When we think about social media, we’re generally inclined to focus on the power of social media as a branding and communication tool – but what we often overlook is the power of social media as a research platform.
Social media platforms are quickly becoming one of the most valuable and affordable sources of market research for small businesses, acting as social data repositories of industry trends, business news, consumer trends and interests.
The amount of social data that is collected on a daily basis is ever-growing – and there are a number of simple ways you can use this data to make faster, better informed decisions about your business.
Three Easy Ways To Use Social Media For Your Research:
- Ask your online communities
Social media gives you direct access to your target audience, so why not proof your ideas with your exact user group – ask them questions or even run a competition on your Facebook page to assess audience preferences over two ideas. Passionate followers relish the opportunity to give their opinions – so start a conversation.
- Listen to your communities
Listening to your online communities is a great way to identify trends and new opportunities. See which conversations are getting the most engagement on Twitter, which posts are trending on Instagram, and which tactics are working best for your competitors (look at the content type and timing of popular posts).
You’ll be surprised by how much you can find out about your customers, prospects and competitors from simply scanning your social environment.
- Analyse reviews and ratings
Consumers have long relied on advice and recommendations from others before making decisions, and today this is easier than ever – with accessible reviews and ratings on social media sites like Facebook.
As a small business owner, having access to third party reviews and ratings is an invaluable source of research. Treat your internal feedback as an opportunity to be proactive about improvement and similarly review competitor reviews and ratings as a learning opportunity to see what your audience are responding to.
The opportunities for small business research on social media are endless – so the best way to start is to set goals for your research before you begin. Think about the key areas you’d like to focus on, and then start your journey of discovery!