Is DIY SMR FTW or FTL?
October 3, 2010 | Comments Off
Translation: Is do-it-yourself social media research good (FTW=for the win) or bad (FTL=for the loss)?
DIY research of any sort is a highly contentious topic. Though it offers significant financial savings, those savings can be completely lost if the user doesn’t have significant skills in research design and analysis. Insufficient knowledge about data quality practices will lead to wrong results. Insufficient knowledge about data validation practices will lead to wrong results. Insufficient knowledge about question design, focus group moderating, sampling, weighting, scaling, norms, and many other topics will lead to wrong results. Through training and experience, expert researchers have gained an intimate knowledge of the myriad ways that apparently good data can be contaminated and confounded leading to irrelevant and invalid results.
The decision about whether to use DIY SMR is no different than the decision to use DIY surveys. The data source may be different, the data may be processed differently, but all of the research methodology that goes into making survey results valid is the same that goes into making social media research valid. (Hey, how come we never talk about DIY focus groups?)
What is DIY SMR?
There are different levels of do-it-yourself social media research. In its most simplest form, it can involve an individual manually reading through results from sources such as google, facebook, or twitter and analyzing each conversation one by one. Someone might conduct their own rudimentary sentiment and content analysis to determine the type of emotion and the content of the conversations. Generally, the volume of data is small because of the manual limitations of collecting and coding data.
At its most complicated level, DIY SMR involves using a third party source such as an SSR feed to collect the data, and possibly gaining access to a scoring system. A larger quantity of data can be analyzed this way.
If we put aside all of the issues concerning research quality, DIY SMR might work for you if:
- you are interested in the flavor of online conversations
- you want to discover new ideas
- you want some ideas to beef up a survey
- small sample sizes are sufficient
- you don’t require precision or generalizability
- you have significant research experience
On the other hand, DIY SMR will not work for you if
- you need precise results
- you need to generalize valid results to a larger population
- you need to compare your results to normative category data
- you need to track your brand results reliably over time
- you need to compare your results to survey and focus group data
- you are inexperienced with research methodologies
In the end, you need to make the decision that is right for you and your research objectives. As long as your intent to obtain valid and reliable answers to your SMR objective, you will make the right choice.
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