Daniel Alexander-Head from Vision Critical reviews The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research: Tools and Techniques for Market Researchers by Ray Poynter.
I have to admit that I don't think I have ever read a book specifically focusing on market research. Sure, I have read books that contain references to market research and its various methodologies, along with many an industry paper, but not an entire book about an aspect of our industry. For some reason they do not appear at airport newsstands with the likes of Godin, Gladwell, Pink etc.
So, here I sit with the final manuscript of what may well be the bible of all research online. For those of you who have seen Ray Poynter present, whether at a conference or workshop, you will know not only his ability to capture his audience, but also his extensive methodological knowledge of our industry and beyond. It would seem that if there is one person experienced enough to write on the subject of online research and social media in research, it would be Poynter.
How much can there be to say about a methodology that, in Australia, only really started taking off in the late 1990s and became grounded as a solid methodology around five years ago? Well, it would seem there is a lot; in fact, more than what one person individually could know. Staying true to the methodology that Poynter has been promoting for the last few years, he used social media tools such as LinkedIn and his website (http://www.thefutureplace.com) to invite people to participate in discussions about the topics he was tackling in the book. It appears the participants got as much (if not more),out of it as Poynter did himself.
The book is, in essence, a reference that covers online methodologies (some which no longer exist) from the early days right up to the most current cutting edge approaches that are still being hotly debated. It is not a ‘cover-to-cover' book - the more ‘tradigital' aspects will be of interest to quanties, whilst the cutting edge community side will probably appeal more to the quallies, but this is only because we have bisected our industry into these two groups. Anyone who has been participating in the book's online discussions would know that Poynter is pointing towards a convergence of the two (I like to call it Quantilative).
As with the ‘ESOMAR 26 questions for buying online' sample, this book does not dictate the exact answer, but addresses the various ways that research can be tackled, what should be observed and what should be taken into account.
Whether you are new to research, a student, an old timer brushing up on the latest methods or lucky enough to be in the driving seat of creating breakthrough technologies, this book has something for you and if it is not sitting on every desk in every research agency, then at least have one copy in the office.
The only drawback to this book (common to books tackling cutting edge methods) is that for it to stay relevant there will be a need for regular editions as the industry evolves. I look forward to participating in those future debates.
"Drawing together the new techniques available to the market researcher into a single reference, The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research explores how these innovations are being used by the leaders in the field. This groundbreaking reference examines why traditional research is broken, both in theory and practice, and includes chapters on online research communities, community panels, blog mining, social networks, mobile research, e-ethnography, predictive markets, and DIY research."