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Listen First!: Turning Social Media Conversations into Business Advantage by Stephen D. Rappaport

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Chapter 21

Change the Research Paradigm

Social media listening data furnishes companies with insights into what customers are doing, thinking, and feeling. Listening professionals we interviewed for this book reveled in sharing the data and working across departmental boundaries. For example, Jason Harty, then of vitaminwater, recounted the excitement of collaborating with various functions (marketing, sales, product development, legal, customer service, and the top brass) to create and launch a new customer-designed beverage in just a matter of months. His colleagues’ enthusiasm for up-to-the-minute listening data became a type of social glue and fostered real camaraderie. And along the way, it changed Harty's researcher role from data historian to valued development partner (see Chapter 6 for case details).

As Harty's experience illustrates, listening brings changes in research approaches, the data generated, and the ways that data is analyzed, applied and acted upon, all of which raise fundamental issues about what the data is, its quality, and what researchers should become and do to drive their businesses foward. The essays within this chapter speak to challenging the established ways of working and changing the research paradigm.

Stan Sthanunathan, Coca-Cola's director of Insights and Strategy, argues that market researchers must unshackle themselves from their priestly past, and instead become more like prophets—in the spirit of those who are gifted with profound insight ...

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