The Validity of Social Media Data within the Wireless Industry
Various social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, were initially disparaged as evidence of an apparent decline in conventional modes of human interaction, or dismissed as the new "flavor of the week," with some even observing that it was an unfortunate trend that would ultimately find its way onto the social junk heap.Download Article
In the past 2 years, however, there have been major world events whose particular outcomes signal a potential long-term viability for these and other social media (or SM) sites. Events in Iran, Haiti, Egypt, and, most recently, the GOP primary campaign in the United States, demonstrate that these online communicative tools may have finally found their niche, thereby leading to true social significance. Despite the volume and speed of information available via social networking sites, market researchers are still struggling to determine how to best leverage the vast amount of data generated by consumers.
In fact, recent estimates indicate that on any given day, there are nearly 100 million users on Twitter alone, posting messages that range from the inane to the insightful. For market researchers, this vast amount of conversation offers a treasure trove of data to mine for potential insights into the real-time needs of consumers. However, recent findings suggest that SM data is noisier and less precise than data gathered via traditional market research methods. Previous work (Pingitore, Eckert, & Li, 2011), documented how common low inter-analyst reliability is when extracting SM data and identified best practices that can improve both reliability and precision of resulting data, making possible results that are reproducible and accurate.
In this paper, we expanded on these prior findings by examining the validity of SM data. We focused on the wireless communication industry, and will show the relationship between various SM outcomes of volume and sentiment with a number of standard survey measures, including overall experience ratings, advocacy, and switching rates.
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