The Global Source for Social Media Researchers

SMRA Blog 

  • 27 Aug 2018 1:13 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Great Explanation on The Importance of Using An Agency Who is GDPR Compliant.

    Why a scan, either conducted by ESOMAR or someone else is key to getting GDPR right

    By Kim Smouter

    Why a scan, either conducted by ESOMAR or someone else is key to getting GDPR right

    We are now officially living in a GDPR world, after years of negotiations and a two-year ‘transition’ period, the EU GDPR (or General Data Protection Regulation if you’d rather call it by its full name) entered into force in May. Its arrival was heralded with a flurry of emails of all shapes and sizes reaching the inbox of people from the four corners of the world. Thanks to that flurry of emails, if you didn’t know about GDPR before May, your inbox certainly told you about it in the meantime! But, if one looks carefully at all the emails, one can also see patent misunderstandings of the legal requirements to secure consent which has to be informed, unambiguous, freely given, and affirmed by a clear action. The wide variety of emails with an equal diversity of calls to actions (opt-in, opt-out, only opt-in if you want something changed…), some might say companies missed the plot or at least followed less than informed advice! So, whilst the reality might be that there is more awareness than ever before about the EU GDPR’s existence, to say that we all understand what exactly it entails is a whole other enchilada, or cookie, or whatever national dish is best placed at the end of this sentence.

    As the global voice for market, opinion and social research and data analytics, ESOMAR has accompanied the drafting process of the EU GDPR, lobbying on the expansion of the research definition and attempting to secure a wide applicability to the derogations and opportunities offered for processing conducted for a research purpose. In that context we’ve gained a lot of knowledge about the GDPR, what motivated certain obligations, and which ones proved to be particularly difficult to iron out. That expertise is being leveraged for members and by members to improve their GDPR readiness programmes, and for those who already have come a long way in their journey to GDPR compliance to have an independent assessment confirming that the processes in place indeed meet the requirements of GDPR. One of our most popular webinars leading to the GDPR’s adoption was our recommended 12-steps programme which outlined steps that could be taken by companies to achieve a robust compliance programme and have it up and running a year before the GDPR came into play.

    The first step to that programme was assembling a multi-function team to steward the GDPR compliance programme in the organisation because personal data flows go in and out of a company in ways that no single function can realise. Having someone in charge of this is critical to the business bottom line because Data Protection Authorities tasked with enforcing the law will be less forgiving of companies that have put zero effort in setting up a programme. If you haven’t started with your GDPR compliance programme, that team is going to have a lot of work to do and will need support from the entire organisation to catch up on lost time. But never fear, it is better to start the process now and to do it right than to rush and declare yourself GDPR Compliance ready before you are. As the US data protection authority demonstrates, the FTC uses what you say and do against you in its decisions and there’s no reason why an EU data protection authority wouldn’t do the same moving forward.

    One of the important first task this team will need to complete is the conducting of what we like to call a data-mapping scan of the organisation. Even at ESOMAR not a day goes by that we don’t discover a third-party that we haven’t accounted for because it was part of a project run by an internal team and having little impact on the core business functions. It’s these ‘under-the-radar’ processing and transfer activities that can prove particularly difficult to catalogue completely. The objective of a scan should therefore be to zero-in on all the personal data that is collected, processed, and transferred by the organisation and to have a single place which records all of these. The secondary objective of the scan is to identify which of these processes are currently correctly covered by the right legal base, an appropriate retention period, the right communication to the data subject, and subject to the appropriate data processing agreements if it gets passed on further than the organisation. The third objective of the scan is to identify activities and processes where the organisation is not meeting or unlikely to meet GDPR requirements and to identify these as priority tasks for the teams to resolve and thereby improve the GDPR readiness of the company.

    Conducting a scan isn’t easy, even the scan conducted by the ESOMAR Plus team takes easily a good day to conduct just to go through the core functions and to identify the top-line processing activities that might fall under scope of the GDPR. But even the exercise of the on-site scan proves useful for both the organisation and the ESOMAR Plus team because it will form the basis of an action plan and will reassure the organisation that it has a greater visibility of what exactly it is collecting and holding that may become a sitting liability for the organisation. What we’ve found useful with our first ESOMAR Plus subscribers is that by having an external team looking at the organisation it also allows us to identify processes that might be so embedded in the organisation that the organisation itself doesn’t see them for what they are. During the scan nothing should be left unseen or unknown as an incomplete scan only will lead to more difficulties moving forward.

    The scan is conducted alongside the business entities that are running the core business operations, it’s a series of simple interviews with the team where we ask them to describe what they collect that might be classified as personal data, how they collect it and work with it and simply get them to talk about their job. A scan shouldn’t be about judging the business operation simply catalogue what the business operation is like today. So, we go methodically by first understanding the research processes that are collecting personal data, looking at the IT systems that are making the processing and transfer possible, looking at the contractual framework that governs the organisation and its relationship with its business partners, we look at marketing, HR, finance, senior management… all of it must be in scope of the scan for it to be of use to the organisation later. It’s quite an intensive exercise and combined with our half-day training that briefs teams about the key principles of GDPR, we often find that this exercise will sensitize the teams about just how much personal data actually transits through an organisation and the important caretaker role each employee has as regards to that personal data too.

    Organisations that go through the exercise will come out the other hand with a data processing map that consequently allows them to be clearer in their own privacy policies and notices which improves the quality of the information provided to the data subject and decreases the risk of a compliance action against the organisation. One shouldn’t underestimate the quality of that information because most legal bases for processing require clear, transparent, understandable information to be provided to the data subject and failing that, the data subject can always question the legality of the data you’ve collected about them (whether that be a respondent or a member of staff!).

