The market research industry is no stranger to the time it takes to gather in-depth knowledge on any given subject. Many businesses have begun to turn to social media as a cost-effective and in-depth tool for gaining insights into their customers, market and brand appearance.
The key to utilising the potential of social media for market research is to understand the benefits and power of social media, whilst constructing a thorough and concise research plan. These 7 top tips offer simple but effective ways to utilise social media in your market research methods for improved, measurable results:
1. Write down your goals
You need to set up your specific goals before you start using social media for market research. Knowing your goals will help you stay focused and effective. Whether you are using social media to optimise your brand strategy and positioning or to promote innovative new business services, you must set clear goals since it will be these that will enable you to measure how effective your time and effort is being on social media.
2. Be on the right networks
Before jumping in to social media to carry out your market research you’ll need to search and find where your audience is online in order to spend your time on the right networks. Essentially, you need to find your market first. You can do a search by using your relevant keywords and look for conversations on related topics. Another way to find your target audience is to look at the networks being used by your competitors and check if they’re relevant for use in conducting market research.
Social Media is a great place to listen to the conversations taking place by your targeted audience. By listening you’ll be able to gather intelligence you can use to better understand your audience. This can result in a variety of discoveries and answers to questions that might have remained hidden if using other research methods. Being close to your audience and listening to them means really understanding them.
Through social media you can not only ask questions as with traditional market research but go further by interacting and engaging with your audience, collecting responses in many different ways (some of them without even asking directly). You can use a variety of surveys, polls, contests, direct questions and discussion forums.
Interacting and engaging with your target audience can provide candid information, honest answers and greater insight into thoughts, behaviours, preferences and other important aspects.
5. Observe the competitors
Using social media for market research is also a great way to check up on your competitors – what they’re doing and what they’re not doing. Before social media it was more difficult to compare your marketing efforts and branding against your competition, aside from observing the general performance of the competitor’s business. Nowadays, social media data allows you to understand a brand’s performance relative to competitors since so much information is publicly accessible.
You can check how your competition position themselves, which social media platforms they use and how individuals interact with their brand.
One great way to conduct market research via social media is the opportunity to search on the variety of platforms for conversations, trends and real-time insights. To conduct effective searches you need to know what you want to search for, based on your goals. This means knowing the exact keywords that you’re going to use in your social media searches, which will very often include a hashtag.
A simple search for a hashtag conversation (e.g. #marketresearch) will display those using that hashtag in conversation – instantly identifying an audience with common interests.
7. Use research tools
Most social media platforms offer a built-in analytics package such as Facebook Insights or YouTube Analytics. Essentially, this means that any interaction on social media has the potential to result in useful information for your business. From the best time of day to contact customers to split testing and brand monitoring, social media offers powerful tools to augment and support your market research efforts.
Do you have any other tips on to use social media for market research? Share it with us in the comments section below.