Aug 192014

Back in July I asked ‘Who are the most influential market research people on Twitter?’ After some banter we narrowed the question to the #MRX tag and mid-July. I asked for nominations, Jeffrey Henning prepared a special version of his #MRX tweeted links report, and we have had input from ColourText, Texifter, and NodeXL.

You can read the full report by clicking here, and the full report includes several links back to much fuller and interactive information form some of the people who have made this report possible.

But here is a meta-analysis of the findings. To produce the list I tabulated who made the top ten of at least one of the lists, counted how often they made the top ten, and ranked them by that.

So this meta list is a follows:

























































A five means the account was identified as ‘influential’ or widely linked or widely reacted to or linked to popular links by most of the routes used in the report. A 1 means the account made one of the top ten lists.

Of course, this does not mean these 27 are the most influential, nor does it mean the people at the top are the most influential, and it does not mean that influence exists in the way it is often assumed to (see this great TED talk by Sinan Aral on this topic).

Read the full report by clicking here.

I’d like to give my thanks to NodeXL, Jeffrey Henning, Texifter, and ColourText for helping produce this report, and to @lennyism for his support in getting the idea off the ground and for helping share the results.


Aug 142014

One of the questions I get asked most often is “What’s hot in market research?”. I will be broadcasting my update as NewMR lecture next Wednesday, August 20, (you can register for it here).

But here is a sneak peek into what is hot, still hot, bubbling under the surface, and not so hot.

Still Hot
It is important when looking at the ‘new stuff’ not to ignore stuff that has been around for a while, but which is still growing in market share, importance, and usage:

  • Mobiles in traditional research. Mobile is a big and growing part of CATI, online surveys, and F2F – this trend has a long way to go yet.
  • Communities. Communities (including Insight Communities and MROCs) have been the fastest growing major new research approach for a few years now, and this is going to continue.
  • DIY. We hear less about DIY these days, that is probably because it has become normal, this sector is growing, both in terms of part of being a key part of existing MR and partly because it is growing the scope of market research.

These are three of the items that I think are the hottest topics in MR, in terms of their growth and potential. All three of these are going to be game changers.

  • Beacons. For example iBeacons, which use geofencing and allow location-based services (including research) to be offered in much easier and more practical ways than is offered by methods such as GPS.
  • In the moment research. Research using mobiles and research using participants to capture information as people go about their normal day, including qual, quant, and passive, is making research more valid and sensitive.
  • Micro surveys. The most high profile micro (or nano or very short) provider is Google Consumer Surveys, but there are a variety of other providers, such as RIWI. Also, Beacons, In the Moment, and Communities are all leveraging Micro Surveys.

These three are going to make a major impact soon, but not quite yet.

  • Text analytics. The technology is not quite here yet, but when it clears the last few hurdles it will hit market research like a freight train – for example shifting the balance from closed questions to open questions, and finally driving more value out of social media discourses.
  • Web messaging. Apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, and Line are growing faster than anything else globally. A few people are looking at how to leverage these for market research, and more will follow.
  • Research bots. One of the key factors limiting the use of social media, communities, and the use of video is the requirement to use people to do the moderation and analysis. Bots (software applications short for robots) are going to change this and open a new, vast range of options.

Not So Hot
These three are all interesting niches, some people are making a good living from them, but they are not scaling in a way that makes a difference to most brands or researchers.

  • Facial Coding. It answers some questions, but is limited in terms of its range of uses, delays, scalability, and cost.
  • Webcam qual. The benefits are usually too small and the resistance from potential participants are too high to make this a generally useful approach.
  • Social Media Research. Whilst social media research, especially monitoring, has become essential, it has not grown into what was expected.

What about?

  • Big Data
  • Behavioural Economics
  • Gamification
  • Smartphone ethnography
  • Neuroscience
  • Geotracking
  • Wearbles
  • Quantified Self
  • Biometrics

Want to know where these items fit in this picture? Tune in to our webinar next Wednesday, 10am New York time, which is 3pm London time. Click here to register.