    Performing a scan isn’t a one-hour meeting exercise (if only it could be!), teams need to prepare for it, need to review and assess their current and past projects and the way they work, and these things take time. For those conducting the scan and issuing the report, that process can also easily take (for a small, straight-forward organisation) a full-week from the site visit to producing the report, but as a result of it, the organisation should have a clear understanding of what it needs to do in the coming months to build a compliance programme that prioritises addressing where the organisation and the personal data it has collected are most exposed, and only afterwards, dealing with the processes which are relatively secure. Getting all the stakeholders around the table also often takes time, and with the countdown now completed, time is even more urgent in the event a data subject decides to activate the rights they have on the data you’re holding.

    Data protection authorities are already actively investigating the first complaints and whilst the headline-grabbing tech brands will be the first targeted, one shouldn’t underestimate research organisations and their clients entering their radar as well in the near future.

    So, the question is, have you conducted a scan, and if not, maybe it’s time to ask ESOMAR to conduct one for you so you’re able to demonstrate you’ve started your compliance journey? Because wherever you as a company decide to go, one good thing to always have is a map – whether it’s on your smartphone, in your head, or indeed on paper! That’s what the scan’s outcomes will represent for your company, and the rest you’ll find, will fall right into place.

    Good luck on your compliance journey and remember that you have a partner in ESOMAR to support you to get there.

    Kim Smouter is Head of Public Affairs and Professional Standards at ESOMAR. 

  • 17 Aug 2018 9:53 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    This is a lot of scratch! Again, the power of social media!

    Kohls, DSW and The Children's Place are among the retail brands running back to school ads on Pinterest this year. 

    Amy Gesenhues on August 15, 2018 at 8:59 am


    As students gear up to head back to class, we are at the peak of back-to-school shopping season. Starting in early July and lasting through September, Deloitte’s 2018 Back to School survey reports 90 percent of back-to-school shoppers are most active during the month-long period between late July and early August, with 67 percent of all “back-to-school” shopping dollars spent the first two weeks of August.

    The National Retail Foundation reported that $29.5 billion was spent on K-12 supplies during the 2017 back-to-school shopping season and that families with kids in elementary school spent, on average, $687.

    No wonder Pinterest, with its visual pins and boards of ideas and products, is positioning itself as the place for back-to-school marketers aiming to reach parents during this peak shopping moment.

    Citing comScore data from January 2018, Pinterest says that roughly 47 million US shoppers used its platform to find back-to-school product ideas last year and expects that number to rise this year.

    “With 80 percent of US moms and ~40 percent of US dads on Pinterest, there’s a huge opportunity for brands to reach parents while they shop for the new year,” writes Pinterest insights solutions analysts Eric Alessi on the company’s Business blog. The company adds that it reaches 50 percent of US college-aged students.

    For marketers, the platform has been relatively slow to build out its analytics and ad products compared to other social media platforms. That might be changing. In February, Pinterest hired its first COO, Francoise Brougher, to expand Pinterest’s global operations and advertising business. Since then, it has made Shopping Ads available to all advertisers and rolled out new wide-format video ads among other initiatives.

    A quick “back to school” search on the platform shows a number of major brands running campaigns, including Kohl’s, DSW, The Children’s Place and Shein.

    Other brands we saw running ads on back-to-school-related searches included H&M, FabKids, Toyota USA, Warby Parker ad Mochi Things, among others.

    4C, a Pinterest Marketing Partner, says its clients are spending more on Pinterest.

    In Q2, “Ad spend on Pinterest increased 36 percent year-over-year through 4C, and offerings like Shoppable Pins continue to draw advertisers to the platform,” says 4C CMO Aaron Goldman.

    Pinterest vs. Instagram

    How does that stack up against other channels? Ad spend growth on Pinterest in Q2 outpaced that of Facebook and Twitter, which each saw 26 percent growth. Snapchat and Instagram, however, each saw ad spend growth accelerate year over year faster than Pinterest. Snapchat ad spend rose 45 percent among 4C customers. Instagram ad spend shot up 104 percent compared to Q2 2017.

    “While Pinterest’s highly targeted, inspirational content often gives consumers a quicker path to purchase, the influencer-dominated realm of Instagram provides intensely curated and visually captivating imagery from brands and individuals all over the world,” says Jehan Hamedi, the founder and CEO of the image performance AI software Adhark.

    Adhark’s CEO notes the distinctly different audiences that make up Pinterest and Instagram: “Pinterest skews older, female, and higher income, while Instagram is more distributed across genders and younger.”

    In other words, the Pinterest demographic aligns well with the back-to-school consumer.

    Custora’s head of product management, Jordan Elkind, says Pinterest offers the perfect environment for back-to-school shoppers looking for inspiration. A customer analytics platform that utilizes customer data to provide acquisition and retention insights, Custora’s client list includes well-known brands like Crocs, J. Crew, Kenneth Cole and Lucky Brand.

    Like Instagram, Pinterest also offers advertisers the ability to retarget site visitors, upload customer lists and create lookalike audiences for targeting.

    “Retailers’ first-party data already contains a treasure trove of insights about these shoppers — how they engage with the brand, what they’re interested in, what stories and price points speak to them,” says Elkind. “It’s no surprise that retailers that use Pinterest’s’ audience tools for engaging existing customers and acquiring similar shoppers during the back-to-school period typically see a significantly higher ROI compared to traditional ad targeting approaches.”

  • 2 Aug 2018 4:33 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Dark Social has a strange feeling associated with it. Kind of reminds me of Darth Vader of Star Wars or the Dark Web. However, it really isn't as creepy as it sounds. 

    Perhaps you have heard of it before if you are a digital marketer or if you are involved in social media marketing. Dark Social is actually the place where many shared links online go to die. Think of how many times you share a website link or a post in Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp or email.  When a link is shared this way, it is missing a key element used in Google Analytics called a meta referrer tag. A very important tag that determines where your website traffic is coming from. 

