Do Not DIY

Don’t try this at work.

A discussion recently erupted within an online marketing mavens’ forum. Someone wondered if Do It Yourself (DIY) market research using social media would eliminate more traditional forms of research and many of its freelance practitioners. I responded that amateur efforts create amateur results, and that SMBs would thus find new and exotic ways to stay small through inappropriate research.

Oddly, everyone agreed with me, which is surely a sign of the End Times.

Services like Survey Monkey have created a great deal of poor research because research is a scientific pursuit and Survey Monkey is a digital chemistry set for DIY researchers. The internet is now littered with invitations to participate in surveys, and as a result people have grown numb to these invites (which makes our research work here at Silicon Strategies Marketing more difficult). Sadly, the results obtained by ad hoc surveys and trolling through social media forums ranges from useless to endangering. Poor insight from poor research produces poor decisions, which in turn produce longer unemployment lines.

Though the list is extensive, there are several common areas where DIY market research fails:

Lack of scientific approach: All research processes, and especially surveys, have rich and deep scientific histories. There exist very wrong ways of conducting surveys, which lead to skewed information and inappropriate analysis. Since product or corporate decisions are based on research, having solid methodology, sound survey question design and statistically valid analysis are essential and never achieved by junior marketing staff using rent-a-survey suites.

Unstructured everything: The question is all important, because if you ask the wrong question you never get the right answer. DIY researchers often initiate projects that lack defined goals or even structured approaches to finding answers. The fuzzier the focus and source of input, the less structured and more opinion-influenced are the results.

Social shouting: Social media has its place in market research, but suffers from presenting the opinions of people with the loudest voices. Akin to self-selecting surveys (and all surveys are self-selecting to some degree), spelunking social media to ascertain market metrics is nonsensical and dangerous to your paycheck’s health.

Strategic decisions require strategic thinking, which requires good data, which eliminates DIY and unmanaged, qualitative ingestions. DIY research is not unacceptable, but presents many potholes that, at best, take your revenue growth for a rough ride, and at worst will wreck your company’s shocks, bend your frame and trash your tranny. As grating as spending money on market research is, it remains better to invest in sound data than risk DIY disasters.


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