Do you know what your clients want?

On the Internet, it’s easy to find people asking questions, commenting, sharing content, and giving their opinions. These websites are a of opportunity for marketers. If you can find out where your target market is talking, all you need to do is listen. They’ll tell you everything you need to know in order to connect them to and services they need.

Forums and Q&A Sites
Online forums and question-and-answer sites help you in a number of ways. You can use them to discover what topics are hot right now. For example, if you’re designing a new Internet marketing product, you can visit an IM forum and see what people are talking about. If there’s a lot of discussion on how to use Facebook’s Timeline format, you can create a report or course on how to use it effectively.

On forums and question sites, you can find good respondents for your surveys and other market research. Look at the members who are most active and leave the most replies. This tells you that they love sharing their opinion and they’ll happily do so for you.

You can discover other priceless insights by looking at what people are saying. Read threads that are relevant to your products or services and they’ll tell you exactly what people are looking for. You can search these sites for keywords and if you don’t find what you need, start your own thread asking for opinions.

Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites are even better than forums and question sites. There a lot of discussion and engagement on all sorts of topics. You can use them to find out what’s trending and how people feel about it.

Most social networking sites have a way for users to express their interest in they like. On Facebook, they’re aptly called ‘likes.’ When lots of people like something, this tells you that it’s popular. You can look at your own page’s likes or what your target market likes on your competitors’ profiles.

One of the reasons social media sites are great for market research is that they have detailed profiles. By looking at your customers’ profiles, you can find out what other interests they have. This is a great source of non-demographic information, like how they see themselves, what they think about current events, or how they use the products they buy.

One key difference with social media is that you need to be more subtle. When you ask a pointed marketing question, it may put people off. Social media sites are used for entertainment and socializing mostly. People like to hang out online with their friends and share content they like. Take a friendly and personal approach. It helps if you have a lot of friends already on the site who you interact with casually.

Facebook is still the largest social media network, but it’s good to have a presence on as many as possible. Each offers unique ways to do market research. For example, on YouTube you can see which videos are getting the most views.

The Online Market Research Flow

Find out where your target market hangs out online and then join the discussion. Start by identifying your audience as thoroughly as possible. You can also do a survey asking your current customers about their online activities or where they like to interact with their favorite brands. Wherever that is, become a fly on the wall and soak it in. If you listen well, you’ll gather a treasure trove of information.