A researcher’s guide to social media stalking

November 16, 2012 | Comments Off

Annie Stalking

Excerpt from a piece I wrote for Research Live.

The best market research reports contain verbatim quotes from the research participants. These quotes let us really dig into the brains of consumers with more clarity and specificity than can be obtained from aggregated survey data.

In traditional research, the quotes taken from surveys, focus groups or interview results can never be associated with individual people because there are no names attached to the verbatims. As researchers, we pride ourselves on the anonymity we provide our research participants because it allows them to be completely open and honest with us. But when it comes to social media research results, it’s a completely different story. Any verbatims that are pulled from social media and copied directly into a research report can be easily traced back to the original author.

At the recent IJMR Research Methods Forum held in London, I shared just such an example with the audience – so let me share that story with you now. It started with a research project about BT, a telecoms service provider. In the research report, a verbatim was copied directly, without any masking, and without any individual attribution, from social media.

What happens next? Well, you’ll just have to read to find out.

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