It’s never the tools #MRX

How many times have you seen comments like:
– social media research isn’t valid
– mobile surveys don’t do a good job
– neuroscience doesn’t predict anything

Well, I’ve heard all of them many times. Many times each and many times every year.

And I completely disagree.

The problem is never the tool. The problem is always the person. No, social media research doesn’t give valid results if you don’t collect it properly, clean it properly, score it properly, and analyze it properly. And neither does any other research method. Bad research isn’t research.

We need to stop criticizing methods and start criticizing the application of methods. Instead of blaming mobile surveys or gamified research, try explaining why those projects were poorly designed and how they should have been done properly to count as a real research project.

A poor carpenter blames his tools but a threatened researcher blames his competitive methods.

Why won’t I Link In with you?

I’m pretty open to new connections. First of all, I’m the Editor In Chief of a marketing research magazine called Vue so I am always in search of new connections who could be potential authors (could you?). Second, I know that the future isn’t written in stone and I could be unexpectedly job hunting tomorrow. In both cases, the more connections the better.

At the same time however, I do not Link with every Tom, Chris, and Susan who asks. I am not a LION. My criteria may be broad but they are simple.

  1. Are you a person? There is a new trend of creating LinkedIn profiles for companies as opposed to people. I refuse to link with companies. I can’t have a conversation with a company. I can’t debate a new ethical issue with a company. I can’t ask a company for its perspective on a case study. Sorry. No wait. Not sorry at all. I only link with human beings.
  2. Are you in my field? I love to link with marketing researchers in all walks of life. But if you’re in a related field, that works for me too. So, marketers, advertisers, neuroscientists, ethnographers, statisticians, field managers, data scientists, linguists, community managers, moderators, and more all meet my criteria. All of these types of people have an abundance of unique and valuable skills that Canadian researchers could learn from in a magazine article.
  3. Have we met before? No worries, that doesn’t matter to me at all. You can’t help it if you live in Australia and I live in Canada, and there’s no way our paths will ever cross. I value expertise not geography.
  4. Is your profile filled out? I examine the profile of every single person who requests to link with me. Some profiles are completely empty or have just a couple of job titles. It’s nearly impossible to figure out whether we could have a meaningful conversation about surveys or data or charts. For all I know, you created the profile today and have no intention of coming back. Since LinkedIn limits the number of connections you can have, it doesn’t make sense to Link with someone you will never see again. Come back when I can make an informed decision.
  5. Did you welcome me with a sales pitch? LinkedIn is indeed a social network for business people and an important place for creating new business relationships. But there is no need for your first message after linking with me to be a dissertation on how you are guaranteed to provide me with the best product ever and we need to talk immediately to outline our amazing new partnership. I will unlink you before I finish deleting your welcome message. Chat with me first, share a blog post, ask for opinion, let me get to know you. You might just find that I ask YOU about your services and that’s a far better business bet.

Go ahead. Try me.

Four Simple Rules for Using a Cell Phone

I’m not a big cell phone user in the traditional sense. I rarely use it to make calls. But I’m an over-sharer on Twitter and Facebook, I use LinkedIn ad nauseum, and I love to blog on the go. What that means is I could have my face to the phone for approximately 6.7 hours every single day if I wasn’t careful. But I am careful. I do have some rules and I’d love to share them with you.

