Alternative Research: How Social Media Educates

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When I think of the word “research,” I immediately think of opening up books, reading analytical papers, and documenting insightful information.

That’s what we’re taught in school.

However, with the evolution of data, the concept of where information can be received has altered.

For entrepreneurs, in particular, the overwhelming amount of information (both useful and useless) is too abundant to filter confidently. However, what I have come to realize is taking into account the diverse social media platforms available, information has become so much easier to consume passively.

Ordinary research has a connotation of stressful time spent reading over and over again, the same information written in different ways — at least that’s how I view it.

When we research this way, we typically have a set goal — we want to learn and digest whatever we have to. Now, typical research methods make sense for something like, say, the gravity pull of the Moon on Earth’s tides. But for those topics that do not fit within the pages of an encyclopedia, social media can fill that position.

I refer to social media research as passive because frankly, it does not seem like research. Scrolling through posts, reading infographics, and listening to podcasts seems like it rides the fine line between digesting information and wasting time on social media.

As a storyteller, podcasts have become my bread and butter in understanding the creative outlet options available. “Constants” is a ten-part fiction anthology series featuring stories from across “the collapsing omniverse.” The podcast has no actual information distributed; however, it does portray the value of storytelling. I passively learned from this podcast how to tell an emotionally driven story that relays the intimate lives of the speakers.

Looking now at passive research from other platforms, it comes at no surprise that Instagram has become the primary source of all things social media. Accounts such as Gary Vaynerchuk, who has grown a tremendous social media following on seemingly every platform, including Medium, has created a narrative of aggressive entrepreneurial tactics for all levels of experience. I admittedly tune into his channels and articles routinely for tidbit information that I can adapt to my vision.

Passive research is not just scrolling through a media platform and digesting information on the side; instead, it is taking information that is or isn’t specific to your interest or field and adapting it to work with your mission statement.

For instance, I watched a “Trash Talk” video from Gary Vaynerchuk recently. In this video, like many others, he ventured out to neighborhoods and hustled homeowners into selling seemingly useless items to him, which in turn, he flipped for a profit.

As an entrepreneur and storyteller, it may seem like this video has little value to me. However, I saw past the snazzy editing and “trash talk,” he implodes on his videos. And instead, I saw his aggressive buying and selling strategies, and the tactics of convincing his “audience” to buy his service.

He saw a need his “customers” had (to get rid of various products), and he read them.

He learned how they reacted back to him, how they interacted with the items, and the price he offered. It was after these strategic points that Gary Vaynerchuk responded accordingly and won the sale.

We must learn that the differences between customers and sellers are fluid. We are both customers, and we are both sellers.

As sellers, we are customers who are searching for an individual our products can impact. Moreover, as customers, we are sellers whose goal is to find something impactful.

We can learn so much from passive research. We can learn the value of listening and patience. We can learn how to react to our customers and how to tell the story of our mission.

Through the endless content flooding on our social medias, there is too much information we rollover that we should be passively digesting.

Focus on the content, not the mission statement. The content will conform to your mission statement.

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