Following a statistic validity study conducted at four major US universities, results suggest that the answer to recruiting and reaching prospective students is not through TV, radio and printed products, but through social media.

The article linked below further explains the outcome of these studies and the effectiveness of using social media.

The obvious benefit of using social media as means of marketing and communication is the fact that it extremely cost-effective. Making an account on nearly all major social media sites is free and completely eliminates production and distribution costs. In addition to utilizing a cheaper method of communicating to various markets, social media is more effective than other communication mediums in terms of response and interactivity rates as well as the ability to reach an extremely large and diverse groups of people.

As a result of the benefits social media offers, not only have 92 percent of universities adapted this form of communication into their communication efforts, but 86 percent of universities plan to increase their use of it within the next year.

It is true that with the number of people that interact on social media, it would be detrimental to positive communication to not utilize social media. However, this adaption of electronic of communication begs the question of whether or not communication will one day soon be almost entirely electronic.

This directly relates to one of the goals I have as a future Public Relations professional. I hope to maintain the value of personal relationships. While it is important to interact on social media sites, it is also important to recognize the importance and value in real relationships.

As a student at a major university, and one that prides itself on its success in research, I have been exposed to, and participated in several university wide studies.

I believe it would be accurate to say that the vast majority of University of Minnesota students have been offered extra credit in exchange for their participation in various research studies. Although I think that it is great that the university and its curriculum support research, I cannot help but question whether or not this method of data collection creates a bias in results.

I question this due to the fact that while a survey may have received thousands of responses, namely as a result of extra credit incentive, it is only college students who are represented in results. Although there is very wide variety of students that attend the university, unless a study is specific to understanding college students, study results will always have a bias based on the fact that college students make up their own single demographic.

While the university should continue to pride itself on the success it has found in research, as a consumer of this research, it is important to consider if the demographics, if more than one, are accurately represented. While college students make up a large portion of the population between the ages of 18-22, it is imperative that we recognize that those receiving and education cannot represent those who are doing otherwise.

Social Media Analytics: Yes or No?

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After completing some reading and research on the subject of Social Media Analytics, I took it upon myself to make a list of the positive and negative aspects of this type of analytics. I made the list to share with my class for one of our group projects, I find this topic interesting to both learn about and consider its advantages and disadvantages and how they relate to each other.

Three Disadvantages of Social Media Analytics:

Although this applies more to web tracking, the question still remains of whether or not this collection of data without the consumer's awareness is of ethical practice

2. Lacks the Human Factor:
A computer tracking and analysis program/logarithm does not have the ability to understand aspects of human conversation such as humor and sarcasm

3. Not all audiences are on social media:
While social media seem to be something "everyone" is doing, there are certain demographics and opinion leaders that do not interact with social media

Three Advantages of Social Media Analytics:

1. Innovate Your Market:
Having a more personal understanding of your target market aids in the discovery of where you need to improve communication

2. Better Target Market:
Allows for better target audience definition. Increases the ability to understand psychographics allows companies to respond and connect to individual customers

3. Improve customer relationships:
Not only does social media analytics help improve consumer attitudes, but uniquely, social media also allows companies to respond and connect to individual customers

Social Media Analytics is rapidly growing as a means of understanding consumer's attitudes towards brands.

As a result of one my research class's presentation assignment, I had the opportunity to look into what exactly one should take into consideration when selecting the most effective method of analysis for them. The following is what I would reccommend...

1. What do I want to know-
Do I want to know attitudes towards my brand? Competitors? Do I want to know if my social media presence is receiving attention? Is is directing people to my website/products?

2. Recognize how this information will supplement my other my other research-
Is the purpose of the analytics to inspire new ideas/strategies? Is it going to be complied with additional types of research and analytics?

3. Will I need consultants-
Will I need an outside source to help me understand my findings or will I be fine interpreting the data's deeper meaning on my own?

Is Reserach Collected from Social Media Effective?

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One aspect of research course curriculum that has undoubtedly changed over the past ten years is the focus on social media. The plague of social media among consumers has changed the way that marketers and advertisers reach their target markets, especially when it comes to younger demographics.

However, while marketing continues to adapt to social media, this adaptation would not be possible without the birth and implementation of research methods that attempt to understand consumer interaction and communication with social media sites.

After listening to a research professional from Carmichael Lynch, I found how much social media influences communication, brand attitudes, and how much is still to be understood about it very compelling. While I agree with the point that traditional marketing research will always be as important as social media research, I couldn't help but wonder how effective the social media research methods mentioned were, and if it will ever truly be representative of consumers in general.

