The value of qualitative research has undergone a major shift in the past decade with the changing technologies of the 21st century offering broader, easily accessible and nearly constant chatter from which a company can mine for data. Being able to reference subjective information on products and services 24/7 via the Internet and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter gives market researchers quick access to literally millions of research opportunities. It is now less time-consuming, less expensive and less trouble than ever before for market researchers to glean meaningful results.
While it is important to understand that social media is usually only one part of the process – personal, face-to-face interaction still has its place in robust data mining – there are many advantages to using social media in your market research. Monitoring social media as part of your research technique can:
Help You Focus on Developing Industry Trends – Use keyword monitoring to follow the latest trends affecting your industry. Follow buzzwords, products, competitors, anything that might point you to where the market is heading.
Offer Insights into Your Competition – Monitor your competitors’ online presences to learn what their consumers want and whether or not they are delivering it. Their weaknesses can provide you with an opportunity to accumulate market share.
Provide a Better Understanding of Consumer Language and Thought – Visit blogs, Pinterest, Facebook or any other site to learn how consumers are talking about your product, service or industry. Use that information when advertising, recruiting focus groups or engaging in any other ways with your consumer base. “Talking their talk” will establish your legitimacy and show that you are listening.
Assist You with Identifying Those People Influencing Your Brand – There are people out there influencing your product or service by talking about it. Find them, and you can begin to build a relationship that could benefit you in the future.
Lead to New Sales Opportunities – Respond to people online. Follow tweets and bloggers; listen to the conversations in chat rooms; observe traffic and comments on websites. And then follow-up with any potential leads you see!
Remember, social media is an organic and ever-changing source of information. To best harness its marketing research potential, businesses will need to consistently observe its many platforms while always keeping in mind that those things that make the internet so great – its size and anonymity – are also the factors that make some of its value suspect. Oftentimes people present themselves online in ways they wouldn’t in person. Keep that in mind. And finally, make sure all legal and compliance issues are addressed before using the information you uncover on the wide, wide web!
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Communications for Research has over 20 years experience with social media trends and qualitative research methods. Contact us to learn more about using social media to better understand your place in the market.
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