A series of prominent users of social media are writing guest posts for NewMR on the theme of social media, in order to highlight the many options available. This first one is from Betty Adamou, found and CEO of Research Through Gaming.
Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series.
When I first started RTG (Research Through Gaming), one of the first things I did (aside from attempt to make an awful website…cut me some slack, this was before WordPress!) was open a Twitter and Facebook account. But this is not unusual for any new business, as opening social media profiles is now commonplace on the ‘list of immediate things to do’ for all new business owners. After all, it’s free advertising.
Not too long after I started those profiles, a LinkedIn company page was born and then, in the last year or so, Research Through Gaming had its own Pinterest profile and Google+ profile.
All in all, Research Through Gaming currently holds social media profiles across 8 different platforms, if you count our YouTube channel as social media too (some people debate this). We also have a GitHub account and blog (if some people count this as SM too) and a small library of tools to help me, as the administrator, manage all these accounts. We use Google Analytics to get information about who is on our website and where they’re going, SumAll, is a tool to help me understand more about RTG’s impact via your more typical SM sites like Facebook and Twitter. Gravatar helps make life that little bit easier by automatically finding the RTG logo profile picture for new sites I open. Over time though, it’s become apparent which sites are absolutely crucial to focus on every day, which sites can be less of a priority and which sites are really not worth updating at all. For instance, my ‘golden three’ social media sites for business are the RTG Facebook page, Twitter profile and the Linked In business profile page. However, I actually find updating the RTG Facebook as Betty and my work-related social media accounts much more crucial. This is because, I imagine, more people like talking to me; a real human being, than RTG, the logo.
As an individual, I have too many social media pages probably! This is partly due to the fact that there are many facets of ‘me’ and many facets of you too. Some profiles I use between family and friends, (and I’m happy to say some colleagues cross over into the friend-zone) where I have my Facebook page. The ‘work me’ facet is shown through my Linked In, About.Me page and Twitter profile, then there is the ‘creative me’, where I have an Etsy shop (I just started this) a Behance page, two personal websites; one showcases my RTG work and another showcasing my artwork.
It’s quite hard to define social media these days though; where does social online media stop being just an application with a chat room, username and profile to being social media, like a Facebook or Twitter? If we count all media that is social as social-media, then RTG’s Skype account is #9 on the list.
Leaving my personal profiles aside and just focusing on the benefits of SM for Research Through Gaming in the market research realm, we couldn’t have become a ‘brand’ without it. That is, a company with a voice, an influence, and a way to spread knowledge about who we are, what we do and also what we want to do. There is no way at all that people as far as Japan and New Zealand would know about us as a business or have even heard my rants about game-based research if it wasn’t for social media! I believe in the use of SM so-much-so that it was #3 on my ‘Top 10 things to do when setting up an MR agency’ blog for Research World Connect.
While I do find updating the social media pages fun, especially when people interact with me/RTG, it is crucial to the business. To highlight the importance of using SM, let’s take a minute to think about how market researchers would live without social media:
- You wouldn’t know about upcoming events (which provide knowledge gaining, knowledge-sharing and networking opportunities) because you probably wouldn’t set a reminder on a monthly basis to check over 10 conference/event websites that exist in the market research industry (when I was at Ciao surveys, one manager told me to check Research-Live everyday for news. Now I just follow them on Twitter for updates to new content).
- You would know significantly less people in the industry than what you do now
- You would not (again, unless you checked the appropriate websites regularly) know about differing trends that affect MR, emerging methodologies and important articles that might shape the direction of a conversation with a client.
- You would spend a lot more time, and therefore money, on advertising, finding people to collaborate with and finding prospective clients.
But let’s think about the market research SM landscape in the present day, and what this will look like in future; the next two to three-ish years.
Right now, many market research agencies are not using social media sites, at least if they are, they could do better with it.
By and large, it’s the individuals within MR that are ‘famous’ on social media sites, not the companies they’re from. This means that the companies that employ those individuals are benefiting from their personal branding, but those companies really do need to step it up a notch. But what will happen in the near future? I imagine that individuals and organizations aren’t just going to ‘have social media sites’ and even a (basic) ‘social media strategy’ but actually utilise third-party tools to be super-intelligent about what platforms to use, when to update each platform, what content to post and actually understand how this translates to brand engagement.
We’re already seeing intelligent tools like Hootsuite do this and the newer Hootlet making it easier/faster to update profiles. More MR agencies will actually hire a social media administrator who will know about all these tools and keep a keen eye on new tools for more intelligent updating and understanding (so to be clear, this will not just be a researcher who’s been appointed to tweet in his or her spare time).
What’s more, these Social Media experts hired by the agencies will (and will have to) know how all the SM platforms being used can be integrated but also differentiated to accommodate for different audiences on different platforms (so not just one update copied and pasted across all SM profiles).
As a result of hiring someone to do this job, MR agencies will be more open to conversations online because there is someone actually manning the accounts at all times! Also, because SM experts know what to do, they will also know what NOT to do, like avoid the social media faux-pas of “Hi there! Thank you for following us! Please visit our website and buy our stuff!!” (excuse me while I unfollow you). And through more organic and catered conversations, convert those into meetings and maybe even sales or collaboration.
As a result of this, (you see a domino affect happening here), those in-house-social-media-manager-experts will be part of the quarterly and annual business meetings and suddenly, the CEOs have seen how crucial good social media management is to their business landscape and future. The social media managers can report on basics like increases (or decreases) in followers, likes and page views, but also data on the kind of interactions they’re having with the community and who they’re having those interactions with. Those social media managers can produce charts (or infographics, if they’re extra snazzy) on what percentage of those engaged with the brand are not researchers, but actually brands, or students perhaps. What kind of decisions will be made for the business on the back of data like that? Does this represent a new business model? Maybe. But the importance is that social media experts running your social media will create more opportunities for your market research business.
What this type of future ties in with is that market research companies will act increasingly like brands. They’re going to walk, talk and act like brands, even if they don’t feel it inside. And why? Because they’ll have to in order to survive. If I want data collected, I’m going to search for a third-party API to do this for me because that’s how free and readily available a lot of tools are these days. Annie Pettit mentioned in a recent blog that DIY tools are better than ever.
So, MR agencies will have to walk the ‘brand’ walk on social media to stay in the consciousness of the MR community, stay relevant and stay around. Brands will expect to use market research agencies in the future who eat their own cooking. They’ll say: “You say can help my brand grow, and essentially make more money. Great. But show me how you do yours first.”
Would you like to share your take on social media via a blog post on NewMR? We are happy to review suggested posts, ideally about 300 to 600 words. Send you suggested copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.