Aug 132014
Sue Cardwell 2

Guest post by Sue Cardwell, marketing manager at Infotools Sue is a keen proponent of effective data visualization for business success. Sue has 10 years of experience in the consumer insight field across several countries. She now lives in Auckland, New Zealand and works for Infotools. Sue is an inveterate blogger and self-confessed chart geek who loves creating new vizzes in her spare time. You can see more by Sue Cardwell here.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series. If you would like to contribute a post to this series contact

“Do you want to allow this app to post to Facebook?”

No, I did not! I felt each new socially-connected service was an invasion of my private life. I was a classic lurker: someone who watches what other people post on social, but is shy about sharing.

But I’m also a marketer. We get excited about the shiny new toys of social media. Gradually I found my barriers being broken down in favour of the benefits I gained.

Time for a major attitude shift. As I gained confidence with social sharing, I made the decision to embrace transparency. I am who I am, and I’m happy for you to see that. If you wished, you could find out that I’m a data viz fan who loves hiking and cooks a mean pizza. I made and still make plenty of mistakes (over-sharing, anyone?). But being authentic means making mistakes sometimes.

My activity got me noticed. People recognised me when they saw me at market research events, and strangers were happy to talk to me. (I found out later that what was happening is called the Mere Exposure Effect. People like and trust something more when they are exposed to it more times.) I had more meaningful conversations and I felt more connected to my market research community.

Later I became the marketing manager of Infotools, a company that makes brilliant market research analysis and visualization tools. I was keen to spread my positive experience of social sharing with people there. It’s especially great for Infotools because we’re head-quartered in New Zealand so it’s not always handy to catch up with our clients and peers at events in the 100 countries we deal with. Social media erases borders and time zones.

But not everyone was as keen as I was to be visible on social media! Often, my enthusiasm met with resistance, fear and scepticism.

My theory on this is that market research attracts analytical minds. As researchers, we’re cautious observers, who love to explore lots of information before acting – if we ever get around to acting. Compared to say the advertising industry, we aren’t natural soapbox shouters.

However, we do love a good debate. We adore analysing research techniques and approaches to find the best solutions for delivering insight and business results. LinkedIn and Twitter are ideal places to do just that. Social conversations advance our industry by exchanging and developing ideas, and also by building community and culture.

So I challenge market researchers: feel the fear and do it anyway! You have everything to gain.


Aug 122014
Maya Middlemiss 2014

Guest post by Maya Middlemiss, Managing Director of Saros Research, a UK-based company specialising in market research recruitment.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series. If you would like to contribute a post to this series contact

This post focuses on what social media means to Saros Research. Research participant recruitment is all about connecting with people, reaching out to potential new audiences – and the social media revolution of recent years has given us an amazing array of new tools with which to do this. Our social media and content creation strategy is at the heart of our database development process, alongside a range of powerful offline tools which will always be needed as well.

We create and curate extensive content to introduce the idea of research participation to people, and encourage them to register as potential participants – via our own blog and also guest blogging (such as a resident slot at Birds-on-the-Blog). Having pioneered database-driven recruitment in the UK since the turn of the millennium we are aware that there is still a vast potential audience out there who simply don’t know they can get paid to share their views in qualitative research – and we are continually on the look-out for ways to engage with them. Our analytics help us decide where to put our efforts, to reach out to different audiences, based on the demand coming from our research clients.

We use our Facebook Page to disseminate our content, and also to place teasers for projects we want people to apply for – as well as to recruit to our database. As our main B2C channel, we find it a good way to get feedback from members and participants as well.

Similarly with Twitter, where we also curate a range of industry and related news several times a day. Twitter is becoming an increasingly important client and participant communications channel for us, and a good way to get urgent shouts-out rapidly to a wide audience. Twitter is also a great monitoring and listening tool, to find out relevant conversations are going on which we can engage with appropriately.

We use LinkedIn to build authority, distribute our own and others’ industry and business-related content, and to engage in relevant groups. We are still evaluating the impact of the new LinkedIn publishing platform, which seems to function so far as a useful B2B guest-blogging tool… But, one we are using without losing sight of the importance of owning one’s own content: anything you publish on someone else’s site costs you in overall control and traffic.

