Social media obviously has immense value as a marketing tool. And while it’s very interesting to explore the different ways in which social media marketing can be leveraged for small businesses, it’s equally as fascinating to look at the role social media plays in market research. It’s arguably the most underrated and cost-effective research tool businesses currently have available to them. Are you taking advantage of this opportunity?
Five Ways to Use Social Media for Research
The reason most businesses don’t use social media for market research is that they simply don’t know how. Well, today’s your lucky day. Here are five specific ways you can begin using social media to propel your research efforts starting today.
- Reader Persona Development
When starting a blog, social media can and should be used to help you develop reader personas. You can use any social network, but Twitter is arguably one of the best platforms for this. Using the Advanced Search feature, you can type in a set of keywords or phrases and find people who are talking about these topics.
Once you find people who are posting about your topic, click on their profiles and start studying them. This means looking at their pictures, bios, and other posts. You’ll be surprised by how much you can find out about these people. After reviewing a few different profiles, you should have a pretty good idea of who your target readers are. This information can then be used to develop robust personas that guide your content.
- Popular Trends
Every social media platform has a way for you to search for popular trends and topics. Once again, Twitter makes this easy. They list trending topics – based on hashtags – and will actually tell you what’s popular at any given moment.
As a marketer, you should frequently mine trending topics to gain some insights into what your customers are talking about and what’s important to them.
- Audience Insights
Much in the same way that social media can be used to develop reader personas when first launching a blog or business, it can also be continuously used to understand who your audience is.
Facebook has an audience insights tool that’s extremely helpful. You can create different audiences based on what you know and then discover other details that you maybe didn’t know. These include everything from basic demographic information to location, activity, interests, and even purchase behaviors.
- Brand Reputation
Do you know what others are saying about your brand when you aren’t around? Well, thanks to social media, you can. “Whether you want to observe quietly, learn about your customers and what they’re looking for, respond to critics or simply engage in conversation, you need to know what people are saying,” marketer Tamar Weinberg says.
Using any number of social media listening tools, you can automate this process and receive updates and notifications whenever someone mentions your brand. This keeps you informed and ensures you don’t lose touch with reality.
- Surveys and Direct Feedback
Finally, social media can be used for surveys and direct feedback. This comes in handy when you’re not sure if you’re doing something right or wrong – or if you need to know something before launching a new product or marketing campaign.
You can try posting direct questions to see if your customers will respond. Otherwise, using a feature like Twitter Polls is your best bet.
Maximize the Total Value of Social Media
Don’t get the wrong idea – social media is an incredibly valuable marketing tool that all businesses should be leveraging – but if you aren’t using it for research, you aren’t maximizing its value. Thankfully, you can change this by making a few important decisions. Will you?