The Business Owner’s Guide to Using Social Media for Market Research

November 13, 2019


How do you feel when someone says, “Market research?”

Do you cringe? Are you totally confused? Do your eyes glaze over a little? Do you think, “I’m not a researcher, I’m an artist.”?

Market research, audience research, and customer research is something we’ve heard enough about on podcasts, in blog posts, through webinars, or when we attend conferences that it starts to lose its meaning a little.

Like, Okay, sure. Lemme schedule an hour chat in my busy schedule with my equally-busy former client (or potential client?!). I’ll do it once a week and my message-matching will be PERF.

It’s not realistic. I get it. 

While I don’t think anything can replace client surveys + interviews, I don’t think you need to bake them into your weekly schedule so you can win at business.

In this blog post, I’m sharing how to infuse customer research into the things you’re already doing in your business – so you can enter the conversation in your prospect’s head and give them exactly what they need.

What is voice of customer data, and why does it matter?

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” -Sherlock Holmes

I’m sure you’ve heard a fair amount of marketing professionals tell you to “enter the conversation in your audience’s mind” or “use the voice of your customer.”

You probably immediately wondered, “Can I do that without being a stalker?”

Short Answer: Yes. But being strategic stalking is effective, too.

Long Answer: As online business owners, most of us are sitting on a gold mine of customer research – SOCIAL MEDIA.

But, instead of using social media strategically, by being social and listening to our ideal audience, we lament at the algorithm or dread “not knowing what to post.”

If you’ve ever had an offer flop, had slower seasons of bookings, or you’re not booking those dream people, you might be theorizing before you have data.

That means, you might be putting something out there that’s what you think your audience wants. You might me phrasing it how you would say it, instead of how your audience would say it. You might be focusing on pain points that are too high level, instead of addressing what they’re feeling in that moment. You might be highlighting features, when they want to know the benefits.

In his amazing marketing book, Purple Cow, Seth Godin says,

“People don’t buy paint, they buy painted walls.”

We have to serve our people with the results they want, but we can’t do that unless we talk to them and find out what that is.

I’m going to teach you all about how to uncover Voice of Customer Data using social media, but first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.

Voice of Customer Data: A term used to describe the in-depth process of capturing a customer’s expectations, preferences, and aversions.

Definition for Newbies (not Dummies!): The process of uncovering the exact words your prospects use to talk about your problem or solution.

So, like I said, one of the best ways to uncover this in-depth data is through interviews.

BUT, with a little bit of strategy and a whole lot of curiosity, you can infuse this process into your social media strategy to uncover VoC data on the daily.

(I feel like “data on the daily” could be some sort of nerd-rap-song. No?)

3 Ways to Use Social Media for Market Research

Intentional Calls-to-Action

Gone are the days when “double tap” was the only acceptable call-to-action on social media. With speedy-scrolling and half-attention, your calls-to-action need to be specific and engaging in order to get people to… well… act. If you train your audience to engage, they’ll get used to looking for the question at the end of your super-valuable/engaging caption.

Don’t be afraid to get really specific.

Talking about your morning routine? Ask others about theirs! Morning routines are a favorite topic in social media circles, but there’s even more gold to it.

How to use it: Writing a sales page or email sequence? Paint a more vivid picture by getting really specific and using the real lives of people in your audience.

Example: “I know you’re busy with your journaling morning routine, and you’re totally wishing your black coffee had half-and-half in it, but just stick with me for a second.”

Even these drive-by mentions of your actual audience’s real life will do a couple different things.

1) People get really pumped if they see something that refers to them. They also get a little freaked out sometimes, but in a, “There’s no way she’s talking about me, is she?” kinda way.

2) Specificity breeds more relatability than generalization. They may not have a journaling routine, or maybe their coffee has half-and-half already in it. But, people relate to you understanding that they’re real people with real lives and very real days.

Action Step: Next time it comes time to call people to action, make it really specific.

Bonus: Follow up in DMs with anyone who comments and go deeper into their answer!

Use stories to crowd-source

Stories are sometimes even better for market research than a CTA in an actual post. It feels like a lot less pressure to respond to someone’s story than it does to comment or send a direct message from post to the Instagram feed.

Plus, Instagram Stories have some really cool features that make it super easy.

Polls: A poll can be a great chance to get people to engage in a low-commitment sort of way.

Pro Tip: I use polls as a gateway to a DM. All you have to do is check out those poll results. Then, send a message to some of the people who responded to see if they’ll go a little deeper with you.

The Question Box: My friend Kate from The Shop Files is a genius at using this feature to her research advantage.

  • Put a fill in the blank sentence with your topic in mind. For example, “When I think about writing copy for my website, I _____.” You’ll get a wide range of answers – which is perfect! Filling your copy with serious swipe phrases, funny takes on your topic, etc. is a great way to create something that’s accurate, but compelling and approachable.

  • “My favorite podcasts to listen to are…” This option will help you figure out where your people are hanging out. Then, it’s your job to go get on those podcasts, or submit to those publications, or spend more time on that platform, etc.

Pro Tip: Keep these sentences REALLY short and simple. People are tapping through, and the short questions will grab their attention.

The Quiz Feature: This is the best way to test your audience’s stage of awareness on your topic.

Ask some questions to gauge how familiar they are with your subject matter, or see if they can answer some questions you HOPE you’ve already answered to your audience.

Prompt them to send you a DM: 

  • Ask for easy, fun responses to certain phrases or questions – Respond with a GIF/which GIF describes how you feel about busy season?

  • Send more personal, in-depth conversations to your inbox. Give people permission to share their heart and their hangups with you. 

Voice or Video DMs

If you’re not in your DMs on a regular basis, you might be missing out on establishing some major trust – and also missing the chance to surprise and delight your audience!

Responding to a question with a voice or a video DM is a really quick way to…

  • Cultivate a real relationship. There’s something about hearing someone’s voice or seeing their facial expressions that makes us feel closer to them.

  • Give more value, without your hands cramping. I mean, Instagram carpal tunnel is so real, people.

  • Do something unexpected, so people will remember you.

Peter Drucker, one of the most influential minds on management and business, said:

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, the product or service sells itself.”

With these few tactics, you can easily make a habit of collecting Voice of Customer data. Then, as they say, the product will sell itself. Or, even better, it won’t feel like selling at all.

Want the new eyes on your Instagram page to stick around?

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I’m Jess,

iced-coffee-obsessed, saved-by-grace, allergic-to-small talk, and one of the biggest dreamers you’ll ever meet.







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