Anything else? Well are Pinning of course –isn’t everybody? It’s not going to big for us I don’t think. And our Youtube channel is important, for sharing user feedback as well as illustrating exactly what we do, not least because of it’s close connection to Google+.

Of course, participant recruitment is a specific niche within market research where it remains vital to be continually communicating with public audiences. It is resource-intensive to do it the way we do, but makes sense for database-driven recruitment. It might make less sense for other research companies, or those operating in different niches – it helps that I have a personal passion for social media, and write and blog and consult on it anyway…

As with any marketing activity, you need to know what your intention is, and how you will measure whether you have been successful with it, before you can decide what exactly to do. This direction needs to take place at a strategic level, even if the execution happens at a junior one – and I believe this is where many organisations slip up. Perhaps it’s simply down to not having anyone senior enough to create and implement the social media strategy, but a lot of quite large companies seem to bolt-on social media as an afterthought or leave it in the wrong hands, then wonder why it hasn’t worked out for them.

Things change very rapidly in the social media world, there are a great many shiny things to go chasing after, and measuring ROI can be challenging. Even identifying what to measure is difficult, it’s easy to get distracted by vanity metrics – so many people like and follow us! But how does that impact the bottom line? You can waste a great deal of time on the wrong things if you don’t identify your objectives very clearly at the outset. Also if you screw up you will do so very publicly – as many brands have learned to their cost.

For most of the research companies we recruit for, use of social media will tend to be driven by different factors to our own – prioritising authority building over reach, for example. And managing what we do remains part of a process under continual review, we can never assume we’ve finally got it nailed because the landscape keeps changing.

But we love social media here at Saros and will continue to use it for all the right reasons.


Aug 112014
Mary Aviles

Guest post from Mary Aviles of Bauman Research. Mary has 16+ years experience in strategic marketing, competitive intelligence, trends analysis, market research, product management, content management and now social media listening.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series. If you would like to contribute a post to this series contact

In his recent Greenbook blog post, Ray Poynter–someone we consider one of the rock stars of market research (#MRX)–discussed the current limitations of social media monitoring and listening for market research applications. From a quantitative focus, we totally agree with the challenges he cites and we very much appreciate his raising these issues. In fact, in working with the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) Social Media Research (#SMR) Special Interest Group (SIG), we’ve struggled with many of these same issues: poor quality sentiment analysis, the inability to export social media comment streams, the challenge of analyzing items like retweets, shares and the contents of those links. Certainly, there are significant hurdles to overcome in social media research. These can be extremely difficult if we’re talking about quantitative research. Several remain challenging if we’re talking about qualitative research as well, but as a supplement to qualitative research we see a lot of potential for SMR and we’ve been having some success.

The good thing about SMR with a qualitative focus is that we are interested in directional information. We don’t need to be overly worried about big data and sentiment analysis at the qualitative stage of the project. QRCs absolutely can use social media to answer questions AND uncover questions/issues we hadn’t considered. Social media is ideal for many of the foundational activities that we perform, like identifying lexicon and developing relevant “buckets” or project-oriented categories. While we realize that Mr. Poynter’s focus in this post was not qualitative, he suggests that social media research cannot be used to “map or understand the space” and that “brands can’t use it to test new products and services, or almost any future plan.”

But we have had success using social media to help establish a foundation for our client work that we then use to inform our qualitative research process. We absolutely depend on social media to round out our secondary competitive analysis which we use to develop market landscapes and trend analysis. We find that analysis of social media can provide valuable insights on positioning, reputation, engagement, responsiveness, influence, marketing and communication strategies, industry lexicon and significant content/categories of importance to key target communities. Social media commentary offers unique visibility into relevance, appeal and consideration. In this way, on our projects SMR contributes in a unique way. It doesn’t duplicate other findings and it provides added value to our overall qual–allowing us to ask better questions, use better lexicon or recruit better respondents. It’s also an extremely efficient way to become familiar with a particular space or industry.

