Finding the story within: why size doesn’t always matter
In a recent column in the Evening Standard, Rosamund Urwin commented on the findings of a Which? survey which discovered that 11% of the public trusted bankers.
She made the slightly tongue-in-cheek point that it “exposes the existence of a surprisingly large group of pro-banker Brits” despite the fact “Which? understandably painted the survey as a damning indictment of the banking industry”.
In doing so, she made a rather important point that’s often missed in both journalism and market research.
In both industries, it’s easier to focus on the opinion of the majority and turn the headline statistic into the story. However, there’s often a far more interesting tale to be uncovered in why the view of the minority is as unexpectedly large as it is.
I often look at the smaller percentage of a poll and think, “I’m actually surprised there are that many people that think that”.
It’s something that frequently crops up within social media research too.
Looking at what’s driving the bulk of conversation around a brand or particular issue will usually tell you what you already know (or at least suspected) and, while this isn’t necessarily useless or uninteresting, it can, in no way, really be deemed insightful.
There are very often a relatively small but significant number of people talking about a phenomenon unknown to a brand and, although it’s not the headline grabbing figure, it’s often where the insight may lie and (depending on the brief) it’s probably the area in which it’s worthwhile spending more time investigating.
One of the beauties of social media research for me is that it requires (and offers the opportunity to take) both a quantitative and qualitative approach to understanding, not only the size of an issue, but also the underlying motivations and attitudes behind it too.
Uncovering that elusive insight requires, not only a thorough knowledge of the issue you’re investigating, but also the ability to spot the more interesting story within the data. More often than not, that may be buried a little deeper than the one that first leaps out.
(image courtesy of tvaddn)