Archive for September, 2012

Social Media Data: is it Qualitative or Quantitative

Posted on: September 19th, 2012 by doyle 3 Comments

During MRA’s webinar on Social Media, an observer questioned whether social media is a quantitative or a qualitative method. With more than 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook alone every month, the volume alone would lead some to consider social media and big data a quantitative tool. Yet, the learnings are not always representative of nor projectable to the larger population, and the information is unfiltered, unadulterated and, many times, unqualified.

DRA instead believes that social media is a qualitative tool that provides insights and direction from this fire-hose of information. Social media provides raw insight into the minute-by-minute lives of average customers. Having unfettered access to this raw insight can be a goldmine.
We encourage clients who are thinking about social media to consider the following:

  •  Two-thirds of all Internet users participate in some form of social media, and much of the conversation is around brands. Why not take advantage of it and use it to help guide your research?
  • Social media users communicate in a particular way; knowing the language and how to translate it to actionable insights is critical. It may require several search refinements before the analysis yields insights, not just data. Tap experts who can help you filter out the noise.
  • Social media can provide a low-impact way to test the waters before engaging in a more complex–and expensive–research project. Use it to help refine a research method, craft a discussion guide, generate watch-outs or probes for ethnographies, fine-tune consumer language used in concept development, or guide packaging design.
  • The social media landscape is highly democratic, and largely flat, giving you access to a vast array of opinions from expansive demographics. Since it likely doesn’t represent all of your users (demographically, life stage, psychographically, etc.), the insights could provide insights about benefits or barriers you might not have otherwise considered.

Acts of Lunacy (an occasional series from our Operations department)

Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by doyle


Early in my career I supervised the recruiting operation for the market research company where I worked. Now, I believe in the world of work there is truly a lid for every pot. No matter what the talent, there’s a job for which everyone is uniquely qualified. My proverbial pot was not the recruiting center. Rather than a lid, I was more like a basset hound—built all around wrong for the task. But I needed the job so I took over recruiting operations.

I inherited a couple of recruiters who I’ll call Trish and Sparkle because well, those were their names and I can’t possibly make up anything better. We were in the midst of one of those nightmarish recruits. We scheduled every recruiter to work all weekend to finish the project. On Thursday night Trish and Sparkle came to me and pleaded for Friday night off to attend the best party ever. I explained my “no decision” by using phrases like crunch time, teamwork and no way in hell. They were clearly disappointed.

Friday afternoon Trish and Sparkle showed up for work wearing mini skirts, stiletto high heels and outlandish eye make-up—exactly the look you’d expect for an evening of phone recruiting. At 7:45pm Trish came to me claiming illness and asked to go home. At 7:48pm Sparkle approached my desk and did the same. I suggested a break to see if that might cure their illness. They said it would be of no use since they were really sick and needed to leave work immediately.

As you can probably imagine, Trish and Sparkle didn’t have a long or distinguished career at that particular company. In fact their employment was terminated at 8:03pm that same evening. That was early in my career and it would have been easy to assume that all employees would also try to scam me. It would have been a huge disservice to the 28 recruiters who stayed and worked extremely hard that weekend. Together we completed the recruit.

Honestly this type of thing happens every weekend in recruiting centers. It would be ridiculous to allow the lack of trustworthiness of a few to overshadow the good work of most phone recruiters. It’s the anomalies that provide the good stories. In reality it’s the professional recruiters who help us find our respondents. Nevertheless if you ever have to supervise a duo named Trish and Sparkle, I’d be cautious.