12 Most Important Uses of Social Media Research

12 Most Important Uses of Social Media Research

Over the last few years, social media research has evolved from speculation to practice. But social media research is still often approached with no goals in mind leading the user to the ultimate result of failure.

To avoid that problem, here are 12 important opportunities and goals that social media research offers its users.

1. Measure an advertising campaign

Likely the most popular use of social media research, tracking a commercial or marketing campaign from anticipation to launch to completion is simple. Research users can measure any changes in conversation volume as consumers positively or negatively anticipate the campaign. Users can then discover whether the anticipation evolves into a viral sensation or a dismal failure.

2. Compare your brand to competitive brands

Regardless of how well or poorly your brand is doing, the best measure of success is whether you are doing it better than your competitors. Though no one likes bank fees or service fees or waiting for the repair person to arrive, when social media research says that your company is consistently doing things better than anyone else on a daily basis, you’ve got a good thing going.

3. Discover your true competitors

As brand managers, we think we know our brand inside and out but sometimes consumers have very different ideas. They may be bucketing your brand along with brands you’ve never considered or brands you never realized were competing in your space. Pay attention when consumers mention those other brands.

4. Identify product flaws

Consumers love to complain and vent but when it comes to a survey, they can be too darn polite to say all the little things they wish they could. But when it comes to the millions of people making comments in the social media space, thousands of other people have no qualms saying exactly how something smells or is gross or is embarassing. Social media research will help you learn just how pervasive the problem is and just how bad it really is.

5. Identify innovative product uses

Not all consumers are spontaneously innovative, and certainly not all ten people in your focus group can make surprising discoveries when someone is watching them. When you listen to millions of people in social media, odd comments and strange product uses will inevitably arise. Be ready and willing to hear them, especially when you aren’t expecting to hear them.

6. Discover the psychographics of your brand

We’re used to learning the basic characteristics of our target consumers, but social media research lets you go far beyond traditional measures. The next time you want to learn about people who eat Nutella, let social media research also tell you what cars they like, which banks they hate, which sports they watch, and what they grow in their garden.

7. Identify brands for co-branding

Which brands should you approach for a co-branding opportunity? Why not choose from among brands that your consumers are already talking about? Social media research will help you identify and rank the brands your consumers have already said they like so that your co-branding consideration set starts with the right brands.

8. Identify celebrities for co-sponsorship

Which celebrities do you want to be holding your product in your next commercial? Once again, use social media research to identify and rank the celebrities your consumers have already said they like. From that list, simply choose the celebrity who best suits your campaign goals.

9. Identify the exact date of an event

Foot in the Mouth disease a la Todd Akin or Dan Cathy is rarely planned nor instantly recognized. By measuring the volume of conversations, social media research can instantly identify the date that the event took hold with consumers thereby allowing you to run a pre-post measurement process.

10. Measure recovery from an adverse event

As much as we want to avoid adverse events, celebrities make off-the-cuff remarks that they later regret and product recalls are common events. Social media research allows you to measure your brand progress after the event to measure the remedies you have taken.

11. Improve traditional research

The worst surveys have grid questions with twenty or thirty answer options. Even though these survey questions are space-efficient, responders hate them. Social media research gives you the opportunity to see which of the thirty options consumers will actually answer thereby allowing you to reduce thirty items to ten or fewer.

12. Build on traditional research

The best surveys are no more then fifteen minutes long which means any questions that go beyond that time frame have to be cut. But if you haven’t got space to ask consumers a specific question on your survey, chances are people are already talking about it in social media. Your data isn’t gone. It’s just somewhere else.

In all cases, social media research is simply one more tool in your measurement toolbox. Be creative when you try to solve your business problems and choose the tool that best solves the problem.

So where are you? Are you floudering in social media data or actively solving problems?

Featured image courtesy of e y e / s e e licensed via Creative Commons.

Annie Pettit


Annie is the Chief Research Officer at Conversition, a company that specializes in social media research. She is a sought after speaker at market research conferences such as CASRO, MRA, MRIA, ESOMAR, and MRMW. She has also published many articles in both professional and refereed magazines and journals, is the author of The Listen Lady, a social media research novel, and is the Editor-in-Chief of MRIA’s Vue magazine.

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Since we have tools in this area, I definitely appreciated the post. Social Media research is a great place for competitive research and getting ahead of the curve on putting out fires, finding brand advocates...or even doing a little crowdsourcing.

wesley koelewijn
wesley koelewijn

I think that #2 is very important. If you compare your brand to other brand you will know where you have to make changes to grow!

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