Green/Book online marketing research blog made two outstanding statements that I thought were worth embracing and engaging online social networks that may assist small town economic and business initiatives.
“Consumers have embraced the social and community aspect of the Internet like no one would have imagined 10 years ago. Technical advancements, driven by today’s social consumer, are changing the way we conduct qualitative research.”Ethnography Research Methods follows footprints online
“With the advancement of platforms like Facebook, Twitter and reddit, the masses now have a place to congregate online and share their ideas with the companies that make the products and services that they use. Add a strange mix of anonymity and ego into the equation, and all of the sudden, we have an army of consumers that want to be heard. Today’s consumers spend more time online, have a wider social network and are demanding to be marketed with, rather than marketed at, thus resulting in new opportunities for engagement and research.”
Ethnography uses qualitative research methods to raise questions about what people think about a idea, a problem or service and product, and to understand, analyze and interpret their behavior because what people say, does not always match what they do. Second, different observation and participation techniques, such as photo, video and audio, that now because of advancing technology, ethnographers use cell phone, I-pad and PC’s to reach consumers anywhere in the world. Third, that means rural towns can find out what people are thinking about in terms of tourism and business products and services.
Small rural towns are feverishly in the process of developing sustainable economies by changing their identity from agricultural and industrial based economies, to historical and recreational tourism supported and funded by state development programs. Small town businesses, especially, new ones, also can take advantage of the opportunities that advanced technology and research has to offer by using ethnographic methods to lure in new customers, establish loyal customers and increase profits.
As stated, some consumers (including tourist and historical enthusiasts) are flocking to social networks and doing their own research before deciding to purchase a product or service which, in a sense is a type of informal qualitative research. Their method is informal because consumers are relying more on family, friends or simply put, word-of-mouth.