Thursday, July 21, 2016

4 Ways to Utilize Social Media for Market Research


Social media is no longer a road less travelled by businesses. In fact, “social media advertising revenue will grow to $9.8 billion in 2016,” as projected by Link Humans. They believe being social could improve their brand exposure, increase traffic, develop loyal fans and could provide marketplace insight, according to a survey conducted by Social Media Examiner entitled ‘2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.’ Yes, social media is a goldmine for market research considering 2.3 billion are active social media users worldwide, Smart Insights estimates. Even outsourcing companies add social media and quantitative/qualitative market research services to their portfolios because they know both are the ‘greener pastures’ in the business world.




Before we tackle how we can use social media for market research, let us have a clear understanding between market research and marketing research which are often used interchangeably. Are they the same in definition?

Market research is “the process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a market, about a product or service to be offered for sale in that market, and about the past, present and potential customers for the product or service; research into the characteristics, spending habits, location and needs of your business’ target market, the industry as a whole, and the particular competitors you face.” – Entrepreneur’s Small Business Encyclopedia.

On the other hand,

Marketing Research is “the systematic and objective identification, collection, analysis and dissemination of information for the purpose of improving decision making related to the identification and solution of problems and opportunities in marketing.” – American Marketing Association.

Basically, market research pertains to markets, the market trends, your competitors and your target market while marketing research is all about your marketing strategies or the promotion/selling of your products/services. Refer to the diagram below from My Market Research Methods:



Social media is a community of sorts and it has a trove of information that can aid you to be well-versed in your market. You just have to improve your social listening skills and be armed with quality content to be able to conduct a market research while being social. Here are the ways you can utilize social media for market research:

Create and own your niche market In finding your own niche market, you must get the pulse of what your customers want and be aware of what your competitors are up to. Niche markets are created from scratch because finding an existing one automatically puts you on the bottom of the food chain. In other words, you must be the big fish in a small pond that everyone wants to catch. As you engage with your potential customers in social media, know where they’re hang out often; the platforms they’re using; the groups they associate with; and find out if they share common hobbies/interests. Know your competitors by snooping into their social activities. Investigate if your desired niche market already exists because what is the purpose of creating a niche if someone already owns it?

Improve your current products/services Sometimes it is pointless to create a new product after another if you’re unable to monitor the impact of it to your customers thanks to social media and the endless social chatter. However, you should be mindful that “96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles,” Brandwatch reveals. Moreover, expect there are two sides of the coin. First is that the positive comments may give you an insight which features of your product you can retain while the negative comments can be used to omit or improve a certain feature of your product. Use both types of comments in a sensible and objective manner.

Boost your PR relations Achieving social presence is not an overnight thing. It doesn’t end once you set up various social media accounts. It requires continuous nurturing by planting ‘seeds’ of fresh and quality content. In order to grow or flourish, the watering part must come from those who enjoyed consuming your content that will act also as pollinators in order to spread the good word about you and your brand. These are your brand advocates and influencers, the celebrities of social media. They would be your brand ambassadors and you don’t have to spend even a single cent out of it.

Develop feasible marketing strategies Are you not sure if your idea will click or not? Use social media as a testing site. As stated by Econsultancy.com, “one of the great things about social media is that you have the freedom to try different queries and tactics.” An example given by Isentia is changing your packaging design. Test the waters by posting a draft of your design on your Facebook page and let the community decide if they like it or not. In this way, you save time and money in case your design is a flop.

Selling a new product or launching a start-up business is a gamble every entrepreneur has to take but it should not be done blindly—this is where a well-thought out market research comes into play. Market research is the ‘gathering information’ phase or ‘do your homework first’ stage. The data you’ve gathered will help you to have a deep understanding of what you’re embarking into and in a way it could reduce the risks in making business decisions. However, you can’t do market research and social engagement at the same time. Both are different in nature in terms of approach and techniques. Fortunately, there are outsourcing social media market research companies that are willing to lend a helping hand.

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