Using Social Media For Market Research: Can They Merge?

The adoption of social media is growing, and with each passing day more and more brands are jumping into the vast sea. But one thing which seems to be still missing is Market Research using social media. It’s a simple concept; your customers are talking about you – so why don’t you mine that data to analyse what it actually means?

Be it product reviews or customer support issues or simply ideas for new features, diving in and listening to users can be a very rewarding exercise. Let’s quickly look into some practices that you can adopt and some tools that can be very useful for market research.

Some of the most famous tools present out there are Alterian SM2, Klout, Amplicate, Social Mention and Radian 360. If you have the budget for it, Radian 360 is a very exhaustive option; and if not most of these other tools give you enough information even for free. By simply inserting your keyword phrase into the tool, you can get answers to simple questions like how many people are talking about you, what they think about your services and their perception about your brand vis-à-vis competition.

Some of the guidelines you should follow apart from using these tools are:

  • Do not trust the tools completely: You must be careful while using these tools, since sentiment analysis still has a long way to go when it comes to analyzing content and putting them in the right categories. For example, take these sample tweets – “I loved Rockstar the movie! It was so sick” or “Kapil Sibal is as intelligent as a star fish”. Yes, you can see where I am going with this. Most tools would place the first tweet in the category of a “positive mention” and the second tweet in the category of a “negative mention” because of the words sick and intelligent. Natural Language Processing can only do so much, after all.
  • Excel sheets are your best friend!: A better and safe way to do this is to comb through your search results manually and assign them categories accordingly. This might not be scalable but we have seen this approach working for a variety of clients from different industries. You can use the Charts tool inside excel to generate nice infographics and patterns which can be helpful to understand your brand.
  • What kind of patterns can you generate?: You should first ask yourself, what you need to know to make your marketing activities work, and then do market research around it instead of trying to answer the entire universe. Here are some examples:  1. How many people are talking about me? 2. How many are talking about competition? 3.Where are they talking about me? 4. What do they think about me? 5. Was there a certain time gap when more conversations happened? Once you have an idea about these, you can then accordingly do customer support, target ads to popular hangouts and seed content similar to what worked last time.
  • Think beyond Facebook and Twitter: You would be surprised to find how many of your potential users hangout at the less “cooler” hangouts apart from Twitter and Facebook. If you are selling tech products, then find your target audience on forums and blogs for techies. If you are selling bikes, find them in biker forums! The internet is a vast place, and you must go to the uncharted waters.

Happy researching!

Author: Aditya Rao

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