Social Media Research: A Cautionary Tale

flickr: jakeprzespo

Last week, a Tweet invited me to take a social media marketing industry survey.

I’m an avid reader of social media research and regularly scan journals, academic conference papers and dissertations for new research pertaining to social media. In the scope of communications, social media is a new phenomena and more research to help us understand it is always welcome.  I’m involved in my own social media research, and regularly use others’ research to define strategies for clients.

For this particular survey from last week, the creators promised to share their results with anyone who took the survey – generosity and reciprocity – good social media etiquette.

However, if you took the survey, don’t rely on the results. All research isn’t created equal. Remember, I found out about this social media survey from Twitter. That’s like creating a survey on the state of coffee-drinking and then heading to Starbucks to ask people to complete it. There’s built-in bias because of how the survey participants were selected.

Those of us who engage in social media strategy need research to guide us in strategy development – to help us identify trends and separate myth from truth – but beware of skewed results that ask coffee-drinkers if they plan to have another cup.

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