an entire nation to streets.

The beauty of information extracted from the chaotic social media is unparalleled to any other way of doing market research. The reason being it gives an opportunity to everyone, big and small, introverts and extroverts, book-smarts and street-smarts to express their views and make their voices heard. The data is vast and the power is immense. The debate is continuous and the reach is unmatched. All you need is the right technology and the right techniques to make sense of it and strategize your next move.

P.S. Try us at MavenMagnet to show you the beauty we are talking about!