Using Social Media For Customer Insights

[tweetmeme source=”helpmerhonda11″ only_single=false]Smaller businesses don’t have the market research firepower of larger firms, and often make decisions based on gut feel.

Fortunately, there are lots of inexpensive online techniques that can provide a goldmine of customer insight and competitive intelligence. Most don’t cost a dime, but simply require a little detective work.

Here are some ways you can use online information for your business:

Glean competitive intelligence from your competitor’s websites and social media outposts. Learn about new products and plans, such as what promotions are going on, pricing, plans to expand locations, etc.

  • Troll for customer comments and topic posts that get a big reaction. See what customers are passionate about, both positive and negative, to come up with new products, services and promotions for your business.

Tip: The social media outposts of national brands with a similar product lines are especially rich with customer comments and reactions.

  • Seek out and use online forums and communities to uncover gems of information relating to customer attitudes and habits, and their pain points.
  • Do an annual customer satisfaction survey with your customers. While this is not a use of social media, it is inexpensive and easy to do. Ask targeted questions about what you are doing right and what they dislike, and solicit suggestions for improvement.

Unexpected bonus: open ended questions are likely to yield favorable comments from brand loyalists. Use these testimonials on websites and in other materials. (Survey Monkey is a very easy-to-use tool for this purpose).

  • Poll your target audience in social media, using tools such as the polling feature on Linked in and the Poll application on Facebook.  (note:  suggested by online marketer Eric Bryant, whose latest innovation for social media PR is a great and easy to use social listening tool. )

What online information have you found helpful for gaining customer insights and clarity related to your business?

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About Rhonda Hurwitz

Rhonda Hurwitz is a content strategist and marketing consultant who helps mid-sized businesses develop more effective online strategies. @rhondahurwitz on Twitter, and on Forbes.com: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/rhondahurwitz/
This entry was posted in competitive intelligence, marketing, social media and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Using Social Media For Customer Insights

  1. There are a lot of these ancillary functions of social media, these somewhat evanescent, but very useful functions that give social media its value. And when combined with 3rd party webapps like SocialMention.Com, you can get a lot of terrific marketing insight from social media.

    We just created an entrepreneurship grant program, for example, that relies on LinkedIn polling software to assist with market research. Another example of how social media can benefit businesses in terms of marketing.

  2. Jake says:

    Another great web survey site that we use for our customer satisfaction surveys is http://www.websurveymaster.com/ it is similar to surveymonkey, but the result analysis tools are so must better and easy to work with.
    Hope this helps!
    Jake

  3. Pingback: 4 Steps to Building a Better Product « Design Thinking

    • Sally I tracked back to your blog…good reading. I liked your points about uncovering customer stories and making “the heart connection”. As marketers, we have to deliver on meeting unmet needs, and that means speaking to both hearts and minds. Thanks for commenting.

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