We live in a world where quantitative research makes up about 80 percent of the research industry. The findings are generally in the form of numbers and charts. However, organizations are now realizing that they want to know more about their consumers in their research efforts. They want to know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. The industry agrees that Quantitative information alone, does not give us the complete picture. In such a scenario it becomes imperative to complement it with Qualitative information. In the past, qualitative research was time-consuming and expensive.
The good news is that, it is now possible to combine quantitative research design with qualitative in a cost effective and quick manner. Please click here to download E-book by 20|20 Research, explaining through examples and case study, how they have combined quant-qual research and benefited their clients.
Social Media and Measurement
We know that Social Media is here to stay. It has been established that Social Media efforts needs to be measured to tell us (a) if we have been able to achieve our objectives (b) to feed into developing a social media strategy. There is a plethora of social media measurement tools available in the market. However, the focus is on quantitative metrics – e.g. number of Twitter retweets, Facebook fans, blogpost traffic, generated sales, etc. We have reached a point where these are fairly easy to track through the tools available in the market. The next and a very key step is to add qualitative to it.
What To Measure
The Quantitative measurements help us in locating the important places to look and dive deeper e.g. the sudden spikes or lows in follower growth/conversations/likes/dislikes. Thereafter, there needs to be a process, put together for understanding the language, topics and context of consumer/user conversations. From my viewpoint, following can be a few qualitative metrics to consider as a starting point:
This will not only tell us whether people are saying positive or negative things about our brand, rather it will also reveal what tone of voice the consumers are using i.e. whether it is sarcastic, playful, skeptic etc. This will enable us to draft our social media or even traditional media messaging in such a way that it matches with the way our consumers talk to each other.
What is being talked about our brand? Is it prices, product attributes, mergers, financial results etc.? Is it good or bad for our brand? Identifying these topics will enable us to gauge sentiment around our brands and help us in taking corrective action when required. Moreover, it will also help us identify important messaging cues to enable us to engage with our audience.
Qualitative Insights to Generating Influence
Social Media interaction is similar to interacting and relationship-making in the real world. What we say, think and feel matters to our friends and family. Similarly, in the virtual world, we cannot control the people close to us – what they say, what they think, how they feel – but we can do several things to influence them. Perhaps this is the most important objective of social media efforts – the ability to influence your target audience – to influence their purchase decision making process, to build a perception about your brand. To top it, we need to engage in such a way that some consumers become our advocates and influence others in return. In social media identifying the most valuable consumer is not locating who spends the most money – but who influences the purchase decisions of others to spend money.
We will be in a better position to influence and engage with our audience, if we know what tone to use when interacting with them, what to discuss, what will generate interest in them, what topics are important to them. The answer to this will definitely come from a robust listening model. We must know what our audience is like and what makes them tick before we reach out to them.
The Way Forward
Qualitative measurement in social media is time-intensive and needs a lot of manual effort. We know that the value of the complete picture we can hope to achieve by combining quantitative with qualitative social media measurement is extremely high even if it needs time and effort at this stage. However, there is a strong ray of hope to make this approach scalable as organizations work on developing Natural Language Processing (NLP), text mining, content analysis etc. capabilities and we too have jumped onto the bandwagon.
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Do share your thoughts on this and let us know the approaches you are adopting to analyze social data qualitatively …