“Social Media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to the community.” ~ Simon Mainwaring
Social media has taken the marketing world by a storm. It has connected people all across the globe, making it possible to share and discover things while rooted to one spot. It is slowly replacing certain conventional methods of marketing, most significantly research. Earlier research was only about face to face interviews, surveys, focus groups etc., but today with the power of social media, there is much more one can do.
Marketers are relying more and more on social media research to gain the insights they need while designing a marketing strategy.
IT SAVES YOU A LOT OF TIME & MONEY
As opposed to the months of planning and executing traditional research methods, social media research can get you the data you need in a matter of hours or days. For example, you can search hashtags on Twitter related to your brand or industry and find out what people (consumers, customers, and competitors) are discussing about. Also, thanks to the expansion of the big data analytics space, understanding the market has become a lot easier for companies. All you need to do is type a few keywords in a listening tool and get the information you need instantly! You can also conserve money on interviews, surveys, focus groups, discussion groups and other expensive methods of research.
GENUINE CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
important aspect of social media research is honest (more often than not) feedback from customers. Traditional marketing research methods are limited to a particular set of questions which are sometimes forced onto customers, who might not give candid answers. But when it comes to social media, people post their opinions without brands even asking for it. This data could give you more information than the short responses you would get to questionnaires or surveys.
BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR
In general, traditional methods of research involve you asking consumers a set of predefined questions, which will yield definitive responses. But on social media, engaging with your customers can help you gain a better understanding of their behavior. You can learn about their preferences and know what kind of content would strike a chord with them and gain answers that give you information you might not acquire otherwise. This information could be used to create a brand image that would stand out and relate with customers.
REACH OUT TO WIDE AUDIENCE
Social networking sites have countless people, young and old alike interacting with each other on a daily basis. This means that you can reach a wide and varied audience. Your research efforts will not be restricted to a particular demography. You can find out what appeals to different age groups, regions etc. and customize your marketing efforts to suit each group. For example, you can find out which age group talks about your brand the most and you can concentrate on them more while designing marketing strategies.
And best of all, you can do all the above mentioned things sitting at your desk. You can get all the necessary data at the click of a button. With the help of social media listening tools, one can set up searches related to their brand or industry and gain extensive data in no time. The sheer convenience of social media research is making it more and more popular these days.
But the growth of social media research does not make traditional research obsolete. It is still paramount in the marketing sphere for various reasons. Also, despite the merits social media research has, it falls short at certain places, which is why it cannot completely replace conventional methods.
So why is traditional market research still important?
COUNTER BALANCE HEAVY USE OF ONLINE METHODS
These methods have been in practice for a really long time now. Marketers largely continue to rely on them because they are effective and provide valid data. But there are those who are biased towards or heavily rely on online social research methods. Using traditional methods once in a while is an effective way to directly engage with the market.
REACH PEOPLE NOT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Two, you can reach people without internet access or those who are not on social media. Social media research is limited to people who avidly use its platforms. But in countries like India, where only about 10 percent of the total population has an online presence, the data you get represents that small percentage alone. This is why traditional methods are still necessary to gain proper insights.
TARGET A SPECIFIC DEMOGRAPHY
Another problem with social media research is that you do not have a properly defined customer base. People might hide their profile information or not provide correct information. You cannot get specific demographics for your research. For example, if you wish to get customer feedback from a particular region in the country, it would be a lot easier to go to the place and conduct surveys than trying to nose out people belonging to that region from online conversations.
Both methods of research are equally important in the marketing world. Finding the strong points of each and combining them in the right way can provide optimum results.