    "The meta referrer tag works with most browsers to pass referrer information in a manner defined by the user. Traffic remains encrypted and all the benefits of using HTTPS remain in place, but now you can pass referrer data to all websites, even those that use HTTP." According to Moz's The Meta Referrer Tag: An Advancement for SEO and the Internet.

    Dark Social, Social Media, B2B PR, Neo PR, IT PR, B2B Tech PR, B2B Technology PR

    Because these links are shared in private "zones" they are unable to be tracked. 

    According to research from RadiumOne, this source of referrals is dominating how people share and interact with content online and accounts for over 84% of all content shared.

    So... what is a brand manager to do? One way is to consider building yourself a team of micro influencers who are loyal to your brand and  are highly connected. Allow them to be your broadcast voice when new products launch, you survey customers, etc. Let your imagination soar and encourage creativity among your staff. 

    Customers LOVE this type of engagement and if it is sent via a private message, they will feel even more important to the influencer and the brand. Ask them to PM all their friends, and so on and so on... 

    Perhaps this is one reason Facebook is tapping into the private message advertising arena~ Paid posts sent via messager will have their analytics tied to it. 

    Kathy Doering is the president of Ann Michaels & Associates. You can reach her at for more information on building a stronger brand in social media. 

  • 29 Jul 2018 7:09 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Study results from Retail's Digital Crossroads indicate that customers expect retailers to keep up with digital. 

    Retailers are embracing digital marketing. But their investments have not kept pace with customer expectations, according to Retail’s Digital Crossroads, a study by Incisiv in partnership with Windstream Enterprise.

    For example, 52% of shoppers value digital receipts via email or text. But only 43% of retailers have invested in them. 

    And 71% of consumers want self-checkout. But only 42% of retailers are providing it. And 59% demand availability of customer Wi-Fi, yet only 47% are supplying it.

    “Consumers clear value the ability to control their checkout experience,” the study notes. It adds: “Millennials and Gen-Z consumers value these capabilities 20-40% higher than the average.”

    The store remains at the core of commerce and brand equity. But 75% of store visits are influenced by digital, and 46% of consumers use their mobile devices in the store 

    Of the latter, 83% use their devices to compare prices, 78% to look at reviews and 76% to check local store inventory. 

    Prior to the visit, 76% use mobile devices to compare prices, 62% to see review and 47% to check out local store inventory. 

    However, an execution gap remains between expectations and fulfillment. Only 38% have sufficiently invested in the ability to compare price, 23% to check inventory and 28% to allow mobile purchases for in-store pickup.

    At the same time, 78% of retailers have overinvested in the function of letting customers find the location of the nearest store, 60% in helping them build a shopping list and 42% in sharing product details on social networks.

    But digital now contributes 49% of consumer electronic sales and influences 16% of in-store purchases. And 40% of sporting goods sales are digital, along with 29% of apparel & footwear buys.

    Incisiv and Windstream Enterprise surveyed 1,212 consumers across several generations. 

  • 23 Jul 2018 4:38 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Surprise move from Walmart: Influence


    JULY 23, 2018 by Ilyse Liffreing

    In its effort to boost the appeal of its website with lifestyle imagery, Walmart is adding influencer content to its website.

    All influencer content appears below product images and the product information on each page, and is different depending on the product. On’s product page for Bigelow Green Tea, a visitor can find images from bloggers’ sites of cakes, muffins and cookies baked using Bigelow Tea, followed by three recipes visitors can download or view to make themselves. Meanwhile, on the product page for Schwarzkopf göt2b hair color, are images of influencers posing with the hair color or using the company’s other hairspray product.

    The integration began in June and so far has resulted in 30 executions with Mondelez, Henkel and Bigelow, have built out their product pages with influencer content, with more on the way. These influencers include Atsuna Matsui, a beauty influencer with nearly 500,000 followers on Instagram, Nicole Weisman, who has nearly 150,000 followers on Instagram @curvestocontour and lifestyle blogger Abril who runs the blog The Color Palette.

    Walmart, facing pressure from Amazon, is doing everything in its to power to stay competitive. In May it redesigned its website to feature more lifestyle content. Having a strong influencer strategy is another way to do so. Amazon has tried and so far has failed, at developing its own influencer play. Agency buyers have stated that Spark, Amazon’s social feed where influencers are meant to post honest reviews of products bought from, has not caught on with brands or influencers. One influencer Digiday interviewed said the platform hasn’t taken off because there was no “return on investment.”

    Walmart doesn’t allow any content to link out from its website because it wants to keep visitors within its sales funnel. That means all influencer content does not link out to the posts or blogs it originates from, and Walmart loses the influence that comes along with their names or profiles.

    “Retailers typically use syndicated content, but it’s very canned,” said Lean Logan, vp of media products and community growth at Collective Bias, a content services provider working with Walmart. “[Walmart] has honed in on showing products in actual context and influencer content does exactly that.”

    Photos from influencer content on one of Schwarzkopf göt2b’s product pages on

    Walmart’s influencer strategy is also being built out in other new ways. Starting in July, the agency began working with brands that sell on to embed buy buttons from into influencer blogs.

    So far 15 blogs, ranging from food-themed blogs like The Craft Patch and beauty themed blogs like The Color Palette, have embedded Walmart buy buttons into their posts.

    Collective Bias is currently charging companies $15,000 to place buy buttons into 15 blog posts.

  • 13 Jul 2018 11:43 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)
    by Kimberly Surico | Jul 13, 2018 | Sentiment Analysis

    Summer is in full gear and the folks over at NETBASE analyzed 36 million social posts to discover the flavors of ice cream the US likes best.  That's a lot of data!  

    The United States of Ice Cream – An Infographic by NetBase

  • 5 Jul 2018 4:43 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Great article from Debbie Farese on conducting research. 

