Have you ever conducted a focus group? In this method of doing market research, you bring together a group of people who fit your target customer profile and ask them questions to help guide new product or service development. Focus groups are valuable, but can be costly and time-consuming for a small business. Fortunately, social media offers an alternative to in-person focus groups that can work for just about any business.
Here are 5 steps to using social media to conduct informal focus groups.
1. Know what you want to find out.
You’ll get the best results if you limit your research to a very specific topic. For instance, suppose you have an ecommerce site that sells maternity clothing and you are considering adding baby clothing as well. You could survey your current customers to find out whether they would buy the new products from you, what price points they’d consider, what brands they’d like to see and other specific questions to help you decide if this would be a good move for you.
2. Choose the right venue.
What social media platforms are your customers on the most and, more to the point, where do they interact with your business the most? In our example above, the maternity business’s customers may be active on both Twitter and Facebook, but interact with the business primarily on Facebook. If so, that’s the place the company should focus its focus group efforts.
3. Offer something of value.
In a traditional, in-person focus group, participants get compensated for their time in some way. Why should it be any different on social media? Offer participants something in exchange for their time, such as a special product available only to VIPs, a discount on products and services or early access to new products and services. If you can’t afford to compensate every participant, consider compensation in a contest form such as a drawing for a prize.
4. Make it ongoing.
While traditional focus groups last for hours or even all day, social media users typically don’t want to spend that much time in an online focus group. No problem—just break your questions down and make your focus group an ongoing effort. For instance, the maternity business could create a VIP panel of customers and ask them a question every day. Tailor your questions so that at the end of, say, a week or two you have the answers you need to make a decision and move on.
5. Tap into technology.
You can post simple polls or questions on your social media accounts, sure. But you can also get more details, plus gain access to analytics and tools to engage your focus group more deeply, by taking advantage of technology that helps you survey and engage your customers. For example, SurveyMonkey lets you create a free survey and embed it right into your business’s Facebook page, while Napkin Labs’ Brainstorm app works with Facebook’s platform to make it easier to engage and reward your focus group members. QuestionPro offers the ability to post a survey on any of the major social media platforms.
No matter your business size, utilizing social media for your focus group can be a cost effective and enlightening way to learn more about what your customers are looking for.
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