How To: Using Social Media for Market Research

Digital marketing has transformed over the past decade, delivering powerful tools that offer an alternative approach to traditional market research. Customary research methods such as surveys and focus groups can be costly and time-intensive, but fortunately a new era of research has become available to businesses.

A surge in social media websites has created an opportunity for companies to grow lasting relationships with their consumer base by simply communicating and interacting through the web. The use of social media as a method of market research has positioned itself as a cost-effective tool for obtaining insight into customer behavior, brand appearance, and many other important market research findings. The tools are easily accessible, but the key to utilizing social media for market research is to create a proper research plan that can facilitate improved, measurable results.

Open the Lines of Communication

Whether you are a small mom-and-pop store or an entirely virtual company, social media offers immediate access to millions of prospective customers or clients. Unlike traditional market research methods, where respondents typically play the role of the listeners, social media allows researchers to engage in an open discussion with their target audience. This method of research allows marketers to learn more about what their target market truly craves, rather than producing questionnaires based off assumed consumer desires. Speaking directly with potential customers can provide businesses with valuable information, candid responses, and deeper insight into consumer thoughts, behaviors, and preferences. When managed correctly, social media research can double as brand building and advertising. Better yet, all of this knowledge can be accessed with only a few hours of invested time.

Build Your Following

Social media platforms have increased in popularity among businesses and consumers across almost every marketable demographic around the world. A 2017 report by Mashable states that there are over 3 billion people in the world logging on to social media accounts; that is 40 percent of the entire human population utilizing social media! Such a staggering percentage reveals that it is possible to conduct market research to an audience that is immensely larger than nearly any other market source can offer.

The laid-back nature and easy access to social media platforms can help businesses stimulate user interaction, engagement, and participation. For example, internet contests and sweepstakes are a great way to engage with potential customers. With a click of a button, almost any post has the ability to go viral across social media platforms. That means, with little effort a contest or sweepstakes shared by yourself, or a social media influencer, can vastly improve the quantity of data obtained during a promotion.

Real-Time Insights

Time is essential for almost any market research initiative. In some cases, developing a marketing plan can take months to nail down, but social media has created an environment where thoughts and opinions can be shared instantaneously. The capability to analyze and map consumer trends or fluctuations among consumer attitudes can be completed via social media in almost no time.

Thanks to sites like Twitter and Facebook, a marketer can learn within minutes if the 2018 Superbowl Tide ad was a hit or a flop. Merely searching the latest posts and popular terms provides instant insight into emerging trends and conversations that customers are having in real-time. A commonly used example of this is searching hashtags on Twitter. Creating hashtags related to your brand or product will generate instant notifications when customers, clients, or competitors reference the key terms. Being able to quickly analyze the popularity of the key terms, brands, or trends is one of the biggest benefits of social media for marketing research.

Save More, Earn More

Social media has invented opportunities for companies to save money. Typically, utilizing social media for market research is only a matter of investing time; free monitoring tools are available for nearly every social media platform. Social media monitoring tools don’t just create a way for businesses owner to save money but will effectively gather data that can be analyzed to derive useful information and improve an overall marketing strategy. When compared to qualitative and quantitative studies the cost difference to conduct social media research can be overwhelming for budget conscious business owners. However, through user engagement and discussion social media research serves as so much more than networking platforms. Advertising, brand building, lead generation are all way social media marketing can help improve a business or brand; all while saving a dollar!

The Takeaway

From reduced expenses, to real-time insights, to the ability to uncover and analyze trends, social media offers powerful ways to optimize and improve any companies market research efforts. Greatest of all, social media research offers various ways for establishments to interact with their target market and build on business objectives. Conducting research through social media is as simple as signing up for sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Utilizing the built-in search features will allow businesses to immediately analyze trends, improve marketing strategies, and work toward achieving impactful results. Social media has had a major influence on the world; it has streamlined the communal and professional way of life. Even more so, social media has now made its impact on market research, and research efforts are becoming better from it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ariel Hagaman
I was born and raised in New Jersey, and currently work for AYTM as Director of Client Services. I am a graduate of the University of Phoenix, and have always found that I am at my best when working with people. My favorite past-times are reading, skiing, and yoga!