For many people, social media isn’t just an add on. It’s at the center of their lives and almost a non-negotiable for everyday existence.
Latest figures show that nearly 60% of the global population use social media – and it gives us a window into their worlds.
We know that to understand a target audience’s needs and preferences, we need to go to where they are.
People are communicating with each other about things they love – and really hate – and everything else in between. They’re interacting with each other and with brands, all day long. They’re sharing their thoughts on almost every subject imaginable.
Using social media for research seems like a no-brainer. So, let’s find out how you can use it to get even closer to your target audience and supercharge your insight gathering.
Social media market research means collecting data and insights about your target market via the social media platforms they use.
These sites can be gleaned for powerful insights into vital issues like how your brand lands and how your messages come across. Plus, when it comes to what your competitors are up to, and how your industry is doing, they can be unbeatable.
All these actions can give a helping hand to boosting sales and engaging your client base.
That means using tools and data extraction techniques to gather quantitative data including likes and shares, as well as qualitative data like comments and posts.
So, which platforms have the most market research potential? Popular programs include:
- Twitter (recently rebranded to ‘X’)
Don’t forget customer review sites, either. They’re often packed full of nuggets to help you understand customers better. Count on places like:
- Google My Business and Trustpilot for small businesses
- Trip Advisor for the travel sector
- Glassdoor for employers
One more type of social media to add to the list? Forums. They’re a treasure trove for helping businesses understand trends around specific topics. (In fact, Forsta has tools designed to help you gauge and manage your reviews and customer comments.)
Let’s dive into some ways you can tap into social media for even better market research results.
1: Use social listening
What are your customers talking about when it comes to your brand? How do they feel about it?
Social listening means tracking some key things across social media. The most powerful are conversations about your brand and mentions of your products or services.
These might also be keywords related to what you do, as well as hashtags containing your name or product.
Then add in the same things but for your competitors, too.
When it comes to pinpointing customer needs and pain points – all in real time – social listening ticks a lot of boxes.
2: Use social media sentiment analysis
This one is social listening, but with extras.
Calculating how customers feel towards your brand, product, or service – and why – is key. But that’s not just about likes, comments, shares and hashtags. Add in layers of emotions and that’s what sentiment analysis is about.
By tracking mentions, then analyzing the data that’s been collected, you can get an understanding of how your audience interacts with or talk about your brand – and how they feel when they’re doing this.
There are specific sentiment analysis tools on the market to make it a whole lot easier.
End result of harnessing this data? Being able to magic up customer experiences that hit the spot every time.
3: Boost your share of voice
Do you know how visible your brand is compared to your competitors? Draw upon powerful insights from what’s known as social share of voice.
Let’s say you dream of boosting brand awareness or increasing sales. Pre-social media, researchers might have defined share of voice as how successful your paid advertising was.
But now in a digital age what also counts is your online visibility in general. And that includes where your brand lands in search results as well as the mentions it gets on social.
4: Win at social data storytelling
Those juicy nuggets of insight you get from social media? They’re practically worthless if they can’t be shared – and understood, then used – by your wider team.
So, it’s crucial to be able to weave all the findings into compelling, easy-to-grasp narratives. Enter social data storytelling.
This is a way to transform data into gorgeous visualization assets. Think charts, graphs and word clouds that make it a snap to see how they relate to company-wide goals.
5: Run competitive analysis reports
Having the right competitor intelligence helps you make smarter decisions.
And being able to analyze your competitors to see what others are doing better across their own social channels is all part of that.
Competitive analysis reports will also help you pinpoint gaps in your own social media strategy. Because it figures that if you know what their strengths and weaknesses are, you can see how they compare to your own.
6: Research rivals’ social ad strategy
Want to spy on your competitors’ social ads and strategy? Your luck’s in. Some social media platforms have their own ad libraries and they’re groaning with data.
These are fantastic resources for competitor analysis as they let you see things like which brands are advertising and the targeting they’ve used in their campaigns.
7: Track key social media metrics
Social media platforms have analytics features built in. Getting the good stuff on audience engagement, demographics and content reach is a winner.
But this often calls for specialist tools. These can break down the type of content your brand has put out, and highlight which ones got the most views or traction.
Because you need to discover the specific types of content that makes your audience sit up and take notice. And anything that makes that a cinch is worth looking at.
8: Use social surveys and polls
Need a lightning-fast gauge on client preferences and pain points? Ask your audience directly.
Come on, don’t be shy. It’s all about harnessing the power of one-question surveys and micro polls.
For the consumer, you can bet that this kind of engagement brings them closer to feeling heard and connected.
And the feedback is very nearly instant, direct and feels way more natural than formal surveying. Even better when your brand craves knowing how people feel about current events, or the trending topics that matter to them.
9: Cross-reference social data
Social media isn’t always a representative sample of a business’ audience.
That might be the case especially for smaller brands or those whose client base spends their time off- and not online.
So, to get safe, accurate insight from social media data you must do something else, too. And that’s cross-referencing and analyzing it with other tried-and-tested sources and channels.
Sampling, triangulation, verification, and contextualization all come into their own here.
There are so many golden prizes up for grabs when you use social media for market research.
Business as a whole agrees. Recent industry research suggests 90% of leaders believe that being able to use social media data and insights properly to inform their business strategy is crucial. So important, in fact, that they feel their company’s success depends on it.
It’s all about the audience. Not only will you understand yours better, but you’ll find a smoother path to engage with hard-to-reach audiences.
Sure, great insights come from people who follow your brand on social media. But most people who will discuss your brand online don’t actually follow it.
In a fluid digital landscape, brand reputation can be hard to manage. That makes real-time data-driven insights from social media research more crucial than ever.
Knowing how your target consumers think of your brand – and having the data to back it up – will prove itself to be a life saver.
Businesses need to keep evolving, moving, changing. That’s true for their products and services, too.
Real-time research on social could lead to new products – or new feature requests suggested by customers (and passed onto the product team to add to the to-do list). That could also mean something simple like a discount to match competitors.
Most market research can take a while to plan and execute. But by incorporating social media into the mix, it can be done in just minutes or hours. All that, but with potentially an even greater pool of respondents than ever before.
How Forsta can help
Listening to the conversations that are happening around your brand will give you clear direction over where your company ought to be focusing its attention. But while you can’t be in all places at once, our software can.
Forsta’s Voice of Customer (VoC) capabilities uncover the insights that matter. Whether you choose self-service or fully managed, our end-to-end platform illustrates the entire customer journey – helping you to understand what actions are going to impact your bottom line and equipping you with the tools to make change possible.
Spanning every channel and every device, our software reaches your audience where they are – before breaking down siloed data sources, consolidating all your data in one place, and showing you where to save time and money. And with interactive dashboards that allow you to track performance by product, region, or any category you care to think of, you can make decisions based on the most accurate customer and operational data.
Read to see how our technology can help you to hit profit growth, meet KPIs, and even make cost efficiencies? Book your free demo, and let’s make CX work for your ops goals.