Questions for SMR Platform Providers

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last week, Carla Essen and I did a webinar for the MRA.  During the Q&A time, some folks asked about the platform we use.  Hands down, this is the most asked question after either of us speak.  Instead of telling which platform I use, I think it can be more valuable to share some of the questions that we use to think through which platform may be best for client needs.  Undoubtedly, your client needs are different than ours - and Carla and I have different needs!  Therefore, your question list may be different from ours, but below is a rough guide to some things we thought through in making the decision about which platform would best enable my SMR work.  Keep in mind that our SMR practice is highly netnographic in nature.


Here are some suggested questions that you can use to develop your own set of questions to ask SMR platform providers:


  • Where is the your social media data coming from?
  • How much API access does the platform have? (Also known as “firehose access”) 
  • Is the data stored within the platform historically or does the aggregation start when the researcher hits “go”?
  • Is the licensure ad hoc or monthly/yearly?  If monthly/yearly, do you have options for me to license on a project-by-project basis?
  • Is the access sold by seat or can I use it for my whole organization?
  • Are there other qualitative research firms using this?  Or, who is your target audience: PR/Marketing/Ad Agency/Other.
  •  Is the focus for monitoring/listening over time or for deep “why” insight gathering?  (Or both?)
  • Watch for how easy it is to see actual verbatims.
  • Can verbatims be exported?
  • What tools do you have for disambiguation, or honing the search?
  • Do you have measures for identifying and removing “fake” sources like the non-consumer generated pay-per-click fake blogs, for example?
  •  Are there clear links between how a verbatim ended up in an inforgraphic and the source verbatims (to ensure that the verbatims were coded correctly via NLP)?
  • Can I click on a graph and see the verbatims that it represents?
  • Are graphs clearly labeled with how many comments they represent?
  • Does the platform offer flexible boolean queries or inclusion/exclusion of terms?
  • What resources are available for learning how to best enter search terms, if any?
  • Does the platform allow for consumer focus of terms, instead of news or marketing sources?
  • What training and support is available?
  • How long does it take for real time comments to be available within the platform (what’s the lag time)?
  • Do you have tools to identify who may be influential within my topic?
  • Do you offer location-specific search?
  • What language capabilities do you offer?  Is translation housed within the platform, and if so, what technology is translation based on?

Questions for Listening.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thanks to tj scenes for the pic
One of my favorite things to do in my free time is to have deep conversations.  Not the kind of surfacy stuff like, "how's the weather?"  This weekend, a dear friend told me about this list of questions from the "12 most" series.  I really think that moderators would be well-served by dwelling a bit on these.  I must admit that in the past I've been caught up by adding a million questions to my project's discussion guide, but when it comes down to it, I know that a few good questions will uncover just about everything my business partners need to know.  Here's a challenge: are you asking questions to listen, or are you asking questions to check off lots of small objectives but missing the big objective of why you're there?  Just curious.

Go check this out.  Then come back.

Now that you're back, I want to think about how we can use these questions for broad, "how the consumer approaches the category" kind of work, or segmentation.  There are lots of other applications, but let's start with this one.

What are you willing to do without?  I'd follow that up with, "why?"  Very interesting for understanding what's negotiable and what's not.  What would it take to make the brand we're working with something closer to something that he or she is not willing to do without?

What's possible?  What if our brand or product could help partner with the folks it's for to make things possible in their life that weren't before?  Talk about meaningful.

What do you expect from yourself?  How can the brand or product come alongside to make this happen?

Those are just a couple of ideas on how to apply these questions from a moderator's perspective.

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