Sentiment analysis technologies can't replace conventional research such as in-person interviews and focus groups that let you go in depth on inferences you might have picked up on through social media monitoring.
"The traditional researcher always wants to ask questions: Why do you use this product, and why do you use it that way?" says Frank Cotignola, consumer insights manager at Kraft Foods. "With social media, you just stand back and listen, and you can't ask, 'Why did you say that?'"
Social networks are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so one advantage of social media analysis is that it's a real-time tool that's not subject to the time lags inherent in focus groups and surveys. Use social media sentiment as a leading indicator and a way to track sentiment over time, but then use conventional research to figure out what's behind the trends.