How Social Media Is Changing Market Research

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Social media networks have drastically changed the way some businesses conduct market research, due to their increased ability to access information. This allows you to understand your ideal customer and learn effective ways to connect with him or her. Below are a few tactics that will help you utilize social networks to cut down on resources used in your marketing campaign.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is typically done by businesses in order to find specific terms that perspective customers would enter into search engines. The issue is that search engine searches do not show the type of person looking for information and does not give more context for their needs. With social media, you can see exactly who is using specific keywords and get a better sense for their needs.

  • Measuring market interest for your products and services
    • Look for trends using a specific keyword (“maple syrup”) on Twitter to understand who is interested in this topic and if they fit into your customer audience
  • Comprehending market needs  
    • So you’ve typed in “maple syrup” and there’s a lot of discussion about how there’s not enough maple syrup in a specific location. As a business, you can tailor your marketing campaigns or product in order to address your customer’s desire for more maple syrup.
  • Understanding how to create messaging for your product
    • If your target customer continues to use particular words in their tweets, you can use that same language in your advertisements.

Real-time Trends

Trend research differs from keyword research due to its real-time focus. Trend research is about what your audience is interested in on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis. This allows you to tailor your marketing promotions and campaigns along topics people are already excited about.

For example, Macklemore might release a song about a donut shop. If you were Dunkin’ Donuts you would see the word ‘donut shop’ become a trending keyword. You could think about doing a spoof, a partnership with Macklemore, or making catch-phrase tees in order to create a campaign around it.

Trendistic shows you what’s being talked about this week, which you can use to update your tweets and blogs. Topsy helps you understand what (in volume) your customers are discussing today, and if it is a trend you can utilize tomorrow in a campaign, sponsorship, or blog post.

Events

As a business, events can be a great marketing vehicle to reach your customers, as well as expand your customer base. Social media enables you to determine what events your customers are attending and which ones you should have a presence at.

By looking at the event’s Facebook page, the event’s handle and hashtag on Twitter, or groups mentioning the event on LinkedIn, you can easily discover how many followers the page has and if the audience is your target persona. Knowing which conferences and events your target persona is following and engaging in allows you to gauge which ones you need to attend, whether in person or virtually.

With social media you can now:

  • Quickly determine how fast an event’s audience has grown
  • View who is signing up for the event and determine if they are a prospective customer
  • See who is speaking and sponsoring the event. Are they an influencer?

Groups and Discussions

Discovering the groups your target audience is involved with on social media is a great way to find out what their interests and needs are. For example, you’re in a gaming group and there are a lot of misgivings about the new console release. As a competitor, you can take what you learned from this discussion and improve your own platform. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ groups, Twitter chats, Quora and LinkedIn Q&A can also be critical in discovering how you can help your customer audience by understanding what questions are being raised in these groups.

Advertising platforms:

By using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn ad platforms, you can get a sense for what your audience size is based on different demographics, psychographics, job title, interests, etc.

Facebook

  • Allows you to target specific demographics
    • Females in California that like Adidas vs. males
    • What musicians are most popular in your demographic

LinkedIn

  • Which job titles are most popular?
    • VP of Marketing vs. VP of Demand Generation
    • Audience volume amongst different sized companies
    • What groups your target customer is in
      • As discussed above, groups allow you to determine what conversations your target audience participates in, as well as discover their interests

Twitter

  • Similar to Facebook
    • Find out their interests, influencers, and who they’re connected to in order to estimate an audience size

Media Outlets

Leverage social media to understand what media outlets will be most effective for advertising. For example: You’re wondering if you should advertise in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. You can check out their social media accounts.  What kinds of followers does The New York Times have? Who is re-tweeting their content? Based on the volume of the audience and if they are your target persona, you can decide which platform would be best to place your advertisement. Instead of putting an advertising campaign in both papers, social media allows you to find which source your audience is more inclined to read.

Conclusion

These are examples of ways social media can change the way we do market research. There are many other applications, but these are some proven tactics that you can use in order to reduce risk, make business decisions, understand your target persona, and create marketing campaigns that require fewer resources and time.

Aseem Badshah (@aseemb) is the founder and CEO of Socedo, which helps marketers turn social data into qualified leads.

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