A Social Media Marketer’s Take on Market Research

Elijah R. Young

Elijah Young

I experienced Elijah Young’s keynote session on blogging and social media at the Social Media FTW (“For the Win”) Fall conference in September.

‘Experienced’ is the right word, because Elijah is such a dynamic and engaging speaker, simply saying ‘saw’ or ‘listened to’ would not due justice to the feeling of energy in the room.  Elijah inspired and motivated people to blog while giving plenty of practical tips and infusing the talk with lots of humor.

In short, he was a big hit.

Elijah is the co-founder of Fandura, a company that creates social web pages and applications for businesses of all types.  He is an expert in a wide range of topics, from social media to application development to entrepreneurship.  He graciously agreed to an interview with me.

DS:  Many of our readers are market researcher entrepreneurs looking to promote their businesses online.  Social media and online marketing can seem like an overwhelming time-suck.  What activities would you advise people looking to market their businesses online to focus on?

EY:  I think a lot of entrepreneurs start with deciding they will use social media, then try to find their customer on those platforms.  In my opinion that’s backwards.  You have to find out where your client is online (if they’re online at all) and then go where they are.

As researchers, I’m sure your readers know that some of the best tidbits of information can be found in an old journal, or some resource that may not be available online yet, and your customers are the same way.

One example I used when I owned a social-type company was that we needed to attract a customer base, but the “in” thing to do was to advertise on social media. In my opinion that’s like being a track and field coach looking for new people to train at the Olympics.  We found that there was a freelance site that had an untapped (at least by US providers) market for people looking to jump into that market, and we were able to take advantage of that entire market, hungry for a provider, by ourselves with little or no competition until we had already created a brand name for ourselves.

We decided to focus on customers who we knew would pay first, because I have a philosophy that you’re not a business if you’re not making revenue.  It may take a while to find out where the people in your market that want to spend money TODAY are, but it’s always worth the effort if you can find them, because your competitors are busy fighting over the low hanging fruit.

DS:  Your company develops mobile applications, including games. One of the hot topics in market research is gamification – that is, making it more fun for survey-takers to share information with us by adding game elements to the way we collect data. What do you think?

EY:  Everybody likes a good experience, and people are inherently competitive, so “gamification” works alot of times. My only concern is that people rely too much on making their system into a game, and they start to forget about the core thing they wanted from the user in the first place.

For example, I’m all for researchers getting users excited about taking part in a “game-style” version of a survey, but think about how that will affect the info that you get from the user.  Will you get a survey skewed by the users emotion, will they be distracted by the gameplay and just blast through the survey to get to the next game-style moment?

I think a lot of entrepreneurs get excited about the bells and whistles and tend to forget about the core, and staying true to your core sometimes means skipping out on all of the fluff.

DS:  How does Fandura make use of research?

EY:  I love research, but I think that tons of businesses miss what I call “free research moments”.  At Fandura we really focus on every question that a customer asks during the sales process, because that’s free market research.

Every question we answer gets turned into an educational piece of marketing material, every stumbling block we encounter gets turned inot a resource guide.  It’s a simple philosophy of, “our clients are more alike than different”, so we think they will ask the same questions, and go through the same troubles from project to project.

If we pay attention to those free research moments, we don’t have to worry about what our competitors are doing.  In our industry, the customer is never educated, and by having the largest library of education at their fingertips, it gives us two advantages:  One, we’ll get to build better customers, more knowledgeable and better equipped to avoid getting into a negative relationship with a developer, and two, we get to frame what a positive relationship looks like.  So with our educational library, we now become the measuring stick that potential clients use when they talk to other developers, and we’ll take that bet every time.

Note:  Elijah Young writes for the Fandura Blog, and he can also be found on Social Media Examiner.  You can follow him on Twitter at @ElijahRYoung.

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About Dana Stanley

Dana is the Editor-in-Chief of Research Access.

Comments

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