Want to see a list of links that will boggle your eyes? Last week, I listed a number of online services that could be used to perform market research. After seeing that list, I wondered:
How about a single online app that helps you do all of that? A social media market research app. Here’s what I think such an app could offer.
It could have a dashboard that provides a snapshot of your market, ideally updated in real-time. There could be search results from the blogosphere, forums, Facebook (Groups and Fan Pages), LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Yahoo! Answers (YHOO), and other social media sites. Perhaps this information could be displayed through different filters:
- By relevance
- By publication date as a stream of news
- By publication date on a timeline
- By type of source
- By source
- By discussion in a threaded format
- By tag (more on this later)
My previous post listed a number of services that searched social media sites, allowed you to post questions, displayed search trends, and offered a wealth of company information. I’ll discuss those features first.
Keyword-Based Search Results of Social Media Sites
All of this information could be obtained through APIs and RSS feeds, some from the sources directly, some from the search services I listed. There would have to be some research done to see how real-time updates could be handled, however. Push or pull? Do they ping us or do we have to constantly ping them?
Asking Questions and Retrieving Answers
A mechanism to post questions & messages on forums, mailing lists, and answer boards could be really helpful. It should also harvest any subsequent answers & replies. This would be a tricky technical problem to solve though. Automatically posting on forums and mailing lists could be seen as spam.
Displaying Trend Data
The trend data could be presented in a timeline similar to Google Trends (GOOG) and Dipity, with items such as news articles, company events, and social media posts aligned with it. There could also be filtering options to control what is displayed. I don’t believe any of the trend tracking services offers APIs, however, so this may require a custom technical solution.
Displaying Rich Company Information
Every time a company is mentioned, it could link to a detailed company page that fetches financial & stock data from Yahoo! Finance and places it alongside rich information from sites like LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Crunchbase, etc. In the case of the paid service Jigsaw, they won’t have any APIs. But perhaps a partnership could be brokered.
In addition to the four features above, there are other cool things this app could do. A neat feature could be a Google (GOOG) map with real-time updates, a la DailyBooth or HashParty’s reach map. Each time a new piece of content is published, it could appear right away.
Another could be related keywords, similar to those seen on search engine results pages. I wonder if any search engines offer up related keywords in their web services.
This could also be a really useful feature: How about the ability to tag, rank, and annotate any piece of content the app finds? This is how you could maintain order when deluged with content. Filtering options could include tagged items as well, like displaying only the events tagged with “positive news” or “negative news” on the timeline. Ranking a piece of content could be a way to prioritize its visibility and/or subjective relevance to your research. Perhaps items could be flagged so customer service or public relations representatives can respond right away. And it’s always helpful to take notes against important pieces of content.
The technical challenges are tricky. They are not impossible, but it would take a sharp technical team to think through these issues, such as:
- How do we fetch the appropriate data reliably and quickly?
- How do we deal with content that requires authentication?
- How do we post on mailing lists and forums without triggering spam filters?
- How do we get, display, and/or build trend data?
- How do we attach metadata to each piece of content we’ve fetched?
- How do we display the updates in real-time?
- How do we design an easy-to-use user interface that allows non-technical business owners to use this app?
I’m sure there are a lot of social media consultancies that offer market research services. But as competitors, service firms rarely hold up to self-service packages. In such situations, self service firms tend to focus on the high-end of a market and offer highly specialized & customized services at premium prices. Going for low-end customers puts their profit margins at risk. Meanwhile, self-service packages like this app can afford to focus on the low-end as a cost-effective solution for them, while still maintaining fair profit margins. And who knows, maybe social media consultancies could become customers of this app.
There might even be such an app in existence already, though I haven’t heard of one. If you have, please let me know.
What do you think?
Photo by: curiouslee