Tapping Into Your Own Private Focus Group

Thanks to technology, marketers today have an almost infinite amount of resources at their fingertips – from search engines, to online periodicals and research databases. Add to that: social networks.

Yep, I said social networks.

Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, combined with our growing addiction to social updates and technology that is constantly within reach, can provide marketing and business professionals with an abundant amount of real-time data, without having to invest gobs of money into time-intensive research and development studies. And the process is kind of fun.

“Crowd sourcing” (as it is commonly referred to) is an invaluable way to tap into your legion of loyal followers, customers and the general public who help provide insight – both positive and negative. Social-media based conversations generate so much feedback, comments, complaints, compliments it’s a perfect research tool for smaller business that have stringent budgets to work with.

Why Consider Social Media?
It’s not a controlled focus group, and most importantly it’s honest, frank and not watered down by research groups trying to spin an original comment to fit in with a pre-identified (and inherently biased) set of answer selections. It’s the way feedback should be.

How to Use Social Media for Research:
1. Define your goals & objectives. As with conventional research, this is the first step. It should be done before you set out to ask questions and opinions of your various networks. What is it you’re hoping to achieve by tapping into your networks? Validate a new product or re-release concept? Gather ideas moving forward? Other?
2. Ask relevant questions. This may sound obvious, but eager marketers itching to get started right away often overlook this reminder. Your questions should match your goals for the research, but also should elicit constructive answers too.
3. Consider your networks. The phrasing of questions is important when using social channels to conduct crowd sourcing. Stay away from formal questions when using informal mediums like Twitter & Facebook. Neglecting the makeup of your audience = little to no response.
4. Do something with the data you’ve collected. Again, this may sound obvious but if you’re going to invest time and resources into surveying your networks – they’re going to want to see the results. Customers like to be heard, and love seeing their comments mold a future product, service or change in business. After all, it is the customers that fuel your bottom line.

Intrigued about how this cost-effective tactic can add value to your 2012 strategy? Give us a call, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook or drop us a line. I’d love to talk to you about it, and help guide you along the way.