Our friends at Forester Research have a new article out discussing the value of using online social media and social networks in market research. The immediate reaction is that social networks are a complete collection of lowest common denominator banter and hollow ramblings and musings. My response to that is ... well yea.
Think about the value of a focus group, and how it comes from collecting an assortment of average people to talk about or review a concept or a product. In non profits we may use them for website usability testing, or new patient service programs. If we are looking at the average John and Jane then why would we not got into social networking spaces for feedback?
The article hints at the cost structure involved in using the spaces to collect data and how it could reduce the response costs and increase response rates. Already there are survey applications appearing on Facebooks and Myspace. The next great leap forward is going to be targeted surveys based on profile information and purchase information. That is the 4th monetization strategy of Social Networks.