What Do You Do When You Can’t Trust Market Research?

Frustration From Market Research

I still recall back in school when we had to sit through surveys, I would blindly fill up the questionnaires because (i) it’s not graded (for me at least) and (ii) it’s boring. I didn’t think it was important at all – I mean, who really cares and takes them seriously, right? Market analysis..phew!

Fast forward 15 years later – That person is me.

As a skeptic who questions the soundness of everything, the workings of market research is a huge conundrum. Businesses are spending huge budgets to back “data-driven” consumer insights, and governments are counting on these findings to craft and implement public policies. But what happens when the data is less accurate than we’d like it to be? Having the privilege of being both a researcher and a consumer, it’s easy to see why many can’t trust market analysis or research, even when it’s conducted by the biggest and most experienced agencies. 

Tradition rarely triumphs.   

Following the great mantra “look inward before looking outward”, let’s start with innate issues that can be regulated by research agencies. From the logistical set up, to research design, agencies have the liberty to control everything. However, the commercial nature of market research makes it challenging for agencies to prioritize sanctity of research over profitability. Case in point – Established agencies are generally slower to innovate because the success of their current business model creates a strong inertia to deviate from.

Having said that, even a foolproof methodology is only half the battle won; you’ll need genuine data to derive credible insights. That’s where most problems arise – Not from the research design, but when researchers fail to see from the lens of a consumer. 

Consumers don’t care about your surveys. 

As a consumer, there isn’t enough skin in the game to want to help businesses improve through  genuine feedback. With competitors aplenty, we can always buy from someone else who already meets our needs, without all the hassle. This is where most researchers get blindsided – Just because you care about the findings doesn’t mean the consumer does.  

One may suggest that incentives give consumers a reason to care, but when was the last time you whole-heartedly completed a survey for cash? Chances are, you rushed through it just for the reward. Aside from concerns around data integrity, the consumer of 2020 is no longer enticed by measly incentives. This is especially true for Millennials, who are now more time-sensitive and digitized than ever before – making it harder to capture their fleeting attention. While not paying attention to Millennials wouldn’t be an issue 15 years ago (since most were still in school), they are now the largest market drivers across the globe. 

Pessimists may view the points above and render market research obsolete with no redeeming factors, but in reality, all you need is a little creativity to break out of the traditional mould in deriving consumer insights. Thanks to the agility of startups and our belief in the potential of social intelligence, the research team at Circus Social has developed a methodology that not only protects the quality of consumer insights, but ensures we understand consumers who matter the most – the Millennials.

Introducing Research@CS. 

What is Research @CS?

Though the industry has been around since the 1930s, a major bulk of the evolution of the market research industry has been dominated by self-reported data. Arduous data collection processes have become a huge obstacle in turnaround, but what’s worse is when this hurdle unknowingly compromises research integrity. With the internet creating a wealth of new data sources, research no longer needs to be confined to the traditional surveys and focus group discussions. Research@CS is the millennial of market research – research redesigned with 360° integration of social listening, gamified surveys and cultural studies.

How does this work?

As with every problem in the history of mankind, there is no perfect solution to answer all your research questions. Surveys concisely relay your questions to the respondents, yet people are incentivised for ingenuity. Focus groups open your eyes to the most unexpected ideas, but how often do you get the best moderators and innovative thinkers in the same room? All methodology comes with its pros and cons, and it is our responsibility to build on the strength and eliminate the noises in each method in order to hear what the consumers really have to say. 

Why is this better?

When we start depending less on tedious self-reported questions and answers, data integrity gets fortified – which in turn assures the credibility of insights. Opinions can rarely get any more truthful than unprompted views on social media, which is why social listening is our preferred method in gathering qualitative insights. By collaborating with partners that have access to communities of Millennials, these questionnaires that come in the form of gamified surveys are no longer a chore, but a fun relief from one’s daily routine.

Thanks to the widespread internet culture, a hefty financial investment and lengthy time commitment are no longer requirements for better insights. Since consumer responses are but a click away, our average study only needs a quarter of the time of traditional research – freeing up more time for stakeholders to strategize using our insights. The cost savings are also unparalleled – a simple research which could easily cost 5-figures, can now be done at a fraction of the price.  