  1. For Love: When a loved one (ok, ok, or a liked one) is in visual sight, whether at home watching TV, on a hike through the wilderness, or anywhere else, the phone is not permitted out of pocket. Exceptions include actual, real phone calls. Exceptions do not include a quick Facebook post or a funny tweet or texting friends who are not there. If someone is in the room, THEY deserve your attention even if you aren’t talking and are just reading in the same room.
  2. For Respect: When a service person is attending to you, the phone can not be looked at or listened to. This includes quick transactions such as paying for a coffee, ordering a meal, paying a bus fare, or longer transactions such as getting your hair cut and styled, or your nails primped. I see this rule broken and the disheartened looks from the receiver on a daily basis. Remember, service people are actually people. They aren’t robots and they aren’t slaves. Have a little respect. Your call about whether you want mayonnaise or mustard in your sandwich truly can wait.
  3. For My Safety: As a pedestrian, if you are about to or in process of crossing the street, or if you are on a subway platform, the cell phone must be in pocket or at thigh level. So, if you are mid-conversation, mid-tweet, mid-map check, you must physically lower your arm completely. Let the person on the other end of the conversation know you are walking and you might stop talking at any moment. Let them call your name repeatedly because you didn’t tell them what kind of donut you want them to pick up for you. Even better, never walk and text. That’s how thousands of  people have fallen onto train tracks, walked into moving vehicles, and caused other people to have car accidents. You are not immune even though you are smarter than everyone else.
  4. For Your Safety: As a driver, the cell phone must always be unreachable in the back seat. There is absolutely NEVER any good reason to pick up a phone while you are driving. NEVER. If you absolutely must pick it up, pull into a parking lot and park. If using the phone is that urgent, then you clearly need to put 100% of your attention into it.

30 Minute Video: From One Second To The Next – Texting While Driving Documentary

3 Minute Video: Dangers of Texting Whle Walking

 

Is Facebook the only emotional manipulator? #MRX

If you haven’t heard of the Facebook ‘scandal’ by now then I’m jealous of the holiday you’ve just taken on a beautiful tropical island with no internet access. The gist of the scandal is that the feeds of 689,003 people were curated differently than everyone else to gauge the subsequent effect on emotion.

While most people’s feeds are curated based on which friends you like, share, and comment on more often, the feeds of these people were curated in addition, by considering the positive and negative words they included. In both conditions, Facebook chose which of your friends’ posts you would see though in the Test condition, you might be offered a greater proportion of their positive or negative posts. The conclusion was that you can indeed affect people’s emotions based on what they read. You can read the published study here.

I honestly don’t know where I stand on the ethics of this study right now. Ethics interest me but I’m not an ethicist. So instead, let me think about this from a scientific point of view.

Do you deliberately manipulate emotions in the work you do? As a marketing researcher, your job is ONLY to manipulate emotions. You know very well that this brand of cola or that brand of chips or the other brand of clothing cannot boast better taste, feel, look, or workmanship. All of those features are in the eye, or taste buds, of the beholder. Through careful research, we seek to learn what makes different kinds of people happy about certain products so that marketers can tout the benefits of their products. But, at the same time, we also seek to learn what disappoints and makes people unhappy about the products and services they use such that those weaknesses can be exploited by marketers.

Through a strange twist of fate, a colleague and I recently conducted a tiny study. We found the results quite interesting, and wrote a quick blog post about it. Then the Facebook news broke. As Facebook did on a larger scale, I will confess that I manipulated the emotions of about 300 people.

Previously, I saw on a number of studies that age breaks are inconsistent. Sometimes researchers create an 18 to 34 age break, and other times they create an 18 to 35 age break. In other words, sometimes you’re the youngest person in a group, and sometimes you’re the oldest person in a group. Would you rather be the oldest person in a young group, or the youngest person in an old group? What did we find? Well, people did indeed express greater happiness when they were part of the younger group, even though they were the oldest person in that group. I deliberately and knowingly manipulated happiness. Just like Facebook did. Do you hate me now? Do you think I’m unethical? You can read the post here.

As marketing researchers, every bit of research we do, every interaction we have with people, is intended to manipulate emotions. We collect data that marketers use to criticise our favourite products. We collect data so that politicians can directly criticise other politicians through their negative ad campaigns. Has that bothered you yet? Has that bothered you enough to warrant outcries in social media? Have you campaigned for an immediate ban of television, radio, and viewing products on the shelves at supermarkets knowing that those things are intended to manipulate our emotions?

Since you know that your research is intended to affect emotions, do you inform your research participants about the potential negative consequences of participating in your research? Do you tell them that seeing their age in the older age bracket may make them unhappy, that viewing critical ads may make them unhappy, that being asked to select up to five negative attributes might make them unhappy?

