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Stop treating your customers as leads, start listening your audience

Social research in 7 steps

· Online monitoring,Social Research,Social insights

Nowadays, we jump into ideas and start developing new products before we reach out the people's minds, and find out what they think, see or feel. We don't know their issues, needs or feelings, but for sure we have a business plan, a technical team who's developing and using the latest technologies.

We care too much about the UX, guidelines, colors, branding, shopping cart, but we spend too little time on users' feelings and needs.

Maybe that's why 9 from 10 startups fail. We start with the product, and not with the users' needs. None of us sees the world the way the world sees us. That's true on an individual level, and it's even more pronounced when you're talking about the people inside a company.

Companies are private clubs, where a bunch of people comes to work every day and they spend time talking to each other, trying to impress each other, working together to make decisions and solve problems.


They are "in," and customers are "out there."


The club-think mentality is powerful. The voices inside the company are close by, insistent, and continuous. The voices coming from customers are far away, faint, and intermittent. - says Kristin Zhivago in "Tuned In Buyer Experiences" webinar by Pragmatic Marketing

How to go outside the club-think mentality

#1. Go outside the building

Leave your office one day per month and discuss with real people, see how they act and how they interact with each other. Behind the laptops are real people with feelings, emotions, and concerns.

If your business is online, use tools like Hotjar for tracking their visits on your site, Drift or Intercom for user communication.

If you're doing business offline, follow them at the supermarket, and learn from their buying decisions. Why are they choosing your product? It's because of the color, the proximity, the price or a nice lady who recommend your product?

Find out why they prefer to do shopping from Amazon or eBay, why they prefer coke and not Pepsi.

In his new book, Martin Lindstrom describes the power of small data and how to increase your business with the mix of keen observations of small samples plus applied intuition. Read it, test the model and see the impact on your business.

#2. Do a social research

Today, people are posting their feelings on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Find out what emotions they associate with your products or services. They use images and emoji for their fears, concerns or happiness. Follow the conversations and see what keywords they associate with your brand.

Comments on Amazon? Follow them and watch out how impactful is your business. Photos on Instagram? Likes or comments on Facebook about your products? Read and listen all these conversations and find out why the people are using your product.

Online research came with the massive growth of Internet usage in general, and with the social networks. Online surveys, online communities, online focus groups or social networks give you meaningful data about trends, users' needs and competition. Use different online media monitoring apps and automate the research.

#3. Research, research and again research the trends, the new ideas, the new technologies about your industry or topic

Learn from other people what and how they do it and they apply the insights to their business. If you're developing a tech product, read the trends from the Gartner Magic Quadrants. Or search the free sections of the Management Consulting Firms' websites like Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company. Plenty of good papers on where industries have come from and where they are going.

#4. Research your competition - every day, every week, every month

Watch their marketing moves and follow their strategy. Plus, thanks to social media today, you have the power to find out how they feel while they are using a competitive product. Are they frustrated? Join the conversation and help them. Offer your digital love and support. Follow the industry leader and learn from its wins or mistakes.

#5. Combine the traditional research with social research

Confirm your decisions through qualitative data. Focus groups, quantitative research, interviews, intercepts, mystery shopping or just observing individuals or groups in specific settings or environments are the perfect forms of traditional research with valuable results. Most of them are time-consuming and cost-intensive, but the output has valuable insights for your business.

Combine all these traditional actions with social listening. Follow your brand's conversations from forums, blogs posts, read all the Facebook comments from your Facebook community, find out what they share on Twitter or Instagram. Label these insights in specific metrics for your business and get decisions faster.

​Data helps you move fast. Using data to make decisions, you'll gain empathy, predict the future (future is here not evenly distributed), make decisions faster. - Alex Schultz, VP of Growth at Facebook.

#6. Conduct in-depth user interviews

Your database is a goldmine. Use it and create meaningful conversations with your users. Even if they already use your product or trust your brand, they will share with you useful insights that could help you develop new features or a new product. Skype calls enable the in-depth understanding of individuals, their attitudes, beliefs, and motivations.

Learn to build for your users, not for your own ego.

#7. Discuss with your website visitors - new customers or return customers

Having a business blog, but you're stuck in a moment and don't have any other topics for writing? Use Hotjar to find out why they're visiting your blog. Do they have a preferred topic? Wondering why they're scrolling your website or abandoning the shopping cart? Discuss with your them. Always. Stop treating your website visitors like leads and start treating like people.

Wrapping up

Combine new ideas and new technologies with old-fashioned instruments and collect data before you launch a new product, start a business, make a business plan, change your portfolio or write a new blog post.

Digital media is a welcome addition to the market research toolbox. It has created new ways to conduct research, providing complementary approaches to more traditional forms. Researchers and marketers would be foolish to ignore the opportunities that digital media provides, equally the merits of face-to-face research must be remembered.

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