Let’s be clear: Most people don’t use social media just for the sake of it. Some might, but the vast majority of people who share content, post comments or offer sentiments and opinions online do so because they are emotionally invested in the product, service or experience about which they are opining, or what Andrew Jeavons of Survey Analytics calls “the point of emotion.”
As Jeavons points out, most feedback is conducted via traditional methods that suffer from huge structural deficits.
Surveys break down for four reasons: They are episodic, have limited sample sizes, the answers are effected by the way the questions are posed, and because they rely on the concept of “recall.” And recall is imperfect because it asks a person to offer information on a past event outside of the context and situation in which he or she experienced it.
Focus groups are skewed in three ways: small sample sizes, self-selection population and the dreaded “decibel rule,” which means the loudest person in the room wins. Results of focus groups are not real time or data driven, and they don’t parse their findings with the objective use of technology.
It appears to us that companies that make million-dollar decisions on this kind of “static” data are doing themselves a disservice. We believe they should be using more authentic and real-time data in order to make data-driven decisions.
That is exactly why social media is so special and different. Because of it, people have become “micro-authors” when and where it matters. Instead of a laborious production process, social media reduces the distance between the production and consumption of opinions; in fact, it obliterates it.
In some contexts, emotions are considered bad. But if you truly want to know what consumers really think and want to be able to predict how they might behave, find them at the point of emotion. Very likely that means you’ll find them on the various social media platforms. And, once you do, you need real-time data, gathered and interpreted by smart technology, and then put into practice by a team who now understands your customers’ real attitudes and interests.
The opportunity is yours for the taking! Start actively listening and engaging with your consumers now on these platforms, because silence and passivity are fatal in today’s new media world.
Paul Dunay is an award-winning B-to-B marketing expert with more than 20 years’ success in generating demand and creating buzz for leading technology, consumer products, financial services and professional services organizations. Dunay is the CMO of Networked Insights, a leader in social media analytics, and author of five “Dummies” books: “Facebook Marketing for Dummies” (Wiley 2009, 2011, 2012).
Follow him @PaulDunay