When it comes to mining social media for information, I’ve observed that it’s quite unusual for folks from the business world to consider alternatives to “big data” approaches. So I was delighted to see that, in this recent article from the Harvard Business Review, the authors argue that qualitative approaches to social media listening can generate new insights for companies.
This resonates with what I’ve been saying for the last couple of years. When I’ve had opportunities to speak to, or work with, companies in the travel industry for example, I have been advocating a “small data” approach to the analysis of user-generated online reviews. There is no question that big data approaches can be useful in revealing large, general patterns of consumer behavior. However, like the authors of this HBR article, I have found that close, careful, qualitative text analysis can yield very different types of contextually-relevant insights into consumer experience and sentiment.