December 20, 2019
How many of you have at least one social media account? How many have perhaps more? How many of you scroll through the ‘news’ feed and like, share or comment on some ‘issue’? How many of you read the full news piece before commenting? How many of you have at least once lamented over misinformation on social media, or personally commented on how someone said something ‘stupid’ online?
We’ve recently been monitoring New Zealand’s online response to some fairly provocative and contentious issues which has just made me so much more aware of behaviours on social media and what we, as professionals in the marketing industry, need to be aware of.
A recent article I read summarised it pretty well. In the attention economy that we live in with attitudes such as ‘too long; didn’t read” and “read headline; posted angry comments”, sensational headlines win - whether accurate or not.
As marketers, we know it’s about sending messages that cut through the white noise and grab attention of our target market. Everyone also knows that social media is a huge platform for nearly everything, so this appears on the surface of it to be a good place to splash your message.
As market researchers, we know that understanding consumer opinion is important; how else can you influence or manage it? Thus, naturally, we see the benefits in monitoring social media.
However, from my experience, not all social media monitoring reflects the opinions of general population. Rather, social media monitoring often captures the opinions of the extreme and of those who are loud and negative. While not always a bad thing – especially if you’re open to feedback about potential problems in the early stages of the life cycle of a product or service – the voice of negativity can be so vehement that you’re led to believe that this is a fair representation of the common truth.
Remember that there are more sides to the story, and that there will be those who are quietly satisfied or dissatisfied, and/or simply have a fleeting interest on social media. Those voices are important too as they might vote with their time or money or - heaven forbid – they might call talk-back radio!
When wanting to find out more about your target market, take a moment to consider what it is that you want to know, and which research method best fits your needs, and remember that social media monitoring only shows you part of the picture.