Perhaps one of the most underutilized benefits of Facebook is market research.
Because of its size (1.1 billion and counting), Facebook can give you insights about your customers, prospects and even your competitors.
Here are eight ways to use Facebook for market research:
1. Peek at the competition
Just because you compete for market share doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge what your competition does well. Examine competitor Facebook pages, especially if they have success with it.
See what how they engage their fans, what their fans rave or complain about and what conversations produce the most engagement.
Don’t mimic your competition. Use your own personality and strengths to tailor your approach based on what you learned.
2. Watch your mini news feed
While on Facebook, glance all the way to the right at your mini news feed. These show small actions (comments, connections, etc.) that your Facebook fans take.
This gives a quick overview of hot topics, their interests and even their successes. This list can provide fodder for a case study or reveal a client in need of a new product or service.
3. Discover market segment keywords
Facebook Ads allow you to see how many members of your target audience chat about a particular topic over the last 30 days.
Go to Facebook.com/ads/create, type in a URL and add important keywords. Facebook shows how many people are talking about or are interested in your topic. Perform a couple of searches to determine the hottest topics in your your target audience.
4. Find target audience trends
Facebook’s relatively new Graph Search feature can be a great place to mine for information about your target audience.
For example, if you do marketing for a beach apparel company, like Cariloha, you might perform a search for “beaches liked by people aged 15-35 in California.” This can help you direct your marketing or a campaign to a specific location.
5. Get a feel for sentiment
Facebook certainly didn’t adopt hashtags first, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable.
According to Facebook, hashtags “allow you to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion.” Search for your target audience’s reaction to industry trends to inform your marketing strategy.
6. Crowdsource insights
In addition to having more engaged and outspoken fans, Facebook co-creation provides real-time analysis of how your best customers perceive your brand.
As Ekaterina said in her webinar, business success requires aligning your view of your business with your customers’ view of your business.
7. Ask customers directly
Since social media allows businesses to communicate with customers directly, ask them what they want. Remember that doesn’t always have to be about price, products or services.
A business coach learned that the keyword she loved so dearly (“prophetic”) meant something different to her customers than it did to her. A simple adjustment to keywords may help your company reach more people with a more powerful message.
8. Dig as deep as customers will let you
When a customer likes your page, they provide access to their personal information.
Check to see which posts your fans share. Do your fans tend to share humorous content? Make more of it.
Checking a representative sample of your fans pages may also show common causes that they support, which can inspire you to create a cause marketing campaign.
Part of what makes Facebook valuable is how many people use it. In fact, 81 percent of teens and 72 percent of adults use it each month. Tap into Facebook’s strongest asset by performing market research.