Startups often lack the budget or funding to perform extensive marketing research. Their best option is to use cost-effective online tools to gain a better understanding of their markets. One such tool that’s commonly used is Twitter.
By leveraging Twitter, start-ups can monitor online conversations that 255 million consumers worldwide are having and understand their preferences and tastes better. Specifically, they can listen to their target audience’s conversations and learn about their problems, dissatisfactions, and product features they desire. This marketing research approach can help start-ups discover new business opportunities and unravel overlooked problems.
To help start-ups take advantage of Twitter for effective marketing research, here are three techniques and complementary tools you should use:
1. Listen to what your competitors’ followers are saying
Your competitors’ followers are your prospective clients because if they are following competing brands on Twitter, they’re interested in products or services within your industry. By monitoring their conversations, you can gain valuable customer insights.
For example, by monitoring what your competitors’ followers are saying, you can learn what they like and also discover what they dislike. This monitoring initiative helps you determine product or service offerings you could emulate to improve product appeal or avoid to deter low customer satisfaction.
ScraperWiki is a data extraction tool which lets you download a list of a Twitter account’s followings and followers. You can use it to extract lists of your competitors’ Twitter followers.
HootSuite is a social media dashboard which lets you see streams of real-time tweets. You can use it to see what your competitors’ followers are saying online.
To use ScraperWiki and HootSuite to monitor Twitter conversations, here are four steps you should take:
1. Use ScraperWiki to extract lists of followers from competing brands’ Twitter accounts
2. Create Twitter Lists for the generated lists
3. Add the Twitter Lists to HootSuite Stream.
4. Start monitoring
2. Monitor relevant hashtags
Keeping an eye on relevant hashtags helps you explore new business opportunities.
For example, by monitoring the hashtag #foodporn, a food-related start-up can evaluate which kind of food (i.e. Western desserts or Japanese cuisine) diners share on Twitter. If they realize that consumers tend to share photos of chocolate-themed desserts (i.e. Black Forest or chocolate fudge), they can decide whether they should include chocolate on their menu to increase their social sharing activity.
This assessment helps companies identify current trends and ways to leverage them to increase brand awareness, customer acquisition, or other business objectives.
You can use Tagboard to monitor relevant hashtags. Tagboard is a hashtag monitoring platform which lets you search for tweets that contain specified hashtags. To use the platform, specify in the search box the hashtag you want to monitor and Tagboard will generate results for you.
3. Observe the activities of targeted consumers who live in targeted geographic locations and have desirable attributes in their bios
Monitoring the activities of prospects who live in targeted geographic locations and have desirable features in their bios helps you learn more about your target audience’s preferences.
For instance, by assessing photos fashionistas in Los Angeles, a New York apparel e-tailer can determine what’s ‘in’ or popular in L.A. so that they can cater to that market.
An easy way to find prospects who live in targeted locations and with specific attributes in their bios is by using Followerwonk. Followerwonk is a Twitter analytics and follower segmentation tool that lets you discover targeted users based on their location, bio, URL, and number of followers or followings.
In the case of the e-tailer above, the retailer can use Followerwonk to specifically find users who live in L.A. and have fashion or shopping in their bios, since those are the attributes a fashionista would likely have. This research approach can help companies discover qualified prospects quickly and gather useful data from the target audience.
While performing extensive marketing research can be difficult for start-ups due to a lack of financial resources, small businesses can leverage Twitter to learn more about their target audience. By using the three approaches above, start-ups can use Twitter effectively to discover new business opportunities and understand their target audiences’ preferences better.
If you have other marketing research techniques you want to share, please mention them in the comments section below!