Social media can be a goldmine when it comes to market and audience research. There are millions or even billions of consumers all engaging online and expressing their thoughts, sharing with their networks, and making purchasing decisions. Whereas older methods of researching a target audience were time-consuming and expensive, social media market research can be performed in much less time and for less money.
With the right tools, and an intelligent strategy, any business can develop market research from the information found across social media sites. Continue reading to learn about using social media as a tool for getting to know customers to a whole new extent.
Define the Marketing Goals
The first step for any type of market research is to determine exactly what is trying to be learned. That could mean looking for insights into things like consumer behavior, marketplace sentiment, product research, brand awareness, and more.
A brand also has to determine whether to go looking for information that is qualitative or quantitative. Quantitative research is essentially the hard numbers: The number of followers on a specific platform or social media mentions. Qualitative research is more associated with feelings: whether people have positive or negative feelings about something.
As an example, a business might find that it has 500 mentions on a specific platform. That would be quantitative information. With a deeper look at the numbers, it may be found that 91 percent of those mentions rate as positive. That would be qualitative information. They can decide which will be the focus of a research strategy in order to gain the specific customer insights.
Choose a Platform
Once a goal has been defined and the type of information determined as to what's being sought after, a marketer can select a social media platform to mine for information. Depending on the goals or the group of consumers that they are trying to learn more about, some social networks might hold more research value.
Due to the ubiquitous nature of Facebook, it is the social network that offers value for the broadest range of goals, but other social media sites might be able to offer unique insights for specific groups. As an example, Snapchat advertising offers the greatest access to the millennial demographic, and is noteworthy for its high engagement levels.
Use the Right Tools
When it comes to extracting data from social media, digital marketers have an array of different tools at their disposal. These analytics platforms mine information like mentions, likes, and shares to provide businesses with insights into the behaviors and feelings of social media users.
When a brand is looking for an analytics platform, they want to find one that has the ability to extract the information that is relevant to their consumer insight research. They must consider the type of information that the service provides, and look at the different ways that it allows them to collect, manage, and clean data.
Using the Data
The point of market research is to obtain information that a business can turn into action. They might be able to use it for marketing, product development, customer service or any number of other business goals. Marketers shouldn't just gather this information and sit on it - they should take action and make decisions that can refine the brand and maximize their ROI.
A company that offers a software-as-a-service product might find that customers are unsatisfied with a specific feature, or they might find that a competitor offers a feature that is particularly popular with consumers. This information can then be used to refine the product going forward.
Things like surveys and focus groups still have their place in market research, but social media can provide customer insights that are not available through traditional methods. Marketers can get information from a much larger group, and research can be performed much more quickly and for a lower cost. That means it offers a better return on investment, and the immediacy of the information makes it more useful and more actionable.
About the Author
Rae Steinbach is a digital marketing expert and editor for Taktical Digital in NYC.