The Handbook Of Online And Social Media Research Tools And Techniques For Market Researchers is a step-by-step guide to creating and using online and social media research tools and techniques for Market Researchers.

The Handbook Of Online And Social Media Research Tools And Techniques For Market Researchers provides a comprehensive guide to the many resources available to contemporary market researchers. It covers everything from social media networks and research apps, to microblogging and online video sites and software. It takes you through each of these tools and clearly explains how they work and how to get the most out of them. It includes practical tips on how to use them for market research purposes -which is presented in an easy-to-digest format, that will assist both novice and experienced researchers.

How can social media research help your business?

Social media research can help your business in a number of ways: from understanding and improve the perception of your brand online; understanding the market for new products; comparing your presence to a competitor, or attracting new audiences through understanding the trends and discussions within your category.

A few areas include:

Marketing effectiveness

Truly understanding social media is a crucial part of marketing today, and it also a key resource for gaining insights for both the planning and execution of your campaigns, as millions of users, share information about their thoughts, opinions, needs, behaviors, and experiences every day. Independent, objective marketing Social media research offers an objective view of your marketing, showing where there are opportunities to increase reach and engagement. Continuous measurement through can help you to quantify your campaign performance and gain ROI.

Using social data for product development

Great campaigns are built on deep human truths. By conducting social media research you can dive into your customer’s world while developing a new product or service. Analyze behavioral signals from social media audiences to understand where your brand or product proposition fits in. And once you’ve developed a new product, you can use social media research to understand the mindsets, behaviors and affinities of your target audience to create marketing communications, visuals and experiences that click.

Attracting new customers and breaking into new demographics

You can also use social media research for audience intelligence, to understand your customers on a deeper level than just their demographics. Find out information about opinions, lifestyles, habits, and even interests to truly know what sort of people they are and be able to communicate with them in their own language. By understanding audiences, you can attract new customers who might not have even heard of your brand, or who you had never considered. Identify new opportunities within your market by keeping an eye on the conversation. Using social media research means you can continually monitor the conversation in your industry and find new ways to speak to your target audiences.

Improving customer service

Much customer service has recently moved into the public domains of social media and is a quick and easy go-to for people with questions and complaints about your brand. Understanding how people talk to and about your brand online mean you can anticipate this interaction, and even reach customers online who may have discussed your brand but were not speaking directly to you, which can go a long way in enhancing customer experience when done right.

Uncover micro-influencers that speak to your audience

Influencer marketing is a new, but already highly-saturated methodology. Attracting expensive macro-influencers for campaigns is a path well-trodden but using social media research you can uncover your brand’s biggest fans, and category-specific micro-influencers, who can advocate for your product or service. Researching and building panels of influencers mean you can build a relationship with relevant micro-influencers who are far more impactful within their community than larger influencers without as much of a niche.

Competitor intelligence and benchmarking

Monitoring the online presence of your brand is an ever-expanding task, let alone exploring activity around your competitors. Social media research can help you get a top-level view of how competitors in your industry or category approach certain topics and themes that are either pain or pride points for your brand, and find out if there is a better way to reach the audience you are trying to speak to, or how to ensure you continue to break away from the pack.

Brand reputation and crisis management

While brand monitoring is a great way to track your brand’s social media presence, in-depth social media research can help you to understand the audiences who follow and talk about your brand, and how the reputation you currently have online came about. This can be the starting point for developing a new communication strategy, or for altering your current one around the audience you have. By understanding your audiences through social media research you can also create strategies for crisis management, both for identifying a crisis brewing to act on as quickly as possible, and also preparing a response if the worst happens. Researching the impact of social media crises will help you be prepared.

Collecting social media data

Twitter

Twitter Analytics is incredibly helpful for research on the impact your own or brand’s Twitter channels, where you can see the best and worst posts from any month, and download data on likes, replies, retweets and so on, as well as understanding the reach and impact of your ads on Twitter. Twitter also allows you to search on a detailed level for keywords over specific time periods and in specific locations which allows you to get a feel for the sentiment around a topic.

Facebook

Facebook Analytics also offers detailed downloadable statistics on your owned Pages on its analytics tab. You can see details of reach and engagements on posts and videos on Facebook Pages, as well as demographics about the people who like your page. You can also research how people engage with public Facebook Pages, but it is difficult to aggregate this because of Facebook’s privacy restrictions.

Why Using Facebook for Market Research is Better Than a Panel 

That’s right, our qualitative recruitment company will come right out and say it – using Facebook to source research participants is better than using members of a research panel. 

Drive Research specializes in qualitative and quantitative market research services and has relied on both Facebook and panel lists through our hunt to find research participants.

While using a research panel has its own advantages and disadvantages, it simply does not provide the same quality of participants or respondents. 

In turn, the data and feedback collected from an online panel company are not as accurate or as reliable if sourced through Facebook.

When comparing the two, our recruitment firm has found Facebook is more likely to attract real consumers of any target demographic.

