Finding Consumer Insights via Social Media: Doing It the Right Way


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Probably every business owner has at least a vague idea of a typical customer of his/her company. Brands create buyer’s personas, create their products and services firmly believing that they aim them at a particular demographic, and know perfectly well what exactly this group of people wants. More often than not, this image and the ideas derived from it fully originate from the business owner’s or the marketer’s mind. They may or may not have something to do with what their actual potential clients want. The thing is, many businesses still do not realize that the age of traditional marketing is over, and people used to live in the digital age – starting with the Millennials and later – simply do not behave, make decisions and buy products the same way their predecessors did.

Such methods for getting consumer insights as focus groups and surveys have never been particularly effective, but in dealing with the increasingly jaded and market-savvy customer base, they are often worse than useless – you spend real money on them while getting results that have nothing to do with the real world. The time has come to establish a new way of learning what customers want – and, fortunately, we have all the tools for this.

1. Engage in Social Listening

Social media lie at the foundation of modern human’s life. Like it or hate it, it is so. Almost half of the world’s population uses social media, and an average user spends about 2.5 hours per day on them. One’s behavior on social media fully reflects the person’s interests, social contacts, activities, thoughts and ideas. If you monitor what people do on social media, you get a better picture of their lives, dreams, what they think in general and about your brand in particular than in any other way. And, differently from surveys and questionnaires, this picture is unadulterated – you see people the way they are, not the way they want to present themselves to your company. Therefore, looking for insights on social media should start with getting a reliable social listening tool – i.e., a tool that allows you to gather information off social media automatically.

2. Get an Analytics Tools

No amount of information gathered from social media is going to be of any help to you if you do not know what to do with it – and taking into account the sheer magnitude of data that goes through them these days, you have no chance of gleaning any insights on your own. The answer is to get a proper consumer analytics tool. It will help you always be on the lookout for new trends, know what your customers are thinking about and keep an eye on your competitors. If you use an AI-based solution, you do not have to spend additional funds on hiring experts and analysts – machine learning will do most of the work for you.

3. Take Notice of Contexts Associated with Your Brand

Some contexts come up naturally when you think about this or that brand, and do not have any inherent value in and of themselves. For example, you do not need to analyze social media to find out that a clothing brand usually comes up in relation to fashion or lifestyle. However, for independent reasons, it may get to associate with an unexpected context – e.g., a subculture you did not originally intend to market to. Keeping track of such unusual contexts opens up all sorts of opportunities for your brand’s promotion.

4. Keep Track of Your Competitors

It is worth keeping an eye not just on your business, but on your direct competition as well. In what relation do people talk about them? Can you leverage this? What brands get the most mentions and are treated the most positively by the user base? What do they do differently from you? Can you adopt their approaches?

5. Check Where People Talk about You

Different social media have dramatically different audiences and preferences for different types of brands. Knowing where and how much people talk about your brand can help you plan further social media marketing campaigns and better understand what kinds of people prefer your brand. Knowing this, you better understand how to further develop your company itself.
The time has come to stop leaving company policies and development to guesswork and inadequate information received from focus groups. Social media can teach you anything you may need to know about your clients and their needs.

Melissa Burns
Focused Agency
Melissa is an independent journalist. She also conducts workshops and provides consulting services for young, but promising startups. Follow her on Twitter


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