I recently wrote a blog post citing ten of the things I love about social media research. Today I address love #2.
Social media research gives you instant results.
First I need to clarify. Although social media does allow people to instantly share their opinions online, quality social media research tools will not actually make those results instantly available.
- Most systems do not and can not crawl every single one of the billions of websites every second of every day. The big sites, the Twitters and Facebooks and YouTubes might be checked for new data a few times day or even a few times an hour. But not every second. So the tweet you just wrote might not actually enter the research system for another half hour or another day.
- Quality systems put every bit of data through strict processes. For instance, every tweet might be put through a spam checker that first evaluates whether the website (e.g., http://lovestats.wordpress.com, http://twitter.com/lovestats) has a history of generating spam. If a verbatim passes that test, it might then go through a sentiment system. While one tweet takes mere seconds to be checked for sentiment, it’s rare that efficient processes do one tweet at a time. In other words, the sentiment system probably collects up at least a few hundred thousand tweets before it runs them through the system. That could be another half hour. If there are any additional processes, such as evaluating all the data for categories or inferring demographics, then that’s yet another process that will take time.
Now that I’ve shattered your illusions of instantly available data, let’s consider what instant means. Instant means that results within 24 is a reasonable expectation. When was the last time you ran a full size research project on a daily basis? Three hundred completed surveys, analyzed and reported on every 24 hours. Ad campaigns evaluated starting the very day they launched. Celebrity mishaps measured daily after the tragic fall.
Daily data just makes me salivate!