Marketers Need Better Social Media Research
Here is my plea – If the business community is going to take social media marketing seriously, there needs to be more worthwhile research. Recently there have been a number of studies published that aren’t actually useful. Most of them focus on specific things like, number of users sharing content or how many people are on Facebook.
Many reports rehash the same ideas or build off of one study and even “official” studies tend to have major flaws.
I’m not going to cite specific studies because that’s not fair (and its bad karma), but I’m sure most of you feel the same way. It’s the studies that after you read it you think to yourself “No that brand isn’t doing social media well” or get the feeling that something just isn’t right.
Useful Research Defined
I define valuable research as something that gives me deeper understanding of why something happens. Most social media studies, right now, just answer what’s happening.
A useful report would take that information and hypothesize an answer to why. The report should base its findings on empirical studies. I know it’s hard to look at psychology or sociology journals to build findings, but we need that context.
Without a better understanding of why social media works, we’re simply guessing in the dark and repeating what happened to work. We need to be able to look at a strategy and based on our research be able to hypothesize if it will work and explain why it will work.
Preparing a Proper Report
If you’re trying to put together a good report, make sure you outline exactly what you want to cover. For every point you find or every “discovery” you make, ask yourself why. Don’t publish your report until you can answer why. It might not always be possible but if you don’t try, you’ll be tempted to simply publish another study of just data.
Not sure where to go to get a better idea of papers you can use? Google Scholar is a great resource for finding papers. Many of the articles are paid resources but some are free. It simply takes time to try and find free data that you can use to build your report.
Putting together good research is not simple. It takes time and dedication. Don’t be seduced by the easy ability to publish something and call it “research”. Make sure your information answers a question, explores why something happens, and is based on empirical data.
What do you think? What studies or research do you recommend people read? Am I being overly dramatic (yes it happens) or do you agree?