I recently wrote a blog post citing ten of the biggest complaints about social media research. Today I address complaint #1.
Social media research does not include demographic data.
I’ll admit right off the bat that this is a commonly raised concern. Coming from traditional research where every single survey complete and focus group attendee is associated with at least a couple of demographic datapoints (age, gender) and possibly even 8 or 10 variables (household size, number and age of children,income, education, region, religion, race, hispanic, language), it’s hard for experienced researchers to come to grips with datasets where they don’t know the stated demographics of even a few of the participants.
Unfortunately, in the case of social media research, the problem is more than a few records lacking a few demos. Indeed, a dataset may only have demos for 1% to 20% of datapoints. And worse, there might only be one or two demographic pieces of data, like age or gender, for those records.
But let’s not look at the glass half empty. This is definitely a glass half full moment. I am still astounded when I see a social media dataset where 20% of the data has demographic information. Really, when was the last time you wrote a tweet like this?
So think about it this way. If you NEED detailed demographic data, then your main methodology should be a survey of sorts. Social media research should be there to fill in the gaps, to add flavour, to show details that couldn’t be evaluated with the survey data. You must always choose the right method for your research objective and if that means doing a survey or a focus group so that you have demographic data, then so be it.
True or False? Mostly true.
- The Daily Listen Lady #MRX (lovestats.wordpress.com)
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- The Top 10 Things We Love About Social Media Research #MRX (lovestats.wordpress.com)