An Ode to Disruption: Social Media’s Impact on Research-As-Usual

June 29, 2010
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Social media brings benefits to market research that go well beyond new methodology!

Social media brings benefits to market research that go well beyond new methodology!

About a month ago, one of our Next Gen Market Research (NGMR) members, Jean Fasching, opened a discussion thread on our group’s LinkedIn forum with two questions about CASRO’s proposed ISO standards:

1) Will US MR firms embrace international MR standards?

2) Will being certified matter to US market research buyers/clients?

Who knew two simple questions would lead to one of the most vigorous – and at times heated – open debates I’ve ever seen in research quarters!

I’ll reserve my responses to Jean’s questions for the thread, which has since neared 100 posts, covered a broad range of topics and viewpoints, and taken on a life of its own.

What is worth noting here, however, is the extent to which social media has begun to democratize the MR industry. There is a radical transformation underway, and the dialogue currently taking place on the NGMR thread exemplifies this.

Like other professions, policy in the market research industry has traditionally been set by trade organizations. Or to be frank, by a handful of individuals often with board affiliations to multiple trade organizations whose positions typically represent the interests of a relatively small but powerful constituency. And let’s be honest: the beneficiaries are usually determined by virtue of scale.

As a result, much of what has passed for progress under the auspices of these organizations to date has been little more than defense of the status quo. This is not an indictment of any individuals, or big suppliers or our trade associations, per se, but of the system, itself.

Fortunately, that system is now being turned on its ear with the advent of social media, which has ushered in a new era of transparency. Issues that affect the MR industry in the future will likely be debated openly on channels like NGMR and countless others, not behind closed doors.

This will encourage participation from a much broader spectrum of industry stakeholders, and give voice to a much richer variety of perspectives, which I believe will ultimately benefit the industry as a whole.

Not everyone shares my opinion, I know. Change is seldom met without resistance. To those whose interests are tied to business as usual and who have relied on political heft to set the agenda, you have my sympathies. That sun is setting.

To everyone else in market research, I say welcome to a vivacious, egalitarian and innovative dawn!

@TomHCAnderson

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