Posts Tagged ‘research’

For the last week or so I’ve been hard at work on a site dealing with International Removals. The idea has been to get some nice fat ranking results and use social to squirt some link juice on the “moving to..” pages. Working in the Social Media environment I’m all too aware of the facts regarding the user stats for Facebook yet, having also been using the site on a personal level long before a professional one, I was also aware of  how much of that whopping statistic is likely to be useless.

A short scurry showed how much I’d under-estimated the useless quota . Surely all those lovely groups would be a good way to garner information on what people want to know about moving to another country? Instead, it proved to be yet another lesson in the own-going education that this job is providing.

fbmarketLet’s look at the results for one search that were typical of what I found. The only difference being the destination: Moving To Canada. I, naively was hoping to find a few people trying to find out what they would need for their immigration dreams.

No. Try page after page of the displayed image. This is one of the very few screen shots available that didn’t involve racist, sexist, offensive and otherwise unusable images.

Whilst this manages to serve as an example of how fickle a certain nation can be – without wanting to offend any readers – it’s more an example of how little use Facebook can be for garnering market information. Not because of the type of group or search term, merely due to the lack of substance in the response.

Even looking at the image reveals that while these groups had thousands of members each, they’re all shedding images. Which means that not only is the potential market not likely to follow up on their statement, they’re actually retracting it.

There’s also the sheer proliferation of these groups. In theory there need only be half a dozen. Instead, rather than join an existing group that shared their feelings, they created their own. As is their right, don’t get me wrong. But if this principal were applied in the area these groups are dedicated there would be hundreds of political parties and not one of them would get anywhere.

THAT'S not ecommerce

THAT'S not ecommerce

While the idea of trusting market research has never been a sound one, the motivation in using social networking sites was to gain an insight into what the target demographic was feeling. However, with the ease of creation and user-control of such sites that makes these sites so successful and attractive, also makes them irrelevant from an information gathering point of view. Not only that, but the sheer amount of such groups and trolls puts it worryingly close to the domain inhabited by early network-sites (anyone remember Bolt?) and about as much use as the spam-covered Google Groups.

Of course, the lack of being used from a marketing point of view makes Facebook users happier. Creating a pool of target demographic information isn’t its goal. It’s there as a social interaction site etc and etc. However, if there is no intelligent qualitative market research available from it, how long before businesses stop paying attention? If they’re getting nothing from it by way of usable information are they really going to sponsor it with advertising cash? Especially when, as a user, I know how very little banner ads get looked at let alone clicked on.

I wasn’t even looking for an appropriate place to throw up an advert, nor was I looking to grab traffic or send people to the sites I’ve been working on. I simply wanted to know what they wanted to know. Marketing agencies and professionals (and I’m no exception) often suggest that Facebook, Myspace etc is a barely-touched pool of customer data just waiting to be tapped.  Problem is that if I were to use the information I gathered  I’d be building sites that provided information as to which political figures were in office in another country as information on Moving to Canada.

So with the sheer wealth of user-orientated sites and forums out there, where can accurate consumer information be found without having to wade through pages of the above? Or can it? I’m not talking about haranguing with questions and surveys either, just simple, “what do our customers want?” And, if there is no way for companies to hear the social-buzz on their product or industry, will they start looking to place their advertising and marketing budgets elsewhere and how long will the sites last then? Will the user-orientated, no businesses element that started these sites become their downfall?

One of the great things about working for a web agency like G-Forces is the great diversity between sites that I get to market. From a ski wear site like White Rock Direct to researching sheds for Passmores.

It’s also of great coincidence that I moved recently and this gives me the opportunity to talk about a recent scenario I found myself in. When I viewed the house I moved into one of the things that appealed to me – as a dog owner – was the garden. It’s long, extremely long. So long that my little dog would probably run out of breath if he ran up and down it just once. Now at the time of viewing it was raining and so I didn’t venture into the garden or study the shed at the end of it, I merely knew it was there and that it’d be useful for storage. Having worked in the retail side of such things I was also able to tell that it was a 6×5 pent roofed shed but that’s irrelevant and a little sad.

No stranger to renting houses I wasn’t surprised when the agency informed me that the previous occupants had left in something of a rush and some of their disregarded belongings may still be in the property and that I could freely dispose of them. How nice. I wasn’t told, perhaps because it wasn’t known, that the previous tennants had left plenty of stuff in what was now my shed, let alone its comedy value. While not funny ‘ha ha,’ what I found in the shed certainly makes me chuckle.

There was a pile of magazines that were the Polish equivalent of “Dry Wall Monthly” that dated back from a few months old to 2002 – it was a large pile and I was curious on an otherwise empty Sunday morning.

Two cardboard boxes in varying forms of structural stability, one of which was full of empty cigarette boxes. Nothing special about them, no foreign or strange designs, just lots and lots of empty cigarette packets. You can imagine the smell, I won’t describe it. The smell of the other box was strong enough to deter my interest. It was disposed of as quickly as possible.

I’m assuming that the previous tenants were also animal owners as I don’t think there’s any other reason for the stack of empty hamster/gerbil cages. Though I’m curious as to what fate befell the dozen or so furry things that must have, at some point, lived in the cages and why they weren’t taken along when they moved out.

The same could be said for the innards of the computers and stereos were inside the shed. At first glance I thought I’d hit a strange, junk searchers jackpot of four pcs and a couple of stereos, only to find that there was nothing inside the casings except, for reasons unknown, a light bulb in each.

Also to be found was a box of postcards of a foreign – to me – country that I can only assume (going on the basis of the magazines and the names on the old mail that I still find spilling on my doormat) is Poland. Feeling that this one might be of value on a sentimental level so I put them into a new box and sealed it up on a shelf just in case.

There were the usual suspects that occupy the lists of ‘stuff found in sheds’ such as a few balls of string and gardening twine, gardening gloves (thought with one thumb missing) light bulbs and a few tins of paint.

While I didn’t at the time, looking back at this certainly begins to draw a picture as to who lived in the house before me. I won’t say where it is as, having cleared it out, I use my shed to house my tools and I’m very possessive of them.

My own use of the shed in comparison to the multiple hobby and belongings dumping ground of its previous user got me wondering about what others found in their sheds and what they use their shed for. Accordingly, an article was born on the history of the shed and I’d love to know what was found in other people’s sheds.