meet your market

Every advertiser knows that while necessary to most large campaigns, focus group research can be a pain. How do you entice audiences to give feedback? This can get expensive, difficult to schedule, and difficult to analyze quickly. How do you guarantee that your sample group accurately represents your target customer? This can be tedious, expensive in terms of manpower, and provides only minimal reliability.

Customers are quick to give negative feedback, but extracting their positive opinions and ideas for your business to improve often yield feeble feedback. Marketers already use social media as an advertising venue; PR professionals already use it as a pitching, research, and promotional tool; why not harness the power of social media to make it work for your advertising campaign research objectives?

panning for golden information

Social media is a market researcher’s dream-come-true. You get an inside, often unfiltered, view into your customers’ and prospects’ minds and opinions. You can track what they like, via social media tethered apps and their own status updates; you can track where they go and how often, via social media geolocation; and you can track what they think about your brand by using the right investigative tactics.

There are a couple of steps to drawing valuable feedback out of prospects on social media. While each brand has different tactics that will work for them, here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • If you’ve got some extra change in your social media/marketing budget, consider offering an incentive. Most traditional market research relies on incentives, so why not repurpose this budget toward social media initiatives that give you feedback AND expand your online brand footprint? Consider issuing an offer like this leading snack food company to find out what will sell and what sells where.
  • Host an online poll. This simple low-involvement market pulse check can help you make sure your product line stays relevant and that your services stay sharp.
  • Go beyond the typical social networking polls and start a conversation on more evaluative online networks, like Angies List or Yelp. Although you may already hear enough of the bad, resources like this list both bad and good. Learn how customers are reacting to your business and hear the reasons behind their feedback. Whether your business model needs to improve or you’re on the right track, networks like these encourage honest opinions and should provide less pressure to response-conform than a more intense focus group setting.
  • Monitor real time conversations to explore new areas into which your brand might need to consider expanding. Tracking tweets can inform your organization on how you should respond to a crisis, what topics you should avoid and which you should approach, and what in-store promotions work, versus which ones will likely fail.

the ease of doing things online

Using social media to conduct market research gives a marketer two distinct advantages: ready analytics and real time case study results. Social media channels typically pull your audience analytics automatically cutting down on data entry time and personnel expenditures. This medium also allows you to track customer behavior, straight from the source to the result to see what worked and what didn’t. It also gives you a ringside view of any successful or not successful competitor campaigns, right as they happen.

If you have not already begun using social media to create target market profiles, consider starting now. The information will always be fresh and it’s always there for you to start mining – if only you’d get your strategy pans ready!

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