3 Budget-Friendly Solutions for Social Media Market Research

/ marketing / 8 min read
Iva Anusic

If you’re thinking about expanding your business or simply want to understand your target audience better, good old market research is the key step to getting needed insights. Except, it doesn’t have to be old fashioned.

Traditional market research methods like focus groups and physical surveys demand months of preparation, execution, and analysis to get the final results. On the other hand, similar information can be obtained through social media in a matter of hours or even minutes, minus the hassle and cost.

In this blog, we’ll cover some of the most effective and budget-friendly ways of conducting market research to get real-time customer feedback and improve your marketing efforts. Let’s start!

How Social Media Can Be Your Greatest Ally In Market Research

The social media landscape is generating incredible amounts of content. Millions of posts, tweets, and comments are published each day and the majority of those are based on personal opinions and experiences. In fact, in 80% of social media posts, people are talking about themselves. That’s a great pool of both people and feedback to analyze and utilize!

Furthermore, given the freedom of speech that social media platforms provide, you can bet all of the aforementioned consumer content is the most unbiased and up-to-date feedback you’ll get. Indeed, 71% of business owners state that marketplace insight is one of the greatest values of social media.

Marketers continuously report numerous benefits social media market research provides:

  • Immediate feedback on customers’ experience and beliefs
  • Opportunities to directly interact with the customer regarding potential product improvements
  • Quick and efficient data collection
  • Little or no cost

Do bear in mind that social media market research can have its challenges. Depending on the tools and methods used, the sample may not always be representative. If you have a small following or rely on a dozen of poll answers, for instance, you may think twice about using social media to guide you in decision-making.

That doesn’t mean social media market research isn’t a fit for small businesses - on the contrary. In the next section of this blog, we’ll go through all the options and strategies of using the right tool or method for your needs.

Choosing The Right Method For Your Business

There are three ways market research can be conducted on social media, ideally combined:

  1. Built-in social media tools & analytics
  2. Social media monitoring
  3. Polls, surveys, and questionnaires

Now, let’s discuss every one of these three methods so you can learn more about how to utilize them in a way that suits your needs the best.

Social Media’s Own Tools & Analytics

Social media is an amazing tool for identifying and quantifying trends over time. Whether you’re targeting a very specific audience or are in need of a much broader sample, social media platforms’ own tools and analytics can be a great source of information - completely free!

Likes, comments, shares, and followers are pretty much in common to all social media platforms. What many businesses still don’t realize is that these metrics are so much more than vanity metrics. By providing both qualitative and quantitative data, they are your tools for direct measurement of users’ behavior and preferences content-wise.

Chances are, you have a set persona of an ideal user. If you have a social media following, no matter its size, it’s a great start. The existing audience’s preferences will likely correlate with those of your future customers, given that you’re consistently targeting a similar audience that fits your persona. In other words, this is a great base to evaluate the level of receptiveness towards your content.

By diligently monitoring your social media analytics, you can identify:

  • Which types of content work the best, and on which social media platform?
  • What call-to-action prompts the greatest engagement?
  • Which tone of voice resonates with your audience the most?
  • What is the optimal time, day, and frequency of posting content?
  • Which social media platform is the most effective for my specific product or service?

That way, you’ll get an overview of your growth, reach, and click-through rates over time. These metrics are the key to not only providing a greater experience for your existing audience but also building a strategy that is based on relevant data to attract new audiences.

Having a Facebook post that performs well can surely boost your ego, but consistently tracking which posts perform well and identifying why is the key to boosting your brand.

When you consistently track what performs well and why you’ll have a clear vision of the most effective tactics. Based on that, you can then develop a content strategy that is tailored to the needs of your (potential) customers and successfully promoted across the right social media channel(s).

Polls & Questionnaires

When you think of market research, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s a survey of some sort. Immediately, I associate it with being caught off guard while walking down the street and then participating in it for the mere reason of being empathetic with the person conducting it.

