Social Media provides a fertile territory for market research.
Many businesses have begun to turn to social media as a cost-effective and in-depth tool for gaining insights into their customers, market, brand appearance and other important market research aspects.
The keys to utilizing social media for market research are to understand the benefits and creating a proper research plan, that includes listening to what your audience is saying online.
Listening means finding the online social spaces where your audience is already communicating, monitoring the conversations that happen there, and gathering intelligence you can use to better understand your audience. Because social media is open and public by nature, listening is not only welcome -it’s expected.
Here are 3 great ways to listen to your audience online and know what they want:
1. Find conversations and observe
In order to find the conversations that matter to you, you need to conduct searches based on your specific keywords, related to industry topics, services or products.
When you find these conversations on the right social media networks, take your time to truly listen to what’s being said.
This “art” of just listening can result in a variety of answers and discoveries that might have remained hidden using other research methods.
By listening to the conversations you are able to put yourself in the “customer’s shoes” by relating to them when they talk about their needs, issues, good and bad points about a product, service or brand.
This is something that didn’t happen on traditional/offline market research and it’s a golden opportunity in social media. Being close to your audience and listening to them means really understanding them.
2. Join in the conversations
The next key point is to join the conversations.
After you took the time to observe and listen, you have a much better understanding of what your audience is discussing, their issues and key areas, the language they use and even how the interaction takes place (this varies from one social media network to another).
Then you can join the conversations yourself, asking questions and directing them to specific things you would like to know more about.
Interacting and engaging with your target audience can provide candid information, honest answers and greater insight into thoughts, behaviours, preferences and other important aspects.
Don’t forget to add your expertise and value to the discussions, so people can trust and interact with you.
3. Join or create your own discussion forums
A great way to use social media for market research and listening to the conversations that matter to you is by joining and/or creating specific groups based on a shared interest.
Facebook and Linkedin are great to do this since you can create groups that will attract your desired audience.
In order to maintain these groups active and interesting you need to invest time to put relevant content and interact with your audience.
The benefit of having your own discussion forum that is well managed is having more and more targeted people joining in, in a place where you easily monitor and direct the conversations taking place, making it much easier to listen to them.
Over to you
Do you have your own techniques for listening online that you would like to share? Please use the comment section below.