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    Nobody pays me to write any of the copy on my blog, and should I ever have the good fortune that they do, I will declare it. My main employment is as the owner and principal of The Future Place consultancy. The Future Place provides two key services 1) training and services to industry and academic bodies and 2) consultancy services to companies. The details of the companies I work with are a private matter, but if I blog about any company who has paid The Future Place more than expenses recently (approx. two years) I will mention that they are a client. I hold equity in Virtual Surveys and provide consulting services to them from time to time. I am paid to run courses for a number of trade bodies and over the last few years clients have included ESOMAR, AMSRS, MRS, and MRIA.

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Hello Ray,
thanks for the definitions of social monitoring and social media research.

At Forrester we have defined both social market research and social media monitoring. We tried to define the objectives, not the technologies used (as we expect these to change over time).

We define social market research as follows:
The use of social media and tools to gain increased access to and insights from a company's target segment in a way that adds value and depth to the researcher's overall responsibility as an expert on the voice of the customer.

And we define social monitoring as:
The use of a technology and analytics infrastructure to mine a wide variety of traditional, online, and social sources to extract and deliver insights that shape a firm's strategy across the marketing mix.


Interesting take, Ray, and glad to have discovered your blog :)

I'd say that some social media monitoring tools can be used for monitoring and/or for research, depending. For example, if it can be highly customized, you can use social media monitoring to detect consumer insights on the web. That is, instead of listening for what people are saying about them or their products specifically, they're listening to what people are saying about what they would like to see in the field, what their expectations are, etc. It's really exciting to see the development as we use the billions (and soon trillions) of pages to go further than just passively listening.

Niceo ne Ray :)

Michelle @Synthesio


Thanks for the excellent definitions Ray.

There has been some debate about engaging respondents for research via social media. I’m curious to know what you, and the readers of this blog, think about that.


Appreciate you mentioning Radian6, Ray.

Interesting post. From my experiences because so many people/departments/businesses are now engaged with social media, definitions I've realised vary greatly across all of these. One persons social media monitoring might be another's social media engagement strategy.

Olivia Landolt
@6Consulting | Uk's authorised Radian6 reseller


Good one Ray, and agree with your definitions. Social Media Monitoring to me would mean generally being able to really hone down and listen in to the conversations already taking place and generating insights from that.

Social Media Research is instigating the research yourself (chatrooms, surveys) with a MROC platform. You could leverage other pre-existing platform (like Facebook) to generate insights...

And I agree that Social Media research techniques will expand quickly.


Regarding social media research, I would be even more specific.

Think of all the effort that goes into creating and analyzing quality surveys, focus groups, MROCs and other "traditional" research, whatever traditional means anymore. The rigor and scientific underpinning is far beyond simply reading tweets, or counting tweets. There are many many recognized practices that turn raw data into valid and reliable data. Think of research design, defining goals and objectives, sample selection, data quality, on and on.

Any recognized research methodology that uses social media data as the source could be called social media research.

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