Given that we’ve done it this way for so long, have we become complacent about the ethics of the research we conduct? In this age of big data, is it time to take a fresh look at the ethics of marketing research?

[Originally published on Research Live]

 

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I Am Your Stinky SeatMate

With more than twelve hours of flying time and four hours of layover time ahead of me, it was difficult to look forward to a conference where I would give a presentation on social media research to hundreds of people. However, given that the trip would land me in the 13 century city of Stockholm, with its cobblestone streets, ancient palaces, and stunning architecture, the impending cramped legs and utter boredom seemed worthwhile.

My journey began in the Canadian prairies when I parted with my checked luggage at the Saskatoon airport. My luggage immediately headed westbound to Edmonton, a city not even on my eastbound itinerary, and I, after numerous flight delays and a subsequent cancelation, headed back to a hotel room overlooking a garbage dumpster. Leaving for Stockholm would have to wait another 24 hours.

As a vocal marketing researcher who specializes in social listening research, I’ve taken careful steps to maximize my online exposure to as many relevant colleagues as possible. More than seven thousand professionals follow my Twitter account where I share my thoughts about how to conduct high quality social listening research. More than a thousand people have friended my Facebook account, a place where I share some of my marketing research thoughts but far more personal thoughts, opinions, and rants. Nearly four thousand people have connected with my LinkedIn account, a social network for professionals and business people, many of whom travel – a lot.

What does that mean? It means that more than seven thousand people on Twitter, plus the thousands of people they shared my tweets with, were exposed to my frustrations via tweets labeled @AirCanada, #IAmYourStinkySeatMate, and #LostLuggage. On Twitter, I shared the fact that my ‘free’ breakfast voucher did not cover the cost of a basic breakfast. I shared images of the highly fragrant toiletries I received but could not use, including an advertisement for the toiletries themselves. I shared my disappointment in not also receiving a t-shirt (easy resolution), socks (easy resolution), or underwear (Yes, I’ll admit, difficult.). Since tweets are public, and they are now searchable in social media listening results and Google search results for years to come, I was careful to maintain a mild level of professionalism during my frustrations.

On the flip side however, Facebook has a higher degree of privacy than Twitter. In the best case scenario, only the thousand people I am friends with on Facebook will ever see what I post there. It is there, on Facebook, that a thousand of my closest friends listened, watched, and sympathized with how I really felt. On Facebook, my close friends and family, the people who are most influenced by my personal opinions and brand experiences, listened as I bemoaned how my luggage was lost before I even saw an airplane. They sympathized as I wandered from airport to airport, from help desk to help desk, asking agents for the whereabouts of my luggage. Thousands of people saw the brand name Air Canada next to phrases like “Your bag probably fell off the line” and “We can’t seem to locate your luggage but it will probably be in London.” My friends and family saw images of the pathetic hotel room I was given, and 6 second Vine videos of toiletries that I couldn’t use because they weren’t what my doctor recommended.

It wasn’t only Air Canada that failed me though. There were many opportunities for other companies to become knights in shining armour. A desperate tweet to Aveeno led nowhere. No tweets of sympathy, no surprise package waiting for me at the end of my journey. And oh, how I longed for clean socks and underwear, precious items nowhere to be found in the airports. A tweet to Hanes resulted in no sympathy tweets nor offers to supply the items either. Though fellow tweeters also shared my call for assistance with their thousands of followers, nothing happened. I could have been profusely praising Aveeno and Hanes right now but, rather, I am sharing my disappointment in a very public forum.

But let’s ignore the cancelled flight and lost bags for a moment. What were Air Canada’s biggest fails, the reasons that I ended up being so vocal?

They passed the buck. They expected me to find and speak to the right person after getting off an eight hour flight. They should have done the speaking for me. They have the computer system in front of them. They know the right people to talk to. They know how all the airports and airlines work. They should have greeted me at my next connection with a message updating me on status of my lost luggage. Instead, I tweeted.

