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Using Social Networks As Research Networks

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					Using Social Networks As Research Networks
Kathy E Gill 1 May 2008

Outline
• • • • Some definitions GaTech WWW Survey Social Network Sites Online Focus Groups

Technical Networks
• Computer Network: a system of composed of hardware and software that allows computers to communicate with one another • Internet: a worldwide system of computer networks that communicate using TCP/IP • The Web: a subset of the Internet that communicates using HTTP

Social Networks
• An association of people drawn together by family, work or hobby; coined by professor J. A. Barnes in the 1950s. He described the social network as a group of about 100 to 150 people. (source)

The GrandDaddy: GVU
• What: Technical Networks + Social Networks • Who: Georgia Tech Graphics, Visualization & Usability Center (GVU) • When: Jan 1994 – Oct 1998 • How: 10 “user surveys” that documented “developing Web demographics, culture, user attitudes, and usage patterns”

GVU Methodology
• Non-probabilistic sampling based on social networks and other promotion
– Announcements on Internet related newsgroups – Announcements made to the www-surveying mailing list – Banners on high-exposure web sites (e.g. Yahoo, CNN, Excite, Webcrawler, etc.) and through advertising networks (e.g. DoubleClick) – Publicity via popular offline media (e.g., newspapers, trade magazines, etc.)

GVU Survey 1
• When: January 1994 • The first publicly accessible Web-based survey; composed of five parts • Estimated N=20 million Internet users. 4,853 responses to all surveys combined • Demographics: 6% female

GVU Survey 7
• When: 10 April 10 1997 through 10 May 1997 • Estimated N=30 million. 19,970 unique respondents (~1-in-1,500) • Demographics: 31.30% female

Social Network Websites
• Web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (source)

Key Characteristic
• Makes social networks visible – to self and others

Brief History
• • • • • • • SixDegrees.com (1997) LiveJournal (1999) LinkedIn (2002) MySpace (2003) Facebook (2004, 2006) YouTube (2005) Twitter (2006)

“Survey” Research
• • • • Facebook Polls LinkedIn Answers Twitter Polls “Focus Groups”

Facebook Polls

FB Poll Not Free
• From TechCrunch “Facebook charges you a variable amount based on how quickly you want results…The more you offer, the more quickly results are returned to you… Facebook will estimate the completion time for the poll based on how much you bid.”

Useful?
• One Marketer’s Experience (Dec2007): “Currently you can only ask 100 people, with the possibility of each individual only being profiled on one variable (i.e. age OR gender, etc.)…the 24hour turn around time is a definite bonus. I see this service being used in small businesses and startups where the market research resources are very low.”

Linked In Answers

LinkedIn
• A “professional” network • Follow the blog for examples
– Featured Q this week: Pros and Cons of Refinancing

• Success story: “after 12 hours... [1] from my blog post and the rest … from my 200-ish LinkedIN contacts.”

Twitter
• Quotably.com • Summize.com/about
– #poll – Obama or Hillary or Clinton

• TweetClouds.com and TwitterVerse.com and PicoBuzz.com • TweetScan.com • Twitter.Alltop.com

Real-Time Feedback
• Twitter in conferences (“back channel”)
– #forrmarketing08

• Twitter as “research diary”
– Search @ginsoak or @learningspaces – twitter.com/learningspaces/with_friends

For Journos
• From OnlineJournalismBlog (UK)
– News of UK earthquake broke on Twitter – Monitor groups with CrowdStatus.com – BreakingNews – Wire Feed (TwitterFeed + TweetBurner) – TwittUrly – top 100 URLs (think Memeorandum or TechMeme) – Live Book Review

• News Organizations Using Twitter

Twitter Misc.
• • • • Web, IM, Phone gridjit.com Twhirl or Snitter The User-Created PBWiki

Organization-Specific Social Network Sites
• Del Monte Foods
– “I Love My Dog” – 400 members; handpicked – Introduced Snausages Breakfast Bites in six months; normal time 12+ months

• Sylvan Learning
– With MarketTools, surveyed a group of mothers with children in 1st-12th grades – Sent possible ad storyboards; feedback helped shaped new ad campaign
Wall Street Journal, 14 Jan 2008

In Summary …
• This is “non-scientific” research; don’t extrapolate to larger audiences! • This is early adopter research; don’t extrapolate to late adoption audiences! • Low transaction cost makes it possible to get opinions, case study material quickly, cheaply • Online focus groups may combine best of off- and online qualitative survey methods


				
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