Market research companies do not really have a reputation of being a very innovative bunch; for years there has been no revolutionary innovation in market research tools.
Social media listening is a discipline that, as we wrote many times before, was elusive for market research. Both the corporate and agency researchers did not see the value; they did not trust it, it was not “representative”…yes, they used the 'R' word…ooouuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh. The first generation of social media monitoring tools (which are still in full use today) are not deemed useful for market research by the corporate researchers; rightly so if you ask me. Their sentiment accuracy is less than 60% and usually only capable of dealing with a specific language. There is no capability of drilling down into topics and sub-topics, when they provide sentiment it is only at the brand or search term level, and the percentage of noise (irrelevance to the topic) that a user search query returns is 80-90%.
I had not realised that our own listening247 is a 2nd generation social media listening tool until Lenny Murphy (@lennyism), Editor-in-Chief of the GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report and blog, called it that during a phone conversation a couple of weeks ago. I guess what 2nd generation means is a platform that was specifically developed for consumer insights- one that addresses all the shortcomings of 1st generation tools that are mentioned above. Social media research is now a very concrete discipline with new tools such as listening247 and online community tools (such as communities247) that complement it. We believe that the biggest shortcoming listening247 addresses is multilingual sentiment accuracy - the result of almost 3 years of hard work and relentless focus of the DigitalMR R&D team is being able to consistently reach over 85% sentiment accuracy in any language.
I was very pleased to hear Lenny go on describing what he thought 3rd generation tools will be like; he said they will link sentiment to customer behaviour and customer profiles, there will be more focus on analysing images, voice, and video for sentiment and more granular emotions. He also spoke about using text analytics to deal with sources of unstructured text other than social media e.g. email databases, instant messaging, call centre conversations etc. In case you are wondering why I was pleased, you can reach out and ask me on @DigitalMR_CEO.
Some of these new market research methods will disrupt traditional market research as we know it even further. The do-it-yourself aspect of these new platforms will help democratise the space and allow current non-users to convert to online market research, mainly because these platforms will be affordable, efficient and effective.
End clients of market research have already started realising that 1st generation social media monitoring tools have very low sentiment accuracy, and even if they are captive to these tools, they still ask DigitalMR to score their posts for sentiment. In most cases, the sentiment accuracy difference between listening247 and the other tool is over 30 percentage points. If you would like to know how we define and measure accuracy please ping me on Twitter and I will be more than happy to provide definitions and examples.
At DigitalMR we have a couple of other rabbits in the hat, not sure if they will help us qualify as a 4th generation social media listening tool, but we are certainly happy that we are currently considered 2nd generation going on 3rd :) since the majority of the current players are still gen 1.