No fake bots or professional survey takers – but real customers who use or are likely to use your product and service.

An easy way to put this into perspective is by using an example of real consumers vs. professional survey takers. 👇👇

Finding Research Participants on Facebook vs. a Panel

Example of Facebook Sample vs. Panel Sample

car dealership conducts an online community survey about what buyers in their area feel are most important to them when buying a car. 

Is it gas mileage, safety, style, price, or other factors?

In this example, recruiting respondents through an online panel is equivalent to only having race car drivers complete the survey. 

Racecar drivers are way too knowledgeable about the topic and share nowhere near the same buying habits or behaviors as real consumers.

Similarly, research participants on a panel are experts at bypassing screener questions so that they are selected for the study.

Even worse, during the qualitative research, they know exactly how to act and what to say, even if it is not their honest opinion.

The better alternative!

If the car dealership sources online survey respondents through Facebook they are able to cast a much larger net.

They are able to see what is most important when buying a car for many different demographics of people.

With Facebook, researchers are able to attract all genders, all ages, and all incomes of people. 

This social media platform is also able to find respondents from different walks of life such as recent college grads, soccer moms, those who are retired, and so on.

These types of respondents are exactly who the car dealership should want to be talking to. They are closer to who is a legitimate consumer in their marketplace. 

💡 The Key Takeaway: Participants found on Facebook will provide more honest feedback than professional market research participants. With more honest feedback brands can better market their products and services to varying customer personas.

Participants found on Facebook will provide more honest feedback than professional market research participants. With more honest feedback brands can better market their products and services to varying customer personas.

The Benefit to You: Find Real Consumers on Facebook – Not Professional Survey Takers

A common misconception in research is that it is better to recruit or target people who have participated in market research before. 

This is because people who have responded to an online survey or participated in a focus group before are “more experienced” and more likely to understand what is required of them.

However, by relying on and recruiting only those who have participated in research prior to a study, you are already skewing your data. 

It is better to recruit participants who most accurately represent the everyday consumer than the panel member who participates in 6 focus groups a year and completes 30 surveys a month. 

This is what our qualitative recruitment firm likes to call “professional survey takers” and online panel lists are full of them.

🤦🤦🤦

For example, some businesses turn to an online panel company to recruit focus group participants. 

However, members of an online panel have taken plenty of screening surveys to understand what answers qualify or disqualify them from being selected to join the group discussion.

Whereas with Facebook, recruiters are able to advertise to a much larger target audience who are not privy to what type of answers would lead them to be chosen for the focus group. 

Instead, Facebook users offer their real opinions and more honest answers because they are unaware of what the focus group will be about.

This leads businesses to find the exact audience they are hoping to target as they are as close to the everyday consumer as possible.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Just because panel members are “more experienced” in qualitative research participation does not mean they are the best fit for the role. It is far better to rely on feedback from everyday consumers.

Why Using Facebook for Market Research is Better Than a Panel 

That’s right, our qualitative recruitment company will come right out and say it – using Facebook to source research participants is better than using members of a research panel. 

Drive Research specializes in qualitative and quantitative market research services and has relied on both Facebook and panel lists through our hunt to find research participants.

While using a research panel has its own advantages and disadvantages, it simply does not provide the same quality of participants or respondents. 

In turn, the data and feedback collected from an online panel company are not as accurate or as reliable if sourced through Facebook.

When comparing the two, our recruitment firm has found Facebook is more likely to attract real consumers of any target demographic.

No fake bots or professional survey takers – but real customers who use or are likely to use your product and service.

An easy way to put this into perspective is by using an example of real consumers vs. professional survey takers. 👇👇

Finding Research Participants on Facebook vs. a Panel

Example of Facebook Sample vs. Panel Sample

car dealership conducts an online community survey about what buyers in their area feel are most important to them when buying a car. 

Is it gas mileage, safety, style, price, or other factors?

In this example, recruiting respondents through an online panel is equivalent to only having race car drivers complete the survey. 

Racecar drivers are way too knowledgeable about the topic and share nowhere near the same buying habits or behaviors as real consumers.

Similarly, research participants on a panel are experts at bypassing screener questions so that they are selected for the study.

Even worse, during the qualitative research, they know exactly how to act and what to say, even if it is not their honest opinion.

The better alternative!

If the car dealership sources online survey respondents through Facebook they are able to cast a much larger net.

They are able to see what is most important when buying a car for many different demographics of people.

With Facebook, researchers are able to attract all genders, all ages, and all incomes of people. 

This social media platform is also able to find respondents from different walks of life such as recent college grads, soccer moms, those who are retired, and so on.

These types of respondents are exactly who the car dealership should want to be talking to. They are closer to who is a legitimate consumer in their marketplace. 

💡 The Key Takeaway: Participants found on Facebook will provide more honest feedback than professional market research participants. With more honest feedback brands can better market their products and services to varying customer personas.