They chose the wrong language. They “invited” me to speak with an agent on my arrival at a strange airport in a foreign country. Perhaps I misunderstood, but I was not begin invited to a birthday party. They seemed to have forgotten who made the mistake. So I Facebooked my disappointment.

They chastised me. With a presentation to hundreds of my colleagues on the horizon, forgive me when I do anything I can to find the luggage with my presentation clothes and shoes. Of course I send both tweets and Facebook messages to Air Canada. There was no need to slap my hand with a patronizing comment that my messages had already been answered elsewhere.

And on that note, have you heard about Chester the Cat? Hundreds of retweets later, thousands of sympathic followers later, and millions of highly memorable and salient social media impressions later, Chester the Cat was finally found on June 18, 2014 after being lost by Air Canada for an entire month. Skinny but alive. I’m glad I only lost my luggage.

You Don’t Own Me

I have thousands of friends, fans, and followers. Over a thousand on Facebook, nearly four thousand on LinkedIn, and almost eight thousand on Twitter. Most of them are marketing researchers, and they read and monitor everything I write.

Follow me on Twitter! @woofer_kyyiv

But let’s flip that on it’s head. I follow thousands of people on Twitter, I’ve friended over a thousand people on Facebook, and I’ve Linkedin with thousands of people on LinkedIn. And you know, it feels kind of creepy to hear other people say they ‘have’ me as a friend/follower/link, that I am one of the thousands of people they have in their little black book.

First of all, I love that many of the people I’ve connected with can now be counted as friends. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn conversations over the years have led to lots of friendships with people around the world, people I would have never met otherwise. But, the connection does not necessitate that we’re friends. We have may crossed paths at a conference, shared a cubicle wall at a past employer, or discovered via fourth order connections that we both love charts/statistics/data quality/ukulele. Connections yes, friends, not necessarily.

Second, I don’t read everything they write. I don’t even see or care about everything they write. Indeed, I know I’ve forgotten that I’ve even linked, friended, or fanned some of them.

Finally, as the person I follow, you don’t ‘have’ me. I made an individual decision, without your assistance, about who I follow/friend/link and why. At the drop of a hat, exuberant use of curse words, racism, sexism, or other forms of hate messaging will result in me deciding that I no longer care to follow or friend you. I’ll even unfollow you if you share heart-warming, uplifting, inspirational quotes all the time. Maybe you love them, I don’t. So with that in mind, consider me as someone who has graced you with an increased follower count. Temporarily. At my full discretion.

If anything, I ‘have’ you.

I don’t have any followers. There are, however, thousands of people who have chosen to follow my accounts. It’s a big difference.

Do you know what a hard to reach group is? #MRX

I saw a title of blog post recently titled “What is a hard to reach group?” The answer seemed obvious – young men, hispanic people, people with high incomes. There are lots of demographic groups that are hard to reach and cause researchers a lot of stress when it comes to filling every cell in a sampling matrix.

But that wasn’t the first thing that came to mind for me. The first thing I thought of was that hard to reach people are those for whom we haven’t found the right value proposition. We haven’t found the incentives that are meaningful to them. That’s the simplest answer.

But, it also means we haven’t found the type of research that feels important to them – our surveys aren’t meaningful to them, our focus groups don’t put them at ease, our individual interviews feel unnatural to them.

Maybe these ‘hard to reach’ groups aren’t hard to reach at all. Maybe we’ve spend all of our time trying to attract and interest mini-mes. People just like me. People who completed highschool. People who went to college. People who work from 9 to 5 and then go home, make dinner, take care of the kids and get to bed by 11.

Maybe, if we stopped trying to recruit mini-mes, if we stepped into the shoes of someone who works the nightshift, someone who plays video games until 3am, someone who only wears designer shoes, maybe we’d find that these hard to reach groups aren’t so hard to reach at all.