    Debbie Farese


    Today's buyers hold all of the power when making a purchasing decision. You're also likely aware that they're doing some of their research online.

    But have you really adapted your marketing plan to match the way today's customers shop and buy?

    Consider three recent statistics about modern buyer behavior:

    • 80% of Instagram users currently follow a business account, according to 2017 data from Instagram.
    • 75% of smartphone owners turn to a search engine first to address immediate needs, according to 2018 data from Google.
    • 78% of consumers have unsubscribed from a brand's emails because the brand was sending too many, according to 2016 data from HubSpot.

    What's a marketer to do to make sure your buyers find you early and often? Go where they're going.

    That might sound obvious, but how deeply do you understand exactly where your buyers are doing their research and what is influencing their decisions? That is where market research comes into play.

    Whether you're a newbie or experienced with market research, this guide will give you a blueprint for conducting a thorough study of your product, target audience, and how you fare in your industry.

    1. Engage Your Target Audience
    2. Prepare Your Research Questions
    3. List Your Primary Competitors
    4. Summarize Your Findings

    There are two main types of market research that businesses conduct to collect the most actionable information on their products: primary research and secondary research.

    • Primary research is the pursuit of firsthand information on your market and its customers. You can use focus groups, online surveys, phone interviews, and more to gather fresh details on the challenges your buyers face and the brand awareness behind your company. Primary research is useful when segmenting your market and establishing your buyer personas.
    • Secondary research is all the data and public records you have at your disposal to draw conclusions from. This includes trend reports, market statistics, industry content, and sales data you already have on your business. Secondary research is particularly useful for analyzing your competitors.

    Primary Research

    1. Define Your Buyer Persona

    Before you dive into how customers in your industry make buying decisions, you must first understand who they are. This is where buyer personas come in handy.

    Buyer personas -- sometimes referred to as marketing personas -- are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you visualize your audience, streamline your communications, and inform your strategy. Some key characteristics you should be keen on including in your buyer persona are:

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Location
    • Job title(s)
    • Job titles
    • Family size
    • Income
    • Major challenges

    The idea is ultimately to use this persona as a guideline for when you reach and learn about actual customers in your industry (you'll do this in the steps below).

    To get started with creating your personas, check out these free templates, as well as this helpful tool. These resources are designed to help you organize your audience segments, collect the right information, select the right format, and so on.

    You may find that your business lends itself to more than one persona -- that's fine! You just need to be sure that you're being thoughtful about the specific persona you are optimizing for when planning content and campaigns.

    2. Engage Your Target Audience

    Now that you know who your buyer personas are, you'll need to find a representative sample of your target customers to understand their actual characteristics, challenges, and buying habits.

    These should be folks who recently made a purchase (or purposefully decided not to make one), and you can meet with them in a number of ways:

    • In-person via a focus group
    • Administering an online survey
    • Individual phone interviews

    We've developed a few guidelines and tips that'll help you get the right participants for your research. Let's walk through them.

    Choosing Which Buyers to Survey

    Start with the characteristics that apply to your buyer persona. This will vary for every organization, but here are some additional guidelines that will apply to just about any scenario:

    • Shoot for 10 participants per buyer persona. We recommend focusing on one persona, but if you feel it's necessary to research multiple personas, be sure to recruit a separate sample group for each one.
    • Select people who have recently interacted with you. You may want to focus on folks that have completed an evaluation within the past six months -- or up to a year if you have a longer sales cycle or niche market. You'll be asking very detailed questions, so it's important that their experience is fresh.
    • Aim for a mix of participants. You want to recruit people who have purchased your product, folks who purchased a competitor's product, and a few who decided not to purchase anything at all. While your own customers will be the easiest to find and recruit, sourcing information from others will help you develop a balanced view.
    How to Engage These Buyers

    Market research firms have panels of people they can pull from when they want to conduct a study. The trouble is, most individual marketers don't have that luxury -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the time you'll spend recruiting exclusively for your study will often lead to better participants.

    Here's a simple recruiting process to guide your efforts:

    1. Pull a list of customers who made a recent purchase. As we mentioned before, this is usually the easiest set of buyers to recruit. If you're using a CRM system, you can run a report of deals that closed within the past six months and filter it for the characteristics you're looking for. Otherwise, you can work with your sales team to get a list of appropriate accounts from them.
    2. Pull a list of customers who were in an active evaluation, but didn't make a purchase. You should get a mix of buyers who either purchased from a competitor or decided not to make a purchase. Again, you can get this list from your CRM or from whatever system your Sales team uses to track deals.
    3. Call for participants on social media. Try reaching out to the folks that follow you on social media, but decided not to buy from you. There's a chance that some of them would be willing to talk to you and tell you why they ultimately decided not to buy your product.
    4. Leverage your own network. Get the word out to your coworkers, former colleagues, and LinkedIn connections that you're conducting a study. Even if your direct connections don't qualify, some of them will likely have a coworker, friend, or family member who does.
    5. Choose an incentive. Time is precious, so you'll need to think about how you will motivate someone to spend 30-45 minutes on you and your study. On a tight budget? You can reward participants for free by giving them exclusive access to content. Another option? Send a simple handwritten 'thank you' note once the study is complete.

    3. Prepare Your Research Questions

    The best way to make sure you get the most out of your conversations is to be prepared. You should always create a discussion guide -- whether it's for a focus group, online survey, or a phone interview -- to make sure you cover all of the top-of-mind questions and use your time wisely.

    (Note: This is not intended to be a script. The discussions should be natural and conversational, so we encourage you to go out of order or probe into certain areas as you see fit.)

    Your discussion guide should be in an outline format, with a time allotment and open-ended questions allotted for each section.

    Wait, all open-ended questions?

