Social Media Research

What is Social Media Research?

Social Media Research provides insight from those who are vocal about your organization and have something to say about what you’re doing or the issues you track. Combined with traditional research, it gives you a clearer picture of divergent viewpoints and public opinion.

Social media platforms and the people who engage on them create and distribute millions of insights daily. These people are citizens of your community, your province or territory and chances are, they’re talking about your organization, your stakeholders and the issues you care about. But with approximately 55 million comments posted on Twitter alone everyday, how do you begin to make sense of all this information? The answer is Social Media Research.

If you look at the millions of insights and conversations happening on social media like they’re data running though a cable — Social Media Research allows us to tap into that cable and listen to the conversations on behalf of our clients. We don’t just monitor and scan the conversations to generate statistics and meaningless volume metrics. We use a proven research process that involves collecting and then analyzing the social media information that’s important to your organization. Our researchers apply 20+ years of social research rigor to the information we uncover. We randomly sample items from the scans, remove those that aren’t relevant to the query and then hand code and analyze the data to provide our clients with the insights and analysis they need.

Every research engagement can benefit from understanding the vast number of unfiltered conversations found online. By aligning Social Media Research with surveys or other traditional research tools we can test ideas or measure the relevance of online influencers with the general public. Plus Social Media Research can help inform traditional research design and act as a litmus test to traditional research results adding greater insight.

Why Social Media Research is critical for the Public Sector:

Social media has the penetration and reach to make mobilization, expression of opinion, sharing of experiences, activism and advocacy easier than anytime in history. Marketers have seen the potential and are spending millions to get people to follow their brands online. Ignoring social media today would be like ignoring the impact of the introduction of television on the news cycle or the impact of the iPod on music.

Much like media monitoring, understanding social media has become an integral part of daily public affairs, issues and reputation management and crisis communications. Public Sector organizations are realizing that engagement through social media is as important as media relations because today audiences can be reached and influenced both online and offline.

What Social Media Research can evaluate:

  • Your Organization: What are people saying about you? Are there threats to your reputation? Should you engage with online audiences?
  • Issues / Events / Policy / Services: What are people saying and should you engage in the conversation?
  • Crisis / Major Event: Real-time analysis during a PR crisis or major event can provide useful insight into public opinion, cues and clues as to the direction the crisis may take.
  • Sentiment: We manually analyze posts to evaluate your criteria for what’s positive or negative.
  • Audiences: Helps define who and where target audiences are for your digital campaigns.
  • Trends: By looking at social media data and relating it to surveys and ideation results we can spot trends and validate or discount ideas.
  • Public and Government Relation Campaigns: Evaluate reach and engagement - the impact of your online campaigns.
  • Influencers: Find the people who have authority online and influence others about key issues, services, or about your organization itself. These can include both advocates and/or skeptics.
  • Expands on Survey Results: Can help explain why people feel the way they say they do.

Advantages of Social Media Research:

  • Provides access to large number of unfiltered conversations where the subject matter is often citizendriven, not researcher-driven.
  • Provides insight into public opinion that when partnered with traditional sampling can identify accurate trends in the data.
  • Offers cues, language and semantic insight from your audience’s perspective.
  • Provides insight into key issues and questions for researchers to ask.
  • Allows you to look back at conversations and gain historical context when no other research exists.

How does Social Media Research fit in with traditional research?

Social Media Research is one of many tools in the Ipsos research toolbox and very useful when analyzed in conjunction with other data measurement and research techniques. Social Media Research supports traditional esearch by exploring conversations to help define relevant survey questions. It’s also great for providing context that helps explain why people feel the way they say they do in surveys. Opinions and ideas that are popular in the social media space can be validated and tested in traditional research. With Social Media Research we can also pinpoint online influencers and see if their ideas have as much credibility offline as they do online.

What does Social Media Research cost?

No client or set of issues is the same, so our Social Media Research is custom built to support the business objectives and needs of our clients. For more information or to get a quote, please contact us.

Social Media Research

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Jamie Duncan
Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs