Market research is extremely important for marketing programs. Research helps companies develop products and services that meet the needs of their target customers. Qualitative research in particular is useful, because it involves figuring out what consumers think about certain products, services, or trends and why they think that way. Traditional qualitative research methods include focus groups, interviews, and observations. However, social media has opened up new ways to do qualitative research.
As I was searching the WVU e-library for information on market research, I came across an interesting academic journal titled Social media’s emerging importance in market research. The authors point out that traditional qualitative research can be costly. It’s also time consuming; it takes time to find consumers to study and to listen to them. However, social media advancements have made finding and listening to consumers easier.
Social media allows people to congregate at specific locations on the Web and share their ideas with each other. Additionally, many people do openly share their concerns, problems, and preferences on social media. Furthermore, this sharing happens instantly and transcends geography. People can get in touch with other people and even organizations no matter their location or time of day! This presents a great opportunity to directly engage with consumers and learn from them.
According to an article on Chron, the following are some steps you can take to come up with a plan for conducting qualitative research through social media:
1. Identify what kind of information you need to gather. For example, do you want to get consumers’ views on new menu choices, a new product, or website layout?
2. Figure out who you want to gather information from. Do you want to get the desired information from your target audience, past customers, or potential future customers?
3. Once you know who you want to gather information from, you will then need to figure out what social media platforms they “live” on.
4. Create the questions you want to ask. It is best to keep these questions concise and specific.
5. Determine the format you wish to present your questions in. This will partly be determined by the type of social media platform you are using.
6. Monitor social media platforms for responses to your questions.
7. Monitor social media platforms for mentions of your products, services, brand, or even the industry you are in. Many social media sites have search functions to help you with this task.
8. Analyze feedback from consumers to improve your business.
Here is a great graphic depicting the process:
Next time you have to perform qualitative research for a marketing program, think about the opportunities that social media presents!