This year I have had a pretty leisurely holiday period and one consequence is that I have not been engaging in my usual start of year prognosticating. However, as I slowly acclimate back into a work schedule my eye was caught by the news, in Research-Live, that GfK and Passenger are partnering in order for GfK to enhance its online communities offer.
This stimulated my first prediction of the year, 2011 is going to be the year when social MR really starts to go mainstream. Over the next year, and in 2012, I think we will see partnerships, acquisitions, mergers, consolidations, upscaling, standardisation of offers.
The lead ‘social’ products are going to be MROCs and Social Media Research (the mining, monitoring, and analysing of naturally occurring online conversations). I am pretty sure we will also see significant growth in the use of smartphones in research, particular in the area of using them to get people to record aspects of their lives.
Both of the key growth areas, MROCs and SMR (Social Media Research) will generate some significant problems in terms of ethics, quality issues, and competitive context (both non-research competitors entering MR and MR projects expanding into other domains, in particular marketing).
But despite these problems I predict that 2011 will see the mainstreaming of these social research approaches, which means we will also see some pretty big ‘issues’ during 2011 and 2012, ones that will make things like Nielsen’s scraping of PatientsLikeMe seem like a minor infraction.
My top tip for 2011? Try not to make the news as being responsible for a really serious ethical or quality problem!
[BTW, a few people probably already think social is mainstream. I estimate that there are about 5000 researchers globally who are really into different aspects of social media and research - and many of us are in touch through more than one social link. However, I also estimate that 95% of market researchers have not used an MROC, smartphone research, netnography, or Social Media Research yet. For me mainstream would have to mean at least one-in-eight of researchers being involved.]