Social media is a way of finding out your strengths and weaknesses
Do you still believe that social media is only useful for keeping in touch with old school friends and for seeing how many virtually identical pictures of her cat your Aunt can publish in a single month?
While sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are now an established part of life for most of us, not everyone makes as much use of them for marketing purposes as they should do. In fact, once you discover the benefits of social media for market research purposes then you will wonder why it took you so long to get started.
Having a powerful social media marketing strategy might seem like a lot of hard work but the truth is that, well, it is a lot of hard work. However, if you get it right it will you the chance to gain valuable insights into your marketing in a fast and cost effective way.
Track Current Trends and Ideas
Being able to track market trends, new ideas and popular opinions is something that is extremely useful but also a bit daunting. With around two billion social media users across the planet you could spend the rest of your life on these sites without ever finding what you are after.
If you want to keep your sanity – and for the purposes of this article I will assume that you do – you need to work out how to cut through all the stuff that doesn’t interest you. Once you locate the sites and communities that you need to know about life gets a lot easier.
You can then settle down into a routine of regularly checking out what these people are talking about, buying and complaining about.
Analyse Your Brand and That of Your Rivals
Do you know what people are saying about you online right now? If social media listening sounds like the kind of ultra-trendy job that only companies with mindfulness meditation sessions and beds for their staff need, then it is time to think again.
Analysing your brand and that of your rivals using social media is a smart way of finding out your strengths and weaknesses while building a solid connection with the public. You might use social media listening to solve problems and to deliver customer care but seeing where you stand in the market is just as important.
Are people singing your praises on Twitter, mocking you on Instagram or being completely indifferent about you on Google+? Find out what the public really thinks about you and your rivals without leaving your office.
Speak Directly to Customers and Potential Customers
It used to be that speaking directly to the people who most matter meant cold calling, sending letters or getting out to pound the mean streets of the city. Now, you can do it so easily that one of the big dangers is that you over-do it and speak to them too much.
Finding out the right level of communication on social media is key to your success. If you could also pass on this information to the guy I used to work with who posts 10 selfies every day I would be grateful.
Let’s imagine that you have a new product coming out that you are excited about. How will you know whether other people are even interested in it?
There are a few ways of doing this, from crowdsourcing ideas to drip-feeding information. In this case, speaking directly to people and getting their input will let you see how well you are progressing and how much of a buzz is building up.
Reach Lots of People Very Quickly
Of course, probably the biggest advantage of social media is that you can reach out to a huge amount of people very quickly. Ironically, this is also the biggest disadvantage when you realise that you sent out a drunken rant about the price of kebabs after coming home last night.
In a market research aspect, this allows you to get a wide variety of thoughts and opinions on whatever is on your mind currently. Getting easy access to such a diverse range of reactions almost instantly is a dream for anyone carrying out marketing research.
It is worth pointing out that it is hugely important to target the right people on social media. Therefore, a great starting point is to work out on which sites the people who interest you hang out.
Ask Relevant Questions
A big mistake that a lot of firms make is to approach social media in an unfocussed way. If you think that you will just dip in and see what you can see then you are probably going to discover a whole lot of rubbish.
An excellent start is to think about one big question that you want answered. What single answer could help you to improve your sales or perhaps define your overall approach to marketing?
By asking relevant questions you give your audience a chance to feel part of the process while also gleaning lots of valuable information.
Don’t Rely Solely on Social Media
Do you know anyone who appears to be hooked up to Facebook 24 hours a day? If you don’t, then welcome to Planet Earth; I hope you enjoy it here.
Is there is a risk that you become overly dependent on social media for your market research just as some people get addicted to it for posting personal updates? The fact is that this approach is so darned convenient that you might forget all about the other stuff that should be involved in your marketing.
Not everyone uses these sites and those that do might not be comfortable dealing with you in this way. Therefore, relying solely on social media isn’t going to give you the full picture that you crave.
By using social media as an essential part of your market research plan you can make life easier for yourself. Just avoid the danger of forgetting about the more traditional methods that should be used alongside it.