    Yes -- this is a golden rule of market research. You never want to "lead the witness" by asking yes/no questions, as that puts you at risk of unintentionally swaying their thoughts by leading with your own hypothesis. Asking open-ended questions also helps you avoid those painful one-word answers.

    Here's a general outline for a 30-minute survey of one B2B buyer. You can use these as talking points for an in-person interview, or as questions posed on a digital form to administer as a survey to your target customers.

    Background Information (5 Minutes)

    Ask the buyer to give you a little background information (their title, how long they've been with the company, and so on). Then, ask a fun/easy question to warm things up (first concert attended, favorite restaurant in town, last vacation, etc.).

    Remember, you want to get to know your buyers in pretty specific ways. You might be able to capture basic information such as age, location, and job title from your contact list, there are some personal and professional challenges you can really only learn by asking. Here are some other key background questions to ask your target audience:

    • Describe to me how your work team is structured.
    • Tell me about your personal job responsibilities.
    • What are the team's goals and how do you measure them?
    • What has been your biggest challenge in the past year?

    Now, make a transition to acknowledge the specific purchase or interaction they made that led to you including them in the study. The next three stages of the buyer's journey will focus specifically on that purchase.

    Awareness (5 Minutes)

    Here, you want to understand how they first realized they had a problem that needed to be solved without getting into whether or not they knew about your brand yet.

    • Think back to when you first realized you needed a [name the product/service category, but not yours specifically]. What challenges were you facing at the time?
    • How did you know that something in this category could help you?
    • How familiar were you with different options on the market?
    Consideration (10 Minutes)

    Now you want to get very specific about how and where the buyer researched potential solutions. Plan to interject to ask for more details.

    • What was the first thing you did to research potential solutions? How helpful was this source?
    • Where did you go to find more information?

    If they don't come up organically, ask about search engines, websites visited, people consulted, and so on. Probe, as appropriate, with some of the following questions:

    • How did you find that source?
    • How did you use vendor websites?
    • What words specifically did you search on Google?
    • How helpful was it? How could it be better?
    • Who provided the most (and least) helpful information? What did that look like?
    • Tell me about your experiences with the sales people from each vendor.
    Decision (10 Minutes)
    • Which of the sources you described above was the most influential in driving your decision?
    • What, if any, criteria did you establish to compare the alternatives?
    • What vendors made it to the short list and what were the pros/cons of each?
    • Who else was involved in the final decision? What role did each of these people play?
    • What factors ultimately influenced your final purchasing decision?

    Here, you want to wrap up and understand what could have been better for the buyer.

    • Ask them what their ideal buying process would look like. How would it differ from what they experienced?
    • Allow time for further questions on their end.
    • Don't forget to thank them for their time and confirm their address to send a thank-you note or incentive.

    Secondary Research

    4. List Your Primary Competitors

    Understanding your competitors begins your secondary market research. But keep in mind competition isn't always as simple as Company X versus Company Y.

    Sometimes, a division of a company might compete with your main product or service, even though that company's brand might put more effort in another area. Apple is known for its laptops and mobile devices, for example, but Apple Music competes with Spotify -- which doesn't sell hardware (yet) -- over its music streaming service.

    From a content standpoint, you might compete with a blog, YouTube channel, or similar publication for inbound website visitors -- even though their products don't overlap with yours at all. A toothpaste developer, for example, might compete with magazines like or Prevention on certain blog topics related to nutrition, even though these magazines don't actually sell oral care products.

    Identifying Industry Competitors

    To identify competitors whose products or services overlap with yours, determine which industry or industries you're pursuing. Start high-level, using terms like education, construction, media & entertainment, food service, healthcare, retail, financial services, telecommunications, agriculture, etc.

    The list goes on, but find an industry term that you identify with, and use it to create a list of companies that also belong to this industry. You can build your list the following ways:

    • Review your industry quadrant on G2 Crowd. In certain industries, this is your best first step in secondary market research. G2 Crowd aggregates user ratings and social data to create "quadrants," where you can see companies plotted as contenders, leaders, niche, and high performers in their respective industries. G2 Crowd specializes in digital content, IT services, HR, ecommerce, and related business services.
    • Download a market report. Companies like Forrester and Gartner offer both free and gated market forecasts every year on the vendors who are leading their industry. On Forrester's website, for example, you can select "Latest Research" from the navigation bar and browse Forrester's latest material using a variety of criteria to narrow your search. These reports are good assets to have saved on your computer.
    • Search using social media. Believe it or not, social networks make great company directories if you use the search bar correctly. On LinkedIn, for example, select the search bar and enter the name of the industry you're pursuing. Then, under "More," select "Companies" to narrow your results to just the businesses that include this or a similar industry term on their LinkedIn profile.
    Identifying Content Competitors

    Search engines are your best friends in this area of secondary market research. To find the online publications with which you compete, take the overarching industry term you identified in the section above, and come up with a handful of more specific industry terms your company identifies with.

    A catering business, for example, might generally be a "food service" company, but also consider itself a vendor in "event catering," "cake catering," "baked goods," and more.

    Once you have this list, do the following:

    • Google it. Don't underestimate the value in seeing which websites come up when you run a search on Google for the industry terms that describe your company. You might find a mix of product developers, blogs, magazines, and more.
    • Compare your search results against your buyer persona.Remember the buyer persona you created during the primary research stage, earlier in this article? Use it to examine how likely a publication you found through Google could steal website traffic from you. If the content the website publishes seems like the stuff your buyer persona would want to see, it's a potential competitor, and should be added to your list of competitors.

    After a series of similar Google searches for the industry terms you identify with, look for repetition in the website domains that have come up. Examine the first two or three results pages for each search you conducted. These websites are clearly respected for the content they create in your industry, and should be watched carefully as you build your own library of videos, reports, web pages, and blog posts.