I’d like to offer the following business-to-business (B2B) client example. Recently, during work for a company in the identity theft space, social media research led me to review the ample online media coverage of the Target data breach. In doing so, I familiarized myself with several key data breach and identity theft influencers. I was able to analyze aspects of their Twitter streams as well as commentary on mainstream media outlets such as 60 Minutes and USA Today and more topical industry sources like KrebsOnSecurity. Yes, the analysis was largely manual. I had to cut and paste and hand cleanse the verbatims. Yes, it had to be shared anonymously and could not be attributed to specific demographics. Yes, it is highly biased due to the nature of the topic and the propensity for security “enthusiasts” to follow and comment on these topics. However, this analysis provided very valuable directional information to our client both about attitudes and associations with their competitors as well as guidance on a specific service and the companies that provide it–which was one of the client’s questions that our larger research engagement sought to answer. Beyond delighting the client with our initial findings, we have incorporated this analysis into the crafting of our qualitative research instrument for our next phase which includes both focus groups and in-depth interviews (IDIs).

We also agree with Mr. Poynter that–like PR, marketing and sales–QRCs do sometimes have a different focus than quantitative market researchers. As such, we find SMR a highly effective supplement (and perhaps eventually an alternative option) to some of our more established MRX methodologies. We look forward to a project where we might attempt to, for example, put a client question (or message or creative or concept) out before the appropriate TweetChat audience and build on those results. And, analysis-wise–since we often take a quali-quant approach–in the near future:

  • I am anxious for more access to more accessible visualization tools and technology
  • I’d like the ability to better manipulate tools like Revelation Word Trees and utilize more shareable results with clients ala Wordle
  • And, speaking of Wordle, I’d love the chance to show creator Jonathan Feinberg what we can do with a word cloud and get his thoughts/help furthering that technology

At any rate, we are excited about what the future holds! What’s on your wish list?


Jun 112014

Guest post from Gaelle Bertrand, Client Director, Brand Insight, Precise, UK.

This post is based on material Gaelle contributed to the #IPASocialWorks ‘Measuring Not Counting’ project – and is slightly different to most of the other posts in this series (click here to see a list of the posts in the series) but it provides a good overview of using social media to evaluate media campaigns.

Using social media to measure traditional media campaigns

Measuring the effectiveness of communication campaigns through traditional media such as TV advertising has long been the remit of quantitative researchers across the globe. Representative sample surveys aimed at measuring the public’s awareness of a campaign, recall of its messages and more importantly whether it has shifted the needle in terms of brand awareness and perceptions are the norm. However, the advent of social media and the unprompted brand mentions it yields means that researchers now have a unique opportunity to get a read on most campaigns’ effectiveness. So what does social media analysis bring to the equation?

Strengths and weaknesses
One of the key strengths of social media is its immediacy, so it is an excellent way to get an early read on what people think of your campaign within the first hours of its launch.

The fact that posts are self-generated and can be mined retrospectively is also a key asset. It means that researchers do not have to rely on respondents’ recall, as with more traditional methods, and can potentially measure true unprompted awareness from the level of mentions the campaign receives in social media. It also means that benchmarks of awareness and perceptions prior to the campaign can be easily derived after the campaign has ended as there are no time constraints. This is a key advantage that traditional research does not have.

Social media can also reveal the most salient aspects of the campaign without respondents’ being prompted, which you could argue is a purer reflection of consumer perceptions and attitudes towards the campaign, and ultimately how they affect brand image, than those derived through traditional research techniques.

Social media does not just enable measurement though it also provides an unprompted in-depth understanding of initial reactions to a campaign which could only be replicated through qualitative research techniques.

While it all sounds very positive so far, there is a key aspect which must not be forgotten: social media’s representativeness (or some would say lack thereof) of the public’s opinion.

Despite the fact that the reach of social media is expanding daily and that Facebook has a reported active UK user base of over 31m and Twitter 10m, the demographic representativeness of this audience is likely to be put in question.

Many would argue that as long as this fact is clearly used to contextualise and interpret the content of conversations, it becomes a secondary issue. This also strongly reinforces the need for social media not to be used in isolation from other data collection techniques to provide context. The bigger question, it seems, is whether the attitudes and perceptions expressed in social media conversations reflect those of a wider audience. There is strong evidence that it does but piloting the approach before measuring any campaign is a must to create benchmarks pre-campaign and validate the approach.

