Without a doubt, research is incredibly important in every industry. You not only want to research a specific topic in your field or a topic that interests you, but you want to research – how to research.
It’s research that powers Google and gives search engines such importance. In the world of online marketing, there is plenty of talk that discusses how to improve social media marketing or tips to complete a certain action regarding social media.
But it’s always good to take a step back and determine where you’re really finding this information.
How do you research social media and the social web?
Tips and Tricks to Research the Social Web
Researching the social phenomenon is all about understanding the resources available. It’s no secret that social media is becoming more and more important for businesses. So as you can imagine, there are many different resources out there to help make your life easier. Unfortunately, there are so many resources available that things can get overwhelming.
It helps to break up some of these resources into sections. Below details different aspects of social web research and some of the most popular ways to make sure you’re taking advantage.
Forums and Q&A Tools:
Learning more about social media for your business often involves finding forums and having places to ask questions. Ironically, using social media to learn about social media is a great trick:
LinkedIn groups and communities are often great ways to ask questions and get answers from those in the social media industry. (Or your industry, for that matter.) It’s also great because you can see exactly whom these answers are coming from.
Another great place to ask questions. I once asked a question about a service called BuzzStream , and I received several well thought out answers. One from the owner of the tool.
Here you can ask questions and usually get straightforward answers. You don’t always know if the answers are reliable because anyone can get involved. But it often works very well for basic inquiries that you need an answer to fast.
Trends and Search in Social Media:
You want to know where to go to search for different things regarding social media on the social web and you want to know where you can go to really find trends:
This is one of my favorite resources when it comes to researching social media and the social web. It splits up different blogs and different categories to help let you know what’s going on across the Web. It’s easy to navigation and easy to understand.
This is an easy way to use Google. But customize it so that you’re only seeing results from blogs or social networks that may have the answer.
This is another resource you can use to see what is being said across the social web. It’s easy to use, so you don’t have to sift through Google results. Instead, you can head right over and know that you’re getting the most recent and up-to-date information. Not just an article that happens to have a lot of backlinks.
Google Trends 
This is probably the best way to see what is trending in social media on the social web.
It’s important to remain organized now that more and more social networks are beginning to emerge, all with different expertise. A few tools to use include:
Google Reader 
This is a great tool to help you keep all of the information you find from different RSS feeds organized.
This is one of the most popular research organization tools no matter what it is you’re trying to research. It helps you take notes when you’re on the go as well as when you’re online. Here’s a tutorial on how to use Evernote to help you keep your blog active  by collecting and storing researched items. There’s also an Evernote business app  available.
Social Media Tips:
Below are a few miscellaneous tips about researching the social web.
Many businesses sign up for subscriptions or RSS feeds of websites that might be of value. But this can get cluttered and turn into a situation where you don’t read anything. Go through all of your subscriptions monthly and make sure you’re only following relevant content.
Google Alerts 
Setting up Google Alerts is a great way to keep your research going even after you may have given up or found what you needed. It’s an easy way to get an email every time your topic of interest is mentioned on the social web.
Waiting around for alerts and going through and researching is great. But it doesn’t hurt to have an RSS feed setup to help do some of this collecting for you.
Do you have any tips or tools that you use to help you find information faster or easier?
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