Interview by: Kerstin Mattys, lead digital, vol. 10, May 16th 2012
Through the bush loaded with theory: The Marketing Center Münster and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants recently established the Social Media Think:Lab, in order “to shed light onto the social media jungle”. In September, at the Social Media Summit in Munich, top academics from all over the world gathered to exchange ideas.
One gets the impression that everyone is researching social media. With all this excess, do we really need a Social Media Think:Lab?
In the field of social media, there is indeed no shortage of answers. But their quality is another matter altogether. Even if some things have been thought though carefully, there is no viable theoretical foundation with regard to the role, impact and functioning of social media. We are not competing with agencies and consultants, but rather researching, as academics, a subject that is barely truly understood, but on which everyone agrees about one thing – it will have a major and lasting economic impact.
And? Have you already discovered anything?
The analogy of marketing as a bowling game is now superfluous and has been superseded by the “flipper paradigm”. Enterprises can no longer aim with marketing balls at consumer segments, but must accept that their messages can be diverted, accelerated, blocked or reproduced. This requires a wide-ranging transformation of enterprises. One study OR ONE OF OUR STUDIES? demonstrates the economic relevant of Twitter news; if a new product – in our case a feature film – is poorly received, this has almost immediate consequences on success.
How long do you need to get a result?
At the moment, we are working on a study on the success factors for the content of platforms like YouTube, the impact of electronic word of mouth and the value of Facebook activities. The wheels of academia move slowly. For our Twitter study, we collected Tweets on current film starts for a year and then analyzed them for several months with complex statistical procedures, and then finally wrote the paper. The result, however, has no alternatives – THIS DOES NOT SEEM CLEAR – DO YOU MEAN YOU GOT CLEAR RESULTS? But admittedly, we need to do more than “drill down deep”. Otherwise, by the time we come up with an answer, the phenomenon will already be gone.
Could an alert user or I myself give you an answer right now to your social-media research question?
If you can see into the future, for sure. But if you can do this without such capabilities, we must have done something wrong. However, it is not about simply finding an answer, that is always quick. With our research, we are attempting not least of all, to provide a stable theoretical basis, so that our answers are “durable” over time and do not turn out to be mistakes or misconceived.
ORIGINAL German interview: