Surpassing Surveys with Social Insight
Surveys have been a mainstay of market research for the better part of a century. However, the widespread bias of surveys has always been of significant concern to Product, Brand and Marketing Teams, particularly when they are relied upon to set strategy, enter markets or develop products.
Today, with countless consumers broadcasting their likes, dislikes and experiences with your business, products, services, brands and even competitors, Marketers, Product Specialists and Brand Managers have a wealth of direct, unsolicited intelligence at their disposal.
No Reply At All
Pew Research Center finds that 91 percent of Americans contacted for their surveys elect not to respond. Survey responses for public and private organizations, across channels, like online and phone, are down dramatically. This obviously skews results and impacts the representative sample of the survey, potentially allowing for the few to represent the many.
On top of the dropping rates, the ability to break through the noise and convince consumers to even participate (and provide genuine response) has become a daunting task for many corporations.
Even if organizations can manage to get a relevant sample, the time it takes to accomplish this can result in a missed opportunity for the business.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
Fundamentally, it’s impossible to eliminate bias from surveys. This inherent bias can comes in a variety of forms, including:
- Source Bias: Bias from respondents skewing their answers for or against the organization conducting the survey based on their preconceived notions.
- Question Bias: Bias rooted in the structure and/or order of the questions presented to the respondent.
- Selection Bias: Bias from the sample structure being unrepresentative of the population of interest.
- Intervention Bias: Bias related to differences in how subjects were exposed to the factor of interest related to the survey
- Response Bias: Bias from the respondent answering the survey in a way they think the question wants them to reply in lieu of their actual beliefs.
- Response Substitution: Bias where respondents answer survey questions to express their views on issues outside the survey’s scope.
- Measurement Bias: Bias which includes issues related to how the survey outcome was measured
Needless to say there is a massive amount of potential inherent bias within surveys based on structure, presentation, response and measurement. Universities from Stanford to Northwestern have conducted research in an attempt to understand how to reduce the level of bias in surveys.
Unfortunately, the basic nature in which surveys attempt to generate information has inherent bias, which, in turn, often delivers questionable and even unreliable results to organizations that are relying on them to gain insight and set strategy for their marketing, product and brand initiatives.
Social Business Intelligence is the solution an increasing number of organizations are turning to in order to gain genuine, reliable feedback devoid of bias found in manufactured surveys. This is essentially precise, real-time insight extracted directly from online social commentary to answer specific, complex questions on a company’s markets, products, consumers, prospects and competitors.
This insight is extracted directly from individual consumers who share their opinions (via social networks and online channels) on their terms; unfettered from the bias of surveys, focus groups or other methods of manufacturing information.
This provides genuine, real-time feedback that is both unsolicited and unmanufactured.
Companies that are leveraging unsolicited social business intelligence solutions as a cornerstone of their understanding of markets, consumers and competitors are gaining incredible insight into their own businesses, but also understanding their competitors, often better than they understand themselves. The intelligence gained delivers and genuine, unsolicited view of the market landscapes surrounding their business and products, allowing for enhanced insight for better decision-making.
As an example, corporations gain a deep understanding of the different consumer personas they have for a product, the path-to-purchase they take to the product, and the decision points when they switch products, all without having to deal with the challenges of a survey.
He's co-author of Social Business Intelligence: Reducing Risk, Building Brands & Driving Growth with Social Media and Avoiding #FAIL: Mitigating Risk, Managing Threats and Protecting the Corporation in the Age of Social Media.
Other Posts by Mark Harrington
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