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5 reasons why market research comes before social media

3 min read


This post was written by Mirna Bard, a social-media consultant, speaker, author and instructor of social media at the University of California at Irvine.

Last week’s poll question: Did you conduct any kind of market research — surveying your customers, focus groups, monitoring online conversations, etc. — before jumping on the social- media bandwagon?

  • No —  66.67%
  • Yes — 33.33%

During one of my recent speaking engagements to executives of medium-sized companies, I asked the audience if they had conducted any kind of market research before jumping into social media. From an audience of approximately 120 people, only about 10 to 12 people raised their hand, which surprised me.

At 33.33%, I was relieved to see that the percentage of SmartBrief readers who said they did conduct market research was higher than in the response to my original question. This tells me some companies are moving in the right direction. However, the 66.67% who responded they have not conducted any kind of market research worries me, since this is still a lot higher than I expected. It would be nice to see these two percentages reversed.

Here are five reasons why companies should invest in doing market research before jumping on the social- media bandwagon:

  1. Doing social media without conducting research is like jumping off a plane without a parachute. If you blindly follow everyone else who is using social media because you are anxious to get started, you risk getting flattened.
  2. Monitoring online conversations facilitates the process of identifying who your online audience is, especially brand evangelists and influencers.
  3. Social media starts with curiosity about your audience. Using market research to listen or ask your prospects and customers how they view your brand or products, what they think of your competitors, what they are interested in, what bothers them and what motivates them allows you to find out what is going on in your marketplace.
  4. Asking your prospects and customers where they want to engage with you online is a better pay-off than guessing or even hiring someone to tell you that you should tweet or blog. Simply put, you need to be where your customers want you to be.
  5. With enough quality data, you can determine the best marketing strategy for your business. Thus, research allows you to create a long-term sustainable strategy versus only using tactics and tools.

What is your opinion about marketing research? Why do you think some companies are jumping in
without taking time to do the research?