Social media isn’t always the best source for market research: It’s not an entirely accurate sample, and for smaller businesses, it’s often too small of an opportunity to collect.
However, for larger organizations, it can be a crucial one. Why? Because it contains the most enthusiastic fans, ones that care enough to not only buy your products but follow too!
What is Social Media in reference to Market Research?
Social media is also a rare form of consumer-generated opinions that are for the most part, undeniably honest. The majority of social media content is about us, our opinions and views, both by individuals and in a larger community. It is not usually influenced or distorted as it still feels semi-private to us. This means when participating in an official study or a company-run focus group, if it can be blended onto, or to work with social platforms, your results tend to be less biased and more intriguing.
Research shows that consumers have an innate desire to interact with brands through social platforms:
95% of people between the ages of 18 to 34 have a tendency to connect with brands via social channels. We believe this is because of the sheer amount of choice out there. Younger people long for a chance to connect with their favourite brands as that is what distinguishes it for them.
Customers report spending 20-40% more on brands that have engaged with them through social media.
71% of those who have had a positive experience with a brand via social channels are also far more likely to refer the business to their friends and family, or just to the wider population on social media.
Most market research in this field comes purely through active involvement. For example, if a brand wants to know what its customers are wanting, a simple ad campaign targeted to monitor responses can vastly improve content creation and adapt not only the products but the brand’s vocabulary and interactability to reflect the opinions of the user
To carry out market research successfully using social media, you have to be aware of:
- What different forms of social media are good (and bad) at representing?
- Which social media platforms are the best for conducting research?
- Can the platform create and retain an engaging and lively discussion?
- Social platforms can be a valuable marketing research tool that can:
- Receive immediate feedback from customers on their experiences and opinions.
- Find targeted segments using tags and filters.
We can see that it is in fact just easier to collect data. Nearly 50% of users of social platforms utilize numerous different platforms on regular basis. It is unlikely that someone will have Instagram and not Facebook for example and vice versa. This means, that no matter really what platform you utilise you will reach the right person.
This means that businesses have the ability to get new insights rapidly. A case study showed that the use of it is three times more efficient than monitoring customer feedback through email or similar channels like surveys.
Usage of this Method in Market Research can Save a Lot of Money
Most in-app features (e.g. polls or emoticons sliders) collect data from market research without any single cost of panel research (with the caveat stated above that your target audience isn’t an accurate sample). You of course do not even need to pay to set up an account so unless you are buying an extra boost of promotion, it is essentially completely free.
However, it’s not always suitable for. If your account does not have hundreds of thousands (if they don’t have millions) of users, don’t count on your social network to serve as an extremely effective source for market research.
However, you can never say never. Even as a small account, even If you receive twenty responses in an Instagram poll, the feedback you get from a quantitative perspective is likely to do more good than bad! Especially going back to the fact that it is free, there’s not much room for regret trying it anyway. However, it does tend to be better to focus on qualitative techniques that can allow you to create deep customer personas using just a few responses.
Utilise Rival Brand Posts
Listening in on rival brands social media also is a smart way to utilise online data if you are a small company. If you are looking to learn about the needs or frustrations of your customers, utilize passive market research on social media methods, explore your competition and evaluate what they are doing. Maybe a large corporation is getting feedback but they are simply too large to take action, this is when you can take advantage of this and finally give the people what they are wanting!
Beware of herd mentality, however.
People who use social media are vulnerable to impulse-driven behaviour as they tend to care more about how others perceive them, so they often emulate others, whether it’s to get the most likes or just to fit in. This could result in gathering some rather misleading data, so it is always good to spend a good bit of time sifting through responses and maybe trying multiple times to gather more accurate responses.
For those who can benefit from this, you’ll get a twofold advantage in market research. You get information while also establishing relationships with customers which is especially important to stand out from the crowd. When you let your customers share their opinions, you build an emotional bond. people who have been “fully connected” with your company are more likely to retain their loyalty to your brand.
What are the most important methods?
Three qualitative research methodologies that are compatible:
Qualitative content analysis (number of likes/comments/shares). The number of likes may often be a vanity measure for most people, however, analysing the engagement rate of users on socials can indicate the quality of a message for marketing or product.
Social listening. Actively collecting feedback from your customers, or keeping track of opinions regarding your company or its competitors is highly advantageous, and with social media, it is easier than ever with little effort.
Polls/questions. Post questions directly on your social feeds or ‘stories’, invite users to share their thoughts and emotions and further establish that connection with your audience. However, be sure to actively act on your audience’s opinions in a timely manner so to cement this bond.
These are channels that are best suitable for those strategies:
Which techniques to make use of for market research?
It makes sense to customize the social presence of your business to platforms where your followers spend the most time, and to specific techniques. Some of the best practised techniques are:
Polls are widely available on each platform, they encourage lots of engagement and can easily give you quick, quantifiable results. For example, if you have just released a product that went out of stock, a quick poll as to whether people want you to restock quickly informs you of the demand for the product.
Contests are the most integral concerning engagement. Everyone loves a chance to win something! This method is commonly used to actually gain more interaction and so is good to use in conjunction with other methods. For example, “Want a chance to win a bag full of goodies? Like this post, tag three friends and follow us for a chance to win!”
Call to Action Posts –
A call to action post in its simplest form is just to ask followers to leave their thoughts in the comment section! It is simple yet effective, if you post anything and just enter an encouraging caption for people to give their opinions, they are 75% more likely to respond to your post and give feedback.
Question Stickers and Emoji Sliders (Instagram only) –
Although this action is only really possible via Instagram, they are very interactable and popular with younger audiences. Similar to polls, they simply give you quick, quantifiable results that you can easily measure and implement into new business ideas/modifications.
Even if you’ve not bothered to check, the major websites: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, all have data about your users. Although it’s not an accurate representation of your entire consumer base, it is an unfiltered source of opinions from enthusiastic fans.
If you’re looking to gain an understanding of their motives or opinions and motives to purchase or not purchase your product, then social platforms are a thriving, open-source of information on market research.
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