We recently blogged about phone apps and research.

One of the draws of phone app research is that it can be immediate.  Just saw a movie?  Review it while walking out of the theater.  Just left the store without buying that flat-screen TV – what kept you from buying?

While actively seeking feedback through phone surveys may be immediate, passively listening to the conversations already occurring can also be immediate, but without the interruption of a survey request.  While we often think of surveys and polls for gathering information, with the adoption of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter (and many others), just listening to the conversations can yield real, unfiltered, and immediate feedback.  Anyone who spends time on Facebook or similar sites has seen their friends praise a great experience they had or denounce a company’s poor customer service.

While drawing statistical findings from sampling online conversations may be difficult, they can yield insights.

While there are services that specialize in monitoring social media, small companies can easily get started with services like Google Alerts that alert you when your keywords are mentioned.