    5. Summarize Your Findings

    Feeling overwhelmed by the notes you took? We suggest looking for common themes that will help you tell a story and create a list of action items.

    To make the process easier, try using your favorite presentation software to make a report, as it will make it easy to add in quotes, diagrams, or call clips. Feel free to add your own flair, but the following outline should help you craft a clear summary:

    • Background. Your goals and why you conducted this study.
    • Participants. Who you talked to. A table works well so you can break groups down by persona and customer/prospect.
    • Executive Summary. What were the most interesting things you learned? What do you plan to do about it?
    • Awareness. Describe the common triggers that lead someone to enter into an evaluation. Note: Quotes can be very powerful.
    • Consideration. Provide the main themes you uncovered, as well as the detailed sources buyers use when conducting their evaluation.
    • Decision. Paint the picture of how a decision is really made by including the people at the center of influence and any product features or information that can make or break a deal.
    • Action Plan. Your analysis probably uncovered a few campaigns you can run to get your brand in front of buyers earlier and/or more effectively. Provide your list of priorities, a timeline, and the impact it will have on your business.

    Conducting market research can be a very eye-opening experience. Even if you think you know your buyers pretty well, completing the study will likely uncover new channels and messaging tips to help improve your interactions.

    Not to mention, you'll be able to add "market research" as a skill to your resume.

  • 28 Jun 2018 5:08 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Great Article from Forbes.Com On Emoji Research

    Linguists and data scientists see a new way to study language and communication in our little digital ideograms.


    TWO YEARS AGO, Sanjaya Wijeratne—a computer science PhD student at Wright State University—noticed something odd in his research. He was studying the communication of gang members on Twitter. Among the grandstanding about drugs and money, he found gang members repeatedly dropping the ⛽ emoji in their tweets.

    Wijeratne had been working on separate research relating to word-sense disambiguation, a field of computational linguistics that looks at how words take on multiple meanings. The use of ⛽ jumped out as a brand new problem. “They were using the gas pump emoji to refer to marijuana,” says Wijeratne. “As soon as I saw this new meaning associated with the emoji, I thought, what about emoji-sense disambiguation?”

    That moment caused Wijeratne to redirected his PhD research toward emoji. This week, he put together the first interdisciplinary academic conference on emoji in research.

    At Stanford University this week, a collection of linguists, data scientists, computer researchers, and emoji enthusiasts gathered for the International Workshop on Emoji Understanding and Applications in Social Media, itself a smaller piece of the AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media. They brought with them research on how emoji are changing the way we communicate online, how gender and political affiliation are reproduced online through emoji, and the challenges emoji pose for natural-language processing in computers. The assembled academics also debated basic questions about the nature of emoji: Like, if emoji is something akin to a language, why can’t anyone agree on what individual emoji mean?

    Emoji, which have grown from an original set of 176 characters to a collection of over 3,000 unique icons, present both opportunities and challenges to the academics who study them. Most agree that the icons are not quite a language—the emoji vocabulary is made up almost entirely of nouns, and there’s no real grammar or syntax to govern their use—but their influence on internet communication is massive. By 2015, half of all comments on Instagram included an emoji. On Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app, over 5 billion emoji are sent and received every day. From an academic point of view, that presents a wealth of data to understand communication, behavior, and language online.

    But the academic research on emoji has, until recently, been limited. Earlier gatherings like EmojiCon, which will have its second conference this summer, have brought emoji conversations to the mainstream. But that event—a “celebration of all things emoji”—courts a popular audience, and feels less like a formal conference and more like a party made for Instagram. This week's Workshop on Emoji Understanding, on the other hand, brought the focus squarely back into academia. The day-long event included a series of paper presentations that privileged data sets and citations over emoji-shaped balloons, and asked more questions than it could answer.

    Papers presented at the conference highlighted emoji as markers of solidarity during crisis (think: “Je suis Paris ”) or as ways to understand differences across gender or political ideologies (women use emoji more than men, but conservative men use way fewer emoji than liberal men). Others discussed the potential to decode emoji with machine learning, and the difficulties in teaching computers to recognize the multiple meanings of emoji in natural-language processing. A panel discussion raised questions about the way the emoji lexicon is developed, as well as the ways emoji can be misinterpreted across cultures. (The does not mean the same thing in English as it does in American Sign Language, nor does it mean the same thing to white supremacists.)

    Tyler Schnoebelen, who gave the keynote speech on Monday, says conversations about emoji have been too often painted with a broad brush. There’s the utopian vision: emoji as a "universal language," the great democratizer and harbinger of communication across class, culture, and geography. And then there’s the doomsday vision: emoji as the destruction of language, a political tool, a new way to send violent threats. The nuance often gets lost in between. We have hardly any research to tell us who uses emoji, when, why, and how that use has changed over time. We know even less about what emoji can reveal in disaster scenarios, campaigns, or educational settings; even linguists, who have looked at emoticons and other internet-born languages for decades, don't have a consensus on what emoji mean for the future of language.

    Now, researchers are beginning to turn more seriously toward those research questions. On Monday, linguist Gretchen Mcculloch presented a theory of emoji as beat gestures—the equivalent of gesticulating to add emphasis—rather than a language in themselves. "Letters let us write words, emoji let us write gestures," she says. Eric Goldman, a legal scholar at Santa Clara University's School of Law, discussed a forthcoming paper on emoji and the law, which highlights the potential for emoji to create misunderstanding in legal contexts—including high profile cases, like the Silk Road case.

    Other scholars are looking for ways to incorporate emoji into preexisting research. “We do a lot of social media research: depression on social media, harassment on social media, the opioid crisis on social media,” says Amit Sheth, a computer scientist at Wright State University and co-organizer of the conference. “In all of those problems, we also see significant use of emoji. If you were to only study the text, you’d be missing out on a lot of information.”

