Gabi Lieberman is the Director of Social Media Research at Mintel. Her primary role is to use social data and other research to provide clients with actionable consumer insights.
We recently caught up with Gabi to chat about how she leverages social data for market research.
Infegy: For starters, how would you describe the work Mintel does?
Gabi: Mintel is a global market intelligence agency focused on leveraging consumer and market research to provide in-depth analysis in order to make the findings actionable for our clients.
It is pretty easy to get an excel spreadsheet of traditional data and say, "This is sales," or, "This is what consumers purchased over the last six months." Our research ties it all together and makes a nice and comprehensive story of a client's consumers.
Infegy: Can you tell us a little bit about your role and your team?
Gabi: As the Director of Social Media Research, I oversee a team of research analysts that cover every category, including food, drink, financial services, automotive, retail, beauty and personal care, and household.
Mintel introduced the social media research aspect four years ago. Social media started out as a small piece of a report's content and has turned into a separate team with its own projects.
When I first started, social was kind of put in the corner. Now, more and more people in the organization what their hands in the content we produce. Not only do our clients know how to use social data, but people internally really understand it.
Infegy: How do you use social data in your role?
Gabi: We ask Mintel's category analysts, "what are the key trends in your segments right now?" Then, it's my team's job to figure out if those trends translate into online discussion, or if interesting consumer research findings relate to what's happening on social channels. After that, we use social data to fill in the gaps.
The custom work my team does, as part of Mintel's consultancy business, is only one piece of a project where social data is combined with sales data, focus group data, and Mintel Reports data to tie projects together for a client.
Infegy: Over the past four years, what is the biggest challenge you have found with using social data?
Gabi: The biggest challenge is that there is so much data out there to write about. There are so many different roads I can go down when I start researching. Sometimes, I look up from my computer two hours later and say, "Wow, did I find anything at all or did I find too much!?"
My process now is to take all of the information I find, put it into a document, and then find the best data to answer the client's question. Sometimes you might find a piece of data interesting, but it might not be at all what the client wants.
Infegy: Tell me a little about your favorite project that has involved social data.
Gabi: I had to build a custom audience segment based on women who self-identified their skin color online. It was for a launch for a beauty and personal care client, and we needed to know how women at each end of the skin pigment spectrum talk about beauty online.
It was one of those projects when a client asked, "Gabi, can you do this?" and I said, "Sure!" but I was actually thinking, "How on Earth am I going to get this done?"
Some questions we had were, "What are their biggest beauty concerns?" and "Are there any brands that jump out in conversation?" Building out those audience segments based on the self-identifiers took me a while, but it was so much more actionable than just saying, "All women talk about beauty in a certain way."
Infegy: If you were going to go back four years ago what advice would you give yourself about using social data?
Gabi: Looking back at when we first started leveraging social media data at Mintel, I would advise myself to be more understanding of people who don't have social data in their everyday wheelhouse, and to have patience when explaining what social data is and how it works. Over the years, I have learned to just peel it back a bit.
The second thing is not to get offended when people aren't as passionate about social data as I am. More and more people are getting excited about it across industries, and that makes me excited.
Infegy: What other tools are in your research toolkit?
Gabi: We start by looking at key themes for the category or segment. We don't just rely on the analyst to tell us what we are going to cover. We collaborate with them, bringing our own knowledge and information on the space, so there is a lot of front-end research.
For preliminary research, we mostly use Google and internal resources, looking through trends and finding out what is going on in the category. Then we will look at social data. We also tie in Mintel Reports data and anything else that is available internally.
We wanted to thank Gabi again for sitting down with us to talk about how she uses Infegy Atlas for extracting social insights in her daily work.
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