OPINION16 December 2010

Mr. Survey flirts with Ms. Social Media Research


A love story for our times, recounted by Jeffrey Henning, written by Annie Pettit of Conversation Strategies.

By Jeffrey Henning

Annie Pettit, chief research officer of Conversition Strategies, regaled the NewMR Virtual Festival with an allegorical love story.

Once upon a time there was a man named Mr. Survey. He loved to help clients get the right answers. But Mr. Survey was sad. His survey response rates were horrible; he remembered the good old days when response rates were 60% without incentives but now they were 5% with incentives. The surveys were too long to fit to between dinner and cleaning up the kitchen, and his respondents were always telling him his surveys weren’t relevant.

Mr. Survey had many great qualities. He knew exactly how to measure information quantitatively. He could gather frequencies accurately; he could inquire about specific SKUs; he knew how to ask how many minutes you walked your dog. He knew how to do attribute batteries and personality batteries and how to study early product adoption.

But he needed some help. To gather all the information his client needed about athletic shoes, he would have to write a one-hour survey, and he knew he couldn’t do that to his respondents. He had four problems with the survey and didn’t know what to do.

Fortunately for Mr. Survey, Ms. Social Media Research thought he was cute, and, being a girl, she could listen to millions of conversations and never get bored. She could identify all kinds of conversations. She knew how to measure them. And, well, she thought Mr. Survey was cute!

To impress Mr. Survey, she introduced him to all the conversations about athletic shoes. She went to social networks and blogs. She checked video sites and photo sites and commenting sites and question-and-answer sites and review sites. She went everywhere and listened to everyone.

Ms. Social Media Research helped Mr. Survey with each of his four problems.

  1. Mr. Survey didn’t know which retail outlets his consumers cared about. Where do people buy shoes? What retailers are important to consumers? Ms. SMR found all the retail outlets that were discussed by Mr. Survey’s customers and prioritised them in order of volume of discussion.
  2. Mr. Survey didn’t know which brands his consumers cared about. Mr. Survey had 500 brands of shoes to track; far more than could be done in a survey. Ms. SMR found all the brand names that were discussed by his customers and identified the five most important brands.
  3. Mr. Survey still needed data on the other 495 brands. No respondent would answer a matrix question with 500 brands, but Mr. Survey still needed information on the less important brands. Ms. SMR gathered the social media sentiment scores for all the brands, and presented it to him on a five-point scale so that it looked the way he was used to seeing it. That way Mr. Survey could keep his questionnaire short.
  4. Mr. Survey needed a lot more context about shoes. Mr. Survey was cute but not terribly imaginative: he couldn’t imagine all the unique types of conversation that included his shoes. Ms. SMR did lots of research: people were talking about basketball shoes and golf shoes, but not about lacrosse shoes or bowling shoes. But Ms. SMR didn’t stop at shoes. She was pretty darn nosey about everything, and she found that people talked about shoes and shopping, shoes and music, shoes and food, and so on.

Ms. SMR gave Mr. Survey data on every aspect of shoes. Just like the good old days when Mr. Survey would get 300 pages of data tabulations on his desk, but this time with social media data. Mr. Survey could not believe his eyes. Mr. Survey was in love!

Mr. Survey could not hold it any longer. Ms. SMR had so many wonderful characteristics. “I want to give you product quantities and frequencies, I want to give you census and target population generalisability, I want to give you precise attribute battery responses. Will you marry me? You are my better half!”

Ms. SMR accepted. “I want to give you unimaginable sample sizes. I want to give you flavor around your key measure. I want to give you unending competitive brand lists. I want to give you serendipity and crazy ideas. I will marry you!”

From that day forward, Mr. and Mrs. Social Media Research-Survey conducted market research together. And they lived happily ever after.

Republished with permission from the Voice of Vovici blog.

1 Comment

14 years ago

Such a beautiful love story. I am so delighted I could share it with everyone. Please do make sure you read the full story here, http://ca.linkedin.com/in/anniepettit. It makes a great bedtime story for the wee ones.

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