This post is part of the Top Ten Tips series put on by SCORE.  SCORE is a great organization dedicated to setting small business owners up for success.  I’m so honored to be part of their board and kicking off the Top Ten Tips series.  This is the second post of ten so please start from the beginning otherwise you may get lost.

A quick recap: For something that has only been in existence in the last ten years; social media has gotten a lot of press.  It has also grown in complexity as it has gone from a place for friends to get together to something companies develop entire strategies around.  This can be quite daunting.  When I put these three facts together: young, complex, daunting; it reminds me of a particular time in my life.  It’s called high school.  So we’re going to have some fun with this by connecting social media with high school.

So from our last post; we learned that ROI is only piece of the of pie.  Now we’re going to explore some other great uses of social media.  The first one is Market Research.  How many of us wouldn’t want to know more about our market and the things that are important to our customers?  Market Research is a pretty foreign idea to small business due to its high cost.  It can cost thousands of dollars to get any useful information.  Its crucial though.  In high school, the student council has to know what the student body wants and deliver it.  If everyone wants a under the sea prom theme and the student council goes with the theme Graveyard Nights: heads will roll.

In the same way, as business owners, we have to have our hand on the pulse of our users.  We have to know what they want before they do.  If we don’t, we lose that customer.  You lose enough and your store will look like the prom theme.   Social Media allows for businesses to get valuable insights that they could never afford using a traditional market research firm.  There is a great article written by Andrew Somosi.  For a more comprehensive look, check out his article.  I’ll be summarizing below.

  1. The Infinite Panel-There’s no limit to the amount of participants.  Putting out questions about how your fans feel about a new product will give you a qualified response because by following you, they’ve already shown an interest in your industry.
  2. The Infinite Survey-There’s a large time and cost factor when organizing focus groups.  Your audience will be different based on when the survey is conducted and you must have a venue and usually some kind of incentive (sandwich for your thoughts on industrial snow-blowers).  With social media people can answer at any time and with no cost.
  3. Real Time-You can get immediate feedback for new products and services.  If people say they didn’t like a burger, it can be removed immediately.  There’s no need to wait until you notice a negative trend on your balance sheet.
  4. Revealing “Hidden” Insights-New uses and applications can be discovered just by listening.  A customer discovers that by painting your company made lacquer on his maple tree prevented further termite damage to the tree.  You have a new revenue stream.
  5. In Their Words-Consumers can express themselves the way they want.  In that communication; you can discover what features are most important to them and how they describe it.  Even using their terminology may make your product more appealing to people.
  6. More for Less-All this information can be gathered for a fraction of the price normally associated with market research.

Today’s Tip:

Social Media Gives Insight into Your Customer

Check out tomorrow’s post when we’ll be discussing social media’s use for Brand Loyalty