At the end of the day, it boils down to what businesses are trying to get out of their research. Not all organizations wish to make changes, or have the operational capacity to make changes, that are driven by consumer insights; some are solely doing market research as a SOP, while others are down and ready for action. If you are a B2C business looking for direction on decisions, you probably want to start listening to your biggest consumers – because not only do millennials purchase, they influence others to do the same. 

And if you don’t trust market research as it is, Research@CS may just be what you were looking for – the millennial of market research that celebrates the digital age, embraces the short attention span and gives you the actionable, reliable and non incentivised insights that you couldn’t get before.

To find out more about what we do at Research@CS (or maybe have a debate with me on any of the points above), feel free to reach out at jillian.chi@circussocial.com.

National Day 2020 Buzz

While the fight against COVID-19 continues in Singapore, National Day 2020 is still proceeding ahead, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Circus Social analysed conversations from netizens around Singapore to uncover the most discussed topics in relation to NDP 2020. Most Singaporeans commented on the constant sounds of fighter jets flying above their home, and also disapproved of the plan for fighter jets to fly over hospital around the region.

Circus Social's Pre-NDP 2020 Infographic

Check out our coverage of conversations pre-NDP 2019 in this blog post. For more information on how Circus Social’s 20/Twenty does analysis and real-time tracking, reach out to sales@circussocial.com.

Life In Lockdown: Video Streaming In India

Circus Social decodes the social media chatter on streaming brands in India and deciphers demographic interest across various generations and gender in the latest article on Lockdown Streaming Action – COVID times!

With the rise in days of lockdown period, the discussions around video content consumption have increased over 22% compared to the pre-COVID days. Audiences have chosen to stay glued to various historical shows, mythological stories, comedy and drama throughout the period but are all the generations consuming the same content? What are the brands doing during COVID? How are netizens reacting during COVID?  Get the full view in our latest infographic!

Read on below to get your bite of some social media analysis from our next-gen social intelligence platform, 20/Twenty.

For more information on social media insights and comprehensive topic/event tracking, contact info@circussocial.com or get in touch here.

Circus Social's COVID-19 Update - 17th Feb - 16th Mar

COVID-19 Update: Kiasu Or Kiasi?

As COVID-19 continues taking a hit on businesses, special deals have been rolled out to draw in consumers, but are locals more “kiasu” or “kiasi”?

Discover netizens’ thoughts about special deals, PM Lee’s speech, and other recent happenings in our latest COVID-19 Update from 17th Feb – 16th March 2020 with 20/Twenty, our comprehensive social listening solution.

Circus Social's COVID-19 Update - 17th Feb - 16th Mar

Show me the money #SGBudget20Twenty

At the Singapore Budget 2020 speech on 18th February, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced a suite of new initiatives to address the economic challenges amidst the COVID-19 situation.

Using our digital intelligence software 20/Twenty, we took a deep dive and uncovered netizens’ thoughts about how the societal and economic landscape will be affected by the Singapore Budget 2020.

Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 Update

Following the raise in DORSCON level from Yellow to Orange on 7th February 2020, netizens’ conversations and sentiments around COVID-19 (formerly known as Novel Coronavirus) have since evolved. As the number of confirmed cases continues to grow, more Singaporeans are voicing their concerns and fears across social media platforms.

Check out Circus Social 20/Twenty’s COVID-19 update to get the latest insights into what Singaporeans have been discussing on social media. Here’s a quick look at our online market analysis.

Circus Social COVID-19 Update
Using 20/Twenty, Circus Social analyzed conversations in Singapore from 18th Jan – 5th Feb from Facebook, Instagram, Twiter, Blogs, Forums, Reddit, Q&A sites, Ratings and Reviews, News and many more sources to uncover sentiments around COVID-19

Circus Social’s Coronavirus Update

From the time we heard about the Coronavirus, mentions and discussions around the topic have been exponentially increasing – with many individuals sharing information, and fears & sentiments online.

As more cases continue to be discovered in Singapore, chatter has been growing on social media platforms and online forums. Circus Social used its cutting-edge digital intelligence software, 20/Twenty, to analyze what Singaporeans were saying about the virus and the key themes from the chatter.

Circus Social novel-Coronavirus Update
Using 20/Twenty, Circus Social analyzed conversations in Singapore from 18th Jan – 5th Feb from Facebook, Instagram, Twiter, Blogs, Forums, Reddit, Q&A sites, Ratings and Reviews, News and many more sources to uncover sentiments around the novel-Coronavirus.

