By Michalis A. Michael

Since 2011, some of us have been telling everyone who is willing to listen, how important social listening and analytics is for their business. It would of course be disingenuous not to do it for ourselves, so we did…

662,575 English posts were harvested about Market Research from Twitter, Blogs, Boards (Fora), Videos, and News, posted anywhere in the world between July 1st and December 31st 2015. This is over 10,000 posts per month. Facebook has become more and more difficult to include since their decision in April 2015 to reduce access through their APIs, and although technically posts from corporate fan pages can still be harvested, it has been excluded from this search. The same applies to Instagram which is owned by Facebook.

29 company names were included in the harvest query, along with some key terms such as:

“Market research” OR “marketing research” OR “customer insights” OR “consumer insights” OR “survey” OR “focus group” OR “quantitative research” OR “qualitative research” OR “online research” OR “mobile research” OR “MROC” OR “private online communities” OR “social listening” OR “social analytics” OR “web listening” OR “Adhoc research” OR “Ad-hoc research” OR “Ad hoc research”.

Most of the 29 companies are full service market research multinationals from the global top 50; there were also a few providers of MROCs and social media monitoring tools (see the top 25 by number of posts published in “Introducing the Social Media Listening Series: Social Media Listening Is Here To Stay!”).

Noise was eliminated as much as possible (as preached several times in the previous articles), and a hierarchical taxonomy for topics and a machine learning model to predict sentiment were created.

What do we talk about online?

Almost half of these posts were about “published results of market research”. The second most popular hierarchy 1 topic, aggregated posts about “traditional market research methods”, followed by “online surveys”, “employees/jobs” and “corporate performance” of the companies included (see Fig.1).


Figure 1: Top Topics (Source: listening247®)

But what does this say about our industry?

Positively, the results of our work are defining us – they are the most significantly discussed pillar of our identity. We are in the business of evidence and impact – our core discussion topics are reflective of this. Furthermore, our results driven industry is hot on the heels of talent identification and attraction. With industries competing amongst one another for the latest and greatest in graduate and millennial thinking, we can be happy that we are in the thick of this battle.

However, innovation is our weak spot – we are clearly too focussed with discussing yesterday and traditional research approaches. Why are we not focussing online conversations on exciting developments in neuroscience and big data?

Where do we talk?


Figure 2: Share of Source Type for MR (Source: listening247®)

77% of all the posts come from Twitter, around 15% from News, 5% from Blogs, and 2% from Boards. Posts on YouTube are almost non-existent (~2,200). Based on experience, these percentages apply more or less to most big brands. Above in Fig.2 you will find the share of each source of posts for the market research industry.

What does this say about us? Firstly, we are aligned with wider online media users – maybe we need to be more distinct in our channels to gain a unique identity? Secondly, and perhaps more tellingly, we are in the storytelling and data game – why are we not making more news? We have the ingredients, but we are failing to deliver newsworthy content. Finally, both market research and brands alike need to be better at using video – its multi-sensory experience makes it tomorrow’s medium, and all those involved within marketing need to get better at using it.

As an industry we have a lot to talk about and share, and to some extent we are doing this. That said, we need to be more forward looking – in terms of both our discussion topics and chosen medium.

Now we know what our industry is talking about and where the conversation is taking place, in our next instalment we will look at the sentiment behind our conversations.

Tell us what you think about these results by tweeting to @DigitalMR_CEO or @DigitalMR #walkingthetalk  or via email