Using Twitter Hashtag to Gather Focus Groups

twitter hashtagAs a growing small business, getting feedback on products or services you provide is integral to creating a thriving business. In a world where customer is king, reaching out to them will give you the most beneficial information. While there are a variety of ways to do this, Twitter has provided businesses with an easy and helpful platform for holding a focus group.

“Focus group: A group of people brought together to give their opinions on a particular issue or product, often for the purpose of market research.” –

What better way to bring your customers together than by taking advantage of a social media outlet they use everyday – more than once a day. The hashtag tool within Twitter makes this an effective method of getting information into one area, without having to be in the same vicinity. To do this, you’ll need to prepare for the focus group as you would any other; however various steps of the process will differ in catering toward Twitter.

Separating Into Groups

When choosing the group, you need to be particular about what information you hope to get. To make this decision you’ll have to do your research and decide what group of tweeters will give you the most accurate information. To decide, you’ll need to comb through your feed to put together different groups.

  • Active: This group will more than likely be very vocal. Being active means they have tweeted to or about the company multiple times, good or bad.
  • Passive: This group may have mentioned the company in the past, however has never directly contacted you via tweet. Their opinions may be a bit more thought out.
  • Inactive: This group of people follows you, but has yet to mention you in a tweet or speak directly to you. These tweeters may be a more unbiased group, if they don’t feel strongly one way or the other about your company and products.

Choosing the Right One

Your group selections will be very important in the outcome of your focus group. “Another crucial step is recruiting the right respondents for the group. Having the wrong people in a group dooms the session,” according to  When deciding on whom to choose, you’ll need to narrow down your active, passive and inactive groups a bit more.

  • The group should have shown similar opinions, not necessarily in regards to your company, within previous tweets. This provides a better opportunity for ideas to bounce easily back and forth between them.
  • You can conduct different focus groups with each of the various groups. Choosing one for your active members, one for passive, etc, will give you a broader scope.

Conducting the Discussion

The difference in using Twitter as opposed to a traditional method is how you go about presenting your questions and ideas to the followers. This is where the hashtag will become the star of your research. Here is how you will do this:

  • Once you’ve separated out your groups, and contacted them about participating, you need to present them with their discussion topics via hashtag. You can give them one topic a day, for a week, and allow them to discuss as thoughts come and go.
  • You want each group to have a different hashtag, so you can go into that threaded discussion and see only the conversation surrounding those topics.
  • To do this, you need to address your tweet to the members of the focus group, ask the question, and then end it with the hashtag.
    For example: @sarah @brian @krystin What are your thoughts on this? #questionsaboutfood
  • From here, you can check back to the thread to review their ongoing discussions.

Using a format that your customer is familiar with will give you the best results. When your focus group feels comfortable they are free to give you their honest opinions and answers. Then, using the hashtag helps gather the information into one place making it easy to analyze. You’ll be able to get a true sampling of your customer base, and honest responses.

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Bio: Jessica Sanders is an avid small business writer touching on topics from social media to telemarketing. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including VOIP phone systems for lead generation resource, Resource Nation.

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