As a business person, you need to do research before you can make any decision. Should you add a new sandwich to your menu? Should you open a car-parts business in your home town? Census information can only take you so far. Try social media as a market research tool.
Own Your Niche
Assuming you have done the preliminary work of determining who your ideal customer is, social media offers you a chance to engage in real time with them. Do you know where your customers hang out? What type of social media do they use? What types of groups do they belong to? Do they share similar interests or hobbies? If you are already on social media with a company page, are you aware that while you are researching them, your customers are also checking you out?
What are similar companies are doing on social media? Are they real competition? Is there a business in your town already selling to your niche? Consider what you need to connect with, how you need to message and what you have to do to eventually own your niche.
How to Search For Information
Assuming you have a Facebook page, you will notice a SEARCH option at the top left. Facebook has gotten much better at helping you search the Facebook data base. Try a search using #moose to see how well this works.
Search nearby businesses, checkout your competition in town. Search by business category, note whether or not things are LIKED by friends, friends of friends or anyone. Search by place, type and category. What does your best friend like, follow or use?
Under App settings (under you settings tab on the upper right) see what apps others use. What do you see that would provide relevant information?
See What Others Are Saying About Similar Businesses
If you are opening a restaurant, check out what others are in the area, and see what people are saying about them. Check YELP or Yellow Pages and other listing directories for reviews. Follow some of your competitors on Twitter. Use the hashtag # to search for subjects on both Facebook and Twitter.
Google Places and Facebook are sites where reviews are posted. Reputation software is also available that will scrape the internet for all comments and reviews on a business. If you have an existing business, do you know what others are saying about you?
Post Pictures And Ask Questions
What types of pictures have you posted that have had the best reaction from people? Use this knowledge to spark interest in answering your questions. Everyone likes to think their input is appreciated, so ask for their opinion. There is also a survey option on Facebook, design a short survey and implement it by sharing with everyone you know. Another option is to run several test ads to check responses. You can do this for very little money.
Build An Online Strategy
While you are busy soliciting input and connecting with your ideal customers, watch what posts or activities get more engagement. Use this information to help shape an online strategy for your business. Even a well-established business can use a strategy. Keep looking to find where your customers congregate and engage them in what you can offer.
Social media offers a unique opportunity to connect with, talk to and engage with your future and present customers. It can be a highly useful tool and is jammed with tons of information that you can use for your business planning and market research.