September 21st

"Is Facebook good for qualitative research?"

Posted by Abby Leafe in Research, Technology, Trends //

Ten years ago, could you imagine sharing your vacation photos with your entire social network?  How about your political or sports favorites?  But today, I could pop open my Facebook timeline and see all these things and more about everyone from my sister to my high school acquaintances to colleagues from my first job out of college.  While I might not need this level of detail from everyone in my life, frankly people fascinate me and I’m going to go on record saying that I actually like hearing the minutiae of others’ lives.   I guess I found the right career.

What’s more, the general willingness of the American consumer to share the details of their lives has vast benefits for marketing researchers.   In the early days of online qualitative research, recruiters would get endless questions about the legitimacy of the research and respondents were sometimes candid and sometimes more guarded.   That just doesn’t happen anymore.  Recently I was conducting a webcam interview with a woman who casually mentioned that she was only ever able to successfully lose weight when she was in prison, because the food was so bad.  I don’t know that I would have gotten that insight from her online if this were 1999 instead of 2012.

The August issue of Quirks has a great article about this very topic (with a quote from yours truly), and it’s worth reading if you’re in the business of commissioning or conducting qualitative research.

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