Because it is still in its infancy and developing stage, there are many challenges in social media research. The three main challenges in Malaysia and our region are:
Not all social media monitoring services can capture the myriad different language in Malaysia. While the current technology is feasible English, Chinese and Malay, it is still a challenge to capture Malay languages that tend to be abbreviated online. The need of human analyst who understands the local languages and how target converse, how to translate the online languages, is critical to make sure the aggregator captures correct and relevant conversations. Anyhow it is advisable to have English language for the social media content as it a Universal language to capture audience attention. Social media monitoring team may reply comment or enquiry in the languages being posted as a kind of respect.
Inarticulateness and lack of expression
In general, the Malaysian population I known for lacking the language skill of articulating their feelings and effectively expressing themselves, even in their mother tongues. In traditional research, a lot of projective techniques to tease out their inner feelings and to gauge their views. However, in social media research, this is hard to do. Most of the time, conversations that captured online are shallow conversations that give nothing more in-depth than just short expressions.
Unsolicitated / Natural conversations.
With the nature of how the information is originated (natural content that is not controlled or led by a designed questionnaire), any social media research project may run the risk of not garnering sufficient and insightful findings to achieve a specific goal. It depends on how much, how active and how articulate consumer postings are about a specific subject. While high involvement and high conversational categories or brands (such as technologies and automotive products) would garner extensive online conversations, low online conversational products such as milk powder would not achieve enough conversational for analysis, let alone any insight finding. So marketers should not depend on social media research alone to understand the market as a whole, but as a complement to traditional research for tactical purposes.
Another option of making the social media conversation a success is by creative content creation and management to optimize the engagement results. You may be surprise sometimes a simple morning greeting can generate likes and shares from the Brand’s fans. As a whole, a Business Brand can achieve the virality by engaging the audience via creative content.
By Andreas Vogiatzakis, managing Director of OMD and PHD