    As the conference wrapped up, researchers from institutions in the United States, Spain, India, and Germany shook hands and traded email addresses. That, Wijeratne says, is the point of the event: not to answer questions about the role of emoji in our world, but to connect researchers from around the world and spark ideas for future studies.

  • 20 Jun 2018 1:21 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Great article with some very interesting fresh stats! 

    social media listening

    By Cydney HatchMarketingNewsSocial Media

    Social media marketing is not a random whirlwind of people coming and going without a trace—remarking alone is a testament of that! Ha!

    Actually, social media marketing is a highly tracked place full of analytics, statistics, behaviors and trends! Everything on the internet is tracked from optimal times of engagement, likes and reactions, click through rates, demographics to even referral traffic!

    There are so many statistics to keep up on, many of which marketers are missing out on. Although social media is always evolving, social media stats can be useful in any marketing strategy!

    Why Social Media Statistics Matter

    For example, 2017 has been an interesting year as attention spans have decreased to 8 seconds for most social media users. Knowing the change in attention spans can help marketers tighten their videos and overall presentations.

    Each day the number of social media users are increasing so why miss out on information you need to reach them?

    Being able to create content that reaches those numbers in 2018 will matter to your business!

    2018: a new year, a new you, and a new opportunity to develop or improve your online marketing strategies using social media marketing stats! Make the most out of your social media marketing with the numbers below:

    2018: Social Media Trends to Consider

    Helpful numbers to keep in consideration: The world population is 7.6 billion and the internet has 4.1 billion users.

    General Social Media

    • Close to half the world’s population (3.03 billion people) are on some type of social media.
    • 64% of online shoppers say that a video on social media helped them decide on a product to buy.
    • Only 43% of online stores receive significant traffic from their social media pages.
    • Acknowledgment is key: 77% of Twitter users appreciate a brand more when their tweet is responded to. It takes about 10 hours on average for businesses to respond to a tweet, even though customers want a response within four hours.
    • Content marketing is a top priority of B2B businesses after brand building and social media engagement.
    • 59% of adults between 18 and 29 are using Instagram.
    • The average person spends about 20 minutes on Facebook or one in every six minutes a person will spend online.
    • 1.57 billion YouTube users watch about 5 billion videos on average every single day. Of the 2.1 billion total accounts on Facebook, 270 million profiles are fake.
    • 86% of women will look at social media before deciding to make a purchase.
    • People are accessing 69% of their media on their smartphones.
    • 89% of people on smartphones are using apps, while only 11% are using standard websites. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is the most popular app at 19% (measured by time spent).
    • Pinterest is number one for mobile social media, with 64% of referral traffic being driven by smartphones and tablets.
    • 57% of all mobile users will not recommend a business if their mobile website is poorly designed or unresponsive.
    • 40% of all mobile users are searching for a local business or interest.
    • Mobile websites that load in 5 seconds or less will end in a viewing session that’s 70% longer than their slower counterparts.
    • 92% of American teens accessed the internet on a daily basis, where 56% claim to connect several times a day, and 24% are connected almost constantly to the internet.


    • Total Number of Monthly Active Instagram Users: 800 million
    • Total Number of Daily Active Instagram Users: 500 million
    • Instagram Stories Daily Active Users: 300 million
    • Number of Photos Shared to Date: 40 billion
    • Number of Businesses on Instagram: 25 million
    • Number of Instagram Likes per day: 4.2 billion
    • Number of Photos uploaded per day: 95 million, up from 70 million last year
    • 68% of Instagram users are Females.
    • 80% of Instagram users come from outside of the U.S.
    • 77.6 million Instagram users are from US.
    • Instagram is used by 31% of American women and 24% of men.
    • 32% of all Internet users are on Instagram.
    • 59% of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram and 33% of internet users between the ages of 30 and 49 use Instagram
    • 38% of female internet users use Instagram and 26% of male internet users use Instagram
    • 17% of teens say Instagram is the most important social media site (up from 12% in 2012)
    • Instagram is expected to generate about $1.5 billion in mobile advertising sales this year and $5 billion in 2018.
    • More than 40 Billion photos have been uploaded to Instagram so far.
    • 200 million Instagrammers actively visit the profile of a business every day
    • Posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement.
    • Brazil ranked second in female user share, the country is home to the largest total Instagram user base in Latin America and second worldwide.
    • When Instagram introduced videos, 5 million videos were uploaded in the first 24 hours.
    • Instagram videos get 2 times the engagement of photos that any other social media platform.
    • The most popular hashtags on Instagram are #Love, #Instagood, #Me, #Cute, and #Follow.
    • Pizza is the most Instagrammed food globally, followed by Sushi.


    • Total Number of Monthly Active Users: 2.072 billion
    • Total Number of Mobile Monthly Active Users: 1.66 billion
    • Total Number of Desktop Daily Active Users: 1.368 billion
    • Total number of Mobile Daily Active Users: 1.57 billion
    • Facebook users are 53% female and 47% male.
    • Average Facebook user has 155 “friends”.
    • 56% of online Seniors aged 65+ are on Facebook and 63% are between age 50-64.
    • 87% of online users of age 18-29 are on Facebook.
    • 74% college graduates are on Facebook.
    • 72% of online users of income more than $75K are on Facebook.
    • 82 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds online in the U.S. use Facebook.
    • 79 percent of 30 to 49-year-olds online in the U.S. use Facebook.
    • 56 percent of U.S. online users ages 65 and up use Facebook.
    • More than 40 million small businesses have active pages
    • More than 83% of daily active users are outside the US and Canada the number has grown from 75% in previous year which goes on to show the increased growth in rest of the world.
    • Percent of 18-34 year old who check Facebook when they wake up is 48%.


