Using Social Media for Market Research

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Believe it or not, there are bigger benefits to social media than sharing photographs and updates: a strong social media presence is a powerful tool—one that can give you valuable insights into your audience and clientele. By tuning in to the conversations consumers are having online, you learn about their needs, opinions and criticisms regarding particular products, companies and brands.

How can you leverage the power of social media for your own company’s market research? Take a look at these ideas!

3 Basic Tactics for Using Market Research on Social Media

1. Ask Questions.

It sounds almost too simple, but the age-old advice is true: if you want to know, ask! Reach out to Twitter followers, Facebook fans and blog followers by coming right out and asking them what they think about something, whether it’s how they like the new electricians work gloves you’ve just launched, if they’ve tried your moneyback-guarantee service or what they’d think about a new, weather-resistant rain boot you’ve thought about offering.

Then, take the generated user responses and use them to build knowledge on how products or services are being received. You may even engage with individuals on social networks with follow-up questions and responses, building relationships in the process of gathering info.

2. Conduct Polls or Surveys.

Surveys and polls are a more formalized and yet easy way to conduct market research online: use them to gain information from many readers at once. So say you’re a Lombard dentist and want to know what Chicago suburb most of your patients come from: post an online survey that quizzes users on their location and other demographic info. Designed to be easy to create and easy to answer, surveys typically have good response rates.

Tips for leading a successful survey or poll include the following: Publish it on all your networks, make it simple to fill out, offer an incentive (i.e., a chance to win something) and include a short, personal message with the announcement. Don’t be afraid to remind followers about the survey before it ends—or even to encourage them to spread the word.

3. Watch and Listen.

One of the simplest ways to use social media for market research is through basic observation. When you make it a habit to tune in to what your target audience is saying—on the Facebook pages of competitors, in LinkedIn Groups, every day on Twitter—you can easily pull from that data as you like.

Less structured than polls or surveys, routine observation offers the advantage of immediacy and ease—requiring nothing more than the ability to pay attention.

Practical Ways to Put Market Research into Practice

The idea of market research still leaving you stumped for specifics?

Here are a host of practical ideas for gathering research on social media, organized by social network! Once you’ve generated info, collect the data and analyze it to make research-backed business decisions:


On Facebook

  • Create a Facebook page for your brand and promote it to your client base
  • Respond to questions from followers
  • Pay attention to conversations between users
  • Fan and follow pages related to your industry and keep up with comments there
  • Ask important questions on your Facebook wall
  • Post a survey and ask followers to respond
  • Use Facebook Ads to promote your survey to the demographic you want to target
  • View Facebook Insights to gain data on who followers are and what they like

On LinkedIn

  • Set up a LinkedIn page for your brand and promote it to your client base
  • Use LinkedIn Analytics to track where visitors come from and how often
  • Build an ideal customer profile (job title, location, etc) to search for
  • Reach out to people you have questions for
  • Post a survey in your status update, asking connections to respond
  • Use LinkedIn Ads to promote your survey to the demographic you want to target
  • Locate employee profiles of competitors to see what they’re working on
  • Track group memberships of competitors
  • Explore “insightful statistics” section of LinkedIn company pages
  • Search Q & A categories for your keywords to see what’s being said

On Twitter

  • Follow users in your industry, existing and potential clients, colleagues
  • Search for mentions of your brand, competitors’ brands, keywords
  • Tweet a survey and ask users to respond
  • Use hashtags related to your industry when appropriate
  • Retweet content, with short comment, that users will find relevant
  • Pay attention to what gets Retweeted as a clue to what’s interesting

What do you think? Does your brand use social media to gather info on customers, competitors and your industry? How could tuning in make a difference for you?


Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, one of the leading SEO companies in Chicago. Follow Straight North on Twitterand connect with Straight North on Facebook.

Image Credit:  AJC1beckyjane20,  Lasse Kristensen