Dean Browell is Co-owner and Executive Vice President of Feedback Agency, a market research firm that uses hands-off observation of online behavior coupled with behavioral analysis by data scientists (psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists). When people are in focus groups or other situations where they are aware of being observed, their behavior changes. By not engaging their audience, the digital ethnography research team is able to get a rich body of authentic, unadulterated data.
In the discovery phase, Feedback’s digital ethnography research team works to understand a client’s audiences and where they are going. (FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, forums, niche message boards . . . and deep into sub-communities) The team then observes behaviors, identifies preferences and channels, assesses group discussions, actions, and sentiments, and evaluates all of this existing data to discern what “makes people tick” and what causes them to make decisions. Through the sheer volume of information, the research team can identify trends and quantify and qualify word-of-mouth impressions.
Using that information, Feedback may test responses to different messages. For example, they may place 70 small-space FaceBook ads and be able to report back to the client the 4 top-performing imagery types and messaging types. Feedback is not involved in the marketing implementation . . . they hand over the data to their agency customers for use as implementation guidelines and provide clients with detailed, research-based action plans for increasing customer engagement and sales.
Dean has found that human beings are far better at detecting meaning. Where computer programs may track words and bot can make decisions about whether words are positive or negative, humans can pick up the nuances of sarcasm and humor . . . and provide a far more accurate view of audience sentiment.
Dean recommends a couple of resources for targeted searches. Board Reader(http://boardreader.com/) searches forums and message boards, either by content or by forum focus. He also talked about local message boards, such as City-Data, which can provide a wealth of information about the selected community.
Dean can be contacted on LinkedIn at in/dbrowell/. His company’s website is http://www.feedbackagency.com/