Mail survey renaissance?
Surveys not dead yet

Another data point on social media privacy

The buzz about privacy protections in social media research has fallen off some since August's Great Privacy Debate. That doesn't mean the issue is settled by any means, only that the professional and trade associations who have been driving the debate have taken the feedback they've gotten and to one degree or another are back at the drawing board.

For me the key issue is not traditional survey research ethics, Terms of Use or legislative privacy protections. It's really about the expectations of social media participants. The industry's future will be bleak if we rely on methods that rightly or wrongly appear to abuse our research subjects. In this connection most of the survey data I've seen say that people have expectations about privacy in social media that are at odds with those of at least some MR practitioners.

So I found this little piece in The Market Research Bulletin to be interesting. In it some folks from Maritz report on a survey of Twitter users suggesting that when someone complains about a brand on Twitter the vast majority of those people hope that the brand follows up with them. I guess it's a cry for help. Only about a third report such follow-up and of that third 80% plus are pleased that they did. So in this instance there does not seem to be an expectation of privacy. They might not like it if their tweet is featured in a commercial, but they like the personal attention.

While I like the study I feel compelled to cry "foul" on a methodological point. The methodology description includes an estimate of sampling error which makes no sense with a nonprobability panel. While this is an all too common misuse of the statistic in MR it's a bit more objectionable here given that in the next paragraph Maritz boasts (justifiably) that they are ISO 20252 certified and the standard clearly specifies that standard error should only be calculated for probability samples.

Nonetheless, it's still an interesting little study.