posted by Adri
I’m not a fan of quantitative traditional research methods. My experience with them us that they do not provide real insight into your customers, but they are great for putting in a Powerpoint and convincing your boss you have a ‘fool-proof’ idea. After all, who can argue with all those numbers and pretty pie charts and bar graphs in a 45-page deck?
In my view, traditional quantitative research methods are best used to reinforce with ‘numbers,’ what you already know. But if you really want to find a new insight (specially if you are thinking of developing a new product or service) you have to turn to more qualitative and unorthodox methods of research, whatever helps you get closer to observing your customers behave naturally.
Kathy Gill’s lecture provided us with some really interesting research alternatives, and though they are qualitative and new, I think they have quite a bit of merit and should be taking seriously (thanks Kathy!). However, since this is all so new I’ve been trying to find some more information on how this is being done …. (any help?)
I got a tip from Paul Isakon, a media planner/strategist at an agency in MN, whom I’ve been emailing with after posting his presentation on the Future of Advertising in my blog, (it’s really good). He mentions using Twitter and other social networks for research in his presentation and he calls this “digital anthropology”. Paul pointed me to Kansas State Digital Ethonographic Studies, and I also found a similar class MIT:
Digital Anthropology is a Spring 2003 applied social science and media arts seminar, surveying the blossoming arena of digital-artifact enabled experimental sociology/anthropology. We will emphasize on both (a) Technology Testbeds – systematically deploying research lab prototypes and corporate pre-production products in a sample human organizational population and carefully observing the social consequences, and (b) Sociometrics – using digital artifacts to better observe and measure the complex social reality of interesting human systems.
So it looks like this idea of using social networks for research is a serious undertaking in academia and corporations, but as Paul says:
“We don’t have anything nailed down yet as far as a specific process or technique, but we’re exploring a lot to find out what works and what doesn’t as far as doing digital ethnographic studies. What we try to do is find people that fit the profile we’re trying to reach and see what they’re sharing about themselves online. This includes a lot of the sites/social networks shown on one of the slides in my presentation.
We take all of what people share with a grain of salt as we know that many people don’t always present themselves as they really are.”
One last piece of info. If you are going to use Twitter or any other social network for research, you probably want to know who is using these services. Quantcast is a wonderful tool that provides some demographic data. See the report on Twitter: http://www.quantcast.com/twitter.com