Reliability and Validity of Social Media Marketing Research

Social Media Logos

Image provided by Sean McClogan on Flickr

Validity is the degree to which your assumption (construct or hypothesis) is measured by your chosen method of measurement.  Basically does your research project (the type of data gathered and the means of gathering that data) truly measure that which it is intended to measure?
Reliability is how consistently your chosen method of measurement produces the same results.  To elaborate on that ideal, reliability is also estimated by whether or not the results of your research can be reproduced under a similar methodology.
Testing the reliability and validity of social media as effective marketing channels for organizations.  The term social media refers to web 2.0 applications such as social network sites such as Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, blogs, wikis and Twitter (microblogging).  One can assume that not all social media is a useful marketing channel in every organization.  For example, a musician would benefit more from using YouTube as a marketing channel than would a photographer.  The photographer would more than likely benefit from using Flickr than from using YouTube.
One can implement a marketing campaign utilizing a social media application and measure the validity of the social media(SM) as an effective means of marketing for the organization.  The SM’s effectiveness could be based on a measurement of “total response” to the campaign.
From a reliability perspective it can be asked, how reliable is the use of “total response” as a reliable measurement of the effectiveness of a social media marketing campaign for an organization.  If a marketing research firm conducted research of a client’s use of MySpace, in its marketing campaign, and the research results showed that MySpace was very effective way of marketing; would another marketing firm’s research yield the same results if all of the parameters in their research were identical?

The Inc. 500

The Inc. 500

In early 2007 the results of a groundbreaking study into the adoption of social media
within the Inc. 500, an elite group of the fastest-growing companies within the United
States, were released. As one of, if not the first studies of corporate social media adoption
with statistical significance, it proved conclusively that social media was coming to the
business world and sooner than many anticipated.  Now, approximately one year later,
that same group was studied again in an effort to look at longitudinal change in the
adoption of these digital communication tools.

Social Media in the Inc. 500: The First Longitudinal Study

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SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

The social science that I selected for this week’s assignment is Information Science.  My field of study at Walden University is Applied Management and Decision Sciences with a specialization in Management Information Systems (MIS).  MIS falls under the wide umbrella of science known as Information Science (Borko,1968), as quoted by Bates (1999), states that, “Information science is that discipline that investigates the properties and behavior of information, the forces governing the flow of information, and the means of processing information for optimum accessibility and usability. It is concerned with that body of knowledge relating to the origination, collection, organization, storage, retrieval, interpretation, transmission, transformation, and utilization of information.  It has both a pure science component, which inquires into the subject without regard to its application, and an applied science component, which develops services and products (p.1).”

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Social Networking Sites: An Introspective on Concept-Dependent Social Phenomenon

A Realist Approach

Dr. Sayer author of Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach

Concept-dependent social phenomenon as described by Andrew Sayer in Method of Social Science, is the ideal that “practices, institutions, rules, roles or relationships in society are depends on what they mean in society to its members.”  In our emerging Internet-dependent society, social networking sites are heavily relied upon to connect and network with other members of society who share common interests, lifestyles, goals, professions, etc.

Peter Winch, has argued that the “essential feature of social institutions is that  individuals have a knowledge of more or less tacit constitutive rules concerning not only what can and cannot be done but how things should be done.”

I am really amazed by the proliferation of these sites into mainstream, society, media, and even the world of business. For example, more and more news outlets, such as CNN have a YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter account. These are all social networking sites that are aimed at bringing together members from around the globe in an effort to collaborate and share information. The understanding or known meaning as Sayer terms it, is that the members of the above social networking sites understand that the site’s goal is to provide a platform for which sharing is the intended behavior.

I was partly influenced by Chris Brogan’s post today and partly influenced by my discussion question for a class that I am taking, “Human Inquiry and Science” in which my professor, Dr. Flor asked the class to, “Give and explain an example from your own area of interest of a concept-dependent social phenomenon, after reading the first Chapter of Sayer’s Method of Social Science.

I have eagerly consumed the intricacies of social media marketing and its skyrocket to popularity in main-stream media.  We are greatly affected by this phenomenon, and anyone that is not connected in any shape or form, will soon be left left behind and forgotten.

That’s just my introspective thought for today. It’s Friday, maybe I have too much information stored in one place!

UPDATE:  I have posted a new article with relevant academic journal articles on concept-dependent social phenomenon, read it here.

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