Join the big social media research debate

InSites Consulting and Research Magazine joined forces to organize the online debate on the validity of social media research. This online discussion is just a preview for the debate that will be held during the MRS Social Media Conference at the end of September.
Paul Nola (UK Research Director at InSites Consulting) will be moderating a panel debate at this conference title ‘Driving the validity of social media research’. The debate will cover some challenges researchers are facing today:
1. What does user-generated content mean for research?
Thanks to the rise of social media, a vast amount of user-generated content is available nowadays. As researchers, we have embraced this new source of information. However, other departments have taken action as well! CRM departments join the online conversation. Marketing is using social media for communication purposes. In so called ‘social sales’, companies try to spot and respond to customers who declare on social media that they want to buy a product. The rise of buzz monitoring platforms has made it very easy for customers to engage in DIY research.
2. Is representativeness dead?
Two important issues in using user-generated content for research are sampling and data quality. It is difficult to maintain the concept of representativeness in a world where we do not know the identity of people who gave their opinion. Today’s standard is to collect as many online conversations on a topic as possible without taking data quality much into account.
3. The invisible research participant
User-generated content provides researchers with unsolicited feedback on products & brands. However, the initial creator of a post does not explicitly opt-in to research. As such, the notion of informed consent cannot be respected. On the other hand, the information is publicly available and as researchers we have been conducting secondary research for years.
In total six challenges will be shared. Each challenge has a different hashtag you can follow (#bsmd1, #bsmd2, etc.)
Got some interesting comments to add? Join our Twitter debate on, share your opinion in our questionnaire or follow us on Twitter (

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