Participants found on Facebook will provide more honest feedback than professional market research participants. With more honest feedback brands can better market their products and services to varying customer personas.

The Benefit to You: Find Real Consumers on Facebook – Not Professional Survey Takers

A common misconception in research is that it is better to recruit or target people who have participated in market research before. 

This is because people who have responded to an online survey or participated in a focus group before are “more experienced” and more likely to understand what is required of them.

However, by relying on and recruiting only those who have participated in research prior to a study, you are already skewing your data. 

It is better to recruit participants who most accurately represent the everyday consumer than the panel member who participates in 6 focus groups a year and completes 30 surveys a month. 

This is what our qualitative recruitment firm likes to call “professional survey takers” and online panel lists are full of them.

🤦🤦🤦

For example, some businesses turn to an online panel company to recruit focus group participants. 

However, members of an online panel have taken plenty of screening surveys to understand what answers qualify or disqualify them from being selected to join the group discussion.

Whereas with Facebook, recruiters are able to advertise to a much larger target audience who are not privy to what type of answers would lead them to be chosen for the focus group. 

Instead, Facebook users offer their real opinions and more honest answers because they are unaware of what the focus group will be about.

This leads businesses to find the exact audience they are hoping to target as they are as close to the everyday consumer as possible.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Just because panel members are “more experienced” in qualitative research participation does not mean they are the best fit for the role. It is far better to rely on feedback from everyday consumers.

Instagram

Currently, you can gain access to some tools provided by Facebook for Instagram analytics through Instagram Business Tools. The analytics offer a variety of insights on both posts on your Instagram timeline, and Instagram Stories, from viewership, reach and engagement to the days of the week your audience is most engaged and breakdown of locations by city, and age groups. It is possible to research the usage of hashtags which can be important but it is difficult to get more granular data on the images themselves without the use of a specialist tool like Pulsar, which offers vertical AI image analysis.

YouTube

YouTube has a variety of metrics to study in the analytics area for creators including watch times for your videos, traffic sources to see where the viewers are finding your videos from, and Demographics reports. Other social media research available on YouTube includes looking at the YouTube Trending page and studying the view counts and comments on videos, but again this is hard to aggregate without a specialist tool. You can learn more on YouTube analytics by checking out YouTube Creators Academy

Using web data for social media research

Forums

Finding out what people say on forums is a great way to understand social trends around specific topics. People will either discuss a specific topic in detail, or ask for advice, so if you can understand publicly posted forum topics, you will get an insight into the concerns around various topics and themes, which could support social media research. This involves manual desk research into your topic of choice, or the use of a tool like Pulsar, but can be very beneficial.

Reviews

Understanding reviews data can be incredibly helpful for new product development. Finding out how well people rate a similar product will give you indications of what people are looking for. Similarly, because reviews often involve star ratings, you can correlate this data to get numerical averages over time. Using this data alongside comments from social media research and web data means you can get a full picture of the view of a product or service.

Blogs and news

It’s also important to keep track of what is being discussed in the news and blogs, as this may impact social media research – for instance if a dramatic headline in the news changes the track of a conversation on social media, or if a blog post is generating more shares of a specific link or part of your website. This research generally has to be compiled by the user but it is possible to look at news and blogs through tools like Google News, or Pulsar.

Google trends

Google’s free trends service allows you to track volumes of searches for various trends going back to 2002 and compare several trends at once as a volume over time graph. You can also see that day’s trending topics, and find associated search queries that are often searched alongside your term. This is very helpful to compare with social media research around trends, as search and social data complement each other by giving an indication of the action taken – for instance did a social spike correlate to an increase in searches for a brand, or did a new product release get discussed on social as well as increasing traffic to your website?

Google surveys

Google surveys are a cheap way to get data back on a specified set of questions from real people. While the data itself does not come from social media, you are free to ask whatever you choose, including about users’ social media habits, and correlating this data with social data can be essential for social media research to understand the signals from multiple channels in context.

Pulsar and other social listening and audience intelligence tools

The easiest way to see the analytics from your social channels is to aggregate them into a tool like Pulsar CORE which allows you to compare all your channels in one place without having to switch between the various analytics platforms. You can also conduct social media research by comparing the data from competitor accounts, and understanding metrics like the demographics and psychographics of your followers. Pulsar TRAC is an advanced audience intelligence tool which goes beyond social listening to aid social media research and understand it in context of human behavior. You can research keywords, audiences or content and understand how people talk about the topics you’re looking to understand on social media, news, forums, blogs, and web search, as well as the most advanced image analysis, powered by vertical AI and machine learning to segment data around topics, image contents and audiences, and present it with beautiful simple to understand data visualisation.

Conclusion

The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research Tools and Techniques for Market Researchers offers a comprehensive overview of the tools, techniques, and sources available to market researchers undertaking market research using social data as well as other online research techniques. It also offers guidance on the sampling techniques, ethical considerations, and pitfalls to avoid when conducting this type of research.

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