Today’s news, blogs, and email blasts are full of references to Apple’s mobile tracking practices. What will happen when customers think market research has crossed the creep line?
Social media’s use in market research is evolving faster every day, and tools and techniques are popping up faster than experts can keep track. Text analytics and sentiment analysis are paving the way to mine the masses of data that individuals are producing as they communicate with one another and with brands. Social network analysis provides great insights into the relationships between community members – whether these are online or virtual communities, or living, breathing ones, like those within organizations. It has been argued that one advantage of some of the mining and tracking methods is that they allow consumers to interact freely and more naturally. However over time individuals are becoming more guarded in what they will share. Active and militant consumers are taking charge and working hard to control the conversation. Some companies are using influential consumers to impact the conversation.
Meanwhile, many companies are losing either their faith in, or their capability of using, traditional research. Scraping, tracking, and mapping are yielding all sorts of new insights, which is exciting and enticing (not just for clients, but for researchers, too). But what happens when your consumers feel like they’re just being spied on like lab rats? What happens if the pendulum swings and customers decide to rein in their privacy permissions so some avenues are no longer available?
We’re not suggesting that you can (or should) turn back the clock. But over-reliance on one type of tools can lead to crippling dependency. (Just think about what it’s like to function in your office if you have an extended power outage). Networks are about relationships, and relationships are about conversations. Ultimately, that involves people talking to one another. So we’re going to suggest the most revolutionary idea of all: when you want to ask your customers something, do it. Make it easy for them to answer – on their terms, in the way they want, and when they want. When they do, listen to them. And last of all, because it’s a relationship, let them know they’ve been heard.
We’d like to hear what you think! So feel free to comment…
Megann and Steve