The World is Your Focus Group The Value of Using Digital Ethnography
Every day consumers are creating millions of pieces of publicly visible content – from documentations of their day to opinions on products and services; and for every post there are another several million readers influenced in some way. They do this on big, popular channels as well as niche corners of the Internet devoted to specific subjects or geographies. It’s a galaxy of information Feedback is very comfortable navigating and making sense of. But more importantly, it’s a market research dreamscape – so much behavior, so many insights.
It’s important to acknowledge the sheer quantity of the behavior we can observe, because it can help showcase how helpful these insights can be when used in conjunction with other research. It’s the difference of the entire public record of an audience discussing your product and industry versus the thoughts of ten people in a focus group. Consider: Over 9,000 Tweets per second, localized forum City-Data has 1500 new posts a day, and Yelp gets nearly four million review-readers a day… Even narrow audiences have their own communities online where deep listening can reveal important, significant insights such as industrial engineers of particular kinds of pumps, financial brokers in a specific state, sandwich-generation Mom’s looking into in-home hospice… etc.
What if you had a way to look back and glean the right insights and trends from this behavior? Or take stock of how your competition is perceived today and is engaging in comparison – and find out where they aren’t connecting with your target audiences? Or better yet: even start looking forward and telegraph opportunities?
This kind of data is rooted in what audiences say when speaking to peers, and can help provide a crucial piece of the puzzle when used alongside other research methods. Online, we get to observe actual behavior both in play historically as well as real-time and could uncover trends you could then confirm with a focus group or another instrument.
Listening can take all forms! It’s important to understand and utilize the strengths of all your research types.
The content and the influence are there for the understanding.
by: Dean Browell, PhD — Executive VP and Co-Founder