Social Media "Scraping" has hurdles to clear

Social media is everywhere.  MySpace then Facebook then Twitter, not to mention millions of blogs on everything from foreign affairs to banana pudding.  People are talking on the internet about EVERYTHING.  For researchers, the internet and social media is a data bonanza.  We can “scrape” sites to gather enormous volumes of data on a particular brand. 

All of this data is helpful and can serve as a “thermometer” to monitor the brand’s temperature in the market.  This can be very valuable to spot potential problems before they become widespread or to monitor reactions to marketing initiatives.  The question is, “How do researchers the “thermometer” monitoring to mine the mountain of data and produce real, actionable information?”

As research in social media matures, it will have to answer specific questions such as:

  • What are the drivers behind the changes in brand “temperature.”
  • Are the changes only among specific user groups or in specific regions, etc.?
  • Are the changes significant or just “noise?” 
  • How does the brand team respond to the findings without affecting the entire market?
  • How can the brand team respond and respect individual privacy?

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Social media mining or “scraping” is here to stay.  However, a lot of hurdles need to be cleared before it becomes a widespread and effective tool for researchers and marketers.

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