The Stupid Social-Media Assumptions Companies Make - The Experts - WSJ | Marketing Research |

There are three main mistakes companies currently make when it comes to social media.



Wall Street Journal expert Noreena Hertz highlights three mistakes that companies make when listening to social media. First is forgetting that social media represents only a certain demographic of people (i.e. tech-savvy, extroverted) and is thereby unrepresentative research. Second is the failure to distinguish that a person’s actions on the Internet differs from their actual actions (i.e. if they Tweet about something, do they actually buy it?). The final insight is that standardizing the listening process by machine and algorithm ultimately sacrifices true insights for the sake of speed and scale.



Though social listening taps into a goldmine of consumer opinion, this article prods us to question its methodology. As market research students, we learn carefully calculated components that make research reliable and accurate like proper data collection methods, error calculations and pro/con considerations of the Likert scale. However, these conventional benchmarks do not apply to the ad-hoc research of social listening – the mistakes highlighted in the article seem to be fundamental to its success and ultimate value. So if these benchmarks are important in the first place, it raises the question of how reliable social listening is, and whether its results can be compared to those from traditional research.