This got me to thinking about developing a capability for using social media for market research. The Internet is fundamentally changing how market research and data collection is done. Using social media tools to ask questions is part of a broader trend called crowd sourcing and is tapping into the collective intelligence of the public. Low cost online survey tools like Survey Monkey make it easy to design, and conduct survey research. Even easier is using social media sites and tools to ask questions and bloggers have long used their blogs to ask questions of their audience, but if you don't blog you can still ask questions online.
LinkedIn has a section where users can ask questions and Twitter can also be used for market research in addition to getting a lot of answers and good information if the number of Twitter users following you big enough. Used by companies like Innocentive and Amazons Mechanical Turk which uses crowd sourcing to solve corporate research and other task oriented problems.
New third party services like Brizzly have a fun approach to understanding the world's trends. Brizzly allows you to see why topics are trending on Twitter, and edit their descriptions yourself. No longer wonder why a certain event or company is suddenly in the news.
Speaking of research I have just read a very interesting book, The Abc Of Xyz: Understanding The Global Generations by Mark McCrindle and Emily Wolfinger. With marketers so interested in generational attitudes the book makes the tidy little definition of what a generation is, 'generations are people of a comparable life stage and age who's attitudes were shaped by the same developments, events and trends'. This short synopsis from the publisher "The Abc Of Xyz is designed for educators, business managers and parents who want a brief and useful introduction to Australia's living generations and how they interact. It begins by exploring what a generation is, how its definition has changed, and the trends that are emerging for the future. It goes on to examine specific generational conflict in schools, home and the workplace, and the ways in which they can be understood and resolved. Interspersed with useful tables and figures, the book also offers insights into how our generations compare to their counterparts in Japan, the US and even Finland, and what might lie beyond Z". ISBN: 9781742230351