Best Practices

  1. Run a benchmark analysis prior to the campaign. This will be key to measuring any shifts in levels of conversation about the brand, but also existing attitudes and perceptions. This will also be a useful exercise to determine which metrics the campaign will be measured on. Using a 3-month time frame before the campaign is likely to smooth out any spikes driven by other events or campaigns.
  2. Build an intelligent search query. Using the campaign strapline or title will not be enough to gather relevant content. Use key words which relate to key elements of the campaign e.g. central character and premise but also key words associated with the themes or topic broached. This will ensure that the range of content gathered is in consumers’ own words.
  3. Apply sampling principles. The social media data set is vast and generally cannot be analysed in its entirety without significant resource investment. Intelligent sampling is therefore essential. Sampling can be done across the body of mentions I.e. across all social media channels using random sampling principles or be restricted to one or all of the main consumer channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube).
  4. Remember that volumes and share of voice hide rich insights. While volumetrics are sometimes useful, they are not the be-all and end-all of social media analysis. The exercise is about measuring and not counting. This is why human analysis is important in this context.

Key considerations
The increasing use of hashtags by brands which serve as prompts to the campaign somewhat remove the candid nature of social media conversations about these activities, and effectively tag ‘prompted’ mentions. This should be considered when analysing results and analysed separately if appropriate. You have to be prepared for the fact that your campaign may not be talked about by social media users. It does happen!

Jun 092014

Guest post from Kristin Luck, President and CMO at Decipher, USA.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series.

After spending my childhood on a farm in rural Oregon without television or even a touch tone phone, I was determined to spend my early adult/post University years as an ‘early adopter’. I spent much of the late 90’s proudly sporting a Palm Pilot (then a Blackberry, then an iPhone) and becoming the go-to person in my circle of friends and colleagues for information about all things tech related. I mastered LinkedIn. I thought I had this whole social media thing nailed. And then there was Facebook. And Twitter. And Instagram. And Pinterest. If you’ve ever tried to use all six (and these are just the six I’m active on) for personal use…or business use….or (even more challenging) both, what I’m going to say next may resonate with you- I absolutely flailed. My social media presence was a disorganized time suck and I backed away from the whole mess of it. When colleagues asked why I wasn’t active on Twitter and Facebook I said I didn’t have the time. Or that I just wasn’t interested. Or that I didn’t think social media worked for my business. The truth is that I did, I was and it could. I just needed the right strategy.

Today I’m a social media junkie. I use LinkedIn daily to connect with prospective clients and colleagues. With over 3,400 Twitter followers I was recently named one of the site’s top 100 branding experts. I launched a Market Research group on Facebook that today is the largest in the industry with over 4,500 members. I’ve mastered using both Instagram and Pinterest.

At Decipher, we’re looking at social media as our primary marketing tool moving into 2015. We’re engaging with our clients and partners on social media more than ever before. We’ve learned that you CAN effectively market B2B on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – it’s all about creating a strategy. It’s simply not enough to have a personal social media presence or a few social media sites up for your business. Without a clear social media strategy, you’ll struggle to increase customer engagement and, ultimately, sales.

To get the most out of your social media efforts, your strategy should include:

  • Determining which sites are most beneficial to post to and when to post to them
  • The types of content you can reasonably create and effectively promote (what’s sticky about you or your brand?)
  • Creation of a native storytelling experience
  • How to engage with current and potential clients online
  • Identifying the right metrics to use to measure your progress toward social media goals

Still stumped? We’re researchers- storytellers by trade. Think of social media as a storytelling platform for you and/or your brand. Talk to your audience. Don’t interrupt. Leverage pop-culture. Cultivate your brand personality. Have a sense of humor. And above all else, be consistent and self-aware.

And follow me. @kristinluck @deciphertweets

Jun 032014

We at NewMR are keen to hear the different ways that market researchers approach social media. We are interested in the private use, the brand building use, and the research use. We have invited a variety of people to share their thoughts and you can read them by accessing the links below.

‘What social media means to me’
Click on the names below to visit other posts in the series.

Would you like to share your take on social media via a blog post on NewMR? We are happy to review suggested posts, ideally about 300 to 600 words. Send you suggested copy to

Would you like to share your take on social media? If so, please email your suggested contribution (perhaps 300 to 800 words) to Please also include your name, photo, and description.


