Developing Integrated Research Plans for a Digitally-led World
I believe in the power of insights to fuel strong business and marketing ideas. I also believe there is inherited bias in all research, regardless of the methodology. No data set is perfect whether it is a survey question with set prompts, or a social conversation that might not be entirely representative of the truth. One of the biggest differences in these two data sources is one is private and one is completely public for the world to see, which can influence others whether it is truthful or not. This is why even though social listening is not a flawless methodology, it is critical to make sure marketers know what it is being discussed to inform, optimize or measure their plans.
Further, as growth targets become increasingly harder to reach through traditional media, it is essential to be plugged into the social conversation as the newest cohorts entering the funnel are even more plugged in than ever before. They turn to a wide variety of screens, often at the same time (mobile, computer, TV, etc.) and they access their social accounts daily in staggering numbers.
Social listening alone should not be the sole answer to any research program, just as no other methodology is by itself, but it should be an important check and balance within a holistic research plan.
All research methodologies have their pros and cons. My first step to an integrated research plan is to define what I am trying to understand so that I can design the best plan for my analysis. Although social listening is at the core of this process, I use a variety of methodologies (from quantitative surveys to qualitative discussions) to execute my research, knowing that each methodology has its own benefits and limitations. No one methodology can do everything, but if you know what they can/can’t do then you can ultimately develop a comprehensive plan.
I believe it is important to have context for each platform you analyze and no source is perfect. For this reason, I always recommend a holistic approach to listening, which is always supplemented by search informed research to get a fuller picture.
Most marketers know they need some sort of digital listening strategy within their research plans, but many don’t know how to get through the sea of data. My recommendation is to look at fast data to complement the robust data and to find the right blend of tech and human analysis to bring the data to life.
Want to learn more about conducting insightful integrated research? Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org