Social media is a fabulous market research tool! It allows you to step into everyone’s living room and hear the kinds of conversations they have around their dining room every night (well, assuming people still HAD conversations around their dining table).
Social media as market research
Businesses seem to always think about social media as a way to TALK to consumers, or get consumers to talk about them. And, this message amplification is a great reason to use social media. More people hear your message and they hear it from a “friend” — whether that’s you or someone else in their network.
Possibly more important for the success of the firm, is the potential to HEAR what consumers are saying. You can hear what’s important for them, what they’re doing with their lives, who they identify with, what problems they encounter …
Knowing more about your target market helps you succeed in a number of ways:
1. Better advertising
Consumers buy products because they identify with the brand. When you understand what consumers like and who they are, you can create ads that they identify with. Ads that contain images of people who look like them, people who live the way they do, and images of people they admire.
2. New products
When you discover problems consumers encounter in their daily lives, you can create products customized to solve these problems.
The new liftgate on some SUV’s and Minivans is a good example of a product designed to solve a consumer problem. When people use their cars, they often have their hands full with children, packages, sports equipment, or a briefcase and coffee cup. You don’t have hands free to fumble around for your keys to push the liftgate button. With the new liftgate, you don’t need to. All you have to do is use your foot — and most people have a free foot!
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3. Improved customer satisfaction
Despite the way if feels some days, few dissatisfied customers complain to the company about products. But, they DO tell their friends. And, with social media, consumers tell complete strangers on Twitter or Facebook, or Google+ when they encounter a problem.
If you’re listening, you can use these complaints to fix many problems. Maybe the consumer didn’t understand how to use the product resulting in dissatisfaction. You can help them understand or set up their product correctly by responding to their complaint in social media.
4. Modifications to existing products
Just as you can listen for dissatisfied customers and help them become more satisfied with the product, you can use customer complaints to make your brands better. Maybe consumers post a desire to see the product in a different color. Viola, you can get this into production fast.
Don’t just use comments to modify existing products, let consumers know you were LISTENING by telling them you made the changes. This way, you’re forging better relationships with your customers, which leads to customer satisfaction, loyalty, and positive word of mouth.
California Tortilla does this well. When customers complained about losing a menu item, the company brought it back for a limited time.
How to use social media for market research
1. Listening post
The first step is to collect data in a listening post. I really like Radian6 for this, although it’s REALLY expensive. Trackr is a good, less expensive alternative.
The data generated by a listening post is called unstructured data, because it’s not numeric. Analyzing unstructured data is much more challenging (but so are the rewards).
There’s software to help (and here are my 3 favorites), but dealing with unstructured data is more of an art than a science. I’ll leave this topic for another post.
HyperRESEARCH is a product of ResearchWare. I’ve used this extensively for qualitative research and find it very intuitive, easy to use and powerful. While I’ve never used this for keyword based categorization, it should be able to handle this just fine. One advantage of the software is it can handle audio and visual data (ie. YouTube and Flickr), however this data must be categorized manually (at least in the version I own).
nVIVO is another excellent qualitative analysis software program. I’ve used an earlier version of this software with excellent results. Again, its intuitive and easy to use. Its not as powerful as HyperRESEARCH, but still a good option.
SPSS text analysis software is a new addition to the SPSS family. Since it shares an interface with familiar SPSS software its easy to use and subsequent data analysis can be accomplished using SPSS statistics after converting data to a numeric representation. A drawback is that this software doesn’t handle visual or auditory data.
Just ask. We’re happy to put together a program to handle your needs whether it’s simple listening to monitor sentiment or a full-blown market research program (we can also do qualitative data research). Visit our services page to learn more about what we can do to make your marketing SIZZLE or see a list of our satisfied customers.
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