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Emerging technologies in social media to boost market research

Web 2.0 technology to augment methods in obtaining consumer insights

(Manila, Philippines, May 16, 2011) – The emergence of Web 2.0 has changed how some businesses operate, including how market research can be done in this age, according to business consulting firm Synergy Business Consultancy. Social networking, blogs, and video sharing sites, among others, can supplement traditional market research methods to obtain relevant consumer insights.

“Web 2.0 technologies enable real-time communication regardless of location, as long as you have Internet connectivity. This enables companies to have extensive reach to different kinds of audiences and receive instant feedback,” said Germaine Reyes, managing director of Synergy.

In 2010, ITU, the UN agency for information and communication technologies, estimated that there are almost 30 million Filipino Internet users or 29.7% of the country’s population. Internet users have grown exponentially since 2008, when local Internet users were only pegged at 14 million.

“These new innovations can enable market research consultants to augment existing traditional methods to gather consumer insights. The emergence of social communities has prompted a new research strategy, webnography, where researchers study online human interactions,” said Reyes.

This form of research has been used by marketers to gather consumer insights and transform and provide activation ideas for the brand in accordance with consumer preferences, and/or mindsets. The method, according to Reyes, uses content analysis to better understand the comments, posts, and reactions of consumers online. Facebook, which had more than 21 million Filipinos hooked, can be tapped for webnography through its Group page. Creating a Facebook Group can provide the user the capability to invite a specific audience, which can therefore be a venue to conduct webnography, said Reyes.

Meanwhile, online communities provide a platform for small businesses to conduct their own market research, by monitoring mentions of its brand or that of its competitor’s through different social media monitoring websites.

Blogs, which can be a medium to express oneself and publish opinion online, can be tapped to monitor competitors as well as opinions on products and services in the market, said Reyes. Businesses can determine blogging trends by generating reports on daily activities in the blogosphere in BlogPulse.com. Meanwhile, socialmention.com enables users to search and analyze information posted on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

However, the challenge in making Internet users the primary audience is how to gather information from a specific audience, said Reyes. “To get information from a target audience, market researchers can conduct surveys through online questionnaires placed in specific websites or using free online survey websites in the cloud. This way, consulting firms have the ability to filter and easily analyze the information that they will be receiving.”

According to Reyes, one available resource to create free online survey questionnaires is by creating forms through Google Docs. Moreover, Reyes said that business consultants could send this questionnaire through e-mail and analyze the information gathered through the automatically generated charts and graphs.

Aside from using Facebook in webnography, the social networking site can be a medium to conduct surveys as well. Even laymen can conduct their own market research by only using Facebook, through its feature, Facebook Questions, which can enable users to create mini surveys or polls to gather insights on any topic.

“Web 2.0 can definitely help researchers reach a broader audience. However, these methods can only help online research as part of the market research methodology but not replace traditional, proven methods such as house-to-house interviews, intercept interviews, central location tests, and telemarketing,” finalized Reyes.

About Synergy Business Consultancy
Synergy Business Consultancy is a full-service marketing research consulting company. The company is currently celebrating its 11th year in providing marketing-based, business solutions to a diverse industry, from fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to service and business sectors. Synergy provides not just the ‘whats’, but also the ‘so whats’ and the ‘now whats’ of researches done. Synergy is also a member of ESOMAR and BPA/P.