For more information on how Circus Social does analysis and real-time tracking, reach out to sales@circussocial.com.

Beyond Social Listening: Social Media Data + Other Data Sources = More Insightful Reports

If you’ve visited our blog before, you’ll know that there are several ways that social listening can be leveraged to understand consumer habits, set benchmarks, and track conversations across social media. But did you know that it is also possible to combine other data sources with social data to come up with more robust insights?

At Circus Social, with 20/Twenty, we have been integrating various types of data in our reports for our clients. Read on to know how a social listening agency does it!

#1: Integrating Social Data with Google Search Data

Social chatter is a good indicator that people are interested about a certain topic – but what about topics they don’t necessarily talk about on social media? In some cases, search data can be a stronger proof of interest than buzz volume.

Let’s say you want to discover the top skin care concerns in Singapore. Since it is an embarrassing topic, people may not necessarily talk about acne or psoriasis on Twitter or Instagram. But they are likely to search for solutions for these problems on more ‘private’ search platforms, like Google.

So in this case, search data can indicate interest, but social data can explain qualitatively why people are interested in that particular topic – for example, reasons why acne is a problem for them, products they use to manage their acne, and many explanations.

Search gives you a trigger, Social gives you the reason for the trigger.

So, where exactly can you access Google search data? Trends in Google search volumes are openly available in the Google Trends website. This site analyzes the popularity of search queries in Google across various locations and languages. You can also get search data from the Keyword Planner tool if you have a Google Adwords account. Compared with Google Trends, this tool provides more accurate search volumes (especially if you have a paying account).

More insightful reports - easily done by combining different data sources & social media!
More insightful reports – easily done by combining different data sources & social media!
Popular Use Cases:
  1. Trend Spotting/Tracking – Search data is especially useful for identifying trends because it allows people to search for topics even before they start talking about them and can help indicate when interest for a topic started. Then, social data can be used to look at specific conversation themes about these trends.
  2. Brand Health Tracking – Especially when looked at in comparison with competitors, search data can tell you where your brand stands, specifically in terms of awareness. Social data is a good reference for brand associations and you can also complement this data with related search terms, which can be found in both Google Trends and Adwords Keyword Planner.
  3. Campaign Tracking – Other than looking at increase in social conversations, it helps to see if your campaign had an impact on how much people have searched about your brand on Google.

#2: Using Social Data to Complement Traditional Research Data

We have a number of Market Research Agency partners and they usually ask us to look at social media data to dig deeper into traditional research tracker findings.

Traditional research is often not able to fully explain the ‘whys’ behind findings and numbers a lot of times. Once a study concludes, traditional researchers just need to work with the data that they have. If they have additional questions that need to be answered, they would need to start another study. This is where digital research comes in – because it is possible to pull historical data using social listening tools.

In one of the projects that we did, the Retail Audit and Brand Health Tracker Data showed that a client’s competitor brand had an increase in Market Share and Consumption, despite a decrease in advertising spends. Their Brand Equity score increased including all specific imagery statements (i.e. Love/Taste). What could have caused the increase of this score?

Working together with the Market Research Agency, we were able to identify specific periods when scores increased and looked at social conversations during these periods. After deep-diving into these conversations, we found out that consumers created a new demand occasion for the product which became popular in that country.

More insightful reports - easily done by combining different data sources & social media!
More insightful reports – easily done by combining different data sources & social media!

Popular Use Cases:

  1. Brand Health/Equity Tracking – Market Research can be the basis of qualitative social media data analysis.
  2. Supplementing Qualitative Research – For one of our clients, we found out that online review sites were influential sources of information that affected consumer purchase behavior. Through social listening, we were able to identify which particular websites consumers visited and Qualitative Research explained why people preferred these websites.

#3: Combining Social Data with Sales Data

If traditional research has not been done, social data can often explain movements in sales volumes and provides more in-depth insights. Just take note though, there may be a lag between when people talk or search about a product and when they actually purchase it. Hence, it is best to analyze these data points over a longer duration to really see the correlations between them.

More insightful reports - easily done by combining different data sources & social media!
More insightful reports – easily done by combining different data sources & social media!