Obviously, not every experience is of this kind, but I could imagine many people relate to this. In that regard, traditional polls, surveys and questionnaires are great for researching public opinion, but not so much when it comes to brand, product, or service receptiveness.

Alternatively, you might also try out the social media polls. This is a very basic concept that will likely spark engagement, but in terms of serious research, consider this to be only an introduction to the gist of polls and surveys.

The level-up option is to try out a professional poll and survey builder — such as Paperform. It allows for easy data collection by combining 22 question types, including plain text, drop down, and multiple-choice questions that are standardly used in surveys, along with options to control your customer's experience depending on how they answer the form.

By adding your own logic rules, you can control how and when questions, pages, and content sections are displayed to the user.

In comparison to traditional surveys where conditions like age limit can be controlled more easily, this is a great way to fully avoid asking certain questions to those who are not in the position to answer them due to being underage, for example. Furthermore, by keeping a respondent in a flow of relevant questions that is based on their answers, you can keep their attention at a constantly high level.

These forms can be enriched with pictures, videos, and styled text to match your brand and then shared directly to and promoted across social media since each has its own unique URL.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and a global shift to the digital landscape, conducting online surveys such as the aforementioned is not only a safe bet, but it also may be the only plausible option with everyone working from home.  

With that being said, remember how I was skeptical about participating in live surveys? Online surveys can be easily avoided, you either click them or don’t. There’s no awkwardness in giving one a pass.

So, those who do choose to fill them out are ones that are truly willing to participate and provide thought out answers (that are not given only to speed up the duration), making the results’ relevance even more significant.

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Social Media Monitoring

On a wider scale of the market, you also want to find out more about the opinion of those who aren’t yet a part of your follower or consumer group. In that sense, media monitoring tools are an unconventional, but brilliant choice for market research.

In case you’re not familiar with the concept of media monitoring, I’ll briefly explain how it works. Media monitoring is an automated process of tracking keywords of your interest in real-time across more than 100 million online sources, including:

  • Social media
  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Comments.

Once you set up your query, media monitoring tools such as Mediatoolkit will do the work for you. The exact mentions of your keywords will be placed in a feed, making all the conversations surrounding a brand, product, or topic available at a glance, all in one place.

That means if you set the tool to track your brand, for instance, you’d know exactly what, when, where, and how your target audience thinks and speaks about the product in question.

Other than having insight into what your potential customers are talking about, you’ll also get extensive analytics based on the data the tool has collected — and this is a true goldmine of information.

Among the aforementioned are some very important charts when it comes to market research, such as the Top locations and languages, Influencer dashboard, Best performing channels chart, and maybe the most important one which is the Sentiment analysis.

It basically shows you how your audience feels towards a product, service, or topic. If the overall context in which a certain keyword is mentioned is predominantly positive, the product in question is likely to be well received by that same audience as well.

You might find the audience on Facebook mentions a product more positively than those users on Twitter, for instance, which is another great insight when targeting a certain market and choosing the right content for the right channels.

Location and market-wise, there are two approaches here:

  1. You can track the product in general, and then focus on the locations and languages charts to assess the level of interest for a number of markets.
  2. You can track the product in a specific location, so you can evaluate how receptive that specific audience might be to your product.

The results will provide you with an insight into buzzwords and trends, a deeper understanding of your audience’s needs and preferences, as well as their consumer behaviour and habits. Implementing them into a strategy tailored for a certain audience will ensure you’re en route to success when launching a product or spreading to new markets.

To Sum Everything Up

According to Our world in data, social media platforms are used by one-in-three people in the world and more than two-thirds of all internet users. That is a pool of more than 2.5 billion people of all demographics and interests, scrolling Twitter, posting on Facebook and dancing on TikTok. It's an unparalleled source of information in terms of market research.

Whether you’re looking to get to know your audience better or gather more information about the general customer attitude towards a certain product, service, or topic, researching social media is a great way to go.

With a number of free options such as using social media platforms’ own analytics or inexpensive tools for conducting surveys and monitoring online conversations, social media market research is a great fit for businesses of any size and budget.

About the author
Iva Anusic

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