3 Ways to Use Facebook Groups as a Research Tool

Facebook GroupsI started in Pay-Per-Click search engine marketing (SEM) way back in 1998, a Beta advertiser on the GoTo.com network. A lot has changed in SEM in the past 12 years, much of it revolving around making the ads more relevant to the searches. The change in the world of SEM, however, has been incremental compared to the dramatic shift currently happening with Facebook advertising.

It’s worth mentioning that no small percentage of the progress in SEM can be attributed to Google AdWords Google’s former Global VP of Sales and Operations Sheryl Sandberg – the same person responsible for Facebook’s current advertising efforts.

What Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, gets is that Facebook is so much more than a way to communicate with friends online. In many ways, it’s a user lead market research experience. Sandberg says: “We believe people want to connect in real ways, be asked questions, and be engaged with brands like they are with their friends and families.” Facebook has the ability to connect key prospects and companies in authentic conversations.  (For more see Sandberg on the topic at Ad Week 2009)

Currently I am working on several campaigns for an identity theft protection product line, Identity Guard from Intersections (INTX). One project is to integrate social media and acquisition efforts, and as part of that project we have set up several Facebook Groups. What we like about groups is the ability to quickly and easily test virility of messaging.

There are 3 ways we have been testing.

  1. Test messaging with group names/content – We created several groups with different names focusing on different attributes of the Identity Guard products. In each group we posted content daily. After a couple weeks of running ads to attract a base line of members we were able to see which product attributes were most appealing – based on which groups people joins, stayed in, and told their friends about. We were also able to identify, through Facebook Insights, which content we posted was most popular which will inform our retention efforts.
  2. Refine campaigns with Facebook Insights – Facebook Insights is a bit like Google Analytics but it really creates a more intimate connection with Group members. For instance, with insights you can track what happens to a link once it is shared. For market research what this means is every link becomes a poll which reads: “Are you interested in this content?” We’ve created new campaigns and tweaked our retention strategy based precisely on what people are reading on our Facebook group.
  3. Refine SEO and content marketing campaigns with most popular content analysis – My interest in Market Research is most often of the practical variety and I’m especially interested in improving campaign ROIs. The discussion boards give you perspective on what prospects are reading and thinking about and very easy to not only search Facebook groups for keywords but to float those keywords to a target group.

The most unique thing to remember about Facebook clicks as market research – as opposed to say, clicks on your website or Google ads – is that fanning is not a one time click or a one time impression. Fans are at your disposal everyday to create ongoing and meaningful relationships. Consider treating your Facebook fans as a Beta group or as a research panel and probe them regularly.

Many businesses have developed strategies for promoting their business through Facebook but I believe the real value in Facebook is to conduct research and to better understand your targets and prospects.  Dig in and let the learnings be plentiful!



  1. We have launched the first Web-based tool for studying Facebook news feeds:

    For tips on how to use it:



  1. […] Research Tool Posted on September 1, 2010 by Angela Lauria| Leave a comment Reprinted from Research Access. Check out Research Access for more information on marketing […]

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