Popular Use Cases:

  1. Campaign Tracking – Ideally, campaigns that you launch should have an impact on sales. Aside from the usual metrics analyzed for post-campaign evaluation reports such as reach, impressions, volume of social conversations, social engagements, etc., you may also look at the correlations between these data points and sales data.
  2. Consumer Purchase Behavior Analysis – For some brands, they may notice that sales volumes peak and drop at certain months of the year. These may not necessarily be because of campaigns especially if they are not implemented on a regular basis. Reasons for seasonality in purchase trends can be uncovered by looking at social data alongside sales data.

By no means are these the only data sources that can be integrated with social data (you can also look at website traffic data, digital media performance metrics, among others). The key is to track as much data points as you can and organize your data so you can easily discover correlations whenever you need them.

You’ll never know how much value you can get from your data if you don’t try playing around with it!

Circus Social can help you look at your social, search, sales & many other forms of data to uncover deeper insights – just like how we have helped our clients make sense of theirs!

Data Science at Circus Social

Circus Social is brimming with social intelligence. With a vibrant and vastly talented group of Data Engineers, Data Scientists, and Data Analysts on board – we live and breathe data science and analytics.

More recently, our machine learning capabilities for the 20/Twenty platform have benefitted from a decentralized and distributed structure.

Data Science at Circus Social

Our clients are often faced with a variety of marketing challenges – and we try to work hand-in-hand to find the most efficient way of tackling them using data science and machine learning. These could include finding solutions to ‘hard-problems‘ like real-time document clustering or- predicting a virality score for posts on social media.

There are also new challenges that occur with changing lifestyles and social media behavior like, automatically grouping similar videos uploaded by users based on different attributes including context, language and emotions where we have to tap in to specializations of both the science and the engineering teams have been only possible with the contribution of both the data science and the engineering teams.

While our data science team has created magic with data, predictive and modeling techniques, our engineering team has helped maintain several terabytes of data and created effective machine learning pipelines.

Data Science at Circus SocialThe team’s latest project has been to develop and deploy a real-time document clustering functionality – allowing our clients to find viral content, identify trends and proactively react to crisis situations. The three main phases of this data science and ML project are feature extraction and selection, document representation and clustering.  After having experimented with a lot of clustering algorithms with speed and cluster quality as the primary metric for evaluation we settled for a hybrid approach that used both K-means and agglomerative hierarchical clustering. K-means, because of its run-time efficiency and agglomerative hierarchical clustering because of the cluster quality. While our initial motivation was to find similar conversations in a given geographical area, we have also started using it to recommend conversations and articles the user is most interested in.

Data Science at Circus Social

At Circus Social, promoting the best ideas not only pampers our love for an open culture but also helps drive an innovative culture that constantly challenges the status quo. As a social media analytics company, we have developed a similar wavelength for Data Science.

From where it all began in the early days of social listening-, to today’s culmination of intelligence, data science & machine learning-, we are truly excited at the possibilities of what the future of 20/Twenty holds for us, our team and our clients.

Reach to Revenue: Social ROI

Reach to Revenue, a Webinar on Social ROI

FB banner (hootsuite & CS)

Earlier today, our Co-Founder & COO, Prerna Pant, spoke at a webinar with Alison Ng (Regional Account Executive at Hootsuite APAC) and Meredith Wallace (Head of Social & Digital at M&C Saatchi). These three accomplished women discussed how to measure and prove the value of your investment in social.

If you missed it, don’t worry. Here’s a quick ten-pointer list of what was talked about!

What did we learn about Social ROI from the talk?

1. According to a dipstick survey, 66% of respondents currently do not measure Social ROI.

2. 42% of respondents are unsure how to go about measuring and proving Social ROI.

3. Measuring social ROI can help to make or save money, or mitigate risk. Or better yet, all three at once.

4. Use the 3-step framework for simplicity:

Social ROI Framework

5. Not all Social ROI is created equal. Not every single metric like the number of followers could be important to you.

6. Proving Social ROI is not one-off, it changes day to day.

7. Be flexible! Change your approach based on results and insights as needed.

8. Customer-centric is not a buzzword, it’s integral to social and digital success.

9. Look at Social ROI from beyond a sales perspective, but as a way to find customer insights.

10. Always contextualize data. Half the battle is asking the right questions.

We hope that was a useful list!

If you have any other questions about Social ROI, don’t hesitate to tweet us @CircusSocial or leave a comment below.