Understanding social media, and the attitudes on these sites, means that one has to understand each individual post. Meaning sarcasm, humor, and passion, which are all feelings that can really only be understood by a person and not a computer. While the speaker mentioned a logarithm that is used to interpret thousands of posts at a time via words used in social media conversation, this method cannot, and does not, take the human factor of joking or the extent of ones passion into account.

Following this presentation and furthering my understanding of the methods currently being implemented to interpret consumers on social media sites led me to wonder if this research is accurate enough to invest sums of money in. It begs the question as to whether or not there will ever be a method to understanding consumers online other than personally sitting down and interpreting individual conversations and posts.

This year shoppers had the opportunity to begin soaking in the Black Friday sales as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening. Major retailers such as Target, Sears and Walmart opted to being Black Thursday earlier than ever as an attempt to maximize their Black Friday sales.

However, following the early opening and the sales on Black Friday, research shows that sales percentages actually dropped from last year. The article below from CNN's website proposes several potential reasons for this, one even being sales online.

At first glance we may be led to believe, and wonder, why sales dropped, however,The article does not state the success of the Black Friday sales that began on Thursday. Therefore, I am left with the curiosity of what the sales data would say if Thursday evening sales were included in the Friday sales reports.

The article exemplifies the the concept that data can be altered and framed to represent one thing, when it may actually say another. The article fails to provide its readers with a full picture of Thanksgiving weekend sales and leads them to believe sales decreased, when the sales on Thursday evening may have actually increases total weekend sales.

Black Friday Gets Out of Hand

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Major retailers, such as Target and Walmart, are receiving significant attention this Thanksgiving as they plan to open at 9 p.m. to kick off their Black Friday sales. While this early opening may appeal to the most dedicated discount shoppers, it has created a stir among employees who would prefer to spend their holiday with family as opposed to their work place.

The following article retrieved from CNN's website lays out exactly how much of a employee relations the early opening has caused.

What I hope to see following the Black Friday shopping spree, is just how much these stores actually profit from opening about four hours early. I hope to see research that identifies the difference in profits between the stores that open at traditional times compared to those who take the concept of opening early to another level.

I would also find it very interesting if someone were to conduct research on whether or not this employee relation problem and opening early effects consumers brand attitudes. Ultimately, opening early will either turn many consumers away from specific retailers, or increase their favorability for a brand. I believe the only way to identify the pros and cons of early Black Friday openings is to conduct consumer research.

Does Social Media Really Increase Sales?

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The following article grounds itself on new research data showing that consumers are more likely to purchase from a company if they interact with it on a social media site.

While I think that social media is a great opportunity for marketers and companies to reach various demographics, as an active consumer and a member of various different social groups, I would disagree with the fact that company-consumer interaction over social media sites drives sales.

To further support my opinion, it is important to note that the research conducted only surveyed 1,500 consumers. The article then goes on to state that there are over 400 million social media users. Therefore, I think it is hardly accurate to make an assumption regarding the power of social media when only about one percent of social media users were reached when collecting this data.

It is also important to note that statements regarding research findings always need to be further looked into before they are used and harm one's credibility.

It would be dumb to under estimate the opportunities researchers have at their finger tips as a result of mobile research. With over 90 percent of consumers using mobile devices, these devices allow researchers to maximize the number of consumers they reach.

However, much like in the article, whose link is above, we need to take a step back and consider whether or not we are getting too wrapped up in data collected electronically. Data collected personally is still more valuable than that collected electronically simply because most people filter what they do and do not share in the electronic world. Do we need to reconsider the focus we have on data collected through electronic devices or have we found a good balance when it comes to using both personally collected data and data from electronic devices?

Can Social Media be Considered Qualitative Data?

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Social media has lent itself to more data collection than any other device before. It provides researchers with personal consumer information, as well as insight to broader trends. The article, whose link is below, lays out exactly how researchers can benefit from social media.

As of now, I believe that it is safe to assume that data from social media sites is considered quantitative, but I also feel there is potential argument for it being qualitative. This data is very specific to individual consumers and often times provides researchers with information that is many times, more personal and natural than consumer information collected in focus groups.

However, the issue that social media presents is the need for social media data collection. In order to use social media as a research method, an organization would have to collect significant amounts of social media postings and then decipher the meaning and context of those postings.