    • Total Number of Monthly Active Twitter Users: 330 million
    • Total Number of Tweets sent per Day:500 million
    • Percentage of Twitter users on Mobile: 80%
    • Number of Twitter Daily Active Users: 100 million
    • 24% of all internet male users use Twitter, whereas 21% of all internet female users use Twitter.
    • 79% of Twitter accounts are based outside the United States
    • There are over 67 million Twitter users in US
    • 37% of Twitter users are between ages of 18 and 29, 25% users are 30-49 years old.
    • 56% of Twitter users $50,000 and more in year.
    • The top three countries by user count outside the U.S. are Brazil (27.7 million users), Japan (25.9 million), and Mexico (23.5 million).
    • Total ad engagements were up 91% year-over-year.
    • Twitter can handle 18 quintillion user accounts.
    • More than 100 million tweets contained GIFs in 2015.
    • Saudi Arabia has the highest percent of internet users who are active on Twitter.
    • Number of Twitter timeline views in 2014 is 200 billion.
    • 83% of 193 UN member countries have Twitter presence.
    • Twitter’s revenue per employee is $488,913.


    • Total Number of Monthly Active Pinterest Users: 175 million (source)
    • Number of Pinterest Users from the US: 75 million
    • Number of Pinterest Users from Outside US: 100 million
    • Total Number of Pinterest Pins: 50 billion+
    • Total Number of Pinterest Boards: 1 billion+
    • Total Number of Pinterest Users who save Shopping Pins on Boards Daily: 2 million
    • 81% of Pinterest users are actually Females.
    • 40% of New Signups are Men; 60% New Signups are Women.
    • Men account for only 7% of total pins on Pinterest.
    • Millennials use Pinterest as much as Instagram.
    • Median age of a Pinterest user is 40, however majority of active pinners are below 40.
    • Half of Pinterest users is $50K or greater per year, with 10 percent of Pinteresting households making greater than $125K.
    • 30% of all US social media users are Pinterest users.
    • 60% of Pinterest users are from US.
    • 87% of Pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest.
    • 72% of Pinners use Pinterest to decide what to buy offline.
    • Over 5% of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest.
    • Pinterest said 80% of its users access Pinterest through a mobile device.
    • 93% of active pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases and 87% said they’ve purchased something because of Pinterest.
    • Two-thirds of pins represent brands and products.
    • Food & Drink & Technology are the most popular categories for men.


    • Total Number of LinkedIn Users: 500 million
    • Total Number of Monthly Active LinkedIn Users: 250 million
    • Total Number of LinkedIn Users from US: 133 million
    • Percentage of users that use LinkedIn Daily: 40%
    • Number of New LinkedIn New Members per Second: 2
    • 70% of LinkedIn users are from Outside of US.
    • 40 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn.
    • There are 57% of male users and 44% female users on LinkedIn.
    • After US, India, Brazil, Great Britain and Canada has the highest number of LinkedIn users.
    • 13% of Millennials (15-34 Years old) use LinkedIn.
    • 28% of all internet male users use LinkedIn, whereas 27% of All Internet Female users use LinkedIn.
    • 44% of LinkedIn users earn more than $75,000 in a year.
    • There are over 39 million students and recent grads on LinkedIn.


    • Total Number of Monthly Active Users: 300 million+
    • Total Number of Daily Active Snapchat Users: 187 million
    • Percentage of US Social Media users that Use Snapchat: 18%
    • Number of Snaps Created Everyday (Photos & Videos): 1 million
    • Average Time Spent per User on Daily Basis:30+ minutes
    • Percentage of Daily Reach (18-34 Years old)  in the US: 41%
    • Number of Snapchat users who upload photos: 65%
    • Number of Snapchat Daily Video Views: More than 10 billion
    • 71% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old.
    • Roughly 70% of Snapchat users are female.
    • 30% of US Millennial Internet Users use Snapchat regularly.
    • People under the age of 25 use Snapchat for 40 minutes on average every day, more than instagram’s latest stat for same demographic.
    • 50% of Male College students share selfies on Snapchat, the number is higher in Female college students. 77% to be precise.
    • 45% of Snapchat users are aged between 18-24.
    • Snapchat reaches 11% of Total US Digital population.
    • More than 25% of UK Smartphone users are on Snapchat, in Norway the number goes up to 50%.
    • Active Snapchatters open the app 18+ time every day.
    • YouTube
    • Total Number of Daily Active YouTube Users: 30+ million.
    • YouTube TV Paying Subscribers: 300,000.
    • Number of Videos Shared to Date: 5+ billion.
    • Number of Users Creating Content Shared to Date: 50 million.
    • Average Viewing Session: 40 minutes, up 50% year-over-year
    • Number of Videos Watched Per Day: 5 billion.
    • Number of mobile YouTube views per day: 500 million.
    • 62% of YouTube users are Males.
    • 80% of YouTube users come from outside of the U.S.
    • 9% of small businesses are on YouTube.
    • 35+ and 55+ age groups are the fastest growing YouTube demographics.
    • 75% of adults turn to YouTube for nostalgia rather than tutorials or current events.
    • Millennials prefer YouTube two to one over traditional television.
    • 37% of the coveted 18 – 34 demographic are binge-watching.
    • YouTube services 88 countries in 76 languages (or 95% of all internet users).
    • Males are primarily watching soccer or strategy games.
    • Females are primarily watching beauty videos.

    Now You Know!

    Statistics can give us important insights and course of actions that can help formulate an effective marketing plan. We have the numbers to track everything we wish to manipulate and highlight in our marketing actions! Utilize them, and you can change any business plan around for better success!

    But may we not lose sight of the true reason behind business. Stanley Marcus once said, “consumers are statistics, customers are people” and that is how we should use these numbers: to better serve and help our potential customers through our business and services.


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