The People Side of Innovation by Stefan Lindegaard #ESOMAR #ESOdigital #MRX

Live blogging from the #ESOMAR digital conference in Stockholm. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.esomar

The People Side of InnovationStefan Lindegaard, , Author and Strategic Advisor, 15inno, Denmark

  • he is a self-confessed nerd in innovation
  • now we need a new phone every 3 months instead of every 3 years
  • Embedded image permalinkanything can be copied around the world within 2 months because of transparency and communications
  • open innovation is a philosophy or mindset of innovation
  • thought leadership and thought intelligence are a necessity, being an engineer is no longer sufficient
  • discovery is the first great idea, not necessarily the engineer but anyone
  • incubation, acceleration are the next steps and require the right people at the right time
  • figure out which of your employees are good at these different areas and put them in the place for each project
  • how do you get access to these people?
  • you need intrapreneurial skills, networking talent, communication skills, strategic influencing, adaptive fast learner, balanced optimism, tolerance for uncertainty, passion
  • it’s not matching people to holes anymore
  • financial rewards aren’t necessarily the number 1 reward, but people really crave intellectual stimulation, if there’s money that’s great too
  • teams need to include more and different functions now, it’s not just engineers anymore
  • we need job rotation program, programs to learn as you go
  • need virtual collaboration
  • Embedded image permalinknetworking requires direction, training, and time – few executives get this
  • “since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on linkedin” [i always find that funny too. i link with anyone who is a researchers, even before i know whether to trust them]
  • he goes to the movies at 11am so he can be by himself because he is an introvert, he’s learned to become a networker, but it helps him to focus, turn on the networking switch
  • innovation requires a networking culture
  • T-shape – two kinds of people, vertical is depth of skill which allows contribution. Horizontal disposition for collaborations cross disciplines  [engineers are really taking a hit :) ]
  • Marissa Mayer at yahoo banned working at home – more productive working alone, but more innovative working in teams
  • there is no silver bullet – you can’t just make it happen, you need to create the right conditions for innovation to happen
  • intrapreneur – a person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for innovation
  • it is important to spot and develop a talent
  • 96% of all product innovation fails, too much focus on product and technology, your ROI comes from the business model and the networking
  • a corporate culture is carved in stone in the early years. you can’t just copy google
  • older people have never been trained in innovation, they don’t understand how it happens but they can execute
  • we need to stop rewarding only outcomes and results, we need to reward behaviours that lead to innovation
  • ideas are not the problem anymore, it’s getting the right people

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Panel Discussion on Political Polling & Media in Canada: “Election Polling in the West – Has it Changed The Research Industry For the Better?” #MRIA14 #MRX

Live blogging from the #MRIA national conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.saskatoon

Panel Discussion on Political Polling & Media in Canada: “Election Polling in the West – Has it Changed The Research Industry For the Better?”

Moderator: Steve Mossop, President, Insights West; Panelists: Éric Grenier, polling analyst and the author of ThreeHundredEight.com; Tim Olafson, Co-founder, Stone-Olafson; Scott MacKay, President – Probe Research Inc.; Lang McGilp, Senior Research Executive, Insightrix Research

