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Research Innovation Passport: Three Simple Ways Social Intelligence Can Transform Market Research Teams Into Innovation Centers

social intelligenceThe rapid growth of social media data is bringing great opportunities – and challenges – to the enterprise organization. The immediacy of social data is allowing companies to access data in minutes –not weeks – enabling faster business decisions. While some market researchers find themselves uncomfortable with the unstructured data that doesn’t fit their traditional methodologies, they are quickly learning how to adapt.

For example, a leading CPG firm recently looked to leverage the expertise of third party social media research experts to measure and uncover consumer conversations about hair care. Although the company had millions of unstructured data – like tweets and Facebook posts – to vet through, social intelligence technology and savvy social research analysts were able to find specific conversation threads about a new regimen that showed promise for product development. The company then integrated this external knowledge and approach with traditional research methods to fast forward the product development and validation process and launch a new category. Both unstructured data and a partnership between traditional and social research experts proved to be key drivers in success.

Here are three quick tips to help marketers and research teams leverage this new type of analysis: 

  1. Unstructured Social Data Is Your Friend: Learn How It Works And Where To Find Insight. There is more to social than Facebook and Twitter, and often the richest discussion is occurring in other channels. Having access to all legally available data for your particular audience (i.e. blogs, forums, product reviews) and then evaluating the content to determine what is meaningful for your objectives establishes clear paths to insights. Listening and analytics platforms are rapidly growing and evolving to not only identify rich channels for social intelligence, but to better understand influencers and influential conversations – which can add tremendous value to market segmentation and consumer preferences. The right platform can weed out noise, find influential contacts and content, and flag and organize it for analysis.
  2. Social Intelligence Is Developing A New Wave Of Research Experts: Hire Or Partner With Them: Hire an internal expert on unstructured social data or partner with a company with expertise on staff to help sift through the results and adapt the data to align and integrate with your own research systems and methodologies. Understanding how to add social to proven processes for data analytics enables quicker insights and can help to answer questions that surface in structured data. Similarly, the ability to compare/contrast organic conversations with structured data adds depth and color to findings. Many times external parties can help train traditional research teams on the value and possibilities with unstructured social data. Learning this skill can lead to enhancing team capabilities and improve future hiring decisions.
  3. Integrating Traditional Research Results With Social Intelligence Is The Next Big Wave.Perhaps the biggest hurdle with social intelligence to date is the silo approach that research teams take, even if they do embrace social data. The reality is that integration exists today so you can obtain a richer profile of target audiences and their behavior right now by marrying sources together. The other benefit of integration is being able to use the real-time nature of social media as a validation tool for those research efforts that are longer-term in nature. A six-month ethnography study, for example, can be partnered with social intelligence to determine how behavior is playing out in a given 3-day time frame online or associated with a planned (or unplanned) brand related event.

All three of these tips lead to a longer-term solution of forming a specialized team of researchers that can combine and analyze structured and unstructured data, and form a new blended methodology. This approach is transforming some of the most sophisticated research teams. 

More importantly though, these specialized hybrid teams are finding ways to make research more relevant and faster paced, which is allowing research to become a primary driver for business decisions. For years now, researchers have complained about budget and staffing cuts and time constraints for finding answers. Social intelligence now opens the door for a new world of research and one that puts research in front of innovation to yield better outcomes. 

(social intelligence / shutterstock)

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