Facebook and Twitter offer more than just ways to engage consumers in real time. Both provide volumes of data on your prospects, communities and competitors. Although some of these tools are geared to help you make paid media decisions, they are available for free and the insights they provide can supplement your basic market research efforts.
You might have a presence on the top social media sites, but are you fully leveraging their value in helping you understand who your consumers are? Social media management systems, such as Hootsuite and Radian6, include options for researching trends and monitoring specific audience segments. But those tools – while effective – can be costly. But Facebook and Twitter offer very useful customer data and marketing insights for free.
Do these tools take the place of extensive, ongoing market research efforts? Of course not – they are way too limited in scope. But the information they provide can help you make important decisions regarding your content marketing and other communications efforts.
Facebook Audience Insights Offers Great Customer Data
Launched in May 2014, Audience Insights is available to any Facebook user with an advertising account; you’ll find the link to it in Ads Manager in the left rail.
As opposed to Page Insights, which only provides market data on the fans of your page, Audience Insights offers an overview of the demographics, trends and purchase behavior of users across Facebook. For example, take a look at what the most liked types of pages are among users in the United States as of June 2014:
The value of Audience Insights is that you can drill down this vast group to reflect your target markets based on location, gender, interests, behaviors and other filters.
Let’s say you represent a women’s shoe line that is distributed to stores in St. Louis. You would update Audience Insights to reflect this:
Facebook will update the top categories of page likes based on this specific audience segment:
More important, however, Audience Insights provides data-rich snapshots of these prospective customers:
Audience Insights also provides purchase behavior data. Note that that this audience’s past purchase behavior shows that it buys clothing slightly more than the average Facebook user. This would be good news if you really were selling shoes to women in St. Louis!
This free data is impressive, but how can you leverage it? These insights help you create more accurate customer personas, which in turn help you create more relevant content to post. And if you are interested in running ads on Facebook, this data can help you get the most out of your spend by targeting the right users with the right message.
Twitter Advanced Search Provides Market Insights and Leads
Want to know what consumers are saying about your brand in Chicago? Want to know what those same folks are saying about your chief competitor, too? This is where the value of an Advanced Search on Twitter comes into to play.
For an advanced search, all you need to do is fill out a simple form. Say Nike, or a competitor of Nike, wanted to see how successful the rollout of a new product was in the Chicago market. The advanced search would look like this:
Note that you could tailor the results to specifically provide the following types of Tweets:
- Positive remarks
- Negative statements
The search results will narrow down all Tweets made near Chicago that include @nike. Now, not all customers @mention a brand directly. If we were Nike, or one of its competitors, we’d follow up with a second search that searches Tweets for use of the word Nike (without the @):
Twitter Advanced Search is helpful if you want to test user reaction to an event, like a product launch or trending topic. It can also help you curate Tweets to include in a blog post or article, as well as gain marketing insights from consumers.
Social Media Analytics Help You Understand Your Audiences
One school of thought on measuring the return on investment (ROI) of social media is to look at the value it offers in providing marketing insights. Analytics from any social networking site can help you understand your current and prospective customers. For example, Facebook’s free Page Insights can help you answer the following about your fans:
- Which posts receive more engagement than others? (Post more often about that topic.)
- What is shared more: a fun fact with a photo or a link to a news item? (Post that type of content more.)
- What time of day are most of our Facebook fans online? (Post during those times.)
- Which days of the week see more engagement? (Post more on those days.)
- Do our fans tend to favor a hard sell or soft sell? (Use the preferred approach.)
It’s important to keep in mind that these analytics help you understand how well your brand is performing on Facebook; they do not necessarily reflect sales or other, more concrete forms of ROI. However, you can align your content marketing strategy with these findings to post content that is more likely to engage, which can lead to improved sales, better brand recognition and other common goals. Any valid data that helps you drive your most engaged customers to action is priceless.
Researching Your Next Steps on Social Media?
Contact The Fairmount Group today for counsel, training and support.