  • [note - there is lots of debate and differences of opinions among the speakers, i have not indicated who said what]
  • many voters change their minds at the very last minute, political polling is not broken in canada
  • 22% of voters changed their mind in the last few days of the election
  •  we always ask “how would you vote today.” We need to ask the right questions
  •  there is still a role for public election polling, parties have the information so the public should have it as well
  • campaigns will be dominated by internal polls because they will put out poll results themselves
  • no more trust between public and pollsters and we need to rebuild that trust; better polling costs money, money that we don’t have, need more cooperation between pollsters and journalists is reported the right way
  • pollster in-fighting looks terrible, media sees the fights and focus on the people who got it wrong
  • Embedded image permalinktired of giving away free polling to build up brand recognition
  • pollsters doing a crappy job of setting the context, they focus on a time frame or election, they don’t look back at the last election at society at the bigger picture
  • we need to get rid of the ban on polling publication
  • industry needs to be less competitive and more open with best practices
  • we have civic reasons to do the polling, good for democracy
  • there are many people who want us to get polling wrong
  • there are too many free polls, angus reid in the west complains the most
  • some people think more pollsters is better – 280 pollsters were doing it in the US, Canada probably only needs around 12. comparatively, not as many in Canada
  • do engineers or lawyers offer free engineering and free lawyering? Free undervalues our work
  • some firms refuse to release any public that is not paid for
  • paid for polls are more accurate because you ask more questions
  • we trivialize elections with so many polls based on insufficient survey questions; will the media cover costs of a 60 question survey
  • polls these days are just horse race measures
  • how can we prove that polling works – we’ve called elections accurately for the last 50 years, except when it’s wrong [margin of error people]
  • polling used to be much more accurate, record was unblemished. what happened? we started using online panels. some panels aren’t good for this kind of research. telephone method is not dead. it works well. panels won’t work in smaller regions. Do not write off the phone at this point.
  • there are region specific panels that were built carefully, based on telephone recruit. These panels are extremely accurate.
  • method doesn’t matter. society has changed. it used to be the newspaper in the evening and news on TV at night. Now news is instant all day long.
  • not a lot of telephone any more in ontario but any methodology can get it right
  • turnout determines accuracy of polls, it’s luck
  • voter turnout is declining especially among younger people which means we will need to build likely voter models, this is new for many people
  • some region have publicly available voter lists, can be purchased, can determine who has and hasn’t voted
  • is it intention, past behaviour that predicts best?
  • we don’t ask the right questions, need to probe the undecided better, shouldn’t focus solely on undecided voters and they could be leaning heavily into one camp
  • maybe we don’t know what’s going on
  • how can we do a better job of predicting elections? voter models which we really haven’t been using [seriously? you aren't using models? i'm seriously shocked.]
  • a publication ban is not a polling ban, we should keep polling until the end so we get a better sense of what’s going on
  • perhaps publish your numbers as an exit poll
  • people dislike polling because ‘we’re wrecking democracy,’ we’re telling people ahead of time what will happen
  • need more transparency, show the numbers, show the questions, show the weighting – this helps to avoid in-fighting
  • prediction markets – one happened in BC and followed the polls exactly but it was wrong at the outcome like all of the polls

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Using Digital Technologies to Connect with Citizens and Shape Public Policy in the City of Markham by Frank Scarpitti, Mayor, and Adam Froman #MRIA14 #MRX

Live blogging from the #MRIA national conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.saskatoon

Using Digital Technologies to Connect with Citizens and Shape Public Policy in the City of Markham

Frank Scarpitti, Mayor, City of Markham; Adam Froman, CEO, Delvinia & AskingCanadians

  • 60% of their city was born outside of Canada
  • known as Canada’s high tech capital, over 900 tech companies call Markham home
  • known as a knowledge based economy
  • want to attract tech, life science, and finance companies
  • one of fastest growing areas in Canada, population will grow by 50% in 20 years
  • Embedded image permalink25 years ago, the wired telephone was how we communicated at a distance, now mobile phones are used for phone calls, and much more.
  • now pushing for internet voting
  • in 2003, experienced a 400% increase in internet voting
  • offered in 2006 again, further increase in use of the internet, increased turnout to 40% but that compares well to typical numbers of low 30s or lower
  • 2007, launched online program “Click with Markham” Feedback from residents on Markham priorities and action plans
  • Can get 300 people to an in-person event but got over 7000 online
  • “do it yourself Markham”  humorous online videos to engage voters and increase awareness of decisions and impacts in their own neighbourhoods, recognize importance of issues and voting. videos of doing your own garbage, street maintenance (See below)
  • Go where the people are digital to reach young, tech savvy residence
  • Have their own portal for more than 50 services – websites let you see what you can buy, portal connects you directly with the service, introduced mobile app to make access to services portable
  • consumer/citizens control the conversation
  • how do you deal with transparency and accountability with a government
  • built this program on crowdsourcing initiative
  • even got data and submissions from 10 to 18 year olds [impressive!]
  • had a team go into the schools and engage
  • opendata presents a lot of opportunity in the MR world
  • 98 municipalities will now offer internet voting, Canada is a leader in this, it’s too late to discuss, we’re already doing this

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