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How to use social media to gather better customer data

Posted by Grace Townsley

April 11, 2022    |     4-minute read (779 words)

A social media account in the hands of a savvy business owner is a truly powerful tool. Social media gives you access to an abundant source of data about your raving brand fans, potential customers, total brand strangers, and everyone in between — if you know where to look!

Here are five simple ways you can use your business’ social media account to gather valuable data about your target audience: 

1. Get feedback on your latest idea

Before you launch your next product or service, use your social media following to test the idea. You can post a teaser video and watch the reaction, run a poll to see how many of your followers would be interested in the new offering, or soft launch your product or service there before you build it into your website. 

This feedback data is absolutely invaluable. It’s similar to the impact of setting up a focus group, but with more targeted data gathered on a much broader scale. If the feedback is positive, you’re onto something! If your audience is indifferent or negative towards the product, consider moving on. While social media feedback shouldn’t replace market research, it’s another helpful tool in your data stack. 

2. Ask for suggestions

Take your feedback research a step further by asking for product and service suggestions directly from your biggest brand fans. You can ask for recommendations directly on social media, post a survey link where followers can offer more detailed opinions, or even direct message a group of your fans. 

Through this data gathering, you may learn that your customers want an additional service, a travel-sized version of your product, a location in a new town, or more color-customizations. Who knows what new ideas your audience will share that could become your new bestseller. 

Best of all, like gathering existing product feedback, tapping into your audience for new product ideas is a free strategy any business can use. You never know until you ask!

3. Request photos of your product or service in action 

User-generated content benefits your business in two ways: It shows you how people engage with your product or service in the real world, and it boosts your social media following. People prefer authentic, organic content, and user-generated photos, videos, and reviews provide exactly that. 

In terms of useful data, requesting user-generated content gives you a glimpse of how your product works in the real world. In some cases, your customers may be using your product in a completely unexpected way, or your product may actually appeal to a different audience than you were expecting. There’s only one way to know for sure, ask! 

Once you’ve gathered this real-world usage data, you may choose to change your marketing strategy to target a new audience, rebrand your product to better match how it’s actually being used, or you may double down on your strategy that’s working. Regardless of how you use this free data, it’s a valuable glimpse into your key customers’ daily lives. 

4. Track what ads really resonate, before you start spending big

If you’re thinking of running a new ad campaign, consider trying out a few of your ideas as free, organic posts first. If your post drives strong engagement, it’s more likely to make a great ad. You can also review your social media engagement data over the past few months to see which posts, videos, and links sparked the best interest. Do these posts have anything in common? Incorporate that into your upcoming ad campaign. 

5. Watch what’s trending (and what’s flopping) 

The last tactic you can use to gather customer data from social media takes a bit more investigating. But if you put in the work, it can pay off big time. 

Social media, for better or for worse, is very transparent. With just a bit of research, you can see exactly what other brands in your industry are doing. By watching their engagement, follower growth, and comments, you can see what’s really working and what’s falling on deaf ears. 

Beyond tracking your competitors, you can use social media to follow trending hashtags, searches, and big accounts to watch what people are interested in right now. Once you know what’s trending, your business can focus its content creation on what’s resonating today. 

Social media offers a wealth of (mostly free) data about your ideal customer. While it’s always smart to conduct additional market research, gathering data across your social platforms can help you do more of what works and less of what doesn’t— before you waste time and money. 

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