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?


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