Jun 012014

Guest post from Sue Bell, principal Susan Bell Research, Australia.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series.

Over the last few months, we have been conducting a bit of an experiment (using the term in its everyday sense) with the Susan Bell Research Facebook page. At least twice a week, we post links to a recent blog, or a tip or quote about the kind of research we conduct. We also regularly share other people’s content there. For example, we have shared 3rd party content from ESOMAR such as the recent article on Qualitative Research and Flex MR’s article about nurturing your consumer panels.

Why are we doing this? We are putting into practice a core belief about communication which is that to communicate clearly you should ‘show’ not ‘tell’. As Mark Twain put it:

  • ‘Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.’ (Mark Twain)
  • Creative or very visual agencies can use website design to convey a creative image, but it is more difficult for specialist service agencies like ours to use websites to demonstrate what we do. Efforts to explain tend to become words, words and more words – all telling and no showing.

    Unlike websites, Facebook is a ‘show’ sort of place which allows us to show what we specialise by posting content about qualitative research, communications research, sensory research, semiotics and language.

    Although it has its limitations, Facebook is my preferred ‘show not tell’ platform because it is easy to post links to our blogs, and to tips and quotes that appeal to us, in a reasonably consistent manner. We plan several weeks ahead and only post on certain topics, making sure that any personal stuff stays on personal pages.

    Being active on social media is also the best way – bar none – to teach yourself how to advise clients about using social media. Sharing content also helps us to build a network of like-minded agencies internationally, and it encourages other people to share and comment on our stuff, which helps get our message out.

    To use it well you have to remember that social media is exactly that: social. It is not a platform to only broadcast information, updates and content from your own business; that is for your website. Social media is about connecting, sharing and starting conversations about our industry and interests. Is it successful? That depends on the success measure you use. In our case, this is not about reach because reach is not what we are after. Image perceptions are more relevant. Any agency thinking of doing what we are doing needs to ask questions like:

    • Do you want to position yourself as an expert in your field?
    • Do you want to connect with like-minded professionals?
    • Do you want to gain more fans or sales leads for your business?

    Chances are there is a social media platform out there that will facilitate those needs, so long as you approach it in a realistic and strategic manner.

    Would you like to share your take on social media via a blog post on NewMR? We are happy to review suggested posts, ideally about 300 to 600 words. Send you suggested copy to

    May 302014

    Guest post from Peter Harris, EVP & Managing Director, Asia Pacific at Vision Critical, Australia.

    Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series.

    I am not sure when it started but social media has completely revolutionised how I consume information, connect with friends and family, research topics within the industry and keep on top of who is doing what. That is not new news for anyone but when I think back even 3-4 years, I see it has all changed.

    I no longer carry industry magazines to and from work trying to keep up with who is doing what, I rarely talk to recruiters and use linked in to keep track of people’s movement, to advertise positions and to see what my clients and competitors are up to. I can also see which of my competitors and prospective clients are researching us!

    For me, social media has not been a distraction to work but a big aid. We have used @VC_APAC and @visioncritical to help build our presence in Australia and now across the Asia Pacific region. It’s so much easier to offer thought leadership on niche subjects now via social media and also to research what’s hot and what’s not across the profession. I also think it’s easier now just to post a paragraph or two on a topic vs waiting to be asked or submitting a long article which may or may not be accepted by an editor. For me, social media really has allowed our brands voice to be heard in the marketplace and the amount of content is not limited by an editorial committee or peers.

    I see people managing their social media in different ways. I personally tend to use Facebook for personal stuff and everything else for business but often the two blend in together. It probably says something interesting about me that compared to many work colleagues I am not very social media savvy but to my friends and family see me as a social media addict.

    The only way social media has been a negative for me personally is that I read a lot less non-work books these days as there is always so much to read/keep updating with. By the way, I don’t blame SM for that, it’s up to me to manage my time, but it’s just so tempting, AND ALWAYS ON.

    Would you like to share your take on social media via a blog post on NewMR? We are happy to review suggested posts, ideally about 300 to 600 words. Send you suggested copy to