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Human analysts turn social listening into market research insights

logo_stackedLet me ask you a question. If you just put up a survey on SurveyMonkey, and 1000 people responded, would you have the answer to your market research question? Ridiculous, you say? Yes, it is a ridiculous idea. SurveyMonkey does a perfectly good job of running a survey, but unless you know how to analyze the results and weight it to your target market, it isn’t market research–it’s just a survey. You need human analysts to take the survey results and turn it into insights. Well, just accepting the raw results of SurveyMonkey might seem dumb to you, but we do it in social media every day.

You know why it is stupid to just accept whatever result you get to SurveyMonkey. You aren’t controlling the sample. You don’t know how representative the responders are to your real target audience. But you are highly likely to accept at face value whatever your free social listening tool tells you. If HootSuite said it, it must be true.

I’m the Chief Strategist at Converseon, a social media listening company, so I might be especially sensitive to this problem. Social media listening needs human analysts, too. For example, if you are looking for social media mentions of Sprint, the US cell phone company, it won’t be good enough to just look for that word. You’re likely to get an amalgam of actual mentions of that company interspersed with breathless coverage of high school foot races.

With that dataset, who cares if the sentiment analysis says it is 60% positive? It doesn’t tell you any more than if you get 1000 unfiltered responses from SurveyMonkey. Just as unleashing Survey Monkey doesn’t answer your questions, just looking at social media doesn’t help anything. You need to apply human analysis to social media, too. Either you get your listening vendor to do it, or